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All About AWS Penetration Testing

All About AWS Penetration Testing – With small and medium businesses also resorting to cloud-based platforms and services, an increased use of such applications by organizations has increased cyberattacks. As cloud-based platforms increase in popularity and the services provided, the vulnerabilities associated with different types of platforms are equally concerning.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a cloud-based solution that has recently faced many breaches, exposing vulnerabilities in S3 buckets, etc. Therefore, if you’re wondering about proceeding with a penetration testing of AWS resources, there is certain knowledge that you must have. This will then be used to define your strategies and the best way to approach the testing process.

First and foremost, AWS pentesting should deal with the legal regulations involved with the cloud environment. That is, AWS penetration testing focuses on:

  1. Access management
  2. Identity configuration
  3. User-owned resources and permissions
  4. Integration of the AWS API into the AWS environment

This means, you can proceed with testing the S3 buckets configuration and possible incomplete permissions and flaws that may lead to security breaches. This will also look into covering up the cloud trail logs, simulating attacks against AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) keys, etc.

Here, you’ve ignored the AWS instance and instead focused on the client-side components for testing.

A basic analysis of any cloud-based environment should include the three components below:

  • Evaluate the infrastructure of the hosting environment – this will include data protection policies implemented using TLS/HTTPS
  • Internalized scanning for vulnerabilities – through access management and control by checking user access and privileges as developers and administrators
  • External pentesting of the hosting environment – such as continuous monitoring configuration for the system, studying fault tolerance ability, etc

Why does your organization need AWS pentesting?

Increased adoption of AWS services without proper understanding of the technical flexibilities offered by the system is a dangerous combination. Problems start with misconfigured user identity and access management issues and balloon into something unresolvable.

  • AWS cloud platform offers a shared responsibility model, the implications of which are lost on most customers, amplifying their risk exposure.
  • Compliance requirements with standards of cybersecurity for different organizations, networks, and data centers. This includes PCI-DSS, HIPAA, FedRAMP, etc which are mandated by regulatory organizations for filling the security gap.
  • Constant reports of failures across AWS platforms when security audit checks were conducted. Issues found mainly revolved around excessive permissions provided and lack of protection for security groups.
  • Helps in identifying and resolving zero day vulnerabilities for an overall security strengthening.
  • Frequent discoveries of incomplete security measures, implementation, and barriers such as multi-factor authentication. In this context, one must consider the impact of social engineering attacks and those targeted towards gaining personal information of customers.

It is best to follow a strategy such as the one mentioned below, AWS resources or otherwise:

  1. Data encryption
  2. Constant supervision and testing of vulnerabilities on the basis of results from simulated attacks and incident responses
  3. Securing end-user devices for maximum protection
  4. For optimal security, use private clouds and networks
  5. Certifications for compliance in the industry

Vulnerabilities to test for on the AWS platform

While it isn’t an easy task to label a few security issues on AWS platforms, there are some that require specific attention and possibly recur in different situations.

  • Improper setting up of the web application firewall (WAF) or CloudFront misconfiguration and other related issues
  • Testing for flaws in granted permissions accompanying the S3 bucket configurations
  • Obfuscating (hiding) the trail logs and covering tracks that may otherwise be visible to hackers
  • Using the Lambda backdoor functionality while setting access to private clouds in place
  • Increasing security around AWS IAM keys with simulated attacks

AWS security plans are often flexible to cover a variety of security situations and therefore require proper planning from both AWS and the customer. AWS definitely makes the job easier by detailing strategies that simplify pentesting operative systems, different systems and networks, instances, etc. They offer all these and more under their comprehensive pentesting program.

When choosing an ideal security partner for pentesting AWS resources (in case you decide to do it with the help of an expert), keep all of these in mind. They should be familiar with the requirements of testing AWS, the program details provided, and implement rules in a mutually beneficial manner.

What are the differences between traditional pentesting and AWS pentesting?

On a different note, there are some differences between pentesting in a traditional manner and for AWS resources. One of the main reasons revolve around system ownership, with Amazon as the owner of AWS resources. Therefore, testing strategies for such resources and core infrastructural elements requires proper permissions. This is why the AWS security team proposes security measures after conducting proper incident response procedures.

Different aspects of AWS penetration testing, even if not mentioned in this article, still require careful perusal and implementation. For needs as unique as your organization’s purpose, contact us at Astra Security for worry-free protection!

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