What to expect from a penetration testing report?

By |2021-07-09T14:07:24+00:00April 24th, 2021|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Penetration testing forms a crucial part of your system’s security analysis. But what if the final penetration testing report does not enable you to interpret the results? Many times after the pen test is complete, and clients may not be able to consume the outcome due to the lack of an accurate and detailed report.

A lack of a well-documented VAPT report hamper the test’s consumption and deprives the organization of security steps required to tackle new threats.

A penetration testing report must include a few critical points along with structured details about the pen test. A report is only effective when it can properly communicate to all stakeholders and offer actionable insights to augment the system’s security. As a basic foundation, you can expect these six points in a detailed VAPT report.

1. Executive Summary of the Penetration testing Report

The purpose of an executive summary in the VAPT report is to communicate the overall business impacts and risks in a concise manner that non-technical readers can even consume. Executives need to understand the risks and details of the pen testing to make informed decisions on future steps. Use of plain English, visualizations, and charts would do the trick of explaining the business context of the testing and the proposed plan of action.

2. List of security risks

The executive summary report should also contain the list of all vulnerabilities that one discovers during the pen-testing. Along with a summarized version of these vulnerabilities, the VAPT report should include detailed technical descriptions and the security gaps’ practical implications.

During a pen test, a combination of both automated and manual testing is employed. In manual testing, multiple concepts are tried and tested at once to expose complex vulnerabilities. In a penetration testing report, these discoveries should accompany details such as how they found them, how deep they lie, and their impact on the system.

3. Assessing and understanding security risks

A VAPT report contains a list of security risks graded using a particular rating system. The rating system would take into account the ease of exploitation, impact, among others. Appropriate rating of vulnerabilities will assist stakeholders in their decision-making.

The rating will be done in automated testing systems based on a numerical scoring system such as CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System). However, these scores would not factor in the real-world scenarios and how common these exploits are. Having a security expert evaluate these vulnerabilities would allow for a more sophisticated rating system that would include its security risk means.

Business impact of security vulnerabilities

Security risks are divided into two parts: impact and likelihood.

Likelihood alone is not enough to evaluate the risk. Executives need to know the impact range and severity of a threat on their organization.

The business context will help those in leadership positions to understand and comprehend the threat accurately. A good website penetration testing report (VAPT report) should be capable enough to communicate the same idea to the entire spectrum of an audience. Thus, a combination of likelihood and impact forms a significant point of a VAPT report.

Exploitation difficulty insights

When assigning a status to the risk, the possibility and ease of exploiting the risk convey plays an essential factor. When a security expert conducts pen testing, they attempt to simulate the attack and recreate a real-world scenario. The effort required for the exploitation can range from easy, requiring fundamental expertise and tools, to complicated, requiring a high level of development and hacking knowledge. Some vulnerabilities might be only theoretical as they would require vast resources not readily available.

Remediation and recommendations

Discovering vulnerabilities is only the first part of a VAPT report. The other part consists of remediation steps and a detailed solution plan.

Remediation steps can consist of simple steps such as applying security patches and complicated and lengthy solutions such as a revamp of the infrastructure. Some solutions might involve a rewrite of codes, while some vulnerabilities might not even have a solution. In such cases, temporary fixes and process updates might do the job.

An expert pen tester would provide all the solutions and guide the client throughout the remediation process, providing recommendations and alternate solutions depending on the case.

Apart from solutions, pen testers also need to provide strategic suggestions to protect the system against future threats. A test can only analyze the system at a particular point; however, security is a dynamic and ever-changing concept. Recommendations such as future security investments and automated feedback systems would go a long way in improving and strengthening security in the long run.

Closing thoughts

Considering all the complexities of a pen test, a VAPT report should be basic enough to convey the results effectively and contain enough details to be used by a tech-savvy reader. Since the VAPT report is the culmination of all the effort put into penetration testing, Astra makes sure to compile a high standard report.

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