Microsoft Releases Security Guidelines for Windows Azure

Industry analysts have praised Microsoft for doing a respectable job at ensuring the security of its Business Productivity Online Services, Windows and SQL Azure. With that said, deploying applications to the cloud requires additional considerations to ensure that data remains in the correct hands.

Microsoft released a version of its Security Development Lifecycle in early June as a result of these concerns. Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle, a statement of best practices to those building Windows and .NET applications, focuses on how to build security into Windows Azure applications and has been updated over the years to ensure the security of those apps.

Principle security program manager of Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle team Michael Howard warns that those practices were not, however, designed for the cloud. Speaking in a pre-recorded video statement embedded in a blog entry, Howard says, “Many corporations want to move their applications to the cloud but that changes the threats, the threat scenarios change substantially.”

Titled “Security Best Practices for Developing Windows Azure Applications,” the 26-page white paper is divided into three sections: the first describes the security technologies that are part of Windows Azure (including the Windows Identity Foundation, Windows Azure App Fabric Access Control Service and Active Directory Federation Services 2.0—a core component for providing common logins to Windows Server and Azure); the second explains how developers can apply the various SDL practices to build more secure Windows Azure applications, outlining various threats like namespace configuration issues and recommending data security practices like how to generate shared-access signatures and use of HTTPS in the request URL;  and the third is a matrix that identifies various threats and how to address them.

Says Howard, “Some of those threat mitigations can be technologies you use from Windows Azure and some of them are threat mitigations that you must be aware of and build into your application.”

Security is a major concern and Microsoft has address many key issues concerning security in the cloud. President of Lieberman Software Corp., a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in enterprise security Phil Lieberman says, “By Microsoft providing extensive training and guidance on how to properly and securely use its cloud platform, it can overcome customer resistance at all levels and achieve revenue growth as well as dominance in this new area. This strategy can ultimately provide significant growth for Microsoft.”

Agreeing with Lieberman, Scott Matsumoto, a principal consultant with the Washington, D.C.-based consultancy firm Cigital Inc., which specializes in security, says, “I especially like the fact that they discuss what the platform does and what’s still the responsibility of the application developer. I think that it could be [wrongly] dismissed as a rehash of other information or incomplete—that would be unfair.” To find more research on Cloud Security, please visit

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