Beginner’s Guide to AWS Penetration Testing and Its Reporting

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Beginner’s Guide to AWS Penetration Testing and Its Reporting

AWS is a popular cloud computing platform that many companies have adopted. However, as with any new technology comes new security risks that one should be aware of. This post will discuss AWS penetration testing and how it can help your company identify potential vulnerabilities before they cause problems. We’ll also take a look at some of the different methods for conducting AWS penetration tests and what you should include in an AWS penetration testing report.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing, or pentesting, tests a system by simulating attacks to identify security vulnerabilities. It can be used to assess the security of both public and private networks and individual systems. Penetration testers use various methods to exploit vulnerabilities, including scanning for open ports, brute force attacks on encrypted services or databases, and social engineering. Penetration testing also includes non-technical attacks such as dumpster diving for documents containing sensitive data about the network.

Does AWS Allow Penetration Testing?

AWS does allow penetration testing, but there are some restrictions in place. Penetration testers must first register with AWS and agree to the terms of service. Testers are also required to notify AWS at least 24 hours in advance of any tests that may impact the availability or performance of services. Finally, testers cannot access customer data or interfere with customer applications.

Why Should you Perform Penetration Tests on AWS?

AWS is an extremely popular cloud computing platform that many companies have adopted over the past few years. As a result, more and more companies are moving their systems to AWS, leaving the safety of their data in someone else’s hands. To make sure that your organization is protected from security threats, you must understand how AWS works and any potential vulnerabilities so you can take steps toward securing them before they turn into catastrophic events.

Security issues in AWS

You should be aware of many potential security risks when using AWS. One of the biggest issues is that many companies don’t take the time to understand how AWS works and mistakenly assume that because their data is in the cloud, it’s automatically safe. In addition, you can familiarise yourself with some of the common security risks that come with using AWS. These include:

  •     Unsecured privileged accounts
  •     Insecure encryption
  •     Publicly accessible data stores or services.
  •     Insufficient security controls
  •     Misconfigured cloud infrastructure

AWS Penetration Testing Methodology

There are various ways to conduct penetration testing in AWS but which method you use will vary based on the size and complexity of your organization as well as your existing security posture.

Generally, three types of penetration tests can be conducted in AWS:

  1. External Penetration Tests – These are conducted from a remote location and are used to identify vulnerabilities in the public-facing aspects of your AWS environment. This type of test is useful for identifying issues such as misconfigured firewalls, open ports, and unsecured services.
  2. Internal Penetration Tests – These are conducted from within your network and allow you to identify issues within the AWS infrastructure, including misconfigurations of security controls. This type of penetration test is useful for identifying unencrypted services or data stores that an attacker can attack directly once they gain access to the internal network.
  3. Hybrid Penetration Tests – This combines internal and external testing aspects to identify the most comprehensive set of vulnerabilities.

To successfully perform penetration testing on AWS, it is critical to have a firm grasp of how each service works and the potential security issues associated with them. Therefore, besides learning about AWS security audits and the various security risks, it is important to have a methodology for performing the tests. This methodology should include the types of tests to be performed, how they are to be conducted (i.e., what tools will be used), and how they will be documented.

We recommend the following methodology:

  1. Planning and scoping the test – This includes understanding the organization’s business goals, identifying the systems that will be tested, and selecting the appropriate tools.
  2. Reconnaissance on target systems – This involves gathering information about the target systems so that you can identify potential vulnerabilities.
  3. Scanning for vulnerabilities involves actively identifying vulnerabilities, analyzing network traffic, identifying open ports and misconfiguration issues by running various security tools and performing manual tests.
  4. Attacking the targets – This is where you attempt to exploit vulnerabilities identified in previous steps. Test all aspects of your AWS infrastructure, including but not limited to – web applications, network systems, firewall, databases, etc.
  5. Gaining access to systems is the phase where you attempt to gain administrative privileges by exploiting vulnerabilities to execute tasks that would normally be restricted.
  6. Reporting – The final task is to compile your results into a clear, concise report that includes the necessary information and recommendations for the organization’s security team to mitigate any risks discovered during testing.

In addition to penetration testing, you can also regularly use automated tools like configuration compliance checks and vulnerability assessments. These tools are useful for performing periodic assessments of your AWS environment, giving you an idea about how secure it is at any given time.

AWS Penetration Testing Report

Providing a detailed report is essential to the penetration testing process as this allows you to demonstrate your findings and recommendations effectively.

The following components should be included in a report:

  1. Scope of The Penetration Test – This should include the date on which testing began and any test limitations. Also include a description of the target systems that were tested, including software versions, network topology, and services.
  2. Methodology Used – Provide an overview of the methodology used, including reconnaissance, scanning, and attacking phases.
  3. Attack Vectors Addressed During the Penetration Test – This includes a list of all the vulnerabilities identified during the test, the severity of each, and all necessary details.
  4. The exploitation of Vulnerabilities – For each vulnerability, include a description of how it was exploited and the results.
  5. Findings and Evidence –  Include test results, screenshots, videos, and other relevant evidence to support your findings.
  6. Mitigation Strategies – This section outlines specific recommendations for how to mitigate each vulnerability and an explanation of how each can be implemented.
  7. References – A list of all the tools used during testing and external documentation sources for further reading.
  8. Conclusion – Summarize the key points of the test and the outcome.

The final step is to implement any necessary changes based on your findings from penetration tests to keep your systems secure and protected from attackers.


AWS penetration testing is an important step in protecting your data and systems. By identifying vulnerabilities and exploiting them, you get a better understanding of how your system could be hacked, giving you the upper hand so you can take preventive measures which will cut your losses in the long run. In addition to penetration testing, using automated tools for periodic assessments will help you maintain a secure AWS environment. With a clear understanding of the security risks and the necessary steps to mitigate them, you can confidently deploy applications on AWS and be rest assured that your data is safe.

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Beginner’s Guide to AWS Penetration Testing and Its Reporting

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