The Ultimate Guide for Cloud Penetration Testing

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The Ultimate Guide for Cloud Penetration Testing

The Ultimate Guide for Cloud Penetration Testing

Establishing a business duly updated on cloud servers or shifting information assets to the corresponding cloud servers builds a lot of sense in terms of working efficacy as well as being pocket-friendly.  Most third-party apps or plugins that might be in use by you would also be operating off of the cloud.  In this regard, several cloud providers are strictly bound by some security parameters and abide by some norms in place to secure data privacy; however, it is not sufficient for any elongation of the imagination.

Hence, we are thinking of putting some light on Cloud Penetration Testing in this blog.  Let’s get started!

What is Cloud Penetration Testing?

Cloud Penetration Testing can be defined as the procedure of tracking down and exploiting security flaws like vulnerabilities, threats, and loopholes, which can give some backdoor access to a black hat hacker in a cloud infrastructure by attempting a cyber attack in a properly controlled environment.  In addition, cloud penetration testing is executed under rigorous conditions by cloud service providers like AWS, GCP, Microsoft Azure, etc.

How Does Cloud Penetration Testing Differ from Penetration Testing?

In a common man’s statement, penetration testing is a procedure in which a professional pentester tries to obtain every minor to major security flaws like vulnerabilities, threats, and loopholes that can sincerely be exploited by a malicious threat actor.  At a certain level, this pentesting is performed on a system, service, or network to obtain weaknesses comprised in them that should reach the hands of a black hat hacker.

When it comes to cloud penetration testing, it needs to perform an artificial attack in the disguise of a potential hacker to take out every security flaw to test its security quotient.

What is the Purpose of Cloud Penetration Testing?

The main objective or purpose of implementing genuine cloud penetration testing services in the cloud atmosphere of an organization is to check whether the corresponding cloud server has any security concerns or not.  It could be the foremost work of an organization to check the security flaws before any real-time hacker does.

In addition, distinguished types of manual methods and cloud penetration testing tools could be utilized depending on the particular type of your cloud server and its provider.  However, whether you do not possess the cloud infrastructure, platform, or software as an important feature or as a service, there could be many law-based as well as technical disputes encountered for performing cloud penetration testing.

What are the Cloud Penetration Testing Benefits?

We should understand that there could be many benefits that can be encountered after taking the esteemed cloud penetration testing services from a world-class cloud penetration testing service provider like Craw Security, which offers the best penetration testing services in Singapore.

Moreover, we have enlisted some of the primetime cloud penetration testing benefits in the following:

  • Determining any potential vulnerabilities and threats in the cloud system.
  • Assisting in optimizing the cloud security parameters.
  • Enhancing the incident response methods & mechanisms.
  • Secure the reputation of your enterprise.
  • Offering the best Cloud Penetration Testing practices maintains visibility in the eyes of current and potential customers.

Cloud Penetration Testing and the Shared Responsibility Model

Any working cloud penetration testing organization should be concerned with the corresponding cloud providers’ service terms and conditions.  The following image represents the services policies offered by Amazon Web Services on what we can and can’t test:


In this regard, the following list jotted down below considers the names of the services that always come under the category of cloud penetration testing services by AWS:

  • Amazon EC2 instances, NAT Gateways, and Elastic Load Balancers
  • Amazon RDS
  • Amazon CloudFront
  • Amazon Aurora
  • Amazon API Gateways
  • AWS Lambda and Lambda Edge functions
  • Amazon Lightsail resources
  • Amazon Elastic Beanstalk environments

Subsequently, users can sincerely run as many tests as they want on the above-mentioned listed services.  However, there are certain services that are forbidden to run tests by AWS, which are mentioned in the following image:

run tests by AWS


Moreover, going ahead to the listed services that are duly forbidden by AWS to run cloud penetration testing are mentioned below:

  • DNS zone walking via Amazon Route 53 Hosted Zones
  • Kinds of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
  • Port flooding
  • Protocol flooding
  • Request flooding (e.g., login request flooding, API request flooding)

As a general rule, we can understand that some services are allowed while some are strictly prohibited by AWS; however, one can even check the prohibited services after notifying AWS before running penetration tests on them.

For instance, if clients like to run a Network Stress Test or a DDoS simulation test, they have to refer to AWS’s guidelines on Stress Testing and DDoS Simulation Testing.  As a result, their testing can be further initiated after a positive nod from AWS itself; otherwise, one has to drop the idea of testing this feature.

Most Common Cloud Vulnerabilities

Certain cloud vulnerabilities can lead to a hackable cloud account that can be exploited anytime by a professional hacking professional with the help of some hacking tricks, tools, and techniques on the job.  However, defining each one of them is a pretty difficult task for us, yet we try to define some of them in the following:

  • Insecure APIs
  • Cloud Server Misconfigurations
  • Weak Credentials
  • Outdated Software
  • Insecure Coding Practices

Here, we have discussed the above-mentioned Most Common Cloud Vulnerabilities in the following paragraphs so far:

Insecure APIs

The APIs are generously used in cloud penetration testing services to share crucial info across several applications.  However, insecure APIs could result in a vast-scale data leak, as was visible in the case of Venmo, Airtel, etc.  In addition, utilizing the HTTP methodologies, such as PUT, POST, DELETE, etc., in APIs incorrectly can permit hackers to upload malicious code or content on your server that can delete, alter, modify, or hijack the database without your permission.

Moreover, improper access management and lack of input sanitization are some of the prominent reasons for APIs getting hacked, which can sincerely be revealed while implementing cloud penetration testing.

Cloud Server Misconfigurations

In the cloud service, misconfigurations are the most common cloud vulnerabilities today, especially misconfigured S3 Buckets.  In addition, the highly well-known case was considered to be the Capital One data breach that led to the jeopardize of the databases of something around 100+ million Americans as well as 6+ million Canadian citizens.

In this regard, the general cloud server misconfigurations are inappropriate allotments that lead to not encrypting the databases and distinguishing between private and public datasets.

Weak Credentials

Utilizing the most common or feeble passwords can certainly lead your cloud accounts to stay vulnerable to any kind of cyber attack, say brute force attacks.  In addition, the malicious intent threat actor can nicely automate several tools to establish guesses of any strings of possible passwords, thereby paving the way for your regular accounting to exploit those credentials.

As a result, this could be very dangerous for individual or organizational databases to confirm an entire account takeover.  Whether people try to reuse passwords or utilize easily memorized passwords, these kinds of cyber attacks are very common.  This particular scenario can repeatedly be checked whilst attempting cloud penetration testing best practices.

Outdated Software

Functioning on outdated software versions can also lead to very heinous results as they are pretty vulnerable to the potential threats that the company has already taken care of in the latest software version.  One just has to update their working software to the latest version for a safe & sound working methodology in the long run.

In addition, most software vendors do not intend to utilize a streamlined update protocol, or the users incapacitate automatic updates themselves so that they do not get updated and their storage gets uselessly filled.  That’s strictly wrong!  With these outdated software versions, hackers track down them with automated scanners and can exploit them immensely.

Insecure Coding Practices

Many organizations attempt to get their cloud infrastructure to be made as inexpensive as it could be possible.  Hence, because of the poor coding exercises, such as software often includes vulnerabilities like SQLi, XSS, CSRF, etc.  Moreover, the most common vulnerabilities among them fall under the category of OWASP Top 10 and SANS Top 25.  As a result, these vulnerabilities are the root cause for a number of cloud web services being compromised.

What are the Challenges in cloud penetration testing?

With the entire scanning in the cloud penetration testing of a cloud server, there are certain challenges faced by many organizations in implementing cloud penetration testing procedures:

  • Lack of Transparency
  • Resource Sharing
  • Policy Restrictions
  • Other Factors

In order to clarify your understanding of the above-mentioned challenges that are generally faced while implementing cloud penetration testing, we have elaborated on them in the following paras:

Lack of Transparency

In the absence of good cloud services, the corresponding data centers are well-controlled by third-party associations.  Resulting, the user might not be aware of the location of the data storage and which hardware or software compositions are being used.  In addition, this clarity-less exposes the user database to the security risks of a cloud service.

For example, the cloud service provider might be holding some sort of confidential information without the prior user’s knowledge.  In this regard, some famous CSPs, such as AWS, Axure, GCP, etc., are pretty famous for running internal security audits.

Resource Sharing

It is a pretty famous evidentiary fact that cloud services massively share resources across numerous accounts.  However, this phase of resource-sharing could be highly challenging during the cloud penetration testing.  In this regard, the service providers sometimes do not take the necessary measures to segment the entire users.

In the scenario, in case your organization requires to be PCI DSS compliant, the standardization mentions that all the additional accounts sharing the same resource and the particular cloud service provider should necessarily be PCI DSS compliant also.  That type of intricate case exists as there are numerous paths to enforce the cloud infrastructure.  As a result, this complexity delays the wide variety of cloud penetration testing procedures.

Policy Restrictions

Every cloud service provider possesses one’s own dos and don’ts related to what is allowed and what is not while conducting the wide processes associated with cloud penetration testing.  This elaborates on the related endpoints and types of tests which can be implemented.

Most importantly, some even need you to propose an advance notice far before executing the tests.  Further, this policy disparity paves the way for a noteworthy challenge and restricts the extent of conducting cloud penetration testing.

Subsequently, let’s read more about the main cloud penetration testing policies of the 3 most famous cloud service providers:

Cloud Provider Prohibited Attacks*
AWS Denial of Service (DOS) and Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDOS), DNS zone walking, Port, Protocol, or Request flooding attacks, etc.
Azure DOS and DDoS attacks, intensive network fuzzing attacks, Phishing, or any other social engineering attacks, etc.
GCP Piracy or any other illegal activity, Phishing, Distributing trojans, ransomware, Interfering, etc.

*These prohibited attacks are subject to change as per the policy change of their respective cloud service provider’s sole discretion.

Other Factors

As there is a mere scale of cloud services in which a single machine can do numerous VM hostings, which adds to the scale of penetration testing.  Similarly, the corresponding scope for the same tests can differ from user software (CMS, Database, etc.) to the corresponding service provider software (like VM Software, etc.)

In this regard, both these factors blend ahead to add to the intricacy of cloud penetration testing.  Moreover, when data encryption is added to this list, it can widely worsen the circumstances for auditors as the organization being audited might be unwilling to offer encryption services keys.

Types & Methods of Cloud Penetration Testing

It is a widely famous aspect that cloud penetration testing is generally divided into 3 types of penetration testing techniques that are described below:

Black Box Penetration Testing

A Black Box Test is carried out in strict circumstances where a penetration tester would not have any previous knowledge or any kind of User IDs and Passwords.  This is the same manner in which the actual black hat hackers functionalize their attempts to gain access to any datasets of an organization.

Tools used for Black Box Penetration Testing are Selenium, Applitools, Microsoft Coded UI, etc.

Grey Box Penetration Testing

As the name suggests, it is the amalgamation of White and Black Box Penetration Testing.  A working penetration testers team tries to launch many attacks on the IT infrastructures of an organization with limited knowledge of the credentials.

Tools used for Grey Box Penetration Testing are Postman, Burp Suite, JUnit, NUnit, etc.

White Box Penetration Testing

In this prominent technique, a penetration testing team will have every needful credential that they require to hack the datasets of an organization.  Most permanent paid ethical hackers do possess all the required datasets to secure the information relevant to the IT infrastructures of an organization.

Moreover, the renowned white box testing tools comprise Veracode, GoogleTest, CCPUnit, RCUNIT, etc.

AWS and Azure Cloud Penetration Testing

In today’s era, where businesses are adapting cloud servers more than manual data representation, two cloud service providers are working eminently for almost every working enterprise hailing from any niche, and that is Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure.

Both Azure and AWS allow penetration testing to the organizations to almost every infrastructure of the business, which is hosted on the AWS or Azure platform, as long as the corresponding test falls under their permitted standards.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure are two of the common cloud-based services that organizations use to support business activities in the cloud.  Both AWS and Azure permit penetration testing relative to any infrastructure the business is hosting on the AWS or Azure platform as long as those tests fall within the list of “permitted services.”

Moreover, we have also updated the corresponding “rules of engagement” associated with the penetration testing that are allowed and not by both AWS and Azure in the below-mentioned links:

Apart from them, you may check the other two cloud services providing supergiants in the following links:

Cloud Penetration Testing Scope

Most working cyber security professionals who get engaged in cloud penetration testing would generally verify the following areas of scope:

  • The Cloud Perimeter,
  • Internal Cloud Environments, and On-Premise Cloud Management,
  • Administration and Development Infrastructure

Moreover, cloud penetration testing usually takes place in 3 corresponding phases that are described below:

  • Phase One: Evaluation: The working team of cloud penetration testing professionals will sincerely implement a wide variety of cloud security discovery procedures like cloud security needs, existing cloud SLAs, risks, and potential vulnerability exposures.
  • Phase Two: Exploitation: Utilizing the data collected from the first phase, the expert penetration personnel will blend info extracted during evaluation with any particular pentesting procedures considering exploitable shortcomings.  As a result, this particular step will assess your cloud ecosystem’s efficiency.
  • Phase Three: Remediation Verification: In this final step, cloud penetration testing experts would execute a follow-up assessment to confirm whether the exploitation stage’s remediation and mitigation efforts have been successfully enforced or not.  This also allows the pentesters to ensure that the client’s security posture is aligned with industry standards.

Most Common Cloud Security Threats

The most common cloud security threats can essentially be mitigated with the correct usage of cloud penetration testing under the extreme supervision of world-class cloud penetration testing professionals who have years of authentic experience in tracking down the most vulnerabilities possessed in the IT infrastructures of many businesses hailing from diverse industries.  One can nicely check some of the most common cloud security threats below:

  • Misconfigurations
  • Data Breaches
  • Malware/ Ransomware
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
  • Supply Chain Compromises
  • Insider Threats
  • Weak Identities and Credentials
  • Weak Access Management
  • Insecure Interfaces and APIs
  • Inappropriate Use or Abuse of Cloud Services
  • Shared Services/Technology Concerns

cloud penetration testing

Cloud Penetration Testing Best Practices

A keenly working cyber security agency with the best measures of cloud penetration testing can self-evaluate its varied steps to track down numerous cloud penetration testing best practices.  Moreover, we have listed some of the best tips that can assuredly be taken to operate primetime cloud penetration testing activities that would certainly give you fruitful outcomes as a result:

  • Work with an experienced provider of cloud penetration testing: As numerous procedures related to cloud penetration testing are quite identical to those utilized in standard penetration testing, diverse regions of understanding and experience are needed.
  • Understand the Shared Responsibility Model: One can sincerely understand that the cloud systems are monitored by the Shared Responsibility Model, which describes the main regions of responsibility possessed by the client and the cloud service provider (CSP).
  • Understand any CSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or “Rules of Engagement”: Your CSP’s service level agreements will definitely offer varying levels of information on the “rules of engagement” associated with any kind of penetration testing, including their cloud services.
  • Define the scope of your cloud: Knowing what elements are comprised in your cloud assets to identify the full scope of the cloud penetration testing that will certainly be required.
  • Determine the type of testing: Understanding the type of cloud penetration testing (such as white box pentest, black box pentest, or grey box pentest) that would be the best fit for your implementation in your business.
  • Codify expectations and timelines for both your security team and an external cloud pentesting company: Getting to understand the best of your business responsibilities and those of the external cloud pentesting company, comprising receipt of reports, remediations, and follow-up testing necessities.
  • Establish a protocol for a breach or live attack: Establishing as well as implementing a fool-proof and genuine plan in place if the cloud penetration testing agency tracks down that your business has already lost its information in the data breach or if they happen upon a corresponding attack that is in process.

Frequently Asked Questions

About The Ultimate Guide for Cloud Penetration Testing

1: What is public cloud penetration testing?

Cloud penetration testing can be defined as an artificial attack that is launched by a known ethical hacker in the disguise of a potential hacker just to check the number of vulnerabilities, threats, and loopholes in a particular cloud provider that can sincerely pass on any backdoor access to the real-time hackers and weaken the security posture of the organization.

By this method, all the security flaws can be patched using the right value of procedures by a professional working team of expert penetration testers.

2: What is cloud pen testing?

Cloud pentesting is a technique employed by efficient penetration testing professionals to determine all the security flaws hidden in the IT infrastructures of an organization in the shape of vulnerabilities, threats, and loopholes.  In addition, the same pentesting professional would also mitigate the obtained security flaws and help them achieve a good security posture that is hard to penetrate by real-time hacking professionals.

3: What is sec588 cloud penetration testing?

The SEC588 of the Cloud Penetration Testing defines determining the security vulnerabilities via many skills needed to access a cloud ecosystem nicely.  In case you are a penetration tester, the course will certainly offer a pathway to understand how to adapt your skills to cloud ecosystems.

4: Do I need pre-approval to conduct a penetration test on Azure resources?

No, in the guidelines launched on June 15, 2017, Microsoft does not require pre-approval to implement a penetration test against Azure resources.

5: What is cloud testing?

Basically, cloud testing can be defined as a process of checking out the performance, scalability, and reliability of web applications in a cloud computing ecosystem.

6: How to test cloud-based applications?

One can sincerely check out cloud-based applications and search for any sort of vulnerabilities, threats, and loopholes within them by employing the right kinds of specific tools for individual tests like performance testing, load testing, stress testing, and security.

Moreover, there is another way of checking out cloud applications.  Organizations to utilize comprehensive, end-to-end testing as a service (TaaS) products.

7: How much does CloudTest cost?

The corresponding CloudTest costs vary on the number of services and add-ons you want to conduct for a quick round of scanning of your cloud-based services, software, hardware, applications, etc.

On the other hand, Craw Security, the best cloud penetration testing service provider in Singapore, offers the best cloud computing services in Singapore under the influence of world-class pentesting professionals having years of working experience in correcting around 500+ IT infrastructures of more than 350 organizations hailing from distinguished niches.

To book a demo session, you are just required to call us on our hotline number available at a round-the-clock facility at +65-93515400.


In this blog post, we have shed some light on the main points of cloud penetration testing.  In addition, we proposed some valuable datasets regarding cloud pentest and exposed the chief cloud shared responsibility model for pentesting.  We have also disclosed some diverse tools that could come in pretty handy while implementing various cloud pentesting measures.  We hope you like it!

In the bottom line, taking cloud penetration testing services by Craw Security, offering the best penetration testing services in Singapore and other distinguished nations in the world, could be the game-changing option for your business’s flawless cyber security.

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