When it comes to penetration testing, the reporting phase may not seem significant but it is quite crucial. A comprehensive and well-written report can be the difference between compliance and a data breach. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of professional penetration test reports and what you should include in your own concise report.
What is the reporting phase in penetration testing?
The reporting phase of a software penetration test is when you take all the data gathered during your assessment and put it into an easy-to-understand format. This report should be presented to management, IT staff or whoever needs to know what vulnerabilities exist on their network and/or systems so they can make informed decisions about remediation or security patching efforts for these issues before an attacker exploits them first.
Importance of professional penetration test reports:
There are several reasons why professional quality reports are important for both clients who need proof that their compliance requirements have been met and for the assessors themselves.
For clients, a penetration test report can provide:
Proof of compliance requirements met:
Many organisations require penetration testing as part of their compliance programs, such as PCI DSS and the HIPAA. A good report will help prove that these requirements have been met.
Clients often want to know how secure their systems are and whether they can trust the assessor’s findings. Having a well-written report with clear evidence not only builds trust but also reassures clients that their security posture is being taken seriously.
Comprehensive Evaluation of security posture:
In addition to proving compliance, a good penetration test report will provide a comprehensive evaluation of an organisation’s security posture. This includes identifying all vulnerabilities discovered during the assessment as well as providing a detailed analysis of how severe each one is.
For the assessor:
A well-written report is essential to building trust with the client. A good report will not only help you generate repeat business but also promote good word-of-mouth recommendations. Furthermore, it allows for continued visibility into the security posture of the client organization which can be used in future assessments or even marketing efforts.
What to include in a concise penetration testing report?
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of professional reports, let’s take a look at what you should include in your own concise report.
1. Details of discovered vulnerabilities:
The first section of your report should include a detailed listing of all the vulnerabilities discovered during the assessment. This should include information such as the CVE identifier, affected systems and business impact.
2. Executive Summary & Risk Scores:
The next section should be an executive summary that includes a high-level overview of the findings from the assessment. It is also helpful to include the CVSS/Risk score for each vulnerability so that management can quickly get a sense of how severe they are.
3. Assessment of Business Impact:
In addition to severity, it’s important to provide an assessment of the business impact for each vulnerability. This helps management understand not just how bad an issue is but also what kind of damage it could do if exploited.
4. Insight into Exploitation difficulty:
A good penetration test report will also include some insight into the exploitation difficulty for each vulnerability. This information can be helpful in understanding how likely it is that an attacker would be able to exploit a given issue.
5. Technical Risks Briefing:
The next section should provide a technical briefing on all the vulnerabilities discovered during the assessment. This should include detailed information about how each one works, what systems are affected and what remediation steps need to be taken.
After the technical briefing comes the remediation section where you provide specific instructions on how to fix each vulnerability. It’s critical to make sure these instructions are simple to follow and understand so that IT personnel can act on them.
7. Strategic Recommendations:
The final section should provide some strategic recommendations for improving security posture moving forward. This can include everything from specific technologies that could help mitigate risk to high-level changes in the organisation’s culture or processes.
The reporting phase in penetration testing can be a crucial one. A well-written report will not only help resolve your security issues quicker but also provide valuable insight into an organization’s security posture. So make sure you take your time drafting this document and work hard to get all of the details right.