Is Penetration Testing Allowed in Microsoft Azure?

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As a penetration tester or security consultant, you’re looking to test the security of Microsoft Azure.

However, you’re not sure what is allowed and what is not. Additionally, you’re not sure what the process is to get authorized by Microsoft. You don’t want to violate any Microsoft policies, but you also want to ensure that your tests effectively identify any potential security vulnerabilities.

Microsoft Azure Cloud Services has a few different policy options when it comes to penetration testing.

In this blog post, we’ll go over what azure penetration testing is, what the different policy options are, and how to get it authorized by Microsoft.

What is Azure Penetration Testing?

When deploying an application to Azure Infrastructure, it’s essential to ensure that the application is as secure as possible. Microsoft Azure penetration testing is the process of testing a computer system or network for vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may be found in the operating system, network protocols, services, and applications.

The goal of penetration testing is to identify and fix these vulnerabilities before unauthorized individuals can exploit them. Penetration testers use various methods to test systems, including scanning for open ports and services, brute force attacks, and social engineering. They also use a variety of tools, including vulnerability scanners, exploit frameworks, and password crackers.

Is penetration testing allowed for azure cloud customers?

Penetration Testing security practices have always been allowed against Azure Resources. Customers were required to notify Microsoft of their Penetration Testing activities to comply with the Microsoft Cloud Unified Penetration Testing Rules of Engagement. As of June 15, 2017, Microsoft has clarified that they no longer require pre-approval to conduct a penetration test against Azure resources. However, customers must still comply with the Microsoft Cloud Unified Penetration Testing Rules of Engagement. The reason for this change is to give customers more flexibility and control over their own security posture.

Why is Azure Penetration Testing Important?

Penetration testing can help identify potential vulnerabilities in your applications and help you mitigate them.

When you deploy applications in Azure, you trust Microsoft to provide a secure environment for your applications. However, you should still perform your own penetration testing to ensure that your applications are as secure as possible. Penetration testing can help you identify any potential vulnerabilities and help you fix them before they can be exploited.

Microsoft takes Azure Security very seriously and does its own penetration testing to find vulnerabilities. However, it is always a good idea to do your own testing to find any additional vulnerabilities that may exist. Penetration testing can help you improve the security of your applications and make the entire Azure ecosystem more secure.

What are the Microsoft Azure policies for penetration testing?

Microsoft has a number of policies in place to perform penetration testing and other security-related activities in its Azure cloud infrastructure. These policies are designed to protect the data and systems of Azure customers, as well as Microsoft itself. Some of these policies include restrictions on which tools and techniques can be used in a penetration test, as well as requirements for notifying Microsoft in advance of any planned tests. Any violation of their Rules of Engagement or the relevant service terms may result in suspension or termination of your account and legal action as outlined in the Microsoft Online Service Terms. You are responsible for any damage to the azure environment and other Microsoft cloud customers’ data or use of the Microsoft Cloud services that is caused by any failure to abide by these Rules of Engagement or the Microsoft Online Service Terms.

Some Prohibited Activities:

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  • Scanning or Testing other customers’ assets: This is prohibited as it can lead to information leakage and disrupt the service for other customers.
  • Gaining access to any data that is not wholly your own: This is prohibited as it can lead to data theft and misuse.
  • Performing any denial of service testing: This is forbidden as it can lead to a service disruption for other customers.
  • Performing network-intensive fuzzing against any asset except your Azure Virtual Machine: This is prohibited as it can lead to network congestion and service disruption for other customers.
  • Performing automated testing of services that generates significant amounts of traffic. This is not permitted as it can lead to a service disruption for other customers.
  • Deliberately accessing any other customer’s data. This is prohibited as it can lead to data theft and misuse.
  • Moving beyond “proof of concept” repro steps for infrastructure execution issues (i.e., proving that you have sysadmin access with SQLi is acceptable, running xp_cmdshell is not). This is prohibited as it can lead to information leakage and system damage.
  • Using our services in a way that violates the Acceptable Use Policy, as set forth in the Microsoft Online Service Terms. This is prohibited as it can lead to service suspension or termination.
  • Attempting phishing or other social engineering attacks against Microsoft employees or customers. This is not permitted as it can lead to information theft and fraud.

Some Encouraged Activities:

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  1. Create a small number of test accounts and/or trial tenants for demonstrating and proving cross-account or cross-tenant data access.This is necessary in order to confirm that the data is accessible as intended. The accounts should be created in a controlled environment to avoid any accidental damage or corruption.
  2. Fuzz, port scan, or run vulnerability assessment tools against your own Azure Virtual Machines.This is a way of confirming that the security of the systems is adequate and that no vulnerabilities are present. It can also help identify any potential exploits that could be used in a real attack.
  3. Load testing your application by generating traffic that is expected to be seen during the normal course of business. This includes testing surge capacity.Testing how your system copes with a sudden increase in load can help to ensure that it will be able to handle peak demand periods. This can help to avoid any unexpected outages or performance issues.
  4. Testing security monitoring and detections (e.g., generating anomalous security logs, dropping EICAR, etc.).This helps to verify that the security monitoring and detection systems are working correctly and are able to identify malicious activity when it occurs.
  5. Applying conditional access or mobile application management (MAM) policies within Microsoft Intune to test the enforcement of the restriction enforced by those policies.This helps to ensure that the policies are effective and enforced as intended. It can also help to identify any potential bypasses or flaws in the implementation of the policy.
  6. Attempt to break out of a shared service container such as Azure Websites or Azure Functions. However, should you succeed, you must both immediately report it to Microsoft and cease digging deeper. Deliberately accessing another customer’s data is a violation of the terms.This is a way of testing the security controls to prevent unauthorized data or systems access. If a successful break-out is achieved, it must be reported to Microsoft so that the hole can be plugged and customers can be made aware of the risks.

 

Microsoft Azure services have a set of regulations to ensure the safety of its customer’s data. These guidelines are not meant to be exhaustive but provide a starting point for testing in Azure.

By following these simple rules, you can ensure that you are conducting penetration tests in a safe and compliant way with Microsoft Azure.

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