CM – Microsoft warns customers of a critical vulnerability in Azure Cosmos DB


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Microsoft warns customers of a critical vulnerability in Azure Cosmos DB

Steef-Jan Wiggers

Azure Cosmos DB is a globally distributed and fully managed NoSQL database service. Microsoft recently warned thousands of its Cosmos DB customers about a vulnerability that exposes their data. A failure in service could grant a malicious actor access keys to steal, edit, or delete sensitive data.

A team of researchers at Tel Aviv-based discovered the vulnerability, named it ChaosDB, and gave it to the top of this one Month Microsoft known. You could use Cosmos DB through the Jupyter Notebook feature, which was added to Cosmos DB back in 2019. This feature enables Cosmos DB customers to visualize their data and create custom views.

Microsoft enabled the Juypter Notebook feature by default for all Cosmos DB instances in February of this year. According to a recently published blog post by, the researcher could find misconfigurations in the function and exploit them: In short, the notebook container enabled privileges to be escalated to other customer notebooks. As a result, an attacker could gain access to the Cosmos DB primary keys and other highly sensitive secrets like the notebook blob storage access token.

An attacker could use the access keys for full administrative access to all data stored in the affected Cosmos DB accounts are stored. In addition, the attacker can control the customer’s Cosmos DB directly from the Internet with full read / write / delete permissions. notified the Microsoft security team of the exploit, which immediately took action to make it functional deactivate. In addition, the company has emailed all affected customers to change their access. In a recent blog post by the Microsoft Security Center about the vulnerability, the security team said:

Our investigation has shown that no customer data was accessed by third parties or security researchers due to this vulnerability. We have notified customers whose keys may have been compromised during the research activity to regenerate their keys.

Since the vulnerability has been exploitable for months, more Cosmos DB customers are at risk than Microsoft, according to the Wiz blog post reported. In addition, several media channels have picked up on the vulnerability story and the discussions on social media are lively.

Aside from this specific mistake, the way all cloud providers try to network their service offerings makes me more and more nervous. It’s too easy to accidentally issue overly revealing IAM policies without realizing it.

This type of cross-tenant attack on Azure’s Cosmos DB is a great example of why you have client-side, app-level encryption in your services want your data stores primarily to store ciphertext of sensitive data.

Finally, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a report in January 2021 to warn companies using cloud services:

Threat actors use phishing and other vectors to exploit poor cyber hygiene practices within a victim’s cloud service configuration.

The security flaw in Cosmos DB is another example of how exactly the exploit threat is still is.

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