A Comprehensive Guide to Cloud Application Security Audits
This comprehensive study will discuss the definition of a cloud application security audit and then move on to outline the steps involved in conducting one.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
When it comes to cloud security audits, many organizations find themselves asking the same question: what is a cloud application security audit? And more importantly, what are the steps in a cloud application security audit? This comprehensive study will answer any and all of your questions, as well as a few you didn't even realize you had.
We'll start by discussing the definition of a cloud application security audit and then move on to outline the steps involved in conducting one. After that, we'll take a look at some of the risks associated with using cloud applications and provide advice on how to mitigate them. Finally, we'll recommend some reputable companies that offer cloud application security audits and discuss some alternative options for those who want to conduct their own audits.
What Is a Cloud Application Security Audit?
A cloud application security audit is an assessment of the security controls in place for a cloud-based application. The purpose of these audits is to ensure that data stored in the cloud is protected from unauthorized access and that the systems and processes used by the organization meet industry best practices.
There are many different types of audits that can be performed on a cloud application, but they all share one common goal: to ensure that the data stored in the cloud is safe from harm.
The most common type of audit conducted on a cloud application is a vulnerability assessment. A security assessment is an examination conducted to discover potential security hazards and offer recommendations for how to prevent them. Other popular types of audits include penetration testing, code review, and configuration review.
Steps in a Cloud Application Security Audit
The first step in any cloud security audit is to identify the scope of the assessment. This means determining which systems and data will be included in the audit. The next step is to gather information about the company's present security posture after the scope has been determined. This might be accomplished through interviews with key players, examination of existing paperwork, or both.
Once the information gathering phase is complete, it's time to start testing the security controls in place. This usually involves running automated tools against the target application to check for common vulnerabilities. If any issues are found, they should be documented and reported to the organization so that they can be fixed.
Finally, the results should be compiled into a report after all of the tests have been completed. This report should include an executive summary, a list of all findings, and recommendations for remediation.
Risks Associated With Cloud Applications
There are many risks associated with using cloud applications, but some of the most common include data leakage, unauthorized access, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.
Data leakage is a serious concern for any organization that stores sensitive information in the cloud. This type of incident can occur when an employee accidentally exposes data through email or social media or when malware is used to exfiltrate data from a system.
Unauthorized access is another major risk associated with cloud applications. This can happen if an attacker is able to gain access to an account through password guessing or social engineering. Once they have access, they can do anything the legitimate user could do, including viewing, modifying, or deleting data.
DoS attacks are a type of attack that can render a cloud application unusable by flooding it with requests. This type of attack is often used as a way to extort money from the organization or to disrupt business operations.
Mitigating the Risks Associated With Cloud Applications
There are many ways to mitigate the risks associated with cloud applications, but some of the most effective include:
Implementing strong authentication and authorization controls
Encrypting data at rest and in transit
Using intrusion detection and prevention systems
Deploying web application firewalls
Conducting regular security audits
Finding the Right Partner for Your Cloud Application Security Audit
When it comes to finding the right partner for your cloud application security audit, there are a few things you should keep in mind. To begin, look for a firm that has prior experience performing this sort of evaluation. Second, make sure they understand the challenges of cloud applications. And finally, you'll want to be sure they're able to provide clear and actionable recommendations.
There are many reputable companies that offer cloud application security audits, but some of the best include:
Ernst & Young
Astra's Pentest Suite
Alternatives to Cloud Application Security Audits
If you're not ready to conduct a full security audit of your cloud applications, there are some other options you can consider. Alternatively, you may use Amazon Inspector or Azure Security Center. These tools can help you automate the assessment process and identify potential issues. Another option is to deploy a web application firewall (WAF). This will prevent your apps from common attacks like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).
Cloud application security audits are an important part of keeping your data safe, but they're not the only thing you should be doing. Be sure to implement other security controls, like strong authentication and encryption, to further reduce the risks. And, if you're not ready for a full audit, consider using a tool like Amazon Inspector or Azure Security Center.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.