Penetration Testing

All You Need to Know About Pentest (VAPT) Report

Updated on: July 12, 2024

All You Need to Know About Pentest (VAPT) Report

Simply put, a penetration testing or VAPT report is your roadmap to strengthening your cybersecurity posture, winning customers’ trust, and securing critical data. Moreover, it helps mitigate legal ramifications, such as avoiding the non-compliance fees associated with mandatory industrial standards like GDPR, HIPAA, etc. But before we dive in, let’s take a look at what a penetration testing report is.

What is a Penetration Testing Report?

A penetration testing report is a document that contains the detailed findings of a simulated cyberattack on a computer system, network, or application. It includes insights into the vulnerabilities discovered, their impact, severity, and possible remedial steps.

They typically follow a standardized structure with several key sections, including the executive summary, methodology, findings, and remediation guidance, as detailed below.

Sample Pentest Report

Benefits of Penetration Testing Report  

The pentest report is equally important to stakeholders, including company executives, developers, customers, vendors, and compliance regulatory bodies. 

Since security analysts prepare the penetration testing report for companies undergoing a pentest, we’ve listed a few benefits that a company and security analyst derive from the same: 

FeatureBenefits for the CompanyBenefits for the Security Analyst
Leverage Comprehensive EvaluationPrioritize security risks based on potential impact, severity, and actionable remediation steps.Identify key focus areas and design targeted remediation strategies.
Foster Secure Code Writing PracticesEnsure the engineering team indulges in writing secure code proactively.Proactively reduce debugging and recoding workload by avoiding repeated vulnerabilities in future iterations.
Track Year-on-Year ProgressIdentify recurring issues, prioritize continuous monitoring, and improve overall security posture.Measure the effectiveness of implemented security measures and identify areas requiring further attention.
Adhere to Security BenchmarksAchieve compliance with industry and international standards by identifying vulnerabilities and providing evidence of remediation.Refine in-house testing procedures and remediation patches to prioritize vulnerabilities penalized by specific standards.
Build Trust with CustomersDemonstrate commitment to transparency and customer data safety through rescan reports and verifiable certificates.Help companies build a transparent narrative by communicating report findings clearly.

1. Leverage Comprehensive Evaluation

VAPT reports offer a comprehensive analysis of vulnerabilities across your network, applications, and websites, detailing potential impact, severity, risk factors, and actionable remediation steps to help CTOs and CXOs prioritize security risks.

Moreover, a detailed analysis helps engineering teams identify key focus areas and design targeted remediation strategies.

2. Foster Secure Code Writing Practices

Pentest reports guide iterative secure coding, revealing exploitable flaws and prioritizing critical fixes. This helps strengthen the trust of existing customers in your business and encourages word-of-mouth referrals.

Likewise, such reports not only help remediate but also help developers avoid repeating the same in future iterations, thus proactively reducing the debugging and re-coding workload.

3. Track Year-on-Year Progress

The pen testing report provides a baseline for your security posture. It allows you to track your progress over time, identify recurring issues, prioritize continuous monitoring, and improve your overall security posture.

Furthermore, by providing a historical reference point, the report also enables analysts to measure the effectiveness of implemented security measures and identify areas requiring further attention.

4. Adhere to Security Benchmarks

Every business must adhere to specific industrial and international benchmarks such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GDPR, etc. Regular pentests with subsequent reports help firms achieve compliance with the above by identifying vulnerabilities and providing evidence of remediation for audits.

Similarly, such compliance reports also help security analysts tailor their in-house testing procedures and remediation patches to prioritize vulnerabilities penalized by specific standards.

5. Build Trust with Customers

While the pentest report might not directly interact with your customers, a well-crafted rescan report and publicly verifiable certificate provide concrete proof of your company’s commitment to transparency and customer data safety.

Key Components of a Penetration Testing Report (VAPT Report)

The ultimate checklist for efficient pentest report writing

1. Executive Summary:

The executive summary briefly summarizes the systems/applications tested, the pentest’s objectives, the timeline, and any limitations the pentesting experts encountered. 

A. About the Pentester

This section briefly explains the security analyst and reviewer assigned to the penetration test, including their credentials, number of pentests performed, CVEs found, and achievements.

B. Overview

It provides a condensed overview of the identified vulnerabilities, highlighting the number, range of risk scores, severity, and resolution statistics, along with an assessment of the organization’s current risk posture.

Pro Tip: Since the summary deals primarily with C-suite executives, it should be short, crisp, drafted in layman’s language, and well-formatted.

2. Methodology and Scope:

This section of the vulnerability assessment and penetration testing report describes the various methodologies used, including tools, techniques, scan authentication, and scope of the assessment.

A. Tools and Techniques

Such details usually include a rundown of every paid and open-source tool used for the pentest. They also outline the techniques employed, such as web application scanning, network penetration testing, social engineering, etc. 

B. Scope

The report defines the systems and applications included and excluded from the testing scope and the timeframe allocated for the pentest. It also mentions any limitations related to testing hours or data availability.

3. Findings and Vulnerabilities

This section categorizes and lists all the vulnerabilities identified with specific details like type, severity (e.g., critical, high, medium, low), CWE, risk scores such as CVSS, and CVE identifiers, if applicable. 

Since the primary audience of this section is engineers and developers, it often includes technical jargon and references to facilitate better understanding and reduce fillers. Each individual vulnerability report includes the following:

A. Description:

This sub-section briefly explains the vulnerability, including how it works and how it can be exploited. This also includes detailing the severity of the impact and potential consequences, such as unauthorized access to data and user role manipulation.

B. Affected Components

This provides a comprehensive list of the affected components, i.e., the specific software, hardware, or configuration, such as the URL, user, or IP ports vulnerable to the identified weakness. It pinpoints the exact locations where the vulnerability exists.

C. Severity

This indicates the potential impact of the vulnerability on your system. It’s usually categorized as critical, high, medium, low, or informational, with ‘critical’ signifying the most severe impact.  

On the other hand, ‘informational’ refers to a potential issue that usually doesn’t directly affect your security posture but is an industrial best practice.

D. Status

This often describes the vulnerability’s current state. Common statuses include unsolved, meaning it is unaddressed; solved, indicating it has been patched and vetted; or help wanted, indicating clarification is required from the pentesting team. 

Some other statuses also include under review for vulnerabilities that have been patched but not vetted and accepted risk that reflects the customer’s decision not to address or resolve the reported issue or vulnerability.

E. Risk Score

This represents a numerical value assigned to the vulnerability based on a combination of factors like severity, exploitability, and potential business impact. Higher scores indicate a greater risk and require prioritization. 

For example, CVSS or Common Vulnerability Scoring System is a popular standardized risk scoring model ranging from 0.0 (no severity) to 10.0 (critical severity).

F. CWE (Common Weakness Enumeration)

This assigns a unique identifier to the vulnerability based on its type and classification. CWE provides a standardized classification system for software weaknesses, allowing easy comparison and analysis across different reports and vendors.

G. Compliance Labels:

This section pinpoints any industry or regulatory standards such as SOC 2 the vulnerability may violate to help organizations understand their compliance posture and prioritize remediation efforts based on potential legal or financial ramifications.

H. Proof of Concept

It includes sanitized screenshots or video recordings for critical vulnerabilities, as applicable, to demonstrate the fatal nature of a risk discovered in an external or internal penetration test.

I. Steps to Reproduce

This part of the penetration testing report template provides a step-by-step guide on recreating the vulnerability to help developers better understand the flaws and test fixes in sandbox environments.

J. Suggested Fixes & Remediation:

As the name suggests, it offers specific remediation recommendations. These could include code-level changes, configuration updates, application of patches, or implementation of security controls tailored to the technology or system involved.

K. Additional Resources

This section includes links to external sources, such as vendor advisories, CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) entries, detailed technical write-ups, or relevant research papers, to provide context and additional information for those who want to dig deeper.

5. Appendices:

Lastly, an appendix typically contains supplementary information crucial to understanding the report without cluttering the main body of the report. Some components include measurement scales, various statuses, risk scores, OWASP Top 10, SANS 25 & a list of any other test cases.

Here’s a simple penetration report preparation checklist to help you tick off all the essentials while preparing your report as a security analyst or vetting your vendor as a company.

What Makes Astra the Best VAPT Solution?

  • We’re the only company that combines automated & manual pentest to create a one-of-a-kind pentest platform
  • The Astra Vulnerability Scanner Runs 8000+ tests to uncover every single vulnerability
  • Vetted scans to ensure zero false positives
  • Integrates with your CI/CD tools to help you establish DevSecOps
  • A dynamic vulnerability management dashboard to manage, monitor, assign, and update vulnerabilities
  • Astra pentest detects business logic errors and payment gateway hacks
  • Helps you stay compliant with SOC2, ISO27001, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, etc.
  • Trusted by the brands you trust like Agora, Spicejet, Muthoot, Dream11, etc.

Various Compliance Standards for Pentest & VAPT Reports

While most industry standards share common core elements in penetration testing reports, individual compliances and standards have specific nuances necessitated by their drafting legalese. The key differences in the penetration testing report formats for some common standards include:

StandardKey Reporting Elements
PCI-DSSDetailed vulnerability analysis, Evidence of testing process, Recommendations for risk mitigation, PCI violation detected in each vulnerability
CRESTExecutive summary, Detailed findings, Risk ratings, Remediation advice
CERTIncident disclosure policy, Vulnerability assessment, Recommendations
FEDRAMPSecurity requirements, Assessment results, Remediation plan
CHECKDetailed test plan, Vulnerability findings, Remediation steps

Best Practices to Write a Penetrating Testing Report Efficiently

Best Practices to Write a Penetrating Testing Report Efficiently

1. Know Your Audience: 

Tailor the report’s language and technical depth to your audience. For example, executives prefer a high-level overview of risks and remediation strategies, while technical remediation teams require detailed vulnerability descriptions.

2. Prioritize Vulnerabilities: 

Don’t overwhelm your audience with a laundry list of vulnerabilities. Prioritize findings based on severity, exploitability, and potential impact. A risk assessment framework like CVSS can be used to categorize vulnerabilities per their potential risk.

3. Leverage Consistent Structure and Formatting: 

Maintain a consistent and logical structure that executives and engineers can follow throughout the pentest report template. Use clear headings, subheadings, and bullet points to improve readability. 

Pro Tip: Reference any tools, frameworks, or external resources used during the penetration test as footnotes or in the appendix.

4. Include Visuals: 

Use screenshots, tables, and diagrams to enhance understanding and highlight key findings. Add video-based walkthroughs for proof of concepts and especially challenging steps to recreation and remediation. Ensure visuals are well-labeled and easy to interpret.

5. Provide Actionable Recommendations: 

Don’t just identify vulnerabilities but also offer actionable recommendations for remediation. This includes specific steps to mitigate risks tailored to individual assets and suggest resources for further action as required.

6. Proofread and Edit: 

Ensure the report is free of grammatical errors and typos to avoid any scope of misinterpretations of critical security information. For example, a typo in a CVSS score of 9.5 to 8.5 can undermine the risk and prioritization of a critical CVE.

How Can Astra Pentest Help?

Astra is a leading SaaS company that specializes in delivering innovative penetration testing reporting solutions. Our VAPT techniques blend automation, AI, and manual expertise to run 9300+ tests to deliver penetration testing reports tailored to your needs.

Astra Pentest VAPT Report Dashboard

Moreover, our AI-powered test cases help our engineers run additional business logic test cases based on your asset’s digital infrastructure and existing tech stack to ensure complete safety. 

Lastly, zero false positives, deep CI/CD integrations, and customizable reports guarantee a smooth experience while saving you millions of dollars proactively. We strive to make pentesting simple, effective, and hassle-free. 

How can Astra help you generate quality penetration testing reports?

Final Thoughts

To conclude, these penetration testing reports are not just simple lists of vulnerabilities but defined plans for mitigating business risk for your data and assets. 

They help identify weaknesses, provide actionable insights, facilitate compliance certification processes, and, most importantly, help establish trust with your stakeholders. 

Simply put, well-drafted pentesting reports such as Astra’s act as the true north stars in cybersecurity.

FAQs

1. What do you expect from a penetration testing report as a security professional?

A penetration testing report should include an executive summary outlining issue impacts, comprehensive insights into evaluation methodologies and tools, detailed technical breakdowns of vulnerabilities, and actionable recommendations for mitigation.

2. How much does penetration testing cost?

The cost for penetration testing ranges between $349 and $1499 per scan for websites. For SaaS or web applications, it ranges between $700 and $5999 per scan, depending on your requirements.

3. What are the three 3 types of penetration test?

The three main types of penetration tests are:
Black box: No prior knowledge of the system, simulating an external attacker.
White box: Complete knowledge of the system, allowing for deeper testing.
Gray box: Partial knowledge, offering a balance between the two extremes.

This post is part of a series on penetration testing, you can also check out other articles below.

Chapter 1. What is Penetration Testing
Chapter 2. Different Types of Penetration Testing?
Chapter 3. Top 5 Penetration Testing Methodology to Follow in 2024
Chapter 4. Ten Best Penetration Testing Companies and Providers
Chapter 5. Best Penetration Testing Tools Pros Use – Top List
Chapter 6. A Super Easy Guide on Penetration Testing Compliance
Chapter 7. Average Penetration Testing Cost in 2024
Chapter 8. Penetration Testing Report

Shikhil Sharma

Shikhil Sharma is the founder & CEO of Astra Security. Being involved with cybersecurity for over six years now, his vision is to make cyber security a 5-minute affair. Shikhil plays on the line between security and marketing. When not thinking about how to make Astra super simple, Shikhil can be found enjoying alternative rock or a game of football. Astra Security has been rewarded at Global Conference on Cyber Security by PM of India Mr. Narendra Modi. French President Mr. François Hollande also rewarded Astra under the La French Tech program. Astra Security is also a NASSCOM Emerge 50 company.
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Naimisha
Naimisha
3 years ago

Easy to understand!! Nice Article!! Pen-test or penetration testing is a security process where a skilled cyber-security professional endeavor to locate and exploit vulnerabilities in a computer system.

Lucien
Lucien
3 years ago

Nice information around Penetration testing report and what things to mention in it during the Pentest.

The sample report that you have shared justifies the total process.

Thanks

Nishi
Nishi
2 years ago

Thank you for this article. Very nicely explained article with a easily understandable sample pentest pdf report. 

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