1/21/2019
08:15 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb

Microsoft Looks to Squash Bugs in its Azure DevOps Product

Microsoft's latest bug-hunting program is targeting the company's Azure DevOps platform, which looks to make software development more secure.



Microsoft has created a Bug Bounty program for its Azure DevOps product. Redmond will offer bounties of up to $20,000 for flaws that are eligible under its guidelines.

As part of the January 17 announcement, Microsoft noted that the program would apply to Azure DevOps Services -- formerly Visual Studio Team Services -- online, as well as the latest publicly available versions of Azure DevOps Server and Team Foundation Server.

The program will pay rewards from $500 all the way up to $20,000 depending on the severity of the problem that is described.

At its heart, Azure DevOps is a cloud service which was launched in 2018, and designed to allow collaboration on code development. The DevOps tag highlights that it focuses on all the phases that are part of the development lifecycle.

DevOps has become a broad paintbrush of a term to describe a higher velocity of development activities, which has become the goal for many enterprises trying to respond to market forces in a dynamic manner. It consists of many serial cycles of development, deployment and automated testing that increases the pace of product releases.

With this program, Microsoft hopes to discover vulnerabilities that have a direct and verifiable impact on the security of its DevOps customers.

"Security has always been a passion of mine, and I see this program as a natural complement to our existing security framework," Buck Hodges, Microsoft's Director of Engineering for Azure DevOps, noted in the announcement. "We'll continue to employ careful code reviews and examine the security of our infrastructure. We'll still run our security scanning and monitoring tools. And we'll keep assembling a red team on a regular basis to attack our own systems to identify weaknesses."

Hodges thinks that the rewards will help motivate researchers to find security vulnerabilities in the DevOps services and allow corrections to be made to them before they're exploited by attackers. It also seems that Microsoft wants you to know that the new program won't be replacing their own security efforts.

The bug bounty program is looking for these kinds of vulnerabilities:

  • Cross site scripting (XXS)
  • Cross site request forgery (CSRF)
  • Cross-tenant data tampering or access
  • Insecure direct object references
  • Insecure deserialization
  • Injection vulnerabilities
  • Server-side code execution
  • Significant security misconfiguration (when not caused by user)
  • Using component with known vulnerabilities
  • Unauthorized cross-tenant data tampering or access

The company guidelines also state that vulnerabilities based on user configuration or action will not be considered as inbounds for program purposes. This includes:

  • Vulnerabilities based on user-generated content
  • Vulnerabilities requiring extensive or unlikely user actions
  • Security misconfiguration of a service by a user, such as the enabling of HTTP access on a storage account to allow for man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks
  • Missing HTTP Security Headers (such as X-FRAME-OPTIONS) or cookie security flags (such as "httponly")

Vulnerabilities due to third parties are also considered as out-of-bounds for program purposes, along with other classes of vulnerabilities including:

  • Server-side information disclosure
  • Denial of service (DoS) attacks
  • Cookie replay vulnerabilities
  • Vulnerabilities used to enumerate or confirm the existence of users or tenants

This type of program is Microsoft's signal that its security virtue is to be applauded, and it also extends the company's recent actions in implementing bug bounties for its other products, including Microsoft Account and Azure Active Directory.

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— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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