The entire pre-engagement process consists of three essential components:

  1. Scoping questionnaire

  2. Pre-engagement meeting

  3. Kick-off meeting

Before any of these can be discussed in detail, a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) must be signed by all parties. There are several types of NDAs:



Unilateral NDA

This type of NDA obligates only one party to maintain confidentiality and allows the other party to share the information received with third parties.

Bilateral NDA

In this type, both parties are obligated to keep the resulting and acquired information confidential. This is the most common type of NDA that protects the work of penetration testers.

Multilateral NDA

Multilateral NDA is a commitment to confidentiality by more than two parties. If we conduct a penetration test for a cooperative network, all parties responsible and involved must sign this document.

This stage also requires the preparation of several documents before a penetration test can be conducted that must be signed by our client and us so that the declaration of consent can also be presented in written form if required. Otherwise the penetration test could breach the Computer Misuse Act. These documents include, but are not limited to:


Timing for Creation

1. Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

After Initial Contact

2. Scoping Questionnaire

Before the Pre-Engagement Meeting

3. Scoping Document

During the Pre-Engagement Meeting

4. Penetration Testing Proposal (Contract/Scope of Work (SoW))

During the Pre-engagement Meeting

5. Rules of Engagement (RoE)

Before the Kick-Off Meeting

6. Contractors Agreement (Physical Assessments)

Before the Kick-Off Meeting

7. Reports

During and after the conducted Penetration Test

Contract - Checklist




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) refers to a secrecy contract between the client and the contractor regarding all written or verbal information concerning an order/project. The contractor agrees to treat all confidential information brought to its attention as strictly confidential, even after the order/project is completed. Furthermore, any exceptions to confidentiality, the transferability of rights and obligations, and contractual penalties shall be stipulated in the agreement. The NDA should be signed before the kick-off meeting or at the latest during the meeting before any information is discussed in detail.

☐ Goals

Goals are milestones that must be achieved during the order/project. In this process, goal setting is started with the significant goals and continued with fine-grained and small ones.

☐ Scope

The individual components to be tested are discussed and defined. These may include domains, IP ranges, individual hosts, specific accounts, security systems, etc. Our customers may expect us to find out one or the other point by ourselves. However, the legal basis for testing the individual components has the highest priority here.

☐ Penetration Testing Type

When choosing the type of penetration test, we present the individual options and explain the advantages and disadvantages. Since we already know the goals and scope of our customers, we can and should also make a recommendation on what we advise and justify our recommendation accordingly. Which type is used in the end is the client's decision.

☐ Methodologies

Examples: OSSTMM, OWASP, automated and manual unauthenticated analysis of the internal and external network components, vulnerability assessments of network components and web applications, vulnerability threat vectorization, verification and exploitation, and exploit development to facilitate evasion techniques.

☐ Penetration Testing Locations

External: Remote (via secure VPN) and/or Internal: Internal or Remote (via secure VPN)

☐ Time Estimation

For the time estimation, we need the start and the end date for the penetration test. This gives us a precise time window to perform the test and helps us plan our procedure. It is also vital to explicitly ask how time windows the individual attacks (Exploitation / Post-Exploitation / Lateral Movement) are to be carried out. These can be carried out during or outside regular working hours. When testing outside regular working hours, the focus is more on the security solutions and systems that should withstand our attacks.

☐ Third Parties

For the third parties, it must be determined via which third-party providers our customer obtains services. These can be cloud providers, ISPs, and other hosting providers. Our client must obtain written consent from these providers describing that they agree and are aware that certain parts of their service will be subject to a simulated hacking attack. It is also highly advisable to require the contractor to forward the third-party permission sent to us so that we have actual confirmation that this permission has indeed been obtained.

☐ Evasive Testing

Evasive testing is the test of evading and passing security traffic and security systems in the customer's infrastructure. We look for techniques that allow us to find out information about the internal components and attack them. It depends on whether our contractor wants us to use such techniques or not.

☐ Risks

We must also inform our client about the risks involved in the tests and the possible consequences. Based on the risks and their potential severity, we can then set the limitations together and take certain precautions.

☐ Scope Limitations & Restrictions

It is also essential to determine which servers, workstations, or other network components are essential for the client's proper functioning and its customers. We will have to avoid these and must not influence them any further, as this could lead to critical technical errors that could also affect our client's customers in production.

☐ Information Handling


☐ Contact Information

For the contact information, we need to create a list of each person's name, title, job title, e-mail address, phone number, office phone number, and an escalation priority order.

☐ Lines of Communication

It should also be documented which communication channels are used to exchange information between the customer and us. This may involve e-mail correspondence, telephone calls, or personal meetings.

☐ Reporting

Apart from the report's structure, any customer-specific requirements the report should contain are also discussed. In addition, we clarify how the reporting is to take place and whether a presentation of the results is desired.

☐ Payment Terms

Finally, prices and the terms of payment are explained.

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