Making the Most of Your Penetration Test Report

pen testing report

Penetration testing (pen testing) is a powerful tool for any organisation to identify and address security weaknesses. However, IT leaders often face a bigger challenge after the test: maximising the value of the pen testing report.

This is especially true when prioritising vulnerabilities. While resource limitations often lead to focusing on high-risk, newly discovered, or easily fixable issues, neglecting even seemingly low-risk vulnerabilities can be dangerous. A recent study by Securin found that a staggering 76% of vulnerabilities exploited by ransomware in 2022 were actually old, discovered between 2010 and 2019.

This blog post will equip you with the knowledge to transform your pen testing report from a dusty document into a powerful roadmap for overall security improvement for your organisation.

  1. Digging Deeper: Uncovering the Bigger Picture

A pen test report is more than just a list of vulnerabilities; it is a personalised handbook for wider security improvements. With good pen test reports, each finding has a detailed explanation of the risks, and the remediation action. Here is why a deep dive into each finding is essential:

  • Root Cause Analysis: Understanding why a vulnerability exists can help prevent similar issues in the future.
  • Leverage Findings for Internal Testing: Use the report’s insights to guide your internal security checks.
  • Indicators of Compromise: Detailed reports may reveal signs of how an attacker might have leveraged a vulnerability. Use this information to search for similar patterns in your historical data.

By thoroughly examining each finding and its wider implications, you are not just fixing individual problems, you are strengthening your entire security infrastructure – bit by bit.

  1. Prioritising Remediations: Balancing Severity with a Long-Term View

While focusing on critical vulnerabilities first is essential, do not neglect low-severity findings. While vulnerability prioritisation is part and parcel of a good pen test report, allowing you to allocate resources, low-severity issues should be addressed too. Here is why?

  • Uncovering Hidden Dangers: Low-severity issues can act as stepping stones for attackers, leading them to more critical vulnerabilities.
  • Future Impact: What seems minor today could become a major problem tomorrow as your systems evolve.
  • Information Leakage: Seemingly insignificant errors can reveal internal information to attackers.
  • Quick Wins: Many low-severity issues can be addressed quickly, significantly boosting your overall security posture.
  1. Empowering Testers: Providing the Right Information Upfront

Every pen test is a race against the clock. The key to maximising your report’s value lies in preparation. By providing detailed information about your assets to the testers beforehand, you are giving them a head start. Basically, the more info provided by the client the better coverage they receive in the test:

  • Save Tester Time: Imagine encountering a complex network or application for the first time. Without your insights, testers spend valuable time on basic reconnaissance rather than uncovering critical security issues.
  • Provide the Information Needed: User documents, application demonstrations, network diagrams, source code, and even a list of technologies used act as a roadmap for testers, accelerating their understanding of your environment.
  • Know the Test Type: Are you conducting a white-box or black-box assessment? Knowing the type of test will determine the level of detail you provide. For white-box testing (internal perspective), detailed information is crucial. On the contrary, for black-box testing (external perspective), withholding some information creates a more realistic attack simulation.
  1. Seeking Valuable Feedback: Turning Questions into Action

A pen testing report is a valuable tool, but it can also be confusing. Do not hesitate to seek clarification during the report debrief call. Here is how to get the most out of this feedback session:

  • Ask Pointed Questions: Do not be shy about digging deep into the findings. Ask specific questions to uncover hidden insights for remediation and future assessments.
  • Seek Clarification: If any aspect of a finding is unclear, request clarification. A precise understanding is essential for effective action.
  • Recognise What Works: Identify areas where your security is strong. This helps establish a security baseline for further improvement.
  • Consult the Experts: If you are unsure about the best assessment type for a specific asset, consult a trusted cyber security provider.

By following these steps, you can transform your pen testing report from a technical document into an actionable roadmap for fortifying your organisation’s cybersecurity posture. Remember, a pen testing report is most valuable not when it gathers dust on a shelf, but when it sparks action and drives a culture of continuous security improvement for your organisation.

Ready to unlock the full potential of your pen testing report and fortify your organisation’s security posture? Contact CommSec today for a quotation. Our experts will help you understand your options, tailor a testing plan to your specific needs, and ensure you get the most out of your pen testing investment.

Not sure what kind of security testing is right for you? No problem. CommSec offers a free initial consultation to discuss your unique security landscape and recommend the most effective testing approach. Contact us here.

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