Microsoft’s Azure cloud environment has been rising in popularity in terms of the products and services offered to its clients. However, firms benefiting from these services should also account for the security aspect and not trust the name of ‘Microsoft’ blindly. This is where steps such as Azure penetration testing procedures come into play, a step that’s also heavily recommended by the Microsoft Azure cybersecurity team as well.

A basic Azure pentesting procedure should cover detailed and effective security testing of all its resources such as web applications, networks, and devices. While regular pentesting procedures are encouraged by the Azure team, firms must also follow a list of rules regarding their degree of engagement so as to not get banned from properly testing the security of their resources.

What are the preliminary steps in Azure Penetration Testing?

Most cybersecurity companies conduct Azure penetration testing under the penetration testing execution (PTES) standard as it provides comprehensiveness in terms of the network pentesting procedure and recommended steps for the same. The procedure is usually conducted on-premises as well and the Windows Active Directory systems are linked to the cloud through the Azure Active Directory Connect during the process.

The OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities are usually tested initially as they cover most of the basic vulnerabilities that are exploited in cloud-based platforms. Following this step, the discovered vulnerabilities are subjected to exploitation so that remediation measures can be suggested.

Penetration testing standards and general methods are usually the same throughout, only accompanied by customizations that are specific to the Azure cloud environment. This will include checks for misconfigurations and associated vulnerabilities during the pentesting exercise. Some commonly discovered security issues include accounts with public access, lack of scoping in role-based access controls (RBACs), weak user credentials, and unwanted guest access.

3 Testing techniques to be aware of in Azure Penetration Testing

Penetration testing in Azure cloud environment is taken up through different aspects of the system. Here are some details on how it’s done:

Network security through the cloud

This includes testing the security barriers of Azure resources and the ethical hacking team attempts to gain access to look for hidden vulnerabilities. The process will test the resilience of specific Azure components and network technologies such as the Azure firewall and VPN gateway. It will also include the testing of various bridging components through which users can access the network. The testing team will forcefully gain access by attempting to bypass the firewall, weak user credentials, and other hidden weaknesses in the overall network configurations.

Application security through cloud platforms

Applications that were initially on the company’s premises and were later shifted to the Azure service provider will be security tested under this stage. This will include tests for rehosted applications, APIs, and any other components that were shifted to the Azure environment which are usually similar to the test conducted for applications on the premises.

The ethical hacking team will attempt to access storage accounts using weak credentials or by trying to bypass the security features to view the sensitive content. Managed and customized policies used on the web application firewall and/or application gateway will also be evaluated for security and efficiency. All of these attack methods and their results will help refine the overall security strategy for your firm through the recommendations provided by the pentester at the end of the procedure.

Testing the Azure portal

The Azure portal’s security configurations will be tested using test credentials. Privilege escalation will also be employed for understanding the implementation of RBAC security standards. Other security services such as the Azure Key Vault, Automation, and App Service are also evaluated in terms of security effectiveness.

Why should you perform Azure Penetration Testing?

Like any other pentesting process, Azure penetration testing also has the goal of identifying security risks in the cloud environment, on-premise assets, and exploitation of these aspects to understand the impact on your business. Due to the added security implications of cloud-based environments, ethical hacking teams use advanced testing techniques and tools that are designed to capture the maximum number of issues. Some pentesting service providers will also provide retesting services after providing security recommendations for successful implementation.

Testing teams also uncover hidden flaws in the network and applications, including misconfigurations and coding flaws. All potential situations that may compromise the cloud environment and public-facing services come under the security testing scope. Finally, the cloud network is also extensively tested for its internal and external services to cover all possible security loopholes.

Final Thoughts…

It’s impossible to cover all security issues related to the Azure cloud environment as hackers are modifying their techniques and tools daily. However, beginning with a list of prioritized security steps should enhance existing security and protect your firm’s business from a basic list of cybersecurity threats.

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James Johnson, a journalist with a Master's degree in Communication Technology from MIT, has been a leading voice in tech and gadget journalism for over a decade. Since joining our team in 2019, he has specialized in providing insightful reviews and cutting-edge coverage of the latest tech and gadget trends. Before his current role, James contributed to various tech magazines and websites, enhancing his expertise in consumer electronics. When not exploring the newest gadgets, he indulges in photography, a hobby that complements his professional interests.

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