While it’s the final stage of the testing process, the penetration testing report is the most important aspect as it provides the entire details of the procedure for the information of all stakeholders. Its importance brings in the simultaneous responsibility of structuring the information in a manner that covers the business impact of the findings while informing future testing approaches.
Therefore, every tester must keep in mind a few important aspects when preparing the penetration testing report to ensure maximum outreach in the right manner.
4 Aspects for an Ideal Penetration Testing Report
A quality penetration testing report highlights the testing team’s expertise in presenting important details about the entire procedure with appropriate remediation solutions.
Covers all risks in a technical and non-technical manner
Once the vulnerabilities are discovered and sufficiently exploited to understand its influence on the system, a system should be set in place to ensure that the most critical risks are dealt with first. This rating system is important for both the IT and non-IT stakeholders to quickly understand the prioritized risks without going into too much detail. It also assists in taking quick decisions related to remediation with maximum impact and less wastage of valuable time.
For example, if there’s a vulnerability in uploading files, the kind of risk it poses should inform the criticality level of resolving it. If the user’s uploads are not limited by file type, a loophole is available for the hacker to use remote code execution attacks and conduct privilege escalation without alerting the system of their presence.
Now, the testing team can present the vulnerability in this rough manner or provide a context of hackers using this loophole – remote code execution and privilege escalation allows the hacker to take on the role of an administration and access the customer’s sensitive information. By presenting the information in both modes, you’ve informed all the relevant decision-makers about the importance of dealing with the security vulnerability.
The impact of the vulnerability
After highlighting the context of the vulnerability, we get down to the actual analysis of its impact. Under this, you’ll need to cover two categories – the probability of its occurrence and the risk it possesses to the system. A lot of pentesting reports cover the likelihood of occurrence which may not cover the entire element of risk itself but is useful to understand the need for dealing with it.
The possibility of a remote code execution attack as compared to the personally identifiable information (PII) in the error message on the web application takes more priority, considering the potential damage it can cause. Again, the information must be presented in a manner understandable to the technical and non-technical members and both the components covered here present a detailed picture.
Steps taken for resolving vulnerabilities
Surprisingly, pentesting reports don’t always cover detailed and specific steps when dealing with the resolution of discovered vulnerabilities. Instead, there are general steps mentioned on dealing with the problems through a general approach, which is useful but not the main focus. Remediation procedures should instead be presented in a simple language as much as possible and address the unique problems of the client and the system requirements. Gray box penetration testing is a sort of penetration testing in which the pentesters only have a limited understanding of the system’s network and infrastructure. The pentester then utilize their knowledge of the system to improve their ability to detect and disclose vulnerabilities.
For example, if the client’s system has a vulnerable third-party service being employed, the solution should be more specific than simply removing the service altogether. The client should be well-informed about dealing with vulnerabilities like SQL injection attacks while prepping up supportive methods to provide holistic security to the system.
The Executive Summary
This portion of the report provides a brief overview of both the risks covered as well as the direction of the cybersecurity strategies to be implemented for overall protection. It’ll provide insights into the context and the business impact associated with the security vulnerabilities. The language will be in such a manner that stakeholders with non-technical expertise are also able to understand the importance of dealing with certain vulnerabilities on priority.
Therefore, lesser technical details are preferred for the executive summary in favour of a clear and concise text with the necessary information. Once the decision makers are able to understand the importance, they’ll be able to take the necessary steps in handling the security risks with quick precision. One useful trick is to utilize visual tools such as graphs and charts to bring across certain points through the perspective of a summary for better communication.
Penetration testing procedures are crucial towards maintaining the security of business operations and must be conducted regularly for gaining its benefits. A penetration testing contract is an excellent approach to assess an organization’s IT infrastructure and safeguard the company’s data and reputation from bad actors such as hackers. With the purpose of risk mitigation, firms must first ensure that they are aware of their unique contexts before looking into third-party penetration testing service providers. This will ensure that they are able to inform their security posture in a useful manner and work towards long-term protection.