The Cautionary Tale of Code Spaces
Another technology company has come and gone. However, this was not due to any poor business planning or the organization offering obsolete technology services. This time around, a company was brought down by a single cyber-attack. Before we explain how this relates to MSPs who offer cloud-based solutions including cloud-based file sharing, let’s take a quick look at the details of this demise.
Code Spaces was an organization that offered source code repositories and project management services for developers using distributed control systems. Having been in business for seven strong years, Code Spaces had built up an impressive customer base. In less than one day’s time, one cyber attacker ended everything.
According to the statement made by Code Spaces (and encapsulating what remains of their website), a solitary, unauthorized intruder gained access to their Amazon Web Services (AWS) control panel and attempted to extort a large sum of money from the company in exchange for relinquishing access/control back to Code Spaces. When Code Spaces attempted to take back the control panel by changing passwords, the well-primed intruder responded by proceeding to delete panel entries at random. By the time Code Spaces finally managed to regain access to their AWS account, the damage had already been done. Over a 12-hour period, “most of [Code Spaces’] data, backups, machine configurations and offsite backups were either partially or completely deleted.”
Half a day is all it took to effectively destroy Code Spaces.
How is it that this happened? Code Spaces was built mostly on AWS, but the servers were never hacked. Code Spaces’ database was neither compromised nor stolen. They also make it clear that they have no reason to believe that the attack was performed or orchestrated by a current or former employee, noting that no machine access had been achieved due to the lack of the intruder’s access to their Private Keys. When running through potential security breach scenarios, most MSPs likely never even consider a hacker gaining access to their client’s web services in this way.
For companies like Code Spaces, there are undoubtedly numerous security measures that are instituted to ensure that server security is as tight as can be. Not unlike thousands of other companies and MSPs handling cloud operations, Code Spaces relied on Amazon to handle the bulk of their infrastructure. Yet, even the most powerful walls can be brought down from the inside. In this case, a Trojan Horse-like attacker snuck right in through the front gates and gained access to the AWS control panel.
This cautionary tale should be a real wake-up call for any company or MSP that runs any amount of cloud service operations.
If there is a lesson to be learned for MSPs, it’s that diversifying your client’s data across numerous cloud services may be the safest way to protect the collective whole. If you’re storing information on the cloud, do so through multiple vendors. Where possible, do what you can to spread out your client’s cloud service needs across different geographic locations.
Though the added services may seem like trivial expenditures, it’s hard not to justify minor upgrade fees that go the extra mile to ensure safety measures that exceed simple server instance imaging. Most importantly, this story undoubtedly emphasizes how important it is to maintain offsite data backups. With everything already being stored in the cloud, this may amount to a significant cost for many companies to double-up on. In the case of Code Spaces, it was the investment that could have brought them back from the dead.