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Quick reference

What is Pacu?

Pacu is an open-source AWS exploitation framework, designed for offensive security testing against cloud environments. Created and maintained by Rhino Security Labs, Pacu allows penetration testers to exploit configuration flaws within an AWS account, using modules to easily expand its functionality. Current modules enable a range of attacks, including user privilege escalation, backdooring of IAM users, attacking vulnerable Lambda functions, and much more.


Pacu is a fairly lightweight program, as it requires only Python3.7+ and pip3 to install a handful of Python libraries.

Quick Installation

  > pip3 install -U pip
  > pip3 install -U pacu
  > pacu

For a more detailed and user-friendly set of user instructions, please check out the Wiki's installation guide.

How to use Pacu's Docker image

Try in PWD

Option 1: Run with default entrypoint which directly runs Pacu

$ docker run -it rhinosecuritylabs/pacu:latest

Option 2: Run without default entrypoint

$ docker run -it --entrypoint /bin/sh rhinosecuritylabs/pacu:latest

Option 3: Run with AWS config and credentials

Warning: Running this command will mount your local AWS configuration files into the Docker container when it is launched. This means that any user with access to the container will have access to your host computer's AWS credentials.

$ docker run -it -v ~/.aws:/root/.aws rhinosecuritylabs/pacu:latest

Getting Started

The first time Pacu is launched, you will be prompted to start and name a new session. This session will be used to store AWS key pairs, as well as any data obtained from running various modules. You can have any number of different sessions in Pacu, each with their own sets of AWS keys and data, and resume a session at any time (though a restart is currently required to switch between sessions).

Modules require an AWS key, which grants you minimal access to an AWS environment and is comprised of an access key ID and a secret access key. To set your session's keys, use the set_keys command, and then follow the prompts to supply a key alias (nickname for reference), an AWS access key ID, an AWS secret access key, and an AWS session token (if you are using one).

If you are ever stuck, help will bring up a list of available commands.

Basic Commands in Pacu

  • list will list the available modules for the regions that were set in the current session.
  • help module_name will return the applicable help information for the specified module.
  • run module_name will run the specified module with its default parameters.
  • run module_name --regions eu-west-1,us-west-1 will run the specified module against the eu-west-1 and us-west-1 regions (for modules that support the --regions argument)

Running Pacu From the CLI

  • pacu --help will display the help menu
  • pacu --session <session name> sets the session to use for commands that require one
  • pacu --list-modules will list all modules available (does not require session)
  • pacu --pacu-help will list the pacu help window (does not require session)
  • pacu --module-name <module name> the name of a module to perform an action on, you can execute or get information on the module
  • pacu --exec execute the module provided in --module-name
  • pacu --module-info get information on the module provided in --module-name
  • pacu --data <service name || all> query the local SQLAlchemy database to retrieve enumerated information
  • pacu --module-args="<arg1> <value> <arg2> <value>" supply optional module arguments to the module being executed
  • pacu --set-regions <region1 region2 || all> set the regions to use in the session, separate regions by a space or enter all for all regions
  • pacu --whoami get information about the current user

Pacu's Modular Power

Pacu uses a range of plug-in modules to assist an attacker in enumeration, privilege escalation, data exfiltration, service exploitation, and log manipulation within AWS environments. Contributions or ideas for new modules are welcome.

To keep pace with ongoing AWS product developments, we've designed Pacu from the ground up with extensibility in mind. A common syntax and data structure keep modules easy to build and expand on - no need to specify AWS regions or make redundant permission checks between modules. A local SQLite database is used to manage and manipulate retrieved data, minimizing API calls (and associated logs). Reporting and attack auditing is also built into the framework; Pacu assists the documentation process through command logging and exporting, helping build a timeline for the testing process.


We're always happy to get bug reports in the Pacu framework itself, as well as testing and feedback on different modules, and generally, critical feedback to help refine the framework. Any support for Pacu through use, testing, improvement, or just by spreading the word, would be very much appreciated.

If you're interested in contributing directly to the Pacu Framework itself, please read our contribution guidelines for code conventions and git-flow notes.

Developing Pacu Modules

If you're interested in writing your own modules for Pacu, check out our Module Development wiki page. As you develop new capabilities please reach out to us -- we'd love to add your new modules into the core collection that comes with Pacu.

Pacu Framework Development Goals

  • Improve interface formatting
  • Database forward-migrations and version tracking
  • "Attack Playbooks" to allow for easier use of complex module execution chains
  • Colored console output
  • Module Dry-Run functionality
  • Allow use of standalone config files
  • Plugin architecture improvements


  • Pacu is officially supported in OSX and Linux.
  • Pacu is Open-Source Software and is distributed with a BSD-3-Clause License.

Submitting Requests / Bug Reports

  • Report vulnerabilities in Pacu directly to us via email: .
  • Pacu creates error logs within each session's folder, as well as a global error log for out-of-session errors which is created in the main directory. If you can, please include these logs with your bug reports, as it will dramatically simplify the debugging process.
  • If you have a feature request, an idea, or a bug to report, please submit them here.
    • Please include a description sufficient to reproduce the bug you found, including tracebacks and reproduction steps, and check for other reports of your bug before filing a new bug report. Don't submit duplicates.


For walkthroughs and full documentation, please visit the Pacu wiki.

Contact Us

Disclaimers, and the AWS Acceptable Use Policy

  • To the best of our knowledge Pacu's capabilities are compliant with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy, but as a flexible and modular tool, we cannot guarantee this will be true in every situation. It is entirely your responsibility to ensure that how you use Pacu is compliant with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy.
  • Depending on what AWS services you use and what your planned testing entails, you may need to review AWS Customer Support Policy for Penetration Testing before actually running Pacu against your infrastructure.
  • As with any penetration testing tool, it is your responsibility to get proper authorization before using Pacu outside of your environment.
  • Pacu is software that comes with absolutely no warranties whatsoever. By using Pacu, you take full responsibility for any and all outcomes that result.