Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Vulnerability Scanning  
Article
Cloud & DevOps
Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Vulnerability Scanning  
Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Vulnerability Scanning  
Article
Cloud & DevOps

Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Vulnerability Scanning  

Businesses of all sizes are moving to the cloud to escape the high risks and costs associated with physical data storage solutions. However, 68% of organizations note that cloud account breaches still present huge security risks, especially when sensitive company data is involved. That’s why cloud vulnerability scanning is imperative, especially if you’re going to mitigate threats before they actually happen. 

This article takes an in-depth look into vulnerability scanning, prevalent cloud risks, tips on choosing the best cloud vulnerability scanner, and ideal options in the market. Take a deep dive to learn more.   

What is Cloud Vulnerability Scanning? 

This entails the process of using vulnerability scanning tools to identify, report, and mediate prevalent security risks in your cloud platform. Regular cloud scanning for vulnerabilities and proactive management minimizes the risks of cyber breaches on your data or application.  

Most Common Cloud-Based Vulnerabilities 

Cloud platforms face various vulnerabilities that expose them to cybersecurity risks when neglected. Prevalent vulnerabilities that can be identified by a scanner and subsequently addressed and managed include:  

Vulnerable APIs 

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting outdated APIs to gain access to valuable business information. In most cases, a vulnerable API lacks proper authentication or authorization protocol, granting access to anyone on the internet.   

Weak Access Control 

Improper access management means that unauthorized users can access your cloud data effortlessly. Failing to disable access to past employees or inactive users (employees on leave or with reassigned roles) can also expose your storage solution to vulnerabilities.  

Misconfigurations  

A cloud vulnerability example that often culminates in big data breaches is a misconfiguration. Technically, a misconfiguration happens when there is a glitch in one or multiple of the security measures implemented to safeguard the cloud. Misconfigurations can either be internal or external, especially if you have third-party integrations.   

Data Loss or Theft 

Data loss in terms of deletion or alteration can jeopardize your storage and other applications that connect to cloud servers. Stolen data might also reveal sensitive information, such as access credentials, which can be exploited to paralyze your operations in the cloud.  

Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks and Outages 

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are malicious efforts to take down a web service such as a website. It works by flooding the server with requests from different sources (hence distributed) and overcharging it. The goal is to make the server unresponsive to requests from legitimate users. 

Cloud infrastructures are enormous, but they occasionally fail — usually in spectacular fashion. Such incidents are caused by hardware malfunctions and configuration mistakes, which are the same issues that plague conventional on-premises data centres. 

Account Hijacking 

Account hijacking, also known as session riding, occurs when users’ account credentials are stolen from their computer or device. Phishing is one of the most common reasons for successful account hijacking. When clicking online and email links and receiving requests to change passwords, exercise caution. 

Non-Compliance and Data Privacy 

Online-driven businesses are required to comply with a specific industry or standard regulations when it comes to cloud data security. Non-compliance with these standards— ISO 27001, HIPAA, SOC 2, GDPR, PCI-DSS, BSI, Financial regulations, etc.—can create a loophole for cybersecurity exploitation.

Tips on How to Select the Right Vulnerability Scanner 

Here are some factors to consider when selecting a cloud vulnerability scanner.  

Select a vulnerability scanner that: 

  • Scans complex web applications 
  • Monitors critical systems and defenсes 
  • Recommends remediation for vulnerabilities  
  • Complies with regulations and industry standards  
  • Has an intuitive dashboard that displays risk scores across the point cloud scan  

Cloud vulnerability management includes monitoring your cloud environment around the clock to detect and remediate security vulnerabilities on time. Here are the 5 steps of doing this efficiently.  

Identification  

A comprehensive cloud vulnerability scanner is used at the initial stage of management to detect vulnerabilities based on current cybersecurity trends and loopholes named in prevalent frameworks, such as SAN 25, CWE Top 25, Mitre CVE, and the OWASP Top 10.  

Security testing is often broken out, somewhat arbitrarily, according to either the type of vulnerability being tested, or the type of testing being done. A common breakout is: 

  • Vulnerability Assessment – The system is scanned and analysed for security issues. 
  • Penetration Testing – The system undergoes analysis and attack from simulated malicious attackers. 
  • Runtime Testing – The system undergoes analysis and security testing from an end-user. 
  • Code Review – The system code undergoes a detailed review and analysis looking specifically for security vulnerabilities. 

Risk Assessment 

The exposed vulnerabilities are then assessed further to reveal the extent of their potential damage if exploited. This management stage also helps your team determine which vulnerabilities to prioritize based on their threat levels.  

Note that risk assessment, which is commonly listed as part of security testing, is not included in identification phase. That is because a risk assessment is not actually a test but rather the analysis of the perceived severity of different risks (software security, personnel security, hardware security, etc.) and any mitigation steps for those risks. 

Remediation  

Remediation entails responding to and fixing flaws that make your cloud environment vulnerable. Prevalent remediation measures taken on cloud vulnerabilities include patching to resolve the issue, mitigating risk, and no action if the exposure shows extremely low CVSS scores.   

Vulnerability Assessment Report 

Cloud vulnerability scanning tools generate detailed reports highlighting the patched, mitigated, or unresolved flaws. The report also lists the exposed vulnerabilities alongside their corresponding CVSS scores and ideal remediation measures.  

Re-Scan and VAPT  

After generating the vulnerability assessment report, the last step is re-scanning to ensure that all the exposed loopholes are fixed. Closing with this step is an extra measure to ensure that your sensitive information stored in the cloud is given the maximum security.  

Before we look into the best options, what is the main difference between vulnerability scanning and penetration testing? Well, vulnerability scanning involves high-level automated tests, while penetration testing extends to hands-on examination by software engineers.  

That said, here are the best vulnerability scanning tools for a cloud environment.  

Rapid7 InsightVM (Nexpose) 

InsightVM scanner gives complete visibility to expose flaws in virtual machines like E2C instances, containers, and remote endpoints that can be exploited for unauthorized access. Besides detecting misconfigurations in AWS, InsightVM comes with a Rapid7 library of vulnerability research and analytics on global attacker behavior.  

Qualys Vulnerability Management 

Qualys VMDR 2.0 is a vulnerability management solution for cloud-based environments that allow businesses to discover, examine, prioritize, and patch critical flaws in real-time. The solution integrates with configuration management databases (CMDB) and popular ITSM solutions like ServiceNow for end-to-end cloud vulnerability management.  

AT&T Cybersecurity  

AT&T offers an automated, user-centric vulnerability scanner for AWS cloud environments. It features an AWS-native sensor that detects and exposes flaws across your entire cloud environment. On top of that, the scanner comes with an intuitive dashboard for displaying remediation suggestions step by step.  

Tenable Nessus 

Tenable Nessus is a top cloud vulnerability scanning tool for detecting flaws in systems, web applications, containers, and IT assets, such as data. It offers 24/7 continuous monitoring for over 73,000 vulnerabilities and sends instant notifications when critical issues are flagged.   

GCP Web Security Scanner   

Web Security Scanner identifies security vulnerabilities in your App Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), and Compute Engine web applications. Web Security Scanner is designed to complement your existing secure design and development processes. To avoid distracting you with false positives, Web Security Scanner errs on the side of under reporting and doesn’t display low confidence alerts. 

Azure Security Control 

Microsoft has found that using security benchmarks can help you quickly secure cloud deployments. A comprehensive security best practice framework from cloud service providers can give you a starting point for selecting specific security configuration settings in your cloud environment, across multiple service providers and allow you to monitor these configurations using a single pane of glass. 

Netsparker  

Netsparker Cloud is a relatively affordable, maintenance-free cloud vulnerability scanning tool for web-based applications. It is scalable and comes with a host of enterprise-grade workflow tools that can support the scanning and management of up to 1000 websites. It also features a web service-based REST API for triggering new vulnerability scans remotely.  

Amazon Inspector  

Amazon Inspector offers automated and continual vulnerability management solution for cloud environments at scale. Besides identifying risks, the solution displays risk scores to help you prioritize critical remediation. It also features AWS Security Hub integrations and Amazon EventBridge for streamlined workflows.  

Burp Suite 

Burp Suite web vulnerability scanner leverages PortSwigger’s research to help you identify cybersecurity flaws in your cloud environment. The tool has an embedded Chromium browser for crawling complex JavaScript-based applications.  

Acunetix Vulnerability Scanner 

Acunetix comes with OpenVAS open-source tool integration for scanning vulnerabilities in both complex and standalone environments. The platform includes in-built vulnerability assessment and management features that allow you to automate tests as part of your SecDevOps process. It also supports integration with multiple third-party tools.  

Intruder 

Intruder is among the most loved, user-friendly cloud vulnerability tools that allow small businesses to enjoy the same security levels as large organizations. It is an all-around tool that scans both public and private cloud-based servers, systems, endpoint devices, and systems. Intruder exposes misconfigurations, application bugs, and missing patches, among other vulnerabilities.  

IBM Security QRadar  

QRadar Vulnerability Management is IBM’s solution for scanning and detecting vulnerabilities in cloud-based applications, systems, and devices. The tool has an intelligent security feature that allows users to correlate vulnerability assessment reports with cloud network log data, flows, and firewall.  

FortiNET security testing tool 

FortiDAST performs automated black-box dynamic application security testing of web applications to identify vulnerabilities that bad actors may exploit. FortiDAST combines advanced crawling technology with FortiGuard Labs’ extensive threat research and knowledge base to test target applications against OWASP Top 10 and other vulnerabilities. Designed for Development, DevOps and Security teams, FortiDAST generates full details on vulnerabilities found – prioritized by threat scores computed from CVSS values – and provides guidance for their effective remediation. 

Free and open-source tools 

Greenbone OpenVAS 

OpenVAS is a full-featured vulnerability scanner. Its capabilities include unauthenticated and authenticated testing, various high-level and low-level internet and industrial protocols, performance tuning for large-scale scans and a powerful internal programming language to implement any type of vulnerability test. The scanner obtains the tests for detecting vulnerabilities from a feed that has a long history and daily updates. 

OpenVAS has been developed and driven forward by the company Greenbone since 2006. As part of the commercial vulnerability management product family Greenbone Enterprise Appliance, the scanner forms the Greenbone Community Edition together with other open-source modules. 

OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) 

The OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) is one of the world’s most popular free security tools and is actively maintained by a dedicated international team of volunteers. It can help you automatically find security vulnerabilities in your web applications while you are developing and testing your applications. It’s also a great tool for experienced pentesters to use for manual security testing. 

Wrapping It Up 

All the current and future risks that your cloud environment is exposed to can be identified and remediated with a reliable cloud vulnerability scanning tool. Leverage this guide to pick a tool that meets your specific business needs and matches the best practices for cloud vulnerability management.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What is a cloud-based vulnerability scanner? 

A cloud vulnerability scanner is a tool that identifies flaws that expose your cloud environment to cybersecurity risks and suggests possible measures for remediating detected security issues.  

What is a vulnerability in cloud security? 

A vulnerability is a flaw or weakness in a cloud environment that can be exploited for unauthorized access, jeopardizing the safety of your data and business applications.   

What vulnerabilities are there in using cloud services? 

Prevalent vulnerabilities associated with cloud computing include insecure APIs, cloud storage misconfiguration, privacy & regulatory non-compliance, poor access management and Broken Access Control, Cryptographic Failures, Injections, Insecure Design, Security Misconfiguration, and data loss or theft.  

What is the biggest risk associated with cloud computing? 

Data loss, theft, or leakage is arguably the biggest risk associated with using cloud services. Sensitive data in the hands of the bad guys can compromise your cloud service and lead to loss of business, reputation and legal consequences.  

How do you mitigate common cloud computing security issues? 

You can mitigate common vulnerabilities that threaten cloud computing security with a full cycle of security testing and vulnerability scanning which are part of our Software Testing and QA Services.  This allows you to identify and remediate glitches and protect your cloud services before they get out of hand.  

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