All you need to know about Pentesting in the AWS Cloud

Quite recently, we have experienced many AWS (Amazon Web Services) breaches exposing vulnerabilities, like S3 buckets, compromised AWS environments, and more. To understand the strategies of specific attacks on AWS Cloud, one must have specific knowledge and a strategic approach. In this article, we will explain the dire need for AWS pentesting among organizations that are seeking to improve their security and reduce the probability of breaches.

What is AWS?

When we talk about AWS pentesting, we must consider the legal regulations of the cloud environment. To put it another way, AWS penetration testing focuses on access management user permissions, identity configuration, user-owned assets, and integration of AWS API into the AWS ecosystem. For example, testing S3 bucket configuration and permission flaws, covering tracks of obfuscating cloud trail logs, targeting and compromising AWS IAM Keys, etc. implies that the client-side components are tested, ignoring the AWS instance.

A recent study found that the increased use of cloud and web-based applications in organizations has made small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) primary targets for cybercriminals.

Why is AWS  penetration testing important?

Many organizations have openly adopted AWS services, but not everyone understands the technical flexibility provided for AWS incorporations. This often results in misconfiguration of user permissions and identity management.

The following scenarios explain the significance of penetration testing in AWS environments to ensure security –

  • Reported failures across security checks of AWS include open-wide security groups’ and excessive permissions.
  • A false understanding of the ‘shared responsibility model.’ Organizations underestimate their risk exposure.
  • Incompetency in implementation, operation, and requirements for multi-factor authentication. It is important to consider the effectiveness of social engineering attacks and personal identification information attacks.
  • Maintaining compliance that impacts the networks and data centers. Specifically, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, FedRAMP, etc. are a few of the  required regulatory compliances that organizations must follow. Per regulatory authorities, pentesting enables recovering and eliminating security gap.
  • Identify and remediate zero-day vulnerabilities. Addressing zero-day vulnerabilities enables good security posture in the cloud.

Data on the Cloud

Endorsing AWS security implementation in the cloud forms a flexible security plan. Because of the shared responsibility model, AWS explains the need for penetration testing of the applications, operating systems, networks, and instances. Hence, AWS also has a recognized program that permits pentesting. Organizations should partner with businesses that are familiar with the program and create rules governing critical success.


How do AWS Methodologies differ from Traditional Pentesting?

There is a difference between pentesting of traditional security infrastructure and the AWS Cloud. The main difference being system ownership. Amazon owns the core infrastructure of AWS. Therefore, the methodologies used in AWS are different from that of traditional penetration testing. For this reason, the AWS security team involves specific incident response procedures.

5 Vulnerabilities to Test for in AWS

Even though there are numerous  vulnerabilities that are specific to AWS, a few in particular are quite common. Here are the top 5 vulnerabilities to be test for in the AWS landscape:

  1. Testing permission flaw along with S3 bucket configuration
  2. Implementing web application firewall (WAF)/ Cloudfront misconfiguration bypasses
  3. Covering tracks by obfuscating Cloudtail logs
  4. Targeting and compromising AWS IAM keys
  5. Applying Lambda backdoor functionality and establish access to private clouds

Prior to hiring penetration testers, ensure their understanding of your business deliverables is clear. Also, check to be sure their approach to the risk directly correlates to your business and  ensure  your organization will take appropriate action.

Learn how to Pentest advanced cloud servers including AWS

EC-Council Certified Security Analyst is a leading penetration testing program that is comprehensive with traditional and advanced penetration testing methodologies. It is a hands-on program that enables you to practice pentesting on newer platforms like cloud, AI, etc. EC-Council also provides an iLabs range facility to uncover security threats that organizations are vulnerable to.


How are modern penetration testers different from traditional penetration testers?
First thing to remember is that organizations are looking for proactive solutions like modern penetration testing methods tha identify vulnerabilities and recommend mitigating risks. Learn the differences between modern and traditional penetration testing:Modern Penetration Testers – How are They Different!
Why do organizations need a certified security analyst?

Penetration testing can help determine vulnerabilities inthe software and hardware of an IT infrastructure, and in the organization as a whole. Learn more about Advanced Penetration Testing and the need for Certified Security Analysts

What is the importance of penetration testing?

No organization’s network is entirely secure. Vulnerabilities must be sought out and eliminated. To do thisorganizations need a skilled professional whose sole responsibility is to search for weaknesses and coordinate with other professionals to patch them. Learn more: 5 reasons why businesses need penetration testing

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