Pentesting reports: How are they done?
A penetration test report comprehensively analyses the vulnerabilities discovered during the pentest. It displays the severity of the danger and the procedures required to repair the vulnerabilities that were found by the ethical hacker.
Why is this so important? Basically, the only concrete outcome of a pentest is a penetration testing report, because it is the primary document that directs an organization's remedial operations. This is why a pentester must produce a comprehensive report on the testing procedure and the vulnerabilities found.
A penetration test aims to find vulnerabilities and security concerns that the organization may communicate, and the report contains this information. Therefore, a penetration tester must ensure that their report is as comprehensive as possible.
What does a penetration testing report do?
In penetration testing, the security of a system, network, or application is evaluated. Although pentesters employ the same tactics as malicious attackers, the procedure is lawful since the tested organization consents to it.
A pentester must produce a comprehensive report on the testing procedure and vulnerabilities found. Since a pentest aims to find vulnerabilities and security concerns that the organization may communicate, the report contains this information. Therefore, the ethical hacker must ensure that their report is as comprehensive as feasible.
A good penetration testing report gives an executive overview of the findings, a review of the vulnerabilities and their business implications, and recommendations on how to remedy them. Successful penetration testers employ a methodical approach and include a description of their methodology in their report.
Why do we require Pentesting?
Penetration testing is an unauthorized effort to breach IT systems and networks to identify vulnerabilities before someone does so.
Even though there are different types of pentestings according to a company’s size and industry, this procedure is a necessity for every company’s security. All organizations, from tiny enterprises to multinational corporations, should undertake frequent penetration testing since real-world attackers are costly, time-consuming, and challenging to protect against.
Prevention is the optimal method for mitigating cyberattack risk; nevertheless, detection may sometimes offer effective protection in its absence.
What is a penetration testing report?
A penetration testing report includes a comprehensive analysis of the vulnerabilities discovered during a security test. It documents the vulnerabilities, the harm they offer, and the potential corrective measures.
The pentest report provides a comprehensive review of vulnerabilities with a Proof of Concept (POC) and remediation recommendations for fixing these vulnerabilities in order of importance. A decent penetration test report will also include a score for each vulnerability discovered and the potential effect on your application or website.
Main sections of a penetration testing report
Some organizations make the error of seeing penetration testing as mere compliance that needs to be satisfied before moving on to the next. This strategy will fail to offer the security enhancements organizations require to stay up with the most recent threats because even though compliance is a key reason for doing pentesting, it’s not enough. This is why having cybersecurity as part of any company’s development cycle is essential.
To facilitate the repair process, all externally supplied penetration tests should generate actionable recommendations for concrete security enhancements. The following sections should be included in your penetration testing report:
1. A comprehensive summary of identified security threats
The first step is to ensure that all vulnerabilities discovered during the testing period are adequately covered. A good penetration test report will typically include a summary of key findings to aid all key stakeholders in understanding the testing results. Later in the report, each vulnerability's technical specifics and practical ramifications should be described in greater depth.
A human-led penetration test will identify complicated vulnerabilities typically ignored by automated scanning technologies. In the pentest report, you should find a description of where these deeper vulnerabilities exist, which assets are affected, how they were identified, and what an attacker may do if the vulnerabilities remain unpatched.
2. A business impact evaluation
To assist stakeholders in comprehending the importance level of detected vulnerabilities, penetration testing reports should also analyze each issue's possible business effect. By default, some automated testing programs will assign a vulnerability score, which is frequently translated to the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). In isolation, however, these ratings are of limited use since they do not consider whether vulnerabilities are being actively exploited in the wild and how they relate to an organization's unique risk profile.
The pentest report should be written by a security professional who can utilize a more comprehensive scoring methodology that offers a similar score (critical/high/medium/low) and explains what this means for the business in the issue.
A severe vulnerability, for instance, is a fault that might lead to the complete compromise of an asset or network, with the potential for severe financial and reputational harm, such as an e-commerce application with an unauthenticated SQL injection problem.
High, medium, and low-impact vulnerabilities encompass all additional possible threats to confidentiality, availability, or integrity. Organizations can also expect to be warned of "informational" concerns, which are any little deviations from basic security practices that, although posing a small immediate danger, may represent a more significant hazard in the future.
3. Understanding of the exploitation challenge
Exploitation difficulty is a factor with consequences for risk rating that is closely connected. A vulnerability's severity cannot be successfully evaluated without considering whether an attacker might practically exploit it. A crucial advantage of penetration testing is that it exceeds the scope of more fundamental security evaluations by detecting vulnerabilities and attempting to exploit them.
A typical exploitation difficulty scale report will vary from simple (when exploitation is uncomplicated and requires just essential tools and knowledge) to complex (requiring expert hacking and development skills and significant time and effort). The most sophisticated vulnerabilities may be ascribed to a state-level complexity, meaning that attacks may be theoretical and require substantial resources.
4. Remediation advice
Identifying vulnerabilities is only half the fight; addressing them promptly is also crucial. Companies should search for a pentesting partner that gives clear instructions on addressing each problem as part of the reporting process.
The difficulty of remediation often varies greatly. Some issues will require straightforward updates or patches that may be implemented immediately. Others may necessitate reconfigurations or rewrites of code by a development team, necessitating the involvement of a partner or vendor. Some problems may have no apparent solution, necessitating interim infrastructure and process modifications to reduce hazards.
A reputable supplier of penetration tests will advise customers through this process and make recommendations on what information must be supplied to vendors and regulators and which organizations should be contacted for assistance. The bulk of this information will be included in the testing report; however, serious vulnerabilities should be detailed when they are discovered to mitigate possible risks.
5. Remedy suggestions
In penetration testing results, strategic recommendations beyond remedy assistance are frequently missed. Security should be considered as a process, not as an endpoint. Even the most comprehensive testing program can only assess the state of security at a single point; with threats constantly evolving and attackers devising new ways to exploit vulnerabilities every day, organizations cannot afford to think only in the short term.
A good pentesting report will begin with an expert's assessment of the contracting organization's overall security posture and then suggest areas for long-term improvement. This might include evaluating existing security measures, input on operating processes, and advising on how to prioritize future security investments.
What does a pentest report look like?
When a company receives a pentest report, details about the security assessment process, including the primary attack vectors, the methodology employed, limitations, and presumptions, following the conclusion of penetration testing should be shown.
In addition to detailing all vulnerabilities discovered by researchers, the pentest report includes detailed recommendations for their elimination. When reviewing the pentest report, a client can determine how secure a product is and what areas require improvement.
It’s important to note that checking a sample report is always important to see how a good analysis of the pentest should be done.
The actual pentest is not the only reason clients seek security assessments; the evaluation report and client assistance are. This is precisely why we devote so much attention and effort to reporting. Details such as verbose explanations, right methodology, vulnerability description, and other elements are also vital; applying these four ideas is a formula for writing a unique report.