The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Penetration testing PENT

The assessment of organisational vulnerabilities through the design and execution of penetration tests that demonstrate how an adversary can either subvert the organisation's security goals (e.g. the protection of specific Intellectual Property) or achieve specific adversarial objectives (e.g. establishment of a covert Command and Control infrastructure). Pen Test results provide deeper insight into the business risks of various vulnerabilities.


Defined at these levels: 4 5 6

Penetration testing: Levels 1-3

This skill is not typically observed or practiced at these levels of responsibility and accountability.

Penetration testing: Level 4

Maintains current knowledge of malware attacks, and other cyber security threats. Creates test cases using in-depth technical analysis of risks and typical vulnerabilities. Produces test scripts, materials and test packs to test new and existing software or services. Specifies requirements for environment, data, resources and tools. Interprets, executes and documents complex test scripts using agreed methods and standards. Records and analyses actions and results. Reviews test results and modifies tests if necessary. Provides reports on progress, anomalies, risks and issues associated with the overall project. Reports on system quality and collects metrics on test cases. Provides specialist advice to support others.

Penetration testing: Level 5

Coordinates and manages planning of penetration tests, within a defined area of business activity. Delivers objective insights into the existence of vulnerabilities, the effectiveness of defences and mitigating controls - both those already in place and those planned for future implementation. Takes responsibility for integrity of testing activities and coordinates the execution of these activities. Provides authoritative advice and guidance on the planning and execution of vulnerability tests. Defines and communicates the test strategy. Manages all test processes, and contributes to corporate security testing standards.

Penetration testing: Level 6

Takes a comprehensive approach to seeking vulnerabilities across the full spectrum of organisation policies, processes, and defences in order to improve organisational readiness, improve training for defensive practitioners, and inspect current performance levels.

Determines testing policy, and owns the supporting processes. Takes responsibility for the management of all vulnerability testing activities within the organisation. Assesses and advises on the practicality of testing process alternatives. Initiates improvements to test processes and directs their implementation. Assesses suppliers' development and testing capabilities. Manages client relationships with respect to all testing matters.

Penetration testing: Level 7

This skill is not typically observed or practiced at this level of responsibility and accountability.