Penetration Testing on Cloud Applications: What is it?
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a type of security testing where a tester attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in a system to determine whether they can be used maliciously by attackers.
Cloud applications are a popular target for attackers, which is why it’s important to perform regular penetration tests on these systems.
In this article, we discuss the steps involved in performing a penetration test on a cloud application.
Step 1: Penetration Testing Reconnaissance
The first step in a penetration test is reconnaissance. This involves gathering information about the target system and its infrastructure. There are many tools and methods available for this purpose, including Google Dorks, WHOIS, and DNS reconnaissance tools.
By using these tools, a tester can obtain information such as the IP addresses, domain names, and email addresses associated with the target system. This information can then be used to identify potential vulnerabilities.
For example, let’s say a tester is tasked with performing a penetration test on a cloud-based e-commerce application. The tester may use a tool like Shodan to scan the internet for servers that are running the application. By doing this, they can identify the IP addresses associated with the target system.
Step 2: Mapping
Once the tester has gathered information about the target system, the next step is mapping. At this step, the attacker is identifying the attack surface of the target system. The attack surface is the set of entry points an attacker can use to gain access to the system.
This includes IP addresses, ports, and services running on the target system.
To identify the attack surface of the target system, a tester can use tools such as Nmap, a network exploration and security auditing tool.
By using Nmap, a tester can identify open ports and services running on the target system.
In our case, the tester identifies that port 80 is open on the target system. If port 80 is open, that means the router allows incoming and/or outgoing connections using that port, indicating that the application is running a web server that can be accessed using a web browser.
Step 3: Scanning
Once the tester has identified the attack surface of the target system, the next step is scanning. Scanning involves using vulnerability scanning tools such as Nessus, OpenVAS, or Burp Suite to identify potential vulnerabilities in the target system.
Vulnerability scanning involves scanning the target system for known vulnerabilities in software or hardware components.
An example would be a vulnerability scanner that may scan the web server running on the target system to identify any known vulnerabilities in the web server software.
Step 4: Exploitation
After identifying potential vulnerabilities on the target system, the next step is exploitation. This involves attempting to exploit the identified vulnerabilities to gain access to the system.
If the tester is successful in exploiting a vulnerability, they may be able to gain access to the application’s data and sensitive information.
The tester identifies a SQL injection vulnerability in the application. She is then able to use this vulnerability to gain access to the application’s database and extract sensitive information.
Step 5: Post-Exploitation
If the tester is successful in exploiting a vulnerability, the next step is post-exploitation.
Post-exploitation involves further actions to assess the extent of the damage that could be done by an attacker.
This tester explores the target system for other vulnerabilities, identifying potential targets for further attacks, and stealing sensitive information.
After gaining access to the application’s database, the tester may explore the database to identify other sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or personal identification information.
Step 6: Reporting of Penetration Testing
After completing the penetration test, the tester must document their findings and create a report that includes recommendations for mitigating the vulnerabilities found during the test.
This report should include details on the vulnerabilities found, the potential impact of these vulnerabilities, and recommendations for mitigating these vulnerabilities.
The report may recommend that the application’s developers fix the SQL injection vulnerability identified during the test. A possible fix would be implementing input validation and parameterized queries, a query in which placeholders are used for parameters and the parameter values are supplied at execution time.
How to Perform a Penetration Test on a Cloud Application – 5 Easy Steps
Performing a penetration test on a cloud application can be challenging, but it’s an important step in ensuring the security of your system.
Here are 5 easy steps to follow:
Step 1: Define the Scope of the Penetration Testing exercise
The first step is to define the scope of the penetration test. This includes identifying the target system, the goals of the test, and any limitations or constraints.
Step 2: Reconnaissance
Gather information about the target system and its infrastructure using Google Dorks, WHOIS, and DNS reconnaissance.
Step 3: Mapping
Identify the attack surface of the target system using tools such as Nmap, the network exploration and security auditing tool mentioned earlier.
Step 4: Scanning
Scan the target system for potential vulnerabilities.
Step 5: Reporting
Document the findings of the penetration test and create a report that includes recommendations for mitigating the vulnerabilities found during the test.
By following these 5 easy steps, you can perform a comprehensive penetration test on your cloud application and identify potential vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them.
In conclusion, penetration testing is an important aspect of cloud security.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can perform a comprehensive penetration test on your cloud application and identify potential vulnerabilities.