Capstone Project


The capstone project is a “structured walkthrough” penetration test of a fictional

company, Artemis, Incorporated (“Artemis”). A structured walkthrough is an

organized procedure for a group of peers to review and discuss the technical

aspects of various IT, IT Security, and IT Audit work products. The major objectives

of a structured walkthrough are to find errors and to improve the quality of the

product or service to be delivered.

This document provides a comprehensive overview of the project and the expected



You work for a firm specializing in cybersecurity consulting, namely penetration tests,

vulnerability assessments, and regulatory compliance. Artemis has hired your firm to

perform an external penetration test. In preparation for this engagement, you must lead

your team of new pen-testers in a structured walkthrough of the entire test so that:

  1. a) Everyone on the team knows what to do.
  2. b) The amount of time allotted for the actual test is utilized as efficiently as


  1. c) The client’s expectations are met or exceeded.

To accomplish this task, you must perform the following five phases:

  1. Perform simulated reconnaissance of the client.
  2. Simulate target identification and scans against the external network.
  3. Simulate the identification of vulnerabilities.
  4. Based on the above, assess the threats and make recommendations.
  5. Create two mock reports for the client: An Executive Summary for the client’s

senior management, and a Detailed Technical Report for the client’s IT staff.

This project is an excellent addition to your portfolio as it demonstrates your

understanding of critical security issues and your skills in identifying and analyzing

threats and vulnerabilities. The project also allows you to speak knowledgeably about

the entire process of performing a pen test, using your project as a reference point.

Each phase will include its own deliverable(s). A full description of what is required can

be found under each phase.


When planning penetration tests, consulting firms always sit down with the client’s key

stakeholders to confirm scope and approach, identify the client’s concerns, and set

expectations regarding the outcome. To this end, you have been provided with an

overview of the client and an overview of the client’s IT environment. This information is

critical because all risks must be evaluated within their context. The example below

illustrates this concept:

Technically Accurate – Artemis’ web application does not restrict or filter user uploads

by file type. This is a vulnerability that could allow threat actors to connect remotely,

execute arbitrary code, and then elevate their privileges within the application.

With context – Artemis’ RFQ/RFP web application does not restrict or filter user uploads

by file type. This is a vulnerability that could allow threat actors to connect remotely,

execute arbitrary code, and then elevate their privileges within the application. In this

instance, the threat actors would be able to view or download sensitive information

regarding bids and even gain admin rights within the application.

As you can see, the second description indicates the technical aspects and the

business impact as well.

The next two sections, client overview and technology overview, provide the context

you will need to help you with the five phases of your capstone project.

Client Overview

ARTEMIS GAS, INC. (“Artemis”), based in Paris, France, is present in 40 countries with

approximately 30,000 employees and serves more than 1.7 million customers and

patients. Oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen have been at the core of its activities since its

creation in 1922. They own and operate over 1,000 miles of industrial gas pipelines in

the U.S., supplying mainly oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and syngas in large quantities

from multiple production sources to major customers in the chemicals, petrochemicals,

refining, and steel industries. Their pipeline operations and industrial gas production

facilities are closely monitored 24/7 within their leading-edge operations control center

located in Houston, TX. Their operations control group monitors over 49,000 data points

and assists with product supply and coordination. They are constantly optimizing their

supply network to provide high reliability and energy efficiencies, allowing Artemis to

adjust supply needs more quickly and effectively, thus enabling growth to their


Artemis has grown quickly over the past few years, and the need to “make things work”

has outpaced the need to “make things work securely.” Some security solutions are

fairly mature and effective; some are less so. Among the company’s concerns are:

  • Some of the older network hardware that is being phased out is unsupported and

may have unpatched vulnerabilities.

  • Some of the newer network hardware may not have been configured properly.
  • Some business units do not always follow company policy regarding storing data

in the cloud, creating websites, or conducting file transfers.

  • Some IT admins like to do their own thing because “that’s the way they’ve always

done it.” This could be exposing the network to unknown risks.

Technology Overview

Artemis utilizes a mix of security vendors and technologies. The firewall landscape

consists of Cisco, Fortinet, and Palo Alto. They use F5 (Big IP) for load balancing, and

for secure remote application access, they use Zscaler. Roughly half of their servers and

applications are in the cloud (Amazon Web Services), and the rest are on-premise

(on-prem). These on-prem assets are spread out among four major data centers

located in Houston, Paris, Cairo, and Singapore.

The network is currently transitioning to SD-WAN, so there are still several MPLS links,

especially at the smaller, more remote locations. The old Cisco equipment is being

phased out in favor of Fortigate devices from Fortinet. Additionally, since the Fortigates

can also act as firewalls, the company is considering eliminating the rest of its Cisco

gear to cut costs. They are unable to supply a current network diagram. The ones they

have are severely out of date and would not be of any use to you.

Internally, Artemis utilizes a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution that leverages Microsoft

Active Directory to authenticate users to other applications, namely SAP. SAP is the

company’s primary ERP system and runs on servers running Linux and Oracle 12c.

Messaging is a mix of Exchange Online (via the Office 365 cloud tenant) and on-prem

Microsoft Exchange servers. The only other applications of note are the PARS system

and the APOLLO system.

PARS allows engineers to submit technical information regarding potential patents. If

the submission passes legal and technical review, it is forwarded to the Intellectual

Property group for submission to either the US Patent Office, the National Institute of

Industrial Property INPI) in France, or both. APOLLO is the repository for trade secrets,

primarily around manufacturing processes.

Project Guidelines

This next section will provide you with the goals, procedures, deliverables, and time

estimates expected for each phase of the project. Read each of these sections

carefully before proceeding to begin on phase 1.

Phase 1. Perform Reconnaissance

Goal: Build as robust a profile on the target (Artemis) as possible. The profile should

include the target’s technology stack, email addresses, phone numbers, resumes,

and so on.

Procedure: Detail the activities you plan to use to obtain as much publicly available

information as you can.

Deliverable: Provide a minimum two-page description of all the tools and methods you

will use to accomplish this task. Deliverable should cover at least 15 tools/resources.

Time estimate: 2 hours

Phase 2. Identify Targets and Run Scans

Goal: Identify the tools and techniques to be used to perform host discovery and


Procedure: List out the tools you plan on using to perform network scans, the purpose

for using them, and how you will use them. For example:

  1. Tool: Nmap.

Purpose: Obtain information on hosts and the services and operating systems

they are running.

Commands: <List commands to be used for identifying live hosts, banner grabbing, OS fingerprinting,

open ports, etc.>

Deliverable: Provide a minimum 2-page description of the tools you plan on using for

the network scans, your reasoning for selecting them, and how they will be used. Be

sure to include any challenges and potential drawbacks or limitations. Deliverable

should cover at least 5 tools/resources.

Course content reference: There are two optional labs, Reconnaissance from the WAN

and Scanning the Network on the LAN, that may help you with this step.

NOTE: Kali is not a tool; it is a Linux distribution or collection of tools, so do not include

it in your list.

Time estimate: 4 hours

Phase 3. Identify Vulnerabilities

Goal: Identify the tools and techniques to be used to scan for vulnerabilities.

Procedure: List out the tools you plan on using to perform vulnerability scanning and

how you will use them. Include both Tenable Nessus and OpenVAS. Remember to

include tools designed to look for vulnerabilities within specific technologies or

platforms, such as Cisco devices, remote access services, and web applications (e.g.,

Burp Suite). Follow the same documentation procedure you performed in the previous

step. Include screenshots of such tools showing configuration options and settings.

Finally, list the pros and cons of each tool.

Deliverable: Provide a minimum 2-page description of the tools you plan on using for

the vulnerability scans, how you will use them, screenshots of the tools with

configuration options and settings, and the pros and cons of each tool. Deliverable

should cover at least 5 tools.

Time estimate: 2 hours

Phase 4. Threat Assessment

Goal: Create a hypothetical threat assessment based on vulnerabilities you expect to

find when you perform your actual scans against the client’s network.

Procedure: Assume the scenarios below are what you are most likely to encounter

when you begin your actual work.

Scenario 1: Unpatched RDP is exposed to the internet

Scenario 2: Web application is vulnerable to SQL Injection

Scenario 3: Default password on Cisco admin portal

Scenario 4: Apache web server vulnerable to CVE-2019-0211

Scenario 5: Web server is exposing sensitive data

Scenario 6: Web application has broken access control

Scenario 7: Oracle WebLogic Server vulnerable to CVE-2020-14882

Scenario 8: Misconfigured cloud storage (AWS security group misconfiguration, lack of

access restrictions)

Scenario 9: Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerable to CVE-2021-26855

Deliverable: Provide a spreadsheet or document showing the following items. Make

sure you factor in the appropriate context. For example, if you think you might be able to

penetrate the APOLLO system, evaluate those risks according to that system’s

sensitivity and criticality.

  • Description of the vulnerability
  • Operating systems/versions affected
  • Risks of attempting to exploit (e.g., might crash the host or lock out an account)
  • Risk (what could you or a threat actor do upon successful exploitation)?

○ Identify as many attack vectors as you can. Examples: launch an attack on

internal systems, obtain password hashes, crack passwords, access other

systems, move laterally, and so on).

○ Identify potential blocking mechanisms such as AV software or IDS/IPS,

and how you might try to bypass them.

○ Document how you plan on cracking passwords. This will depend on the

source system’s course, but you should be ready for whatever you run into.

Include online tools as well.

  • Remediation action
  • CVSS score

Course content reference: You may need to refer back to the unit on risk assessment

to analyse the vulnerabilities and assess what threat they pose to Artemis. In addition,

review the two videos: Vulnerability Management: Assessing the Risks with CVSS v3.1

and Implementing the NIST Risk Management Framework in the Audit and Risk

Management subunit. Remember: The threat depends on the likelihood and impact of

the vulnerabilities being exploited and requires a review and knowledge of the current


Include all the information and risk ratings to determine the threat profile for Artemis.

Time estimate: 6 hours

Phase 5: Reporting

Goal: Create two mock reports for the client: An Executive Summary for the client’s

senior management, and a Detailed Technical Report for the client’s IT staff and submit

them to your boss (in this case, your mentor).

Procedure: Create the two reports below:

  • The Detailed Technical Report should contain the scope and approach,

reconnaissance activities, vulnerabilities, and an analysis of the threats that

Artemis faces based on the current threat environment. Use this resource as your

guide and template for creating the Detailed Technical Report:

The report should include the following sections:

  1. A cover page
  2. A Table of Contents
  3. Scope of Work
  4. Project Objectives
  5. Assumptions
  6. Timeline
  7. Summary of Findings
  8. Recommendations

Target report length: We expect the average report to have a minimum of 10


  • The Executive Summary. The executive summary serves as a high-level view of

the business risk in plain English. The purpose is to be concise and clear.

Executives don’t need (or want) to understand the technology. It is imperative

that business leaders grasp what’s at stake to make informed decisions for their

companies, and the executive summary is essential to delivering that

understanding. Visual communication can be tremendously helpful here. Try to

use visuals like graphs and charts in communicating the summary data. The de

facto approach is to use colors to denote risk severity, specifically, red, yellow

and green. If there are four categories, then add orange.

Target report length: No more than 2 pages! Check out this example executive

summary for some more guidance on what this final deliverable should look like.

Time estimate: 4 hour