Microsoft warns of exposed databases

By Laura Berrill
Microsoft warns thousands of cloud customers of exposed databases, email shows

Microsoft has warned today thousands of its cloud computing customers - including some of the world’s largest companies - that intruders could have the ability to read, change or even delete their main databases, according to a copy of an email sent to them.

The vulnerability is in Microsoft Azure’s flagship Cosmos database. A research team at security company Wiz discovered it was able to access keys that control access to databases held by thousands of companies. The Wiz Chief Technology Officer, Ami Luttwak, is also a former chief technology officer at Microsoft’s Cloud Security Group.

Because Microsoft cannot change those keys by itself, it emailed the customers Thursday telling them to create new ones. Microsoft agreed to pay Wiz $40,000 for finding the flaw and reporting it, according to an email it sent to Wiz.

Microsoft spokespeople had not commented at the time of publication.

Conflicting security views

The company’s email to customers said it has fixed the vulnerability and that there was no evidence the flaw had been exploited.  It said there was ‘no indication that external entities outside the researcher (Wiz) had access to the primary read-write key’ - this is according to a copy of the email seen by news agency Reuters.

But Luttwak told Reuters: “This is the worst cloud vulnerability you can imagine. It is a long-lasting secret. This is the central database of Azure, and we were able to get access to any customer database that we wanted.”

Luttwak’s team found the problem, dubbed ChaosDB, on Aug. 9 and notified Microsoft Aug. 12, Luttwak added.

The latest in poor security news for Microsoft

This latest disclosure comes after months of bad security news for Microsoft. The company was breached by the same suspected Russian government hackers that infiltrated SolarWinds, who stole Microsoft source code.

Additionally, one recent fix for a printer flaw that allowed computer takeovers had to be redone repeatedly. And an Exchange email flaw last week prompted an urgent U.S. government warning that its customers needed to install patches issued months ago because ransomware gangs are now exploiting the flaw.

 

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