Cyber Security
Cloud Penetration Testing

Cloud Penetration Testing – How Does It Work?

People often ask, what is the difference between cloud penetration testing and traditional penetration testing? Traditional penetration testing methods only focus on processes that are relevant to on-premise environments. In contrast, cloud penetration testing differs from standard penetration testing and requires specific expertise. 

In cloud penetration testing, cloud system passwords, security of cloud-specific integrations, cloud applications and encryption, storage access, and APIs are examined. In this article, we’ll discuss cloud penetration testing and how it works. So, stick around with us. 

What Is Cloud Penetration Testing?

It’s a process of exploiting security vulnerabilities. It’s done by simulating a controlled cyber attack on cloud infrastructure to detect security issues. As mentioned earlier, it’s different from traditional penetration testing (Internal Pentests, External Pentests, Social Engineering Pentests, and others) so it’s performed under strict guidelines. CSPs like AWS and GCP set these guidelines. 

How Does Cloud Penetration Testing Work? 

Here we’ll share a step-by-step guide so that you can easily understand how it works and how you can perform it. 

Step 1: Understand the Policies of the Cloud Service Provider

You can’t start cloud pen testing without formulating a testing plan. The plan should be based on the policy of the cloud service provider. All cloud service providers have different policies regarding the following:

  • Scope of the tests
  • Endpoints that can be tested
  • Permission to perform the tests
  • Types of tests that can be performed

If your testing plan is different from the policies of the service provider, they can penalize you. CSP has automatic systems to detect, and they can lock your account when you violate their guidelines. 

Step 2: Create a Plan for Cloud Penetration Testing

There is no set formula for this step. Plans can vary from auditor to auditor. But the following steps can help you create a cloud penetration testing plan:

  • Figure out all endpoints for which testing is to be done
  • According to policy restrictions, exclude the endpoints
  • Find out the route for performing the test. For example, from an application or database
  • Find out if a virtual machine or application server takes the load of tests that you’re going to perform
  • Figure out tools that you want to use and what type of tests to be performed on endpoints
  • Get approval from the client and inform them about your plan. 

Step 3: Execute Your Plan

It’s the most critical step. You can run tools provided by CSP to observe responses for vulnerability. Some examples of tools that can help you perform cloud pen testing are the following:

  • AWS Inspector

It’s a customized security solution, and you can use it as a primary testing tool.

  • Microburst 

It can help you scan Azure services for security issues. But for this, PowerShell must be installed in your system. 

  • S3 Scanner

It’s an open-source tool. It scans S3 buckets for misconfigurations.

Other testing tools are Azucar and Cloudsploit. 

Step 4: Detect and Fix Vulnerabilities 

When you use the above-mentioned automated tools, there is a possibility of false positives. Therefore, please don’t add them to the report until you verify it’s exploitable. The best practice is to repeat the process for each layer, such as the application, database, network, etc., you are testing. 

Now, you need to present vulnerabilities to the client. The report should be in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. Your presentation of the report will decide whether the client takes these vulnerabilities seriously or not. The best practice is to categorize and organize reports on the type and level of threat. 

So far, vulnerabilities have been detected. The next step is to fix them. Developers can help you fix vulnerabilities. When you make minor changes to the code, some of the vulnerabilities can be fixed. But others might require a significant overhaul. 

If you were unable to detect vulnerabilities during cloud penetration testing, it means you need to change your plan. Or you need to perform more elaborate tests to detect security issues. 

Most Common Cloud Vulnerabilities 

Here we can’t mention all cloud vulnerabilities, but some of the major vulnerabilities are given below:

  • Insecure APIs

Cloud services use APIs for sharing information across various applications. But insecure APIs are threats to organizations because they can result in data leaks. But during cloud pen testing, leading causes of insecure APIs can be identified. 

  • Server Misconfigurations 

It’s the most common cloud server vulnerability. S3 bucket is the most popular cloud vulnerability. Improper permissions, lack of data encryption, and lack of ability to differentiate between private and public data are the main causes of cloud server misconfigurations. 

  • Weak Passwords

Using weak passwords makes your cloud accounts vulnerable to brute-force attacks. Attackers are clever and use smart tools to guess your passwords and access your accounts. When they succeed in doing so, they control your account, which can be disastrous. Cloud penetration testing can help verify this vulnerability. 

  • Outdated Software

When organizations use outdated software, they make their cloud services vulnerable to attacks. Sometimes organizations disable automatic updates, which can be dangerous. Moreover, hackers can easily scan outdated software and access cloud services. 

As mentioned earlier, there are various cloud vulnerabilities, and it’s not possible to cover all of them here. 

Benefits of Cloud Penetration Testing

Cloud pen testing can help organizations enjoy the following benefits:

  • Improve overall cloud security
  • Avoid breaches
  • Achieve compliance

Moreover, it gives a comprehensive understanding of cloud assets. Organizations get an idea of how strong is their cloud security to attack. 


As cloud computing services like AWS and Microsoft Azure are getting popular day by day, attackers exploit cloud vulnerabilities to access cloud services. Therefore, companies need to ensure that their cloud technologies are secure. They can ensure it by cloud penetration testing. Schedule a scoping call with Pre Rack IT today to get your cloud penetration test completed.

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