Cloud Penetration Testing

By its low cost of production, adaptability, and efficiency, organizations are increasingly turning to cloud-based solutions. However, as the expression goes, “it’s not the cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer,” safety should be a top priority while using cloud services. Several large data intrusions have occurred as a result of insecure cloud services.


What is Cloud Penetration Testing and How Does It Work?

Cloud penetration testing is the technique of conducting a targeted cyber-attack to uncover security flaws in a cloud system. Cloud penetration testing follows stringent criteria established by cloud service vendors such as AWS pen testing and GCP penetration testing. It allows you to discover security flaws that cloud service providers have overlooked.


In order to find security issues, penetration testing entails doing aggressive vulnerability assessments on a computer, application, or network. Therefore, cloud penetration testing simply involves simulating an attack on your cloud services to evaluate their security. Finding security holes in your cloud service before hackers does is the key objective. Several manual and automated processes and technologies may be used depending on the cloud service type and the provider. However, doing cloud penetration testing raises a number of technical and legal difficulties since you do not actually control the cloud facilities; rather, you use them as a service.


Conventional penetration testing strategies aren’t offered by the cloud delivery method, focusing primarily on on-premises operations. Pen testing does not require the particular knowledge and abilities that cloud penetration testing does. For example, cloud penetration testing examines the security of cloud-specific configurations, cloud credentials, cloud apps and cryptography, as well as APIs, databases, and storage accessibility. Cloud penetration testing is influenced by the Joint Responsibility Framework, which stipulates who is responsible for certain aspects of a cloud network, platforms, or applications.


What does Cloud Penetration Testing entail?

A cloud system’s capabilities and flaws are assessed through cloud pen testing in order to increase its security posture. The following are some of the benefits of cloud penetration testing:


  • Threats, flaws, and shortcomings should all be noted.


  • Security holes that can be used against you


  • Determine the best way to utilize any access obtained through hacking.


  • Make remedial data plain and effective.


  • Describe how to keep awareness high.



What are the difficulties of cloud penetration testing?


  1. Insufficient transparency
    The data centres are handled by third parties to the dispute of some lesser-known cloud providers. As an outcome, the user may have no idea where the information is saved or what hardware and system setup is in use. On a cloud service, this lack of visibility opens user data to potential threats. For example, the cloud service supplier could be storing sensitive information without the user’s awareness. Furthermore, well-known CSPs such as AWS security testing, Azure pen testing, GCP, and others are known to perform internal security assessments. Unfortunately, due to the lack of openness in these solutions, the safety inspector of your choosing cannot evaluate these assets. As an outcome, if those fundamental services are hijacked, you may be unable to react.


2. Sharing of resources
Cloud services are well-known for sharing resources among several users. Yet, throughout cloud penetration testing, this data exchange can be difficult. Occasionally, network operators do not take sufficient precautions to segregate all consumers. If your company is required to comply with the PCI DSS, the standard states that all other customers accessing the service, as well as cloud service vendor, must also comply. Since there are numerous approaches to construct cloud platform, such complicated situations exist. The technique of cloud penetration testing is hampered by this intricacy.



  1. Policy limitations
    Cloud penetration testing is governed by the policies of each cloud service supplier. The goals and forms of assessment that can be performed are defined by this. Some also want you to notify them ahead of time before doing the exams. This policy mismatch creates a substantial difficulty and restricts the range of cloud penetration testing. Let’s look at the cloud pen testing policies of the three popular cloud providers:




    AWS Penetration Testing

    For Amazon web services, there are eight authorized services on which cloud pen testing can be undertaken without a previous warning. These are listed in the policy’s Authorized Services program. Additionally, the aforementioned approaches are not authorized during penetration testing:

  • DOS and DDoS attacks are both types of denial – of – service (DDOS).


  • Walking around DNS zones.


  • Overflow attacks on ports, protocols, or requests


Azure Pen testing
Azure permits cloud pen testing on the eight Microsoft products listed in its guidelines. Anything more than it is considered out of bounds. Furthermore, the following tests are forbidden:

  • Performing cloud pen testing on information or users other than yours in Azure.


  • DOS and DDoS assaults and tests generate a lot of bandwidth.


  • Attacking Azure VMs with heavy network spoof


  • Phishing or other social manipulation assaults against Microsoft workers are prohibited.


  • Infringing on the Acceptable Use Policy.


Google Cloud Penetration Testing
There is no specific cloud penetration testing strategy for Google Cloud Platform; instead, you must adhere to their Appropriate Use Policy and Terms of Service. Furthermore, there is no requirement to notify Google prior to performing experiments. Unfortunately, the Acceptable Use Policy lists a few activities you shouldn’t do, including the following:

  • Piracy and other illicit activities


  • Scamming


  • Abuse of the system.


  • During the experiments, distributing trojans, malware, and other malware


  • Infringing on other GCP users’ privileges or performing penetration testing on them.


  • Breaking or attempting to break terms of service


  • Disturbing with GCP-supporting equipment.


  1. Other considerations
    Because cloud services are so large, one workstation can run numerous virtual machines, increasing the scope of cloud penetration testing. Furthermore, the range of these tests might range from client technology (CMS, Database, etc.) to service vendor program (VM Software, etc). The combination of these elements complicates matters of cloud pen testing. When cryptography is added to this checklist, the position for auditors becomes even more difficult, as the corporation being inspected may refuse to give private keys.



Performing Cloud Penetration Testing in Steps



Step 1: Learn about the policies of the cloud service vendor.
Prior to beginning the testing, it is essential to develop a testing process based on the policies of the cloud service vendor. This is a result of every CSP having a different policy on:

  • Different types of cloud pen tests available.


  • Identifiers that can be put to the test


  • The ability to conduct the exams.
  • The tests’ range.

If your testing strategy does not comply, the cloud provider may impose penalties. There are automated procedures in existence that can identify if you continue to check your service for DDOS and the CSP does not permit it. Following that, the CSP may block your profile for an amount of time, and you will be required to provide extensive explanations before receiving your profile returned. The most important thing to do is familiarize yourself with your CSP strategy.



Step 2: Make a roadmap for cloud penetration testing.

Developing a plan for conducting cloud penetration testing is the second stage. Since each auditor is unique, there is no definite way to build a strategy. But here are some steps you can take to develop a plan:

  • Make a list of all the terminals that will be tested, such as user interfaces, APIs, and subnets.


  • Choose which sites to block depending on policy constraints, user rights, and other factors.


  • Choose whether to execute the pen test from an application or a dataset.


  • Determine how well the web application and virtual machines can carry the extra of the experiments you want to run.


  • Learn about the regulations that must be observed when conducting tests.


  • Determine which tools will be utilized and what kinds of tests will be run on which targets (Automated or Manual).


  • Finally, seek the customer’s consent for your strategy and let them know when you want to start.



Step 3: Put your strategy into action.

You must now put your strategy into practice. Run the tools as needed and keep an eye out for receptivity responses. Although some of the resources, like Nmap, Sqlmap, and OpenVAS, are well-known, your strategy can also make use of a number of CSP-specific programs.



Step 4: Find and repair security flaws
Some computerized procedures could produce erroneous results. As a result, it is vital to double-check each one before including it in the summary. Perform this approach for each level you’re evaluating (network, database, app, etc.).

The reporting system is the most undervalued aspect of cloud penetration testing. Cloud penetration testers must provide the weaknesses to the customer in a clear and understandable way. The customer’s perception of risks determines whether they are taken seriously or not. As a result, make sure the files are well-organized and classified according to the nature and severity of the danger. Azure, AWS, GCP, OCI, and other providers.

Once the flaws have been discovered, contact your programmers to get them fixed. Otherwise, why bother with cloud penetration testing during first instance if the flaws are ignored? Some of the flaws can be addressed with modest code modifications, while others may necessitate a complete rebuild. If your testing failed to uncover any vulnerabilities, you may need to revise your strategy and conduct more comprehensive safety checks.




Before executing a pen test on the AWS cloud, companies must determine the aim of the test. The goals will grow and steer both the pen testers and the companies, such as the regularity and breadth, which are usually driven by legal, financial, or other industry needs.

Addressing these standards will aid businesses in conducting pen tests that satisfy both corporate and security needs.



6. Cloud Security Threats

Insecure APIs:
Application programming interfaces, or APIs, allow organizations to share data and functionality from their programs with third-party businesses. Organizations and third parties use API keys to identify and verify each other. Someone could acquire accessibility to our API keys if we don’t secure them. APIs are widely used, yet insecure APIs can result in serious information leakage. To avoid this, do not embed API keys in software and store them in a secure location where unauthorised individuals cannot access them. Furthermore, all of our API services should have an authentication/authorization method to prevent network access from being broken.

Credentials that have been hacked may have leaked or been hardcoded in the program. This could result in our passwords being taken. In the codebase, we should not share our information such as the login key, hidden login key, or API keys. Giving a person our key code is essentially the same thing.



Outdated cloud penetration software: If our operating system is out of date, it could lead to serious threats such as data or password leaks. Make sure the software you’re using is up to date. One of the objectives to upgrade this software is to avoid obtaining security problems that need to be fixed in older versions. As a result, you should update your software to eliminate the threat.


Misconfigurations in the cloud: There’s always a story in the news about a major corporation leaking data or revealing a privacy violation. While these can happen in the cloud, the root cause is almost usually human error in the business’s setup.


The “least privilege principle” is a cloud paradigm. This entails granting the user the fewest possible permissions in order for them to perform their duties. If we offer them too much power and the profile is hacked or stolen, major difficulties may arise. To avoid them, we must always grant clients the least level of authority.


Models for Cloud Services
Before you begin penetration testing cloud-based apps, you need know which services will be handled by the cloud service vendor and which assets will be handled by the client.


Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): The cloud provider provides computer and system connectivity. The tenant is responsible for the virtual environment and everything it contains.


Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): The provider provides all of the components needed to operate the application, while the tenant provides the apps.


Cloud penetration testing tends to work in PaaS and IaaS surroundings as long as you work along with the cloud service supplier. There is a third alternative: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) (SaaS). The supplier in this situation provides the program as well as all of the elements needed to operate it. Penetration testing is not permitted in the Valuable environment due to the effect on technology.



Final Suggestions for Pen Testing

Another thing to think about is who is doing the penetration testing. You may be certain that certain issues will go unreported if you address it in-house. Internal software testers, no matter how experienced, might make mistakes. They’re too close to the activity and too acquainted with the technology, which can contribute to mistakes and negligence.


Standard procedures for your cloud supplier, the apps you’ll be testing, and any certification requirements you’ll need to meet should all be considered. Using the approaches that others have used is a fine place to begin, but bear in mind that your penetration testing techniques and approaches should be tailored to your needs.




Our Cloud Penetration testing services

A Cloud Configuration Assessment is a comparison of your Cloud installation to market best practices and standards. A report is created that includes a summary table that shows the standards and whether you are implementing a recommended method, as well as developing performance conclusions that break down the results in greater information, as well as thorough justifications and corrective guidance.



Cloud Penetration Testing examines the organization’s external posture using a combination of public and private penetration testing approaches. Undefended memory files and S3 buckets, servers with administration ports open to the web, and insufficient outflow restrictions are all instances of security vulnerabilities by this kind of dynamic monitoring.



So, what are you waiting for? Consult with Labsard today and get a quote for Cloud penetration testing!


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