Cloud

How To Write A Post-Audit Cloud Security Report

Updated on: January 16, 2024

How To Write A Post-Audit Cloud Security Report

A post-audit cloud security report is a document that provides an overview of the cloud security management status of the environment, infrastructure, and applications of a business. It verifies that vulnerabilities and security flaws have been identified and assessed, and offers recommendations to address these security gaps.

It also provides a structured account of audit findings, ensuring stakeholders’ transparency. As such, in this blog, we will be covering the following topics:

  1. A sample post-audit cloud security report template
  2. A detailed account of what is covered by the above report
  3. Some post-audit cloud security variations

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Post Audit Cloud Security Report Template

The cloud security audit is typically conducted by an independent external auditor who compiles their findings and recommendations in a report. 

Here’s the structure of a cloud app security report detailing the main sections and attributes within them:

What Does a Post-Audit Cloud Security Report Cover?

1. Executive Summary

The report begins with an explanation of why the audit or pen test was conducted. For instance, you could have updated your infrastructure, added new systems, or deployed a new software solution, and you wanted to ensure that you had not introduced any new vulnerabilities.

Or, maybe you wanted to test your employees by attempting scams like phishing, baiting, or tailgating to see if they were being easily tricked into compromising security.

Whatever your pentest goal, the executive summary should include the following:

  • What was tested, including applications, networks, and systems.
  • The methodologies or tactics involved.
  • The time frame during which the test was performed.
  • Restrictions or boundaries are established before conducting the pen test.
  • The most critical or urgent issues or vulnerabilities discovered.
  • The impact of these flaws on your systems and ways to mitigate the risk.

2. Methodology

In the context of this report, the “methodology” section clarifies how pentesting was done and gives your stakeholders an in-depth analysis of the results.

Various methodologies and standards, such as OSSTMM, NIST, PTES, and OWASP, ensure the pentest is authentically performed, covering all essential aspects.

For instance, OWASP specifically removes vulnerabilities like software and data integrity failure, server-side request forgery, and security logging issues.

If you process or store sensitive information on behalf of the US government, use the NIST methodology to identify and resolve security lapses in your network.

Regardless of the methodology applied, make sure the following elements are included in the post-audit cloud security data report:

  • Logic or reasoning behind the chosen audit methodology.
  • The sampling technique used and why the audit did not cover 100% of the targeted network or system.
  • All tools and software used for pen testing, such as vulnerability scanners, network analysis solutions, and configuration checkers.
  • The specific scenarios tested are privilege escalation tests or threat simulations.
  • Benchmarks or standards against which the audit is performed—includes industry best practices or internal company guidelines
  • Any limitations or constraints faced during the process. For example, lack of specific data, time constraints, or inaccessible systems.

3. Findings

This section covers the observations made during the audit and highlights non-compliance, vulnerabilities, and areas for improvement for your business.

Here are the elements of this section:

  • A description of the vulnerabilities discovered
  • Where or in what context were the security lapse(s) identified? Was it a specific service, application, or region in the environment?
  • Classification of the finding based on the severity. For instance, you could create a table as shown:
SeverityVulnerability TitleAffected System
CriticalUnencrypted S3 bucketsAWS S3, buckets: prod-user-data, backup-files
HighExcessive IAM permissionsAWS IAM, Role: dev-access-role
MediumOpen security groupsAWS EC2, Security Group: public-web-sg
LowLack of multi-factor authentication (MFA)Azure Active Directory, User: [email protected]
  • Include screenshots, logs, or any other proof that provides visual evidence of the discovery. For example, in the case of encrypted S3 buckets, screenshots of bucket properties without server-side encryption are included.
  • An explanation of what would happen if the issue is not addressed. For instance, brute-force attacks could increase if open security groups are not fixed.
  • Measures are taken to ensure audit accuracy by cross-checking with different tools or conducting peer reviews. This will further substantiate the reliability of the findings.
  • Details of how relevant stakeholders were engaged in the audit, such as through questionnaires, interviews, or collaboration on specific tests.

4. Recommendations and Next Steps

This section includes the immediate actions to be taken to fix the identified vulnerabilities and the strategic improvements to be implemented over time. 

To understand this better, let us take a critical vulnerability as an example: misconfigured S3 buckets, unintentionally exposing sensitive data to the public.

Here is how the recommendations are added in the cloud security report:

Short-Term Remedy:

  • Turn on server access logging for all S3 buckets to adjust the permissions, especially the ones that grant “Everyone” access.
  • Use the AWS CLI tool or the S3 management console for listing and inspecting the bucket policies and ACLs.

Long-Term Remedy:

  • Implement the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) so users have only enough access to rightfully do their job.
  • Revoke “public” permissions and use AWS IAM roles and policies to provide granular permissions.
  • Constantly monitor logs for unusual IP addresses or access patterns using tools like AWS Config.
  • Automate checks to ensure ongoing compliance and security.
  • Regularly transfer data to a secure backup location or use S3’s replication features.

5. Conclusion

This section consolidates the post-audit pentest report’s content, sharing a final word on the state of the tested system, application, or network and why it is urgent to fix the problem.

Here are the key points to include in the report:

  • An overall assessment of the cloud environment’s security posture. It could be in the form of a categorization, rating, or description. 
  • Any regulatory or compliance implications, such as data protection laws not being met during the audit.
  • A suggested timeline for addressing the vulnerabilities identified.
  • Positive findings, such as security measures were most notable, effective, or robust.
  • Any follow-up actions, such as a re-audit, training sessions, or implementation of specific security measures.

The following details should be included at the end of the cloud security report:

Version Information

VersionDateDescription
1.0<DATE HERE>Initial report to client

Contact Information

Name<TEAM NAME> Consulting
Address123 Main St., Suite 456, Springfield, XYZ 12345
Phone(123) 456-7890
Email<REPLACE WITH PROVIDED EMAIL>

6. Appendices

Include all supplementary materials accessible for verification purposes or closer inspections, such as:

  • Full vulnerability scans
  • Scripts or code used for manual exploitation
  • External references (e.g., OWASP injection guide)
  • Glossary of technical terms used in the report.

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Post-Audit Cloud Security Variations Based on the Industry

As with many security measures, cloud security frameworks applied during auditing can vary depending on the industry. That is because of the differences in regulatory requirements, business workflows, the nature of the data processed, and the perceived threats unique to each sector.

Here is how a post-audit cloud security report varies across industries:

1. Financial Services

Companies in this sector must abide by regulations like the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act and the PCI DSS. Audits prioritize fraud detection, secure transaction processing, and data loss prevention and ensure that sensitive financial data is appropriately protected.

2. E-commerce

Similar to financial services, eCommerce companies must also adhere to PCI DSS guidelines because they handle card payments. Thus, audits should put particular focus on secure payment gateways, protection against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and website security.

3. Healthcare

HIPAA requires US healthcare providers to ensure the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of sensitive patient records. Audits must, therefore, emphasize encryption in transit and at rest, data backup, secure access controls, and breach response capabilities.

4. Energy and Utilities

There are often national standards to ensure the security of critical infrastructure. Since this industry might involve traditional IT and Operational Technology (OT), audits might look at integrating these technologies, real-time threat detection, and physical security measures.

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If you want a robust tool to conduct pentests periodically, Astra Pentest offers manual and automated vulnerability scans, which are highly comprehensive and personalized per your unique business requirements.

Our intelligent scanner can test 8,000+ vulnerabilities in under 10 minutes. Brute forcing, fuzzing, and injections are a few tests performed on the identified vulnerabilities to assess the scope of the attack.

In addition, Astra’s pentest reports, which give an executive summary of the audit findings with their CVSS scores and risk levels, can be downloaded in multiple formats, such as XLS and PDF.

See Astra’s continuous Pentest platform in action.

The report is easy to understand and use and highly beneficial to all stakeholders↿—from IT teams to C-suite executives.

Conclusion

The post-audit cloud security report template can be adapted to the specific needs or preferences of the business, pen tester, and industry.

It is a good practice to conduct a retest after implementing the fixes to ensure vulnerabilities are appropriately addressed. You must also ensure your employees are aware of the findings and receive the necessary ongoing training to mitigate risks.

FAQs

How often should businesses conduct cloud security audits?

While some businesses prefer to conduct audits monthly or quarterly, others schedule them semi-annually. The frequency depends on various factors, such as the industry niche, business size and nature, and complexity of the cloud infrastructure.

What are the top cloud security threats?

Critical cloud security threats include malicious distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, data leakage, account hijacking, insecure interfaces and APIs, ransomware, system vulnerabilities, and so on.

Jinson Varghese

Jinson Varghese Behanan is an Information Security Analyst at Astra. Passionate about Cybersecurity from a young age, Jinson completed his Bachelor's degree in Computer Security from Northumbria University. When he isn’t glued to a computer screen, he spends his time reading InfoSec materials, playing basketball, learning French and traveling. You can follow him on Medium or visit his Website for more stories about the various Security Audits he does and the crazy vulnerabilities he finds.
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