Example of a penetration testing report executive summary

A penetration test report executive summary is a document that states the findings of a penetration test in a clear and concise way. The purpose of this summary is to provide management with a high-level overview of the test, so they can decide whether or not to pursue further action.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to assist our institute’s students in writing penetration testing reports. The example offered is not factual, and it has been simplified for educational reasons to provide clear and straightforward instructions.

Example

The findings of a penetration test conducted on ABC Hospital’s network on March 1, 2019 are summarized in this report. A team of skilled security consultants from XYZ Security conducted the test.

A security penetration test is a simulated cyber-attack on a computer system or network. The goal of this test is to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in the system in order to assess the system’s security posture. Penetration tests are an important part of a comprehensive security strategy and can help organizations identify and fix vulnerabilities before they are exploited by attackers.

Key Findings:

XYZ Security discovered various flaws that may be exploited by a malicious actor. The most important findings were:

  • A vulnerability in the firewall that could allow an attacker to gain access to the network from the Internet
  • A vulnerability in the web server that could allow an attacker to gain access to sensitive data
  • A vulnerability in the authentication system that could allow an attacker to gain access to user accounts
  • A vulnerability in the email server that could allow an attacker to spoof emails

These flaws could lead to serious breaches of confidentiality and integrity if they are exploited. Unauthorized access to personal identity information, patient information, and medical data would be gained by adversaries.

The consequences of a major cyber breach caused by these flaws could include lawsuits and financial losses. In one situation, XYZ Security could tamper with the real-time flow of medical information. The effects of a real-world attack could put patients’ health at danger.

Recommendations:

XYZ Security recommends that ABC Hospital:

  • Undertakes a security review of all of its firewalls for security misconfiguration issues.
  • Performs automated vulnerability scans of all its Internet-facing servers and patches all critical vulnerabilities.
  • Request an urgent security patch from the vendor that provides you with single-sign-on (SSO) authentication.
  • Perform a review of your email server’s security settings and harden the server in accordance with industry best practices.

Within 15 days, these activities listed above should be completed, and any high or critical risk findings should be resolved within 45 days.

Guidelines

A brief explanation of the test, the scope of the test, the methodology employed, and the test findings should all be included in the executive summary. A description of the business risks posed by the findings should also be included. At the conclusion, make a list of your recommendations.

Next Step

Now that you’ve seen an example, use it to motivate yourself and propose an improved version when you submit your next penetration testing report!

Looking to expand your knowledge of penetration testing? Check out our online course, MPT - Certified Penetration Tester. In this course, you’ll learn about the different aspects of penetration testing and how to put them into practice.