Concerns growing over AWS cloud security in Korea


By Baek Byung-yeul

Concerns are growing over the security and reliability of cloud computing offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) after a former AWS worker allegedly stole data on 105 million customers of Capital One Bank.

The former AWS worker allegedly hacked the cloud server of Capital One Bank, operated by the firm, and stole the information, according to cybersecurity analysts here Friday.

They said Korean companies using the AWS cloud should be aware of potential data leaks because storing digital information on cloud servers is not a perfect way to protect it.

AWS distanced itself from the data breach saying it was not responsible because the alleged hacker is accused of breaking through the bank’s firewall to access the customer data stored on the AWS cloud.

But the analysts pointed out there should be more safeguards to prevent access.

There will be growing worries about safety of using cloud service as an increasing number of Korean companies are moving to adopt the cloud computing service to reduce management costs of IT system and launch enhanced services based on the latest technologies, they said.

“Companies who are using cloud services or plan to adopt them should be aware that cloud computing services are not 100 percent safe from cyberattacks,” an official at a Seoul-based cybersecurity firm said.

“In the past when most firms managed their data in on-premises servers, it was easier for them to keep data safe because all they had to do was keep an eye only on their data. But when it comes to cloud services, the data of many companies are stored on centers operated by cloud services operators, and they need to have adequate double and triple safeguards to prevent data leaks,” he said.

As in other countries, AWS has been dominating Korea’s cloud computing services market. According to a recent report by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency, AWS has a 51 percent market share in infrastructure as a service (IaaS) here as of March 2018.

IaaS is a service that provides all the computing resources organizations need to deploy and run their operating systems, and software and applications on the cloud computing service.

An expert in the cybersecurity sector said that as seen in the Capital One breach, a similar situation can happen to financial companies here.

“Currently, financial companies here are not vulnerable to such cyberattacks because they are storing their customers’ data on their on-premises servers. But since the government allowed them to adopt cloud computing services since January, they have to strive to beef up cybersecurity measures,” said a cybersecurity analyst at a multinational IT firm.

He said adopting cloud services was “a must for financial firms because they can provide differentiated and advanced services to their customers and save costs in operating their own data centers.”

“With technologies getting more sophisticated, it is impossible for financial companies to catch up with the latest technology trends by themselves. By adopting cloud computing services, they can provide upgraded services that utilize artificial intelligence or big data technologies,” the expert said.

Capital One announced July 29 that it had suffered a data breach after the hacker accessed the personnel information of 100 million people in the U.S. and 6 million in Canada.

In response, AWS said its cloud computing services had not been compromised by the hacker, adding the data breach happened because of a firewall issue, not a cloud problem.

“AWS was not compromised in any way and functioned as designed,” AWS said in a statement. “The perpetrator gained access through a misconfiguration of the web application and not the underlying cloud-based infrastructure. As Capital One explained clearly in its disclosure, this type of vulnerability is not specific to the cloud.”

Capital One also made it clear that the data leak was not related to using the cloud service of AWS. “This type of vulnerability is not specific to the cloud. The elements of infrastructure involved are common to both cloud and on-premises data center environments,” it said in a statement.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x