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Cloud Storage Security: Comparative Study (part 2)

Last time we started comparing Cloud storage security and touched Amazon AWS advantages and shortcomings. Today I am going to provide you with Windows Azure description.

Windows Azure

Cloud Storage Security: Comparative Study (part 2)

Although recently Windows Azure provided only cloud “platform as a service» (PaaS), introducing series of updates made Azure to be a full-fledged cloud infrastructure to run applications on Windows Server and Linux.  Independent performance testing showed that Windows Azure is far ahead of its competitors, thereby strengthening the leading position. So, what is included in the security package?

  • Mutual SSL-authentication. All internal traffic is sent in encrypted form, which prevents information outflow, even if it is intercepted.
  • Management of certificates and private keys. Mentioned certificates and keys are generated by a separate mechanism, which is not available from the application code. They are encrypted and stored in a secret repository. There is a possibility of an additional password protection.
  • Principle of Minimal Privilege. Custom applications running on virtual machines with minimal rights, which complicates any kind of attack, since their implementation requires escalation of privileges.
  • Data access control. Windows Azure has a simple model for managing data access. For each client’s account secret key is generated that is used to gain access to the vault, tied to this account.
  • Isolation of Hypervisor, host OS and the guest virtual machines. Client virtual machines Isolation is critical for safe sharing of disk space. Hypervisor and the root OS are responsible for isolation of guest virtual machines In Windows Azure.
  • Packet filtering. Hypervisor and the root OS filtering unsafe packet traffic.
  • VLAN Isolation. Internal data transfer is organized so that all traffic when moving from one network to another is verified by router. That protects data from listening and getting external traffic into the internal network infrastructure.
  • Removal of outdated data. To ensure a high level of security after the removal the platform checks and removes all references to the purified resource. All copies are also erased by means of scavengers.

It can be seen from the description that the security mechanisms offered by the providers, aimed at protecting domestic architecture – hardware and client VMs.

And this is natural, since for provider it is important to prevent further attacks in case of illegal capture virtual machine. i.e. access to root operating system, unauthorized listening of other client machines traffic or getting information stored on disk. The process of developing cloud web application does not differ much from the development of applications written in a regular PC. So all web application threats remain relevant in the cloud, and that is why customer is responsible for protection and secure configuration.

Summing up, the use of cloud infrastructure has a huge advantage. Stability, availability, flexibility – are the most important criteria for successful implementation of the project. However, the issue of safety here is also worth acute me as “old fashion” ones.

The artilce Cloud Storage Security: AWS Vs.Azure by Anna Andreeva was published in Network Computing online edition, you can read the full version here.

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