Cloud Penetration Testing

Cloud based services have become an omnipresent aspect for all of us today. The cloud acts as an enabler to fulfill our diverse virtual functionalities. The rise in the utilization pattern of cloud applications also brings along some frightening security concerns that call for actions like cloud penetration testing.

About 73 percent of business organizations functioning via public clouds are highly stressed about cloud security. Research suggests that the cloud security market shall touch the figure of $12.6 billion by 2024. Cloud penetration testing stands among the most effective methods to foster cloud security for any entity. It can help uncloud the diverse cybersecurity issues affecting our cloud-based operations. Let us explore the ins and outs of this domain of penetration testing with our NaviSec experts.

What is cloud penetration testing?

Cloud pentesting refers to the process of discovering the security vulnerabilities in a cloud computing system wherein the testing team simulates a strategized attack on the cloud. The cloud computing framework and service policy alter with the service providers like AWS and Azure. Hence, it is vital to stick to the penetration testing guidelines specified by each cloud service company.

What are some major cloud security issues that business concerns have to tackle?

The OWASP, aka the Open web application security project, also enlists some of the most alarming cloud security issues that any entity can face. As per OWASP’s presently available list, the top 10 cloud security issues include:

  • Accountability and data ownership
  • User identity federation
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Business continuity and resiliency
  • User privacy and secondary usage of information
  • Service and data integration
  • Multi-tenancy and physical security
  • Incident analysis and forensic support
  • Infrastructure security
  • Non-production environment exposure

Why should business organizations consider the implementation of cloud penetration testing?

There are many compelling reasons for business enterprises to implement cloud pentesting to strengthen the defense mechanism of their cloud-based infrastructure.

It helps in recognizing vulnerabilities and security gaps

A special report highlights that the annual losses resulting from compromised cloud accounts are over $6.2 million. Hence, finding all potential vulnerabilities is essential for any business.

Cybersecurity experts consider cloud pentesting a stellar way to bring to light hidden misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in their cloud applications. The testing team involved in cloud penetration tests employs various means to dig out security gaps before actual adversaries can take advantage of them.

Allows proper assessment of the impact of exploitable exposures

Like any other type of penetration testing, Cloud penetration testing involves assaying the different aspects of data protection controls. During the simulated attacks of the test, the organizations can witness the effect resulting from exploiting the exposures on a real-time basis. Thus, they know the intensity of possible threats to their cloud operations and can take protection measures accordingly.

Supports the delivery of adequate remediation details

Any delay or slack in maintaining the security shield of your cloud infrastructure can wreak havoc for any company. Business owners and management teams can get timely and effective remediation recommendations from testing teams after performing cloud penetration tests.

Enables entities to implement best practices for retaining cloud security

Cloud penetration testing facilitates business concerns to execute globally acclaimed cybersecurity best practices for their cloud infrastructure. Pentesting professionals from reputed cybersecurity companies are versed in the nuances of cloud security and help understand the top-notch tactics that clients can implement.

What is the shared responsibility model?

When testers carry out penetration testing under the shared responsibility model, they investigate the security in the cloud rather than of the cloud. This factor is due to the bifurcation of security responsibility between the cloud service provider (CSP) and the customer. Only selected components, as defined in a service level agreement, fall within the purview of the customer entity.

What is the methodology followed to conduct cloud penetration testing?

Cloud pentesting comprises the below-mentioned step-by-step process.

  • Cognizance of the relevant policies of the cloud service provider
    There are various cloud service providers in the market, like AWS and Azure. Each of them has separate guidelines for penetration testing. Hence, the pentesters need to first acquaint themselves with the applicable policies of their client entity. This step helps bring more clarity regarding the course of action to follow and prevent any legal complications.   

  • Chalking out a cloud pentesting plan
    Once the pentesting team understands the relevant policies, they begin with the planning process for the cloud penetration test. The planning phases may vary from one pentesting team to another. However, the approach generally adopted comprises the following steps:
    • Determining the testing endpoints such as APIs and user interface
    • Defining the endpoints that the testers should exclude due to permissions and policy restrictions.
    • Mapping out the route to implement the pentest
    • Figuring out the legal compliance that the testing team needs to meet
    • Deciding the different tools and testing types that the testing team can adopt.
    • Getting approval for the plan drafted from the client entity

  • Selection of the required cloud pentesting tools and execution of the plan
    Various penetration tools are available for a cloud pentest, depending on the different cloud service providers. One can specifically utilize the popular tools for cloud pentesting that comprise MicroBurst, Azucar, AWS Inspector, and S3Scanner. Apart from these tools, Nmap and OpenVas are some general tools that also help cloud penetration testing. With the assistance of adequate testing tools, the testers conduct the pentest in line with the scope of the approved plan.

  • Evaluation of the obtained responses
    After executing the selected tools and manual testing strategies, the testers should document and analyze the obtained responses. One should dismiss false positives and find out the exploitable areas. The required responses should be reported to enable the accomplishment of the relevant corrective measures.

  • Detection and elimination of all possible vulnerabilities
    The testing team now has to check the intensity and extent of the impact of the vulnerabilities and scrutinize them for future action. The testers should communicate the exposures detected in a formal report and provide improvement recommendations as per the diagnosis.

What are the cloud security best practices that cloud pentesting experts suggest for all types of businesses?

Any organization looking to sustain the efficacy of its cloud security can practice specific measures. These best practices encompass the following:

Organizations should collaborate with proficient penetration testing providers.

Nothing can beat authentic experience and skills. While hiring any cloud pentesting provider, entities should undertake a proper background check of prospective companies. Cloud pentesting needs a high-level understanding of various policies and testing approaches.

Pay attention to the requirements of the shared responsibility model

It is best to always stick to the dos and don’ts applicable under the shared responsibility model. Businesses should oversee every aspect of their CSP agreement to conduct the cloud penetration test better.

Define the cloud pentesting type and the scope of your cloud infrastructure

The entities should have a thorough comprehension of the different components of the cloud infrastructure to determine the overall scope of the penetration test. They should also be aware of the best cloud penetration testing type that shall work for their needs.

Enumerate the timeline and expectations for both the third-party testing provider and your internal security team

It is better to maintain total unambiguity between the roles of internal security and the outside testing team to carry out the test and remediation aspects properly.

What are some significant challenges that might hinder your cloud penetration testing project?

  • Lack of a standardized testing approach
    Many cloud penetration testing teams are often confused about the testing approach they need to follow. There is no classic methodology to perform the test, and it is highly subjective to the needs and compliances of the client organization.
  • Confusion regarding the testing policies applicable
    Each cloud service provider, like Oracle and Azure, has its own set of penetration testing rules. Penetration testers might find it challenging to adapt their testing procedure to the varying requirements of multiple providers.
  • Use of diverse technologies and tools
    There are a plethora of testing tools and technologies related to cloud-based operations that ethical hackers have to understand. They often feel perplexed regarding the best tools and techniques they should utilize for diverse clients and cloud services.

Tap the unbeatable potential of cloud penetration testing professionals from NaviSec!

NaviSec has maintained an iconic image in the world of penetration testing with its state-of-the-art services. We simplify the complications surrounding the sustenance of cybersecurity for different types of organizations. Our cloud penetration testing prowess can help you build a highly safeguarded cloud infrastructure for your business. Contact our team now!

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