Cloud Infrastructure Compliance Auditing Playbook

December 16, 20235 min read

Playbook Objectives

  • To validate the compliance of cloud infrastructure against industry-standard benchmarks and regulatory frameworks.
  • To identify security gaps in the cloud infrastructure that could be exploited by malicious actors.
  • To enhance the skills of the security team in detecting, responding to, and mitigating compliance-related security vulnerabilities.
  • To ensure that the cloud infrastructure maintains a robust security posture through regular audits and remediation processes.

Difficulty Level

  • Advanced



GlobalTech Solutions Inc., a leading player in the fintech industry, has been expanding rapidly. With the increasing reliance on cloud infrastructure to manage sensitive financial data, the company recognizes the potential risks and challenges associated with maintaining regulatory compliance and securing their cloud environment against sophisticated cyber threats.
A recent spate of high-profile breaches in the industry has triggered an urgent need to audit and validate the security and compliance of GlobalTech Solutions’ cloud setup. Given the sensitive nature of the data they handle, any compromise could lead to catastrophic financial losses and reputational damage.




Jane Doe, the CISO of GlobalTech Solutions, is alerted to suspicious activities suggesting a potential exfiltration of data from their cloud systems. Preliminary investigations point to the exploitation of misconfigured cloud storage permissions and inadequate encryption practices—violations of both internal policies and external regulations such as GDPR and PCI DSS.



The company’s Board of Directors mandates an immediate, comprehensive compliance audit to identify violations, understand the attack vectors, and close any security gaps. The CyberRange exercise, simulating an espionage campaign aimed at stealing sensitive financial records, is scheduled to test real-world readiness and remediate issues before actual attackers exploit them.

To stage this scenario, a team consisting of internal security professionals, along with a few external cloud security experts, crafts an elaborate story. In this simulation, an adversary group called “FiscusPhantom” aims to infiltrate and compromise the cloud infrastructure of GlobalTech Solutions. The adversaries are known to leverage compliance oversights to gain persistent access, siphon confidential data, and remain undetected by standard security monitoring tools.




The CyberRange exercise will simulate an advanced attack by FiscusPhantom. The team must use the exercise to uncover the compliance violations that enabled the breach, understand the misconfigurations, and rectify the security flaws. The ultimate goal is to tighten the cloud infrastructure’s defenses and ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and security best practices.




  • Cloud Security
  • Compliance and Auditing
  • Threat Simulation

Attack Steps

  1. Pre-Exercise Setup:
    • Create a cloud environment that mirrors the company’s actual cloud infrastructure in terms of services used, network topology, data storage, and user access roles.
    • Develop a profile for FiscusPhantom, creating realistic TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) based on known threat actors.
    • Seed the environment with intentional, realistic misconfigurations that could lead to compliance violations (e.g., improper encryption settings, overly permissive IAM roles, unpatched services, inadequate logging).
  2. Attack Launch:
    • Begin the exercise by having FiscusPhantom exploit known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations to gain initial access.
    • Perform reconnaissance within the environment to catalog cloud resources and identify data of interest.
    • Attempt to escalate privileges by exploiting IAM role misconfigurations.
    • Exfiltrate synthetic critical data such as customer credit card information and personal identifiers to an external command and control server.
  3. Compliance Auditing:
    • Deploy automated compliance checking tools such as Chef InSpec, AWS Config, or Azure Policy to scan the environment for violations.
    • Manually inspect configurations, comparing them against compliance frameworks to identify deviations.
    • Validate the effectiveness of encryption and data protection mechanisms.
    • Evaluate incident response readiness by reviewing the security team’s ability to detect and react to the simulated exfiltration.
  4. Post-Exercise Analysis:
    • Conduct a detailed review of the exercise, identifying successful penetrations, exploited vulnerabilities, and compliance violations.
    • Document each step the attackers took and map them to the corresponding compliance failure.
    • Develop a prioritized action plan to address identified issues, focusing on rapid remediation of high-risk vulnerabilities and long-term compliance strategy improvement.
    • Conduct a lessons learned session to review the findings and integrate the insights into future security and compliance initiatives.