4 Characteristics of a Powerful VAPT Report
Updated on June 4, 2021 | by Austin
As you near the end of the penetration testing procedure of the organization’s network, the final step of receiving the analytical VA & Penetration testing report is equally important. At the end of the vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT) procedure, the report provides vital information in terms of potential vulnerabilities and remediation measures. All of this is combined to form the network’s long-term cybersecurity strategy, along with regular penetration testing to ensure compliance and protection of the system.
No matter the subjective nature of conducting VAPT procedures by each organization, customers should maintain some basic standards for final reports. It depends on both the organization being tested and the third-party tester maintaining professionalism and an understanding of the importance of penetration testing. The final resolution process provides the best results when the final report provides proper guidance on how to permanently improve security.
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Here are some elements that every VAPT report should aim to cover:
1. An Overall Assessment with Both Technical and Business Impacts
It is to be expected that the report will include a detailed list of vulnerabilities found at each stage of testing and in general. Usually, the report consists of a segment called the ‘executive summary’ that talks about the main conclusions of the penetration testing procedure. It should be made sure that this is understandable to both the IT department of the organization and the main stakeholders concerned with the business.
Once the summary covers all the important points, there will be sections that cover the technical aspects of each vulnerability found, the probability of occurrence and the potential impact, and potential remediation measures.
A good penetration testing process will be a combination of both manual and automated techniques. While automated testing tools uncover many common issues and security risks, the human eye can uncover hidden vulnerabilities that are missed by the former. Since these are more complicated issues, the report is expected to cover them in more detail such as their effect on other elements in the system, how in-depth the issue is, discovery, and what happens if a hacker finds them.
2. Understand the Ranking of the Business on the Vulnerability Scale
There should be a scoring system of the criticality of vulnerabilities found within the system so that concerned authorities are aware of the urgency of the situation. For example, some automated testing tools have the provision of providing a score based on their findings, called the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).
These numerical values can be limited in their assessment of the system security, devoid of the hidden vulnerabilities that can unleash more damage. Thus, the organization’s security risk profile can be severely under or overestimated.
Therefore, every third-party pen-testing organization should have a trustworthy scale for the evaluation of the security situation of each company tested. This will bring in both manual and automated analysis of the system and assign appropriate levels with an explanation in terms of business impact.
So, if the company is rated ‘severe’ or ‘critical’, the vulnerabilities found during the testing process can completely destroy the system if exploited. In this situation, certain segments of the network will lead to widespread loss of sensitive data, financial losses, and disrepute. Progressing issues will be accordingly marked on the scale depending on different parameters of severity, ability to maintain confidentiality, overall integrity, etc.
3. The Probability of Being Attacked
At the end of the process, with the list of vulnerabilities in hand that is ranked according to their urgency of the resolution, the firm needs to then know the possibilities of being attacked. This is a key factor in deciding the vulnerability scoring of the firm, as discussed above.
It also explains why good-quality penetration tests don’t just identify security risks within the system, but also exploit them from different viewpoints to understand their impact.
Therefore, the report will consist of details on the chances and manner of exploitation, be it with basic tools or expertise, or complete knowledge of the system (insider attacks). So, if one type of attack requires a certain domain of knowledge and skillset, and another requires a huge amount of time and resources, their categorization becomes easier.
4. The Process of Resolving Security Vulnerabilities
Some firms offer the option to retest the network after finding out the vulnerabilities and implementing the solution. Others stay throughout the process of discovering security risks, suggest resolution tactics, offer their advice and skills during remediation, and solve issues that pop up during this stage.
Clearly, you want the kind of testing organizations mentioned above as your ideal penetration testing partner. There are different kinds of remediation measures at each stage of vulnerability, with some requiring simple updates or others with foundational errors in the coding or reconfigurations.
The role of a third-party pen-testing organization doesn’t get over with the ideal final report, either. The source of security risks is yet another complication of its own, but don’t worry – check out Astra Security and check all those boxes above!