Penetration testing is an important tool for businesses to protect their networks and data from cyberattacks. A comprehensive penetration test report should provide a detailed analysis of potential security vulnerabilities, along with recommended actions for remediation. A key deliverable of any penetration test is the report. These reports provide detailed information on the assessment and its findings. In order to ensure the report meets the expectations of the customer, it is important to include certain elements in the report.
In this blog post, we will discuss the four essential elements of every penetration test report that should be included in order to ensure effective protection from cyber threats. By including these four elements in a penetration test report, organisations can ensure they receive an accurate and comprehensive view of their security posture, as well as actionable steps to improve it.
1. Pen Test Executive Summary
The executive summary should be a high-level overview of the risk and business impact of the security issues identified during the test. It should explain how the issues discovered could affect the organisation, as well as the steps that need to be taken to remediate them. This section should be written in plain language so that any member of the executive board can understand it.
In addition, the executive summary should outline any additional areas of concern or risks that were not covered by the assessment but should be addressed. This is important for providing a comprehensive view of the security posture of the organisation.
2. Pen Test Methodology
A good penetration test report should include an accurate description of the methodology used in the assessment. This should include information about how the systems were scanned, how the tests were performed, and any restrictions that were imposed by the customer. This section should also include an explanation of any technical constraints or limitations that were encountered during the process.
CommSec’s methodology includes the following steps:
- Intelligence Gathering
- Vulnerability Analysis
- Post Exploitation
3. Pen Test Findings
The findings section of a penetration testing report is the part of the report where the results of the test are presented in a detailed and organised manner. This section typically includes the following information:
• A summary of the vulnerabilities that were identified during the test: This includes information such as the number of vulnerabilities found, their severity level (high, medium, low), and the potential impact of the vulnerabilities.
• Detailed descriptions of each vulnerability: This includes information such as the type of vulnerability, the specific location of the vulnerability, and any proof-of-concept (POC) code or other evidence that was used to exploit the vulnerability.
• Screenshots or other visual aids: To support the findings, the report will include screenshots or other images that provide visual evidence of the vulnerabilities that were identified.
• Any additional information that is relevant to the vulnerabilities: This may include information such as the version of the software or operating system that was running on the system at the time of the test, or any other relevant details that might help to explain the vulnerability or its impact.
• A summary of the test results: This includes information such as the overall success of the test, the percentage of vulnerabilities that were successfully exploited, and any other relevant statistics.
4. Pen Test Recommendations
The recommendations section of a penetration testing report is a key part of the report that provides suggestions for how to remediate the vulnerabilities that were identified during the test. This section should provide actionable, specific, and practical advice that can be used to improve the security of the system.
Here are some ways to use the recommendations section of a penetration report:
• Prioritize the recommendations: The report will likely include multiple recommendations, so it is important to prioritize them based on the severity of the vulnerabilities and the potential impact of the vulnerabilities.
• Assign responsibility: Assign the responsibility of implementing the recommendations to the appropriate individuals or teams. This ensures that there is a clear understanding of who is responsible for addressing each vulnerability.
• Create a plan of action: Develop a plan of action that outlines the specific steps that need to be taken to address each vulnerability. This plan should include timelines for implementation, and any additional testing or monitoring that should be done to ensure that the vulnerabilities have been properly addressed.
• Implement the recommendations: Once the plan of action is in place, implement the recommendations as soon as possible. This will help to ensure that the vulnerabilities are addressed before they can be exploited.
• Follow up: After the recommendations have been implemented, it is important to follow up and ensure that the vulnerabilities have been properly addressed. This can be done by performing additional testing or by monitoring the system for any suspicious activity.
You should use the recommendations section of a penetration report to improve the security of your systems. It is important to remember that the recommendations are not just a one-time fix, but it should be part of an ongoing security program to ensure that the system stays secure over time.
What to look for in a high-quality Pen Test
Overall, a well-written penetration test report should provide a clear, concise, and actionable analysis of the security of the system. It should be written in a way that is easy for non-technical stakeholders to understand, while also providing the necessary level of detail for technical stakeholders to take action.
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- You can also check out our recent blog post on the differences between vulnerability scanning and penetration testing.