Cloud adoption – there’s no two ways about it. The question remains – Whether a cloud service model provides safe and secure environment to its users? Let us perform cloud penetration testing and identify security vulnerabilities, insecure configurations, controls within your cloud computing environments.

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What is Cloud Penetration Testing?

An authorised cyber attack simulation exercise against cloud assets hosted on a cloud provider environment.

The main objective of cloud penetration testing or cloud pentesting is to identify and mitigate security risks in cloud computing. So that the security posture, strengths and security weaknesses of cloud systems can be assessed. It is composed of external (Internet-facing) and internal cloud penetration test assessments. 

Security of cloud infrastructure is everyone’s business. Gartner predicts that, through 2020, 95 percent of security failures in cloud environments will be the customer’s fault.

Examples Cloud Security

What can't be tested in the Cloud services?

Cloud environment that belongs to the cloud management such as underlying cloud infrastructure, cloud provider facilities, other partners or vendors cannot be tested in cloud penetration testing.  Apart from major public cloud provider offerings, cloud models for a beginner can be fuzzy concepts, especially shared responsibility models. This simply means:

Cloud provider is responsible for security of the cloud

Tenant or organisation client is responsible for security in the cloud

The following diagram demonstrates the differences between shared responsibility models in the cloud. The following design principles are pillars to almost every cloud implementation.

Cloud Security Responsibility

Vulnerabilities identified during cloud security testing

In order to easily understand the different security risks and security posture, this section provides examples with each risk mentioned below. Security risk areas remain the same, the underlying attack vector may change based on the cloud model and/or cloud platform vendors. 

For instance, Amazon buckets have a history of security misconfiguration linked to S3 bucket data leakage. Azure blob storage has been the target too and subjects to Identity-based attacks. Office 365 tenancy security configuration is not in line with good security practices.

cloud pentesting

Cloud hosted content such as movies, music, software and lots of other sensitive information are examples of IP thefts due to insecure cloud resources.

Around half of the departing employees unintentionally or deliberately leave with confidential information.

Loss of compliance such as PCI DSS, ISO 27001, GDPR. For instance, In health industry, there are set NHS Data Security Standards defined in the Data Security and Protection Toolkit.

A data breach could occur due to data theft, data leakage (insecure storage). Major data breaches covering loss of customer data involving sensitive information directly hit the business revenue. Reveal all possible vulnerabilities in your cloud storage with cloud penetration testing today and avoid any data breaches in future.

In the case of target data breach, media quotes net losses at $200 million. Senior management including CIO, CISO, CEO resigned as company confirmed up to 40 million payment details were stolen.

For example, a leaving employee uploading CRM data to online space (a cloud storage or a website) to be used later when employed on a new job with a competitor. Insider attacks may include examples related to supply chain risks similar to Capital One data breach. Avoid being a victim to insider threats by performing cloud penetration testing.

The two most popular password attacks against cloud services are password spraying and credential stuffing attacks. Password spraying involve threat actors attempting one or two most likely used common passwords against large number of users via rented botnets.

Credential stuffing attacks include compromised data from a data breach that is attempted on internet exposed services based on the confirmation or probability of the affected users utilising the target service.

APIs or Application Programming Interfaces usage is evolving at exponential rate to provide better experience for users. Without a doubt, this raises risk profile of APIs to ensure security features are in place against API specific attacks such as authentication, parameter tampering, content manipulation attacks and session cookie tampering.

These attacks are used to render services unavailable for their users and are not used to bypass security controls. DDoS and DoS attacks are sometimes used as a smokescreen for multiple other attack vectors to be successful.

Cloud Pen Testing Services

Azure Penetration Testing Cloud

Whether you are utilising classic portal or ARM.

Our cloud security assessments can help you assess and remediate the security vulnerabilities. 

It also detects insecure misconfiguration in storage blobs, Azure services and products.

AWS Penetration Testing Cloud

These pentests include three different service areas, targeted at cloud app security testing, external and internal cloud components. 

Data Leakages, misconfiguration, Identity & Access Management, Networking, Logging & Monitoring are main pillars of AWS security strategy.

Office 365 Security Review

Cyphere Office365 Security Review includes a thorough review of your current setup against O365 security risks and ensure that your setup follows Office 365 security controls around Device Management, Account Policies, App Permissions, Security Controls around authentication, exchange, auditing & storage.

Build Configuration Review

If a cloud-based server is unhardened or weakly configured, this leaves the underlying business vulnerable, leaving itself open to loss of reputation and other implications.

Data breaches and cyber-attacks are often due to leaky S3 buckets or general misconfigurations.

GCP Penetration Testing

Google cloud penetration testing to meet all your GCP security demands. These services cover different cloud models such as Software as a service solutions or PaaS security risks.

Our GCP security tests help you to assess and remediate risks to keep your assets with minimal attack surface.

SaaS Security Testing

Cyphere have the skill-set and extensive experience of working with all the major cloud service providers.

As shared cloud services concept is gaining more traction, risks of data leakage and implications are increasing with more blind spots than ever.

Benefits of Cloud Pentesting Services

How to pentest cloud computing environments?

Understanding the policies of cloud providers – Almost all public cloud providers have cloud pen testing processes in place. This is often known as the customer support policy for penetration testing cloud. This policy specifically defines what activities are permitted and prohibited under cloud penetration testing exercise in their environment.

It is similar to other policies such as network stress testing, DDoS simulation testing. Examples of these cloud penetration test rules of engagement (such as Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Google or Oracle Cloud Security Testing) or permission policies are available on cloud provider portals.

Businesses looking to conduct testing cloud penetration testing (or security assessments) should have a cloud penetration test plan in place. This plan should include information related to applications, data access, network access, laws & regulations to comply with the cloud application security testing or databases and assessment approach (white box, grey box or black box). See our in-depth article for the basics of security reviews.

Constantly identifying vulnerabilities in cloud environments is very important. Cloud penetration testing ensures that no blind spots are present in your environment.

The right toolset is an important component just like on-premises for cloud application security testing or a security audit. Both cloud and on-premises tools are available, and a thorough requirements analysis should be performed to finalise the correct approach.

This phase is relevant to the previous one based on the tools and resources used. Correct tooling and security resource usage are the two most important aspects of vulnerability identification and analysis.

Using in-house teams to perform cloud penetration testing may miss certain findings due to close familiarity with the cloud environment. Cloud testing with the right cloud service provider is not an option these days, it’s the surest way to prove that your cloud assets are securing the underlying data.

Risk remediation is an important element, that feeds back into the risk management programme of an organisation. All risk advice is provided in our deliverables after cloud pentesting services and cloud environment to help the security team analyse and devise remediation plans. It includes a description of risks in the context of the environment, followed by attack probability and impact.

If required, Cyphere provides additional remediation consultancy given the complexity around risk and specific skill-set required for risk remediation of cloud penetration testing findings.

cloud security assessment

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Cloud Security Penetration Test Methodology

Our cloud security offerings are based on extensive methodology we have developed with years of experience working across different sectors. It’s very important that a cyber security consultancy follows an approach that delivers right returns on your investment. At a high level, our approach towards pen testing cloud services is as follows:

Step 1
Step 1

Identity and Access Management

This phase involves reviewing identity and access management related controls. 

Generally, these include checks on the use of higher privilege accounts, use of MFA, password policy, IAM policies, access keys and credentials usage policies

Step 2
Step 2

Review Authentication Architectures

Authentication and authorisation problems are prevalent security vulnerabilities. Most mobile apps implement user authentication. 

Even though part of the authentication and state management logic is performed by the back end service, authentication is such an integral part of most mobile app architectures that understanding its common implementations is important

Step 3
Step 3

Network Security

This area involves checks around network security controls such as ingress, egress rulesets, flow logging, traffic restrictions, and least access privileges.

Step 4
Step 4

Logging API Calls, Events

All major cloud service providers offer web services that record API calls for tenant account. This information contains various parameters such as API source, calls details, requests/response elements.

This phase includes a review of API calls for an account, log file validation, encryption at rest, access checks if logs are restricted from public view and access logging, configuration management and monitoring options.

Step 5
Step 5


The monitoring phase is one of the critical tasks responsible for alerting relevant contacts during an incident. This involves reliance on the logging and related configuration parameters to ensure right metric filters are in place.

These reviews include checks for real-time monitoring configuration, alarms for any changes made to access control lists, security policy/groups, routing tables, and related parameters.

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