Cloud Native Application Security Testing Playbook

December 16, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives

  • To evaluate and improve the response capabilities of Acme Cloud Solutions’ security team.
  • To identify vulnerabilities within Acme’s cloud native applications and implement enhanced security measures.
  • To ensure that the security team is well-versed in the latest attack vectors and defense strategies for cloud environments.
  • To validate the effectiveness of current security tools and processes.
  • To foster a culture of continuous security improvement and learning within the organization.

Difficulty Level

  • Advanced: This exercise is designed for an experienced security team well-acquainted with cloud environments and application security protocols.


Acme Cloud Solutions, a leading provider of cloud native applications for Fortune 500 companies, has observed a significant spike in cyber threats targeting similar organizations in their sector. Given their recent transition to a fully cloud-based architecture, implementing cloud-native technologies such as Kubernetes, Docker containers, and microservices, Acme realizes the critical need to validate their security posture. The security team is alerted to information from a renowned security firm about a new, sophisticated cyber-espionage group known as “Silent Vortex.” This group specializes in exfiltrating sensitive data from cloud-native applications. As Acme Cloud Solutions holds sensitive financial data for a number of high-profile clients, the risk of a breach could lead to devastating financial and reputational damage. The CISO has called for an urgent Cyber Range exercise to simulate a realistic attack scenario, unearthing potential gaps in their defenses and testing their team’s response capabilities.


  • Cloud Security
  • Application Security Testing
  • Incident Response
  • Security Operations

Exercise Attack Steps

  1. Reconnaissance:
    • The attack begins with the simulation of intelligence gathering by Silent Vortex. They use advanced scanning tools to probe Acme’s exposed cloud services and collect information on cloud infrastructure configurations.
  2. Initial Compromise:
    • Simulate an email phishing campaign targeting Acme’s employees with the aim of stealing credentials. Once an employee’s credentials are compromised, they are used to gain initial access to Acme’s cloud management portal.
  3. Privilege Escalation:
    • The attackers leverage the compromised user privileges to exploit a misconfigured Kubernetes cluster, escalating their access to gain administrative rights over the cloud environment.
  4. Lateral Movement:
    • The exercise includes the simulation of an attacker moving laterally within the network to identify valuable data repositories. The focus is on detecting and preventing such movements within the microservices architecture.
  5. Persistence:
    • The fabricated attackers establish a foothold by deploying a rogue container inside Acme’s production environment to maintain access and evade detection.
  6. Data Exfiltration:
    • The final step involves covertly extracting sensitive data using encrypted channels to mimic how Silent Vortex might funnel information out of the cloud environment without raising alarms.
Throughout the simulation, Acme’s security team uses a suite of security tools designed to monitor, analyze, and counteract the simulated offensive maneuvers. This includes intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, threat intelligence platforms, and cloud-native security protocols. Post-exercise, a detailed debrief evaluates the team’s performance against the objectives and outlines areas for improvement. The exercise serves as a catalyst for fortifying Acme’s cloud security posture, ensuring the safety of client data.