With the growing reliance on cloud computing, more and more organizations are moving their data and applications to the cloud.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is one of the most popular cloud platforms that offer a wide range of services and features for businesses.
However, as with any technology, security is a major concern when it comes to using GCP. This is where GCP penetration testing comes into play.
Google Cloud pen testing is a process of testing the security of the GCP infrastructure, identifying vulnerabilities, and providing recommendations to improve the security posture of the platform.
In this blog, we will discuss the importance of pen testing for GCP security, the different types of pen testing, and best practices for conducting pen testing on GCP.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a powerful cloud computing platform that provides a variety of services and features to help businesses operate efficiently.
However, like any other technology, GCP is vulnerable to security breaches, making it essential for businesses to conduct regular penetration testing to identify potential security risks and take necessary measures to mitigate them.
Pen testing for GCP security is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it helps identify security weaknesses in the cloud infrastructure, including misconfigurations, unpatched software, and poor access controls, that could potentially lead to data breaches or service disruptions.
Secondly, pen testing helps businesses meet regulatory compliance requirements, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR, that mandate regular security assessments to ensure the protection of sensitive data.
Several types of penetration testing techniques can be used to assess the security of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
The choice of technique depends on the specific needs and requirements of the organization. Here are some of the common types of GCP penetration testing:
Black box GCP pen testing, also known as Black Box pen testing, is the process of testing the security of a system or network without obtaining prior authorization from the system owner.
This type of testing is done via the penetration tester with no detailed knowledge of the cloud platform instead, they test with the minimal information they can get online imitating the real word threat scenario.
White box GCP pen testing is the type where the penetration tester is given admin-level access to the cloud system to go ahead with the process. The transparent trait of this process has also given it the name of Visible Penetration testing.
An amalgamation of the Black box and White box pen testing, the Grey box pen testing is done by imitating the scenario where the attack is done by internal cloud users who have limited access to the cloud systems.
Grey box penetration testing is pivotal for organizations as it reveals the immunity level of the cloud system against malicious threats.
While cloud computing offers many benefits, including cost savings and scalability, it also presents unique security challenges for organizations.
Cloud security is a significant concern for many organizations because it involves securing data and applications that are stored and processed in a third-party environment.
By implementing a comprehensive cloud security strategy and conducting regular security assessments, organizations can ensure the security of their data and applications in the cloud.
Here is the list of the top 4 control that should be tested on a high priority amid the process of GCP penetration testing.
Let’s look at each in detail.
Privilege escalation attacks are a type of attack that involves an attacker gaining higher privileges or access rights than they are authorized to have.
In the context of cloud infrastructure, these attacks target access level controls (ACLs) that are used to restrict user access to cloud resources and services.
By exploiting vulnerabilities in these controls, attackers can gain access to high-level accounts and other security mechanisms, allowing them to take control of the entire system.
This can lead to a variety of damaging outcomes, such as theft or destruction of sensitive data, disruption of services, and financial losses.
Testing for access level against attacks such as privilege escalation is important because it helps to identify weaknesses in the ACL that could be exploited by attackers.
By testing the ACL, security professionals can determine if access controls are working as intended and if any gaps could be exploited.
This allows for any necessary adjustments to be made to strengthen the security posture of the cloud infrastructure.
Inbound ports are one of the critical controls in GCP that require testing during penetration testing or security assessment.
Inbound ports allow traffic to enter your cloud infrastructure, and if they are not properly secured, they can be exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized access or launch attacks against your cloud instances.
To secure inbound ports in GCP, you can enforce inbound VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) firewall rules.
VPC firewall rules allow you to control inbound and outbound traffic to and from your cloud instances.
By blocking unwanted traffic from the internet to your internal cloud instances, you can reduce the attack surface and mitigate the risk of unauthorized access.
Inbound firewall rules can include ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol), IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4), and IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) traffic.
These rules are created to block certain types of traffic or specific ports that are not required for your cloud instances’ operation.
By using inbound firewall rules, you can allow only the necessary traffic to enter your cloud infrastructure and block any traffic that does not comply with the rules.
During a penetration testing or security assessment, testing the inbound firewall rules is crucial to ensure that they are working as intended.
Testing can involve attempting to send traffic to your cloud instances using different protocols, ports, and sources to identify any misconfigured firewall rules that could be exploited by attackers.
Google Cloud Storage is a scalable, fully-managed service that allows you to store and retrieve data in the cloud.
It provides a simple and cost-effective way to store objects, such as images, videos, and documents. You can store and retrieve these objects using simple APIs, making it easy to integrate storage into your applications.
When it comes to managing access to your data, it’s important to ensure that only authorized applications have access.
When an application no longer requires access to your data, you should revoke its authentication credentials.
This ensures that the application cannot continue to access your data, even if it still can do so.
To revoke access to Google services and APIs, you can log into your Google Account Permissions and view the list of connected applications.
From there, you can select the applications you no longer want to have access to your data and click “Remove Access.” This will revoke the application’s access to your data, and they will need to re-authenticate if they want to access it again.
In the context of cloud computing, monitoring, and logging are crucial components of maintaining a secure and efficient infrastructure.
Monitoring allows you to track system performance and detect anomalies, while logging allows you to capture and analyze system events.
Google Cloud offers a variety of monitoring and logging tools, such as Stackdriver Logging and Monitoring, that can help you gain visibility into your infrastructure and applications.
However, many companies may not be using these tools to their full potential or may not be using them at all.
Enabling logging and monitoring on servers that have been provisioned by Google Cloud is important because it allows you to capture important information about system events, such as application errors or security incidents.
This information can then be used to diagnose and troubleshoot issues, as well as to identify potential security threats.
At SL7, we have developed a comprehensive methodology for conducting penetration testing on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) environments.
Our methodology has been refined over years of experience working with GCP and is designed to identify vulnerabilities and assess the overall security of GCP environments.
Here are the stages that come into the picture in the beginning phase of Google Cloud Pentesting.
Let’s dive into each.
The primary stage starts with the discovery of loopholes in the cloud infrastructure. The pen testers lookout for vulnerabilities to examine them so that they can proceed further.
Scoping helps identify potential security risks and prioritizes areas that require immediate attention.
During scoping, security professionals assess the cloud environment’s architecture, infrastructure, and deployment model.
They analyze the cloud service provider’s documentation to understand the services and features offered by the cloud platform.
They also identify the customer’s responsibilities for securing the cloud environment, such as configuring access control policies and securing data.
Security professionals may use automated tools to scan the cloud environment for vulnerabilities, such as open ports or misconfigured security settings.
This allows security professionals to focus on securing critical areas of the cloud environment and ensure the system’s overall security.
Mapping and service identification is an essential step in conducting a security assessment of a cloud environment such as Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
This step involves mapping out all the client components running on GCP to ensure complete visibility of all assets, entry points, and other resources.
During mapping and service identification, security professionals create an inventory of all the resources and services that are part of the GCP environment.
This includes identifying all the cloud resources, such as virtual machines, storage buckets, databases, etc., and the services that access these resources.
By identifying all the resources and services, security professionals can create a comprehensive inventory of the cloud environment.
This inventory helps in identifying potential security vulnerabilities, such as unsecured access points, outdated software versions, or misconfigured security settings.
Mapping and service identification helps ensure complete visibility of the cloud environment. It helps identify all the entry points, data flows, and dependencies between different services and resources. This information is crucial in identifying potential security risks and vulnerabilities.
In the exploitation stage, legitimate IP addresses are used to launch attacks on a company’s Google Cloud.
The goal of the exploitation phase is to simulate a real-world attack against the cloud and see how it fares, what kind of information an attacker may glean if they gain access to it, etc.
Here are the phases of exploitation that take place in a chronological manner.
This phase involves listing down each of the detected vulnerabilities and threats one by one so that the testers can have a better idea of how the upcoming scenario of testing would be.
When assessing vulnerabilities in GCP, it’s important to double-check them to understand which issues are the most pressing.
To determine priority, consider factors such as the severity of the vulnerability, the likelihood of exploitation, the criticality of the asset, regulatory compliance, and remediation effort.
Prioritizing which vulnerabilities to address first can help allocate resources effectively and reduce the risk of security incidents in GCP.
By following a thorough vulnerability analysis process, organizations can maintain a secure and reliable GCP environment.
Once vulnerabilities are identified, they should be prioritized based on their potential impact to business operations and value.
By ranking vulnerabilities in order of priority, organizations can focus their resources on addressing the most critical issues first.
Prioritizing vulnerabilities based on business operations and value is important because it allows organizations to focus on the vulnerabilities that pose the greatest risk to the business.
Post-testing is the phase where the testing is done and the detailed analysis is done on the report that is generated.
This helps an organization to have a clear idea of what all threats have been detected and how can be remediated with the right plan and action.
Post testing phase is further divided into smaller phases that we will talk about in the following lines.
In the context of GCP, post-exploitation is the stage of a security assessment where a report is generated that documents all the vulnerabilities that were discovered during testing, along with details about the test conducted.
This report provides a comprehensive overview of the security posture of GCP resources and helps organizations prioritize remediation efforts.
The post-exploitation report typically includes details about the vulnerabilities identified, including their severity, potential impact on the business, and the likelihood of exploitation.
The report may also include recommendations for remediation, such as patching software or implementing access controls.
Strategic mitigation is an important step in the vulnerability management process. When vulnerabilities are identified, it’s important to prioritize them based on the potential impact on the business and develop a plan to address them.
SL7 assists clients in this process by sitting down with them to explain the best course of action and develop a plan to tackle the vulnerabilities.
During the strategic mitigation phase, SL7 works with clients to identify the most critical vulnerabilities and prioritize them based on their potential impact on the business.
It then recommends the best course of action to remediate the vulnerabilities, such as applying software updates, implementing access controls, or changing configuration settings.
In the context of GCP, patch verification is an important step in the vulnerability management process.
Once vulnerabilities have been identified and a plan has been developed to address them, patches or fixes are applied to remediate the vulnerabilities.
After the patches have been applied, a retest is conducted to ensure that the fixes have been made correctly and that the vulnerabilities have been successfully remediated.
Patch verification is essential to ensure that the vulnerabilities have been properly addressed and that the GCP resources are secure.
It involves conducting a comprehensive test of the GCP resources to ensure that the patches have been applied correctly and that the vulnerabilities have been successfully remediated.
There are several tools that can be used for pentesting in GCP. Here are some commonly used tools:
The Google Cloud Console is not specifically designed for pen testing, but it does provide several features that can be useful for conducting security assessments and penetration testing in GCP.
However, it’s important to note that you should only conduct penetration testing on systems and services that you own or have explicit permission to test.
The GCP IAM (Identity and Access Management) Collector is a tool that can be used to analyze the IAM policies of your GCP resources, identify any misconfigurations or vulnerabilities, and help you ensure that access controls are properly configured.
While the IAM Collector is not a tool designed specifically for pen testing, it can be used as part of a broader pen testing methodology.
GCP Brute Bucket is a tool that can be used to perform brute-force attacks on Cloud Storage buckets in Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
While it can be used for pen testing, it’s important to keep in mind that brute-force attacks can be disruptive to cloud services and may violate Google’s rules and policies.
As such, it should be used with caution and only with appropriate authorization.
There are several tools available to help ensure continued security in a GCP environment. Here are some of the best tools to consider:
Google Cloud KMS (Key Management Service) is a powerful tool for ensuring continued security on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
It provides a centralized management interface for creating and managing cryptographic keys, which can be used to protect sensitive data by encrypting it at rest and in transit.
Cloud KMS also allows you to define fine-grained access controls for keys, ensuring that only authorized users and services have access to them.
In addition, Cloud KMS provides detailed usage logging and auditing for all key operations, allowing you to monitor key usage and maintain compliance with regulatory requirements.
By using Google Cloud KMS to manage cryptographic keys in your GCP environment, you can ensure the security and confidentiality of your data, and help prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
Google Cloud IAM (Identity and Access Management) is a powerful tool for ensuring continued security on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With IAM, you can define and manage access control for all your GCP resources, including virtual machines, storage buckets, databases, and more.
IAM allows you to define roles and permissions for users and service accounts, ensuring that only authorized users and services have access to your resources.
It also provides detailed logging and auditing for all resource operations, allowing you to monitor and track resource usage and identify potential security threats.
By using Google Cloud IAM to manage access control for your GCP resources, you can ensure the security and confidentiality of your data, and help prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
It is essential to regularly review and update your IAM policies to ensure that your access control remains up-to-date and effective.
Google Cloud Identity is a powerful tool for ensuring continued security on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With Cloud Identity, you can manage user identities and access your GCP resources, including virtual machines, storage buckets, databases, and more.
Cloud Identity allows you to define and manage users, groups, and security policies across your entire GCP environment, providing centralized control and visibility into your security posture.
Cloud Identity also integrates with GCP services such as IAM, making it easy to manage access control for your resources.
In addition, Cloud Identity provides multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO) capabilities, helping to protect against credential theft and unauthorized access.
By using Google Cloud Identity to manage user identities and access control in your GCP environment, you can ensure the security and confidentiality of your data, and help prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
Stackdriver logging is a powerful tool for ensuring continued security on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With Stackdriver logging, you can capture and analyze logs from your GCP resources, including virtual machines, storage buckets, databases, and more.
Stackdriver logging allows you to monitor your resources for security events and anomalies and provides alerts and notifications when potential security threats are detected.
In addition, Stackdriver logging provides detailed logs of all resource operations, allowing you to investigate and troubleshoot security incidents.
Stackdriver logging also integrates with other GCP security tools such as Cloud Security Command Center and Cloud Audit Logs, providing comprehensive visibility into your security posture.
By using Stackdriver logging to monitor and analyze logs from your GCP resources, you can identify and mitigate security threats and help prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
Google Access Transparency is a powerful tool for ensuring continued security on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With Access Transparency, you can monitor and audit access to your GCP resources by Google employees and third-party contractors.
Access Transparency provides detailed logs of all access requests, including the reason for the request, the user or service account making the request, and the outcome of the request.
This allows you to monitor and verify that access to your resources is only being granted for legitimate reasons and that any access is authorized and auditable.
In addition, Access Transparency provides an extra layer of transparency and accountability, ensuring that you have a complete record of who is accessing your data and why.
By using Google Access Transparency, you can help ensure the security and confidentiality of your data, and help prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
Google Cloud Security Scanner is a powerful tool for ensuring continued security on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With the Security Scanner, you can identify vulnerabilities and security threats in your web applications running on GCP.
The scanner uses automated crawling and testing to identify vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and other common web application vulnerabilities.
It also provides detailed reporting and recommendations for remediation, allowing you to quickly address any identified vulnerabilities.
In addition, the Security Scanner integrates with other GCP security tools such as Cloud Security Command Center, providing a comprehensive view of your security posture.
By using Google Cloud Security Scanner to scan your web applications running on GCP, you can identify and remediate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers, helping to ensure the security and confidentiality of your data.
It is important to regularly scan your web applications to ensure that your security remains up-to-date and effective.
Google Cloud Resource Manager is a powerful tool for managing resources on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With the Resource Manager, you can create and manage GCP projects, and organize your resources into logical groups.
The Resource Manager provides a hierarchical structure for organizing resources, allowing you to group resources by project, folder, or organization.
This makes it easy to manage access control and permissions and provides a clear view of your resources and their relationships.
The Resource Manager also provides a centralized location for managing billing and budgeting, making it easy to track costs and manage your GCP spending.
In addition, the Resource Manager integrates with other GCP services, such as IAM, making it easy to manage access control and permissions across your entire GCP environment.
By using Google Cloud Resource Manager to manage your GCP resources, you can ensure that your resources are organized and managed efficiently and that access control and permissions are configured correctly.
This helps to ensure the security and confidentiality of your data and helps prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
Google Cloud Compliance is a powerful tool for ensuring continued security on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With Compliance, you can maintain compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, ISO, and SOC.
The Compliance program provides tools and resources to help you meet these requirements, including compliance documentation, audit reports, and third-party certifications.
In addition, Compliance provides access to Google’s global compliance team, who can provide guidance and assistance with compliance-related issues.
By using Google Cloud Compliance, you can ensure that your GCP environment meets the necessary compliance requirements and that your data and applications are secure and protected.
This helps to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches and ensures that your business is in compliance with all relevant regulations and standards.
If you are looking to fortify your Google Cloud Platform (GCP) environment and protect against potential security threats, SL7’s comprehensive pentest services can help.
Our team of experienced security professionals offers a wide range of testing services, including vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and compliance testing.
We work closely with you to identify potential vulnerabilities and security risks in your GCP environment and provide detailed reports with actionable recommendations for remediation.
Our pentest services also include a thorough review of your GCP security controls, including IAM, KMS, and access policies, to ensure that your data and applications are protected against unauthorized access and data breaches.
With SL7’s pentest services, you can have peace of mind knowing that your GCP environment is secure and your data is protected. Contact us to learn more.