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Writing an Effective Penetration Testing Report

Writing an Effective Penetration Testing Report

Crafting a perfect report or report writing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. In today’s world of information flow and exchange, technicality is not all about physical deeds. Effective writing, documentation, and presentation play a huge role in the cyber domain, keeping aside the physical implementation. No matter how technically oriented or bounded you are, writing an effective report has a wide dimension than that. Most businesses probe the aid of cyber professionalism, and at the same time, seek effective communication for the same. With the day-by-day rise in attacks, thefts and breaches, the vulnerability factor has gone high to the extent. Many penetration testing companies rise to the picture, but effective collaboration and conveying methods still get doubted. Vulnerability and penetration testing services get the worth only with their effectual delivery in the cyber world.

What is a penetration testing report?

A penetration test reflects the possible vulnerabilities of the underlying network of an organization. It presents the security insights derived from the vulnerability tests. There are several types of penetration/vulnerability tests depending on the request and requirements of the companies. It extends from external penetration testing, internal penetration testing, segmentation testing to black box, white box, and gray box penetration testing.

A penetration test report or a vulnerability test report identifies and focuses on the vulnerability identified by the pen testing team during the engagement. For every vulnerability issue, pen testers technically convey the issue, impact, root cause, and mitigation information in a report format. On the other hand, penetration testing web services explore the web application infrastructure through ethical hacking, exposing the cyber security issues present in the web application.

Different stages involved in the report generation are;


  1. Report planning: This starts by giving a brief idea of pen testing, its benefits, and the overall aim and purpose. It also covers the time duration spent on testing along with report classification, identified audience and distribution.
  2. Information gathering: The pen tester is required to gather accurate information on each step of his findings. All details must be collected and noted, including various tools used in the testing phase, threat assessments and detailed test findings.
  3. Preparing the initial draft: All activities deployed, processed, and concluded need a well-qualified presentation known as the initial draft. The initial draft needs to be precise on findings and security observations.
  4. Review and finalization: The initially drafted information must be reviewed and rechecked by the drafter, and made to be spot on with the delivery. Then it has to pass through the other technical experts who assisted the process.

The vitality of penetration report

Besides the technical conclusions and vulnerability understandings after a penetration test, the reports are the only means of communication in material format. As long as vulnerability and penetration testing services are continual processes, there occurs a chance of a second word or test. If efficient communication is lacking through the initial testing report, the client has all right to opt for another tester. And what if that tester doesn’t know the ways through which you arrived at the findings?

Here is the importance of an effective and well-packed penetration report. Your report is the only piece of information that conveys the completeness of testing. Even the top management people may not have a chance to look at who has conducted the tests, and the only paper that floats above is your test report. Also, while considering the penetration testing cost, your report should have enough insights that justify the arrived conclusions. A qualified testing report should convey the best possible validating pieces of information.

What does the penetration report imply?

While composing reports for penetration testing web services, penetration testing companies should identify their target audience. Usually, it can get into at least three levels, depending on availability and authority. The probable phases of your test traversal would be through the Senior Management, IT Management and IT Staff. The best question that you can expect from a senior-level team would be – “how secure we are?” Your drawn insights, test vulnerability results and findings may not be considered pretty heavy, and hence the final word is vital. They may not pass through the entire report information, but your main concluding.

While considering the second stage of the audience, they would be responsible for overall security, but the minded concept would be like their department should be free of cause. The thought makes it a bit hard to convey, but a genuine and professional report can beat the trend. Now, coming to the third set of people, mainly IT staff. They would be the people to take necessary actions, implement the action plan and fix the findings. They require a clear and precise finding description or summary with priorities adjusted. A good report should have a better approach to them by means of delivering the issues on an arranged priority pattern.

Steps for delivering effective penetration report

Executive Summary:

As the word implies, an executive summary should be the core insights of your findings on an organization’s vulnerability. It should convey the highest grade of detected vulnerable elements and what it takes to fix those. Penetration testing companies must keep in mind that an executive summary should never be a lengthy technical white paper.


The objective of a penetration or vulnerability test should clearly define the scope of your work and effort. All the requisites in context to the test results need a clear depiction in the objective phase. Your test goals need to get clearly conveyed and depicted in the report, marking a solid objective.

The Core Pen Team:

Organizations would love to see the professionalism in your test report. Your vulnerability test report should be made inclusive of all the details of your pen test team. It is a wise choice to include the official contact details and mail id along with the names. It mainly focuses on the credibility and transparent nature of your test report.

Tools Used For Testing:

Concerning the remediation measures, every organization would like to know what tools got used to getting the final results. While pointing out the vulnerabilities, other IT staff and the security team needs a clear picture on the same. It can pave an easy way for remediation.

Summary of Findings:

This phase requires special attention while you go with a penetration testing web service report. You can include a graphical representation that can easily convey your summary of findings to the targeted users. It is often that many organizations consider the budget bounding to your finding summary.

Graded Vulnerability Findings:

Keep in mind that your vulnerability report should be precise and to the point with needed evidence. Keep your findings on track and order with adjusted priorities. By conveying these results, it gives a deeper insight into the detected vulnerabilities. Furthermore, clients can act accordingly, prioritizing the actions..

Risk-Impact Test Finding:

Similar to the prioritized test findings, risk-impact test findings are also keen for an organization to schedule the response or remediation. The findings point to the elements of security risk and impact that firms need to prioritize and take necessary action plans.

Finding data references:

Remediation elements of a report need to be backed up by reference links or data links. It can ease your organization effort to match the action plans or remediation choices at the time of need. Quick collecting and gathering facts for your insights is a wise thing to pack your report.

Steps To Recreate The Findings:

While you go equipped with all finding resources and references, the lack of trace back to your findings is a hard concern. A good penetration report will have the attached screenshots or screen recordings of your test findings and how you have traversed through the issue. Include your re-creation track for effective report delivery.

Remediation Options:

A report after vulnerability and penetration testing services should carry the remediation steps or options within. It can help organizations to know the implementation steps and procedures as a part of the remediation plan. organizations looking for the best worth of penetration testing cost and control always seek those options.

Summing Up

We have so far wrapped up all the requisites concerning the penetration or vulnerability testing reports. As far as test report data is the backbone for your findings, delivering it with appropriateness and effectiveness is important. We discussed different stages of report development along with its aim and intended audience. By following the steps pictured above in report writing and delivery, security companies will gain that reliable and authentic element. Penetration report writing is an art that gets messed up by many firms and requires the qualitative ability of a professional writer to connect the technicality of the findings. After the final draft, review and finalization is a phase to be focussed and checked with utter care and caution.