Security Audit

How to Conduct a Cloud Security Assessment: A 5-Step Process

Published on: July 5, 2022

How to Conduct a Cloud Security Assessment: A 5-Step Process

Cloud-based applications and services offer tremendous benefits for organizations, from cutting costs to improving end-user productivity. However, cloud platforms can pose security risks similar to other types of software and services.

If you don’t take proper precautions, you might end up with a cloud disaster on your hands. A cloud security assessment is one way to assess your cloud and make it more secure. 

In this blog, we’ll walk you through the 5-step process of conducting a cloud security assessment. With this, you can identify gaps and risks that could lead to a breach of your organization’s data.

What is a Cloud Security Assessment?

A cloud security assessment is a process where security professionals evaluate the security of an organization’s cloud infrastructure for security risks.

The security assessment of a cloud-based application examines the security controls in place. Still, it will also assess whether the controls are appropriate for the specific use cases that the application is designed for. 

Cloud assessments are especially critical for organizations looking to migrate to the cloud or already using the cloud. Migrating business assets to the cloud is a significant undertaking, and it’s essential to put in place the proper security controls to safeguard data. 

Conducting a security assessment of your current and future cloud deployments is a critical part of this process.

Also Read: Cloud Security Audit: Everything You Need to Know

Five Steps To Conducting a Successful Cloud Security Assessment

Conducting a successful cloud security assessment is not an easy task. It takes time, resources, and experience to accomplish. Here are the five steps to conducting a successful cloud security assessment: 

Step 1: Initial Scoping

The first step in the process is to understand your cloud application’s current state. This will help you to determine the scope of your assessment. What are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to assess?

Step 2: Reconnaissance/Discovery

Reconnaissance is the second step after the scoping phase, in which the auditors perform recon on the agreed scope. You can say that reconnaissance is discovering or gathering information about an organization’s assets and weaknesses and how hackers can attack it. 

In other words, reconnaissance is performing a broad sweep of information gathering about a target.

Step 3: Vulnerability Testing 

Vulnerability Testing is a process to detect the potential vulnerabilities in the already discovered assets. Vulnerability testing aims to assess the risks that can be seen in the discovered assets.

Testers use various tools to test the cloud and search for vulnerabilities in the cloud infrastructure. They look for the loopholes and try to find ways to exploit those loopholes using a hacker mindset.

Step 4: Reporting

The output of the vulnerability scanning is passed to the reporting team to prepare a detailed report. The report is to help understand the security status of the infrastructure and the applications.

Key Components of Cloud Security Assessment Report
Image: Key Components of Cloud Security Assessment Report

Step 5: Retesting

Retesting is the last phase of the cloud assessment, and it is done only once the issues are fixed, and the customer wants to get it tested again. A retest is essential to verify the issues have been fixed.

Retesting is a critical stage of the cloud assessment; hence, it is recommended to include it in the project and not ignore this phase.

Related Read: Cloud Penetration Testing

Risks Associated with Cloud Providers
Image: Risks Associated with Cloud Providers

Benefits of Conducting a Cloud Security Assessment

Cloud-based solutions are a significant asset for organizations but can also present risks. The security assessment should help you identify whether those risks are appropriate for your specific use cases. 

Cloud Security Assessment proactive measures can help you avoid a data breach and minimize the damage in case of a breach.

Cloud Security Assessment is also a key part of cloud compliance requirements as most of the commercial cloud service providers (CSPs) adhere to the security standards of ISO/IEC 27001, ISO/IEC 27002, and NIST SP 800-53. A successful cloud security assessment provides the following benefits:

  • Helps in improving the cloud security posture
  • Uncovers security vulnerabilities and their remediation
  • Provides a structured framework for cloud security assessment
  • Helps in identifying the configuration and vulnerability issues of the cloud infrastructure and applications
  • Provides a more secure environment for cloud services, applications, and data
  • Helps in achieving compliance with the industry standards, regulations, and guidelines

5 things to consider before starting your assessment?

Before starting a cloud assessment, you must understand what you are evaluating. There are multiple components to a cloud security assessment, including mapping your existing environment, evaluating your current environment, and mapping your future environment. 

Below, we walk you through each of these steps. 

1. Map Your Existing Environment

This step will help you map your current environment to determine what you are already doing. You will want to map both your existing internal resources and your external environment.

Internal resources include network infrastructure, user access management, and user permissions. External resources include things like data storage and network connectivity. 

2. Evaluate Your Current Environment

Three areas need to be evaluated: the technology, the security controls being used, and how they are implemented. This can be done using various tools, including security analytics and monitoring tools, security assessment tools, and security scanning tools.

You will want to determine what factors have the most significant impact on your organization’s security posture. These factors will give you context for your assessment findings. 

3. Map Your Future Environment

Cloud services come in all shapes and sizes, and your assessment will help you determine which options are best for your organization. You will want to map your future environment based on what you know about your current environment, your desired environment, and your budget.

4. How Long Will The Assessment Take? 

This is hard to predict, but you should expect to spend 10 to 15 percent of your assessment time mapping your existing environment, 65 to 70 percent evaluating your current environment, and 10 to 15 percent mapping your future environment.

5. What Are The Costs?

Cloud services can be cost-effective, but they can also pose security risks. It’s important to understand the cost of the tool/service provider that you opt for. The assessment you will want to perform will depend on your budget and risk appetite.

What to Consider Before Starting Cloud Security Assessment?
Image: What to Consider Before Starting Cloud Security Assessment?

Why Choose Astra’s Cloud Security Testing Solution?

The cloud offers increased flexibility and time savings for companies. Cloud-based solutions have become a trendy way of doing business in the modern world. 

At Astra, we understand that businesses will continue to take advantage of cloud-based solutions to improve their business processes. We also understand that security is a high priority for many businesses using cloud-based applications and data storage. 

Astra’s cloud security testing solution is a uniquely powerful and highly customizable cloud service that can be used to conduct automated, continuous, and on-demand assessments of the security of any cloud environment

The service is offered as a SaaS, which means that it can be accessed whenever you need it, and it comes with several powerful features. 

Astra's Cloud Security Assessment
Image: Astra’s Cloud Security Assessment

Conclusion

Fretting about the security of your data is a waste of time and energy. Taking proactive measures to protect your data is the best way to ensure that your organization is safeguarded. 

If you’re in the process of conducting a cloud security assessment or just looking for ways to protect your company’s sensitive data better, you’ve come to the right place. 

At Astra, we provide an easy-to-use cloud security platform that gives you visibility into your data and helps in securing them. To learn more about getting started with a cloud security assessment process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us; one of our security consultants will be happy to help you.

FAQs

1. What is a Cloud Security Assessment?

A cloud security assessment evaluates an organization’s security posture in relation to its use of cloud services. It typically involves assessing an organization’s system and network security, data security, and compliance with security and privacy standards and regulations. Also Read: A Complete Guide to Cloud Security Testing

2. Why is Cloud Security Assessment essential?

A cloud security assessment can help an organization identify areas of weakness and potential risks and take steps to mitigate those risks. It can also help an organization ensure its security posture is aligned with its business goals and objectives. Also Read: Cloud Penetration Testing: A Complete Guide

3. Is it allowed to perform a security assessment on AWS?

Yes, AWS allows testing on some resources only. Check out the list to learn more.

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Keshav Malik

Keshav is a hacker by heart. He loves playing with fire (code) and loves discovering bugs. Not only in web applications but in all kinds of software. His first introduction to the world of Cyber Security was through bug bounty programs. He quickly made a name for himself as a bug hunter and now actively participates in bug bounty programs. Other than Infosec, he loves creating full stack web applications using cutting edge technologies.
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