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Cloud Security Pen Testing: Everything You Need to Know

4 Min. Read

Cloud security pen testing is a process of verifying the security of cloud-based systems and applications. Cloud service providers offer customers a great degree of flexibility, scalability, and economies of scale, but with this comes new risks and threats that must be evaluated. With cloud security pen testing you will be able to identify and mitigate these dangers.

In the following article, we will discuss the benefits of cloud security pen testing, its types, scopes, how it differs from standard penetration testing, best practices, and more!

What is Cloud Security Pen Testing?

Cloud security pen testing is a form of cloud security testing that investigates the security of cloud-based systems and applications. Cloud service providers provide their clients with a wealth of customization, scalability, and cost savings, but this comes at the expense of new risks that must be assessed.

Cloud security pen testing can help you identify these vulnerabilities and offer recommendations on how to reduce them.

Benefits of Cloud Security Pen Testing

There are many benefits to conducting cloud security pen tests including:

  • Helping to ensure compliance with industry regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, etc.
  • Identifying vulnerabilities in systems and applications before attackers do.
  • Providing organizations with peace of mind with the confirmation that their data is secure and protected.
  • Allowing organizations to make informed decisions about which cloud services to use.
  • Helping organizations save money by identifying and mitigating risks early on.

Cloud Penetration Testing can help in detecting and exploiting security vulnerabilities in your cloud infrastructure by simulating a controlled cyber attack. Cloud pentest is performed under strict guidelines from the cloud service providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google GCP.

For reference, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Top Threats Working Group released its “Cloud Penetration Testing Playbook” which outlines how to pen test systems and services hosted in public cloud environments. The playbook examines aspects such as how to scope a cloud pen test, how these tests are conducted in the shared responsibility model, and cloud penetration test cases and concerns.

How Does Cloud Security Pen Testing Differ from Standard Penetration Testing?

Cloud security pen testing differs from standard penetration testing in a few major ways:

  • Cloud security pen tests are conducted on cloud-based systems and applications, while standard penetration tests can be conducted on any type of system or application.
  • Cloud security pen tests focus on identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers, while standard penetration tests also assess the security of the system as a whole.
  • Cloud security pen tests are typically conducted more frequently than standard penetration tests, as the risks associated with cloud-based systems and applications change rapidly.

Types of Cloud Security Pen Testing

There are many different types and methods of cloud security pen testing, but some of the most common include:

Types of Cloud Security Pen Testing
Types of Cloud Security Pen Testing

Black box testing: This type of test focuses on assessing the external interface of a system or application. It is always used as a means of gaining access to a system or application by an attacker.

White box testing: This type of test focuses on assessing the internal structure of a system or application. This type of test is typically used to assess the security of systems and applications that have already been breached.

Gray box testing: This type of test combines aspects of both black box and white box testing. Gray box testing can be used to assess the external interface of a system or application, as well as the internal structure.

Cloud Security Pen Testing Scope

The scope of cloud security pen testing will vary depending on the needs of your organization. Some common things that are included in the scope of cloud security pen tests are:

  • Identifying vulnerabilities in systems and applications
  • Determining the likelihood of these vulnerabilities being exploited
  • Identifying the possible consequences of these flaws
  • Providing solutions to mitigate these issues

How to Prepare for a Cloud Security Pentest?

When preparing for a cloud security pen test, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, you need to identify the scope of the test. This will help you determine what needs to be tested and how much time will be needed. You also need to choose a reputable testing tool and make sure all findings are documented. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the most common threats so that you can properly prepare for them. Lastly, keep in mind that there may be some challenges you face during the testing process, but by being prepared, you can overcome them.

Cloud security pen tests are an essential part of keeping your systems and applications secure, so make sure you are prepared before conducting one.

Cloud Security Pen Testing Best Practices

There are many best practices that should be followed when conducting cloud security pen tests. Some of these best practices include:

Conducting regular tests: Cloud-based systems and applications change rapidly, so it is important to conduct regular tests to ensure that all new risks are identified and mitigated.

Using a reputable testing tool: There are many different cloud security testing tools available, so it is important to choose one that is reputable and has a good track record.

Documenting all findings: It is important to document all findings from cloud security pen tests so that they can be reviewed and used to improve the security of the system or application.

Most Common Cloud Security Threats

There are many different types of threats that can impact cloud-based systems and applications. Some of the most common include:

Data breaches: One of the most common types of threats, data breaches can occur when attackers gain access to sensitive information stored in the cloud.

Denial of service attacks: These attacks can cause systems and applications to become unavailable, preventing users from accessing them.

Malware: A software devised to damage or disrupt computer systems and applications, Malware can be transmitted through email attachments or by visiting dangerous websites.

Challenges in Cloud Security Pen Testing

There are many challenges that can be faced when conducting cloud security pen tests. Some of these challenges include:

Identifying all risks: Cloud-based systems and applications are constantly changing, so it can be difficult to identify all risks.

Determining the impact of vulnerabilities: It can be difficult to determine the potential impact of vulnerabilities, as they may not always result in a data breach or other serious consequences.

Mitigating risks: Once vulnerabilities have been identified, it can be challenging to mitigate all risks. This is often due to the rapid pace at which changes occur in cloud-based systems and applications.

Conclusion

As cloud services continue to enable new technologies and see massive adoption there is a need to extend the scope of penetration testing into public cloud systems and components.

Cloud security pen testing is a critical part of ensuring the security of cloud-based systems and applications. By conducting regular tests, using reputable tools, and documenting all findings, organizations can mitigate the risks associated with these threats.

Learn more on how to protect your organization’s valuable workloads by hardening Azure VMs.

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Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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Author
Charbel Nemnom
Charbel Nemnom is a Senior Cloud Architect, Swiss Certified ICT Security Expert, Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). He has over 20 years of broad IT experience serving on and guiding technical teams to optimize the performance of mission-critical enterprise systems with extensive practical knowledge of complex systems build, network design, business continuity, and cloud security.

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2 thoughts on “Cloud Security Pen Testing: Everything You Need to Know”

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  1. Hi Charbel,
    I would like to take some online courses and after completing is there any certification I am able to complete for cloud security pen testing.
    I would want really appreciate your valuable time in writing all these articles.

  2. Thank you Nishanth for your valuable feedback, much appreciated!
    Yes, I highly recommend the GIAC Cloud Penetration Tester (GCPN) which focuses on Cloud Security Pen Testing.
    There are others Pen Testing certifications out there but GCPN is tailored for the cloud.
    Read more: The GCPN certification validates a practitioner’s ability to conduct cloud-focused penetration testing and assess the security of systems, networks, architecture, and cloud technologies.
    I am so happy and grateful to hear that the valuable time that I put to write these articles is beneficial to you.
    All the best,

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