Cloud based security mechanism through penetrative testing | HCLTech

Cloud based security mechanism through penetrative testing

Cloud based security mechanism through penetrative testing
November 13, 2020

Cloud security is very necessary to figure out the security of operating systems and applications executing on the cloud. Current safety measures in the cloud demand measures to be taken to enable a comprehensive security mechanism to tackle ongoing threats. It also strives to alleviate risks from evolving data breach threats which comes time to time.

What can we do?

Application security testing is a testing technique done widely and effectively on cloud-based environment due to the flexibility of versatile testing platforms. Cloud-based tests also help in effective resource utilization. Penetration testing is also testing done on a system, network, or host application. It is done to discover vulnerabilities that may be used by hackers. Hence, it performs a test using a technique similar to the ones used by attackers to breach cloud security.

Things to remember while performing security and penetrative test

It is important that we choose the right kind of cloud to make sure that cloud-based application security testing can be optimized. This point is important because there are some cloud platforms like SAAS which are more prone to these vulnerabilities because SAAS allows the storage of data of various customers on a common platform, which may lead to data leakage. Hence, the strategic team needs to thoroughly analyze and drill down the various options, before making the selection. This way, organizations can make the most of the benefits from it.

Our Approach

First, we need to validate our cloud applications against existing threats techniques. We need to validate the vulnerabilities of the OS and its application services.

We also need to weigh down the sensitivity of SQL injection, cross-site scripting, Side Channel Attacks, Signature Wrapping Attacks, Service hijacking using network sniffing Denial-of-service, and other web application-based attacks.

Lastly, we need to validate the security controls and other compliance mandates required by HIPAA and PCI and take action to apply the necessary code fix.

Steps for the approach of cloud-based penetration testing:

  1. Understand the policies of cloud provider: Check the Service level agreement and make sure that the policy between the cloud service provider and the client has been clearly covered.
  2. Create a penetration testing plan: Penetration testing plan includes:
    • Determine the Type of Cloud, whether it is SaaS or IaaS or PaaS.
    • Figure out linked user APIs and user interfaces.
    • Identify the way with which data will be tested through the application or directly to the database.
    • Figure out what kind of penetration testing can be permitted for the cloud service provider.
    • Check how well the application and data has been protected by the network
    • Identify how well the virtual machines isolate your workload.
    • Check the coordination, scheduling, and test execution by CSP.
    • Performing the web penetration testing on the web application/services without Firewall and Reverse Proxy
    • Identify the automated penetration-testing tools (cloud-based or not) that will be employed for the penetration test.

    A penetration test plan should be agreed to all, including penetration-testing team, and each part of the plan should be followed.

  3. Select your pen-testing tools:

    Many penetrative testing tools are available in the market. But to ensure a wise selection, one must emphasize that it should be cost-effective and should meet the requirements. With these tools, we can actually simulate an actual attack like getting access to confidential data through API’s etc.

    Some of the popular penetration testing tools are

    SOASTA Cloud test: This suite enables four types of testing on a single platform like mobile functional and performance test, Web-based functional test,

    Appthwack: Cloud-based simulator for testing android, iOS, and webapps on actual device.

    Nexpose: We can use nexpose to scan a network for vulnerabilities.

    Netsparker is an easy to use web application security scanner. It can automatically find SQL Injection, XSS and other vulnerabilities in your web applications and web services. It is available as on-premises and SAAS solution.

    Acunetix: Acunetix is a fully automated penetration testing tool which accurately scans HTML5, JavaScript, and Single-page applications through a web application security scanner. It can audit complex, authenticated webapps. It also issues compliance and management reports on a wide range of web and network vulnerabilities, including out-of-band vulnerabilities.

  4. How much does pen testing cost?

    The answer is “it depends.” The cost of penetrative testing depends on what one is trying to achieve. It depends if this test is going to happen on a small business or a utility with several remote transmission stations. It also depends on whether somebody wants to test networks, applications, IoT devices or all of these? Thirdly, it depends on whether testers are instructed to do black box test, or will they go ahead with white box testing.

    Track the response: The automated responses coming from the system should be well-drafted. This can help later to distinguish between the human and system on how they both face and tackle the threat.

  5. Zero in and eliminate vulnerabilities:

    The most important part of penetration testing will be to list down the number of vulnerabilities in the system. It may happen the number of issues found are very high or very less. But the test must be capable of detecting defects. If it does not find any defect, then it is time to think about re-evaluation and retesting.

    The vulnerabilities after penetration test on the cloud could look like as follows:

    VPN is able to allow access from outside if DNS is not enabled.

    • Application password easily guessed through automated password generator.
    • After a number of attempts, API access granted.
    • Application data access allowed using xxxxx API.

    These issues may vary depending upon the application and penetration test done.

    During this process, one needs to work closely with the cloud service provider. This way, an understanding can be developed on how the cloud provider recommends you to perform a penetration test of your application in its cloud.

  6. Benefits:

    Help achieve compliance

    Data Security

    Cloud-based security platforms improve control over third-party software.

    Penetration test nowadays, is a must. It is the only way to ensure that our cloud-based applications and data inside it are safe enough. This way, all of the users who will be using the application should be free of any worries and risk of losing their information.

Penetration test nowadays, is a must. It is the only way to ensure that our cloud-based applications and data inside it are safe enough.


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