Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing arm of the online retail giant, stands atop the hosting and cloud services mountain, attracting scores of businesses to use its infrastructure and services to as a platform for websites, applications and computing resources. Among them: malware writers.
According to a new report by security solution provider Solutionary, four of the top 10 malware distribution sites are hosted by Amazon, and Amazon-hosted sites accounted for 6 percent of all malware discovered in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Amazon is not alone in its malware problems. Rival hosting company, GoDaddy, which recently signed an Office 365 reseller agreement with Microsoft, is just as plagued with malware sites.
Amazon is not oblivious to its malware problems. Founder Jeff Bezos and his team have rooted out malware and abusive sites on its network over the years. They argue that it is better for a company like Amazon to have these sites, as they can more easily identify and contain them.
Malware circulating through Amazon and other cloud services should not come as a surprise to anyone, as viruses and worms have long been hosted and distributed by compromised servers on corporate networks. Cloud and IT networks are, as security luminary Dan Geer has often argued, like living beings; even when healthy, they are host to parasites and viruses that often do not affect routine operations.
What the Solutionary report does raise is the question of responsibility. Bezos says Amazon can more easily control malware and take action against malicious sites because they control the cloud network. Perhaps that is true to a certain degree, but is that the standard for cloud providers? If a company decides to host a cloud service and provide resources to customers, is it incumbent upon them to police malicious activity?
According to The 2112 Group's 2014 Channel Forecast report, 29 pe rcent of solution providers identify themselves as some form of hoster of cloud services - infrastructure, application or platform. Even smaller solution providers thought to have limited technical and human resources are developing hosting platforms for their customers. Are they responsible for monitoring, managing and remediating malware infections, compromised virtual machines and malicious sites?
The day may come when it will not be enough to provide service-level agreements for remediating malware problems or policing malicious activity; tracking and rooting out malware could be a competitive differentiator or, in worse case scenarios, death knells for cloud providers.
As part of our editorial partnership, CRN is republishing this article from Channelnomics
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