Amazon cloud could pose security threat

Cloud services, such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), are now vulnerable to malicious use says security company.

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Cloud services are now vulnerable to malicious use, a security company has suggested, after a techie worked out how Amazon's EC2 service could be used as a BitTorrent file harvester and host.

Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a web service software developers can use to access computing, compilation and software trialling power on a dynamic basis, without having to install the resources locally.

Now a developer, Brett O'Connor, has come up with a step-by-step method for using the same service to host an open source BitTorrent application called TorrentFlux.

Getting this up and running on Amazon would require some technical know-how, but would be within the reach of a moderately experienced user, right down to following O'Connor's command line low-down on how to install the public TorrentFlux app straight to Amazon's EC2 rather than a user's local machine.

Finding an alternative way of using BitTorrent matters to hardcore file sharers because ISPs and admins alike are increasingly keen to block such bandwidth-eating traffic on home and business links, and O'Connor's EC2 guide was clearly written to that end - using the Amazon service would make such blocking unlikely.

"I created a web-based, open-source Bittorrent 'machine' that liberated my network and leveraged Amazon's instead," says O'Connor. He then quips "I can access it from anywhere, uploading Torrent files from wherever, and manage them from my iPhone."

However, security company GSS claims the guide shows the scope for possible abuse, using EC2 to host or 'seed' non-legitimate BitTorrent file distribution.

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