Researchers from Ruhr-University Bochum have found a massive security gap at Amazon Cloud Services. Using different methods of attack (signature wrapping and cross site scripting) they tested the system which was deemed “safe”.
“Based on our research results, Amazon confirmed the security gaps and closed them immediately”, said Prof. Dr. Jörg Schwenk, chair for network and data security at the RUB. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers its customers cloud computing services and hosts, among others, services like Twitter, Second Life and 4Square.
Cloud computing could be the major computing paradigm of tomorrow. The idea of processing and storing software and data in a cheap external infrastructure is becoming increasingly popular. The fact that these services are by no means as secure as promised is now demonstrated by the research results of Prof. Schwenk and his staff.
Concentrated computing power
The “Cloud” is a collection of many virtual servers with concentrated computing power. Outsourcing to cloud computing has many advantages for professional users: they can rent storage and server capacity short term on demand. The service is invoiced, for example, according to the usage period, and the customer saves the cost of purchasing his own software and hardware. Up to now, the discussion about cloud computing has above all been dominated by the inability to comply with legal requirements. “Real” attacks were, however, less in the public eye.
Search for weak points
“A major challenge for cloud providers is ensuring the absolute security of the data entrusted to them, which should only be accessible by the clients themselves,” said Prof. Schwenk, who set out with his staff to seek weak points. They have found what they were looking for: Juraj Somorovsky, Mario Heiderich and Meiko Jensen tested the security concept of the cloud provider Amazon Web Services.
XML signature wrapping attacks
“Using different kinds of XML signature wrapping attacks, we succeeded in completely taking over the administrative rights of cloud customers”, said Juraj Somorovsky. “This allowed us to create new instances in the victim’s cloud, add or delete images.” The researchers suspect that many cloud offers are susceptible to signature wrapping attacks, since the relevant web service standards make performance and security incompatible. “We are working on a high-performance solution, however, that no longer has any of the known security gaps”, said Prof. Dr. Jörg Schwenk.
Cross site scripting attacks
In addition, the researchers found gaps in the AWS interface and in the Amazon shop which were ideally suited for smuggling in executable script code - what are termed cross-site scripting attacks. With alarming consequences: “We had free access to all customer data, including authentication data, tokens, and even plain text passwords” said Mario Heiderich. The researcher see the common login as a complex potential danger: “It's a chain reaction. A security gap in the complex Amazon shop always also directly causes a gap in the Amazon cloud.”
Private Clouds also vulnerable
In contrast to public belief, Private Clouds are also vulnerable to the aforementioned attacks: Eucalyptus, an open source project widely used to implement Cloud solutions within companies, did expose the same weaknesses. “A rough classification of cloud technologies cannot replace a thorough security investigation”, states Prof. Schwenk.
Security gaps closed
“Critical services and infrastructures are making increasing use of cloud computing”, explained Juraj Somorovsky. According to industry estimates, the turnover of European cloud services is set to more than double in the next four years – from around 68 billion Euros in 2010 to about 148 billion in 2014. “Therefore it is essential that we recognise the security gaps in cloud computing and avoid them on a permanent basis.” Industry took immediate action: “On our advice, Amazon and Eucalyptus confirmed the security gaps and closed them immediately”.
Further informationProf. Dr. Jörg Schwenk, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Sciences at the RUB, Chair for Network and Data Security, Tel. +49 234 32 26692
Editor: Jens Wylkop
Dr. Josef König | idw
The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today
27.04.2017 | Technische Universität Ilmenau
Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences