A good security assessment report or or penetration test (pen-test) report should include the following elements:

  1. Executive summary: A brief overview of the key findings and recommendations.
  2. Scope: A clear definition of the scope of the assessment, including the systems and network components that were tested.
  3. Methodology: A description of the methods and tools used to conduct the assessment.
  4. Results: A detailed description of the vulnerabilities and risks identified during the assessment, including the likelihood and impact of each issue.
  5. Recommendations: Specific, actionable recommendations for addressing the identified vulnerabilities and risks.
  6. Conclusion: A summary of the overall security posture of the systems and network components assessed, and any additional recommendations for improving security.
  7. Appendices: Additional information, such as detailed test results, network diagrams, and configuration files, that support the findings and recommendations in the report.

The report should be written in a clear and concise manner, with appropriate technical detail included for the intended audience. It should also be well-organized and easy to navigate. The report should be written in a way that enables the client to understand the vulnerabilities and the risks clearly, and be able to take action to fix the issues.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

A good executive summary for a security assessment or pen-test report should have the following key elements:

  1. Overview: A brief summary of the purpose and scope of the assessment or pen-test, including the systems and network components that were tested.
  2. Key Findings: A summary of the most significant vulnerabilities and risks identified during the assessment or pen-test, including the likelihood and impact of each issue.
  3. Recommendations: A summary of the most important recommendations for addressing the identified vulnerabilities and risks.
  4. Conclusion: A summary of the overall security posture of the systems and network components assessed, and any additional recommendations for improving security.
  5. Summary of the report: A brief summary of the report, including the main findings and recommendations.

The executive summary should be written in a clear and concise manner, with appropriate technical detail included for the intended audience. It should also be well-organized and easy to navigate. The executive summary should be written in a way that enables the client to understand the key issues and the risks clearly, and be able to take action to fix the issues.

METHODOLOGY:

A methodology in a security assessment report outlines the methods and tools used to conduct the assessment or pen-test. It should include specific details on the techniques and tactics used during the testing. A good methodology should include the following elements:

  1. Objectives: A clear statement of the objectives of the assessment or pen-test, including what systems and network components were tested, and what types of vulnerabilities and risks were targeted.
  2. Approach: A description of the overall approach used for the assessment or pen-test, including the type of assessment or pen-test conducted (e.g. black box, white box, gray box).
  3. Tools: A list of the specific tools and software used during the assessment or pen-test, including versions and configurations.
  4. Procedures: A detailed description of the procedures followed during the assessment or pen-test, including specific techniques and tactics used, such as network scanning, vulnerability scanning, and manual testing.
  5. Limitations: A description of any limitations of the assessment or pen-test, such as limited access to certain systems or network components.

Here is an example of a methodology for a black box penetration test:

Objectives: To identify any vulnerabilities in the target organization’s external facing web applications and network infrastructure that could be exploited by an attacker.

Approach: Black-box penetration testing, where the tester simulates the actions of a real-world attacker who has no prior knowledge of the target organization’s systems and network infrastructure.

Tools:

  • Nessus for vulnerability scanning
  • Burp Suite for web application testing
  • Nmap for network mapping and fingerprinting
  • Metasploit for exploiting identified vulnerabilities

Procedures:

  1. Reconnaissance and information gathering: The tester will use publicly available information and tools to gather information about the target organization’s systems and network infrastructure.
  2. Vulnerability scanning: The tester will use Nessus to scan the target organization’s external IP addresses to identify known vulnerabilities.
  3. Web application testing: The tester will use Burp Suite to manually test the target organization’s external facing web applications for vulnerabilities such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting.
  4. Network testing: The tester will use Nmap to map the target organization’s external network infrastructure, and identify open ports and services.
  5. Exploitation: The tester will use Metasploit to attempt to exploit any vulnerabilities identified during the previous steps.

Limitations:

  • The test only covers the external-facing systems and networks and does not include internal systems or networks
  • No social engineering attempts were made as part of this test

This methodology is provided as an example, and the actual methodology used for a specific assessment or pen-test will depend on the specific requirements of the client and the scope of the engagement.

KEY FINDINGS:

Key findings in a pen-test report are the most significant vulnerabilities and risks identified during the pen-test. These are the issues that pose the greatest threat to the security of the systems and network components tested, and should be prioritized in terms of remediation. Here are some examples of key findings that might be included in a pen-test report:

  1. High-severity vulnerabilities: Vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited and have a significant impact on the security of the systems and network components tested, such as a remote code execution vulnerability in a web application.
  2. Lack of security controls: The absence of basic security controls, such as proper authentication and access controls, which increases the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive systems and data.
  3. Misconfigured systems: Systems that are not properly configured, such as servers with default or weak passwords, which increases the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.
  4. Unpatched systems: Systems that have known vulnerabilities that have not been patched, which increases the risk of successful attacks.
  5. Network vulnerabilities: Vulnerabilities in the organization’s network infrastructure, such as open ports or unsecured wireless networks, which increases the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.
  6. Insufficient incident response: The organization’s incident response plan is not sufficient to effectively detect, respond, and recover from a security incident.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Recommendations in an assessment report are specific, actionable steps that can be taken to address the vulnerabilities and risks identified during the pen-test. Good recommendations should be clear, concise, and prioritize the most critical issues. Here are some examples of recommendations that might be included in a pen-test report:

  1. Patch Management: Patch or update all identified vulnerabilities on the systems and network components tested.
  2. Configuration Management: Implement security best practices for configuring systems and network components, such as disabling unnecessary services and protocols, and hardening system and application settings.
  3. Network Segmentation: Implement network segmentation to isolate sensitive systems and data, and limit the scope of potential breaches.
  4. Access Control: Implement access controls, such as least privilege and role-based access, to limit the ability of unauthorized users to access sensitive systems and data.
  5. Intrusion Detection and Prevention: Implement intrusion detection and prevention systems to detect and respond to potential security incidents.
  6. Vulnerability Management: Implement a vulnerability management program to regularly scan for and identify vulnerabilities, and prioritize and address them in a timely manner.
  7. Security Training: Implement security awareness training for employees, to educate them on best practices for protecting sensitive systems and data.
  8. Incident Response: Develop and regularly test an incident response plan, to ensure that the organization can quickly and effectively respond to security incidents.
  9. Penetration Testing: Schedule regular penetration testing to identify and address new vulnerabilities as they arise.
  10. Third-Party Security: Evaluate the security of third-party vendors and service providers, and implement security controls to protect against vulnerabilities and risks associated with their systems and networks.

This list of recommendations is not exhaustive, and the specific recommendations that are included in a pen-test report will depend on the vulnerabilities and risks identified during the pen-test. The recommendations should be specific to the context of the pen-test and the organization, and should be written in a way that is easy for the client to understand and implement.

CONCLUSIONS:

Conclusions in a pen-test report summarize the overall security posture of the systems and network components tested, and provide additional recommendations for improving security. A good conclusion should be clear, concise, and based on the key findings and recommendations from the pen-test. Here are some examples of conclusions that might be included in a pen-test report:

  1. Overall security posture: A statement on the overall security posture of the systems and network components tested, such as “the systems and network components tested have a moderate level of security, but there are several high-severity vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.”
  2. Remediation priorities: A prioritization of the vulnerabilities and risks identified during the pen-test, and a recommendation for how to address them, such as “the most critical vulnerabilities identified during the pen-test are remote code execution vulnerabilities in the web application, which should be patched as soon as possible.”
  3. Recommendations for improvement: Additional recommendations for improving security beyond the specific vulnerabilities and risks identified during the pen-test, such as “the organization should implement a vulnerability management program to regularly scan for and address new vulnerabilities as they arise.”
  4. Summary: A brief summary of the main findings and recommendations of the report, such as “The report identified several high-severity vulnerabilities in the organization’s web application and network infrastructure, and recommends patching these vulnerabilities, implementing security best practices