After weeks of speculation, Microsoft has finally announced that Charlie Bell will take over the management of the company’s newly formed security department. Bell will take on his new role after 23 years at Amazon AWS where he oversaw engineering, operations and product development. News of his departure first broke in August, followed by unconfirmed reports suggesting that he had joined Microsoft.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a memo to the employees called The company is preparing for the next major challenge of securing digital technology platforms, devices and clouds in heterogeneous environments. It was this great ambition that attracted Bell, who has a proven track record of building world-class platforms, to Microsoft, added Nadella.
Bell went to LinkedIn to confirm the news. In his contribution he described “digital medievalism”, referring to the dependence on organizations and individuals who depend on the “walls of their castles and the strength of their citizens” on bad actors who simply deal with the prey of an attack ‘ . In his opinion, there is a need to move away from it and embrace the digital civilization where security is immutable and always true.
Bell joined Amazon in 1998 when his company acquired Server Technologies Group, which he founded two years ago. His company developed transaction software for Internet trading. He previously worked at Oracle, where he worked for seven years and managed transactional systems projects.
From his 23-year tenure at AWS, Bell was a top executive in the cloud unit for 15 years. He reported directly to CEO Andy Jass (when he was AWS CEO). As part of his responsibilities, he was involved in broad AWS services, including product definition, pricing, software development, and operations. Interestingly, Bell was even considered to succeed Jassy as AWS CEO, who eventually went to Adam Selipsky (former Tableau Software CEO).
Bell’s move to Microsoft was surrounded by speculation as Amazon strictly enforces non-compete agreements. Microsoft called that it will continue to have constructive talks with Amazon about Bell’s appointment. This year many high-ranking Amazons left the organization. Prominent names include Steve Kessel, who ran the physical store business, Wei Gao, who was affiliated with the grocery store, and Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer.
Bell-ing the Security Cat
Bell has a mammoth task ahead of him when he takes on his new role. Microsoft has faced a number of security challenges lately. One of the most recent is when Azure Cosmo DB, a fully managed NoSQL database for modern app development, was breached by security researchers at Wiz. The attackers were able to gain full access to thousands of Azure customer accounts through Jupyter Notebook. The compromised accounts included some high profile accounts like Coca-Cola, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and ExxonMobil. The Microsoft team was able to disable the vulnerable feature within 48 hours.
Last December, a UK app developer, Probase, identified an unsecured Azure cloud database that was disclosing medical records, recruitment data, insurance claims documents and occupational health assessments. As per The registry, up to 587,000 files remained in an unprotected Azure blob. This blob was public, and anyone with the addresses of the files could view them without authentication.
In January, a web privacy and VPN provider, vpnMentor, discovered a leaking cloud storage blob through its web mapping project. It has been suggested that Microsoft was the owner of the memory blob.
These attacks have affected Microsoft and other companies’ products. Microsoft has added new security features in recent years, including Windows and Azure cloud services. The company has also acquired many security firms and recently established the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center, which tracks hackers in nation-state states.
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