Cybersecurity is an ongoing headache. There are always new threats, fresh compliance regulations, and all those other pesky tasks your information technology team has to address daily. So, when it comes to penetration testing services, you want an easy answer to the question: “How much is a penetration test going to cost me?” Only it’s not that cut and dry. We will cover the various considerations that all factor into the ultimate pricing of a penetration test.
What is Penetration Testing?
Before we get into the budget-crunching part of the blog, let’s ensure we’re discussing the same thing. When we talk about penetration testing, we’re referring to viewing your network, application, device, and physical security through the eyes of someone with ill intent. Penetration testing sets out to discover an organization’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
With penetration testing, an experienced cybersecurity expert can identify the following:
- Where a hacker would target you
- How an attacker would target you
- How would your defenses fare against an attacker
- What the potential severity would be if a breach were to occur
Penetration testing seeks to identify application layer flaws, network and system-level flaws, and opportunities to compromise physical security barriers. While automated testing can identify some cybersecurity issues, true penetration testing considers the business’s vulnerability to manual attacks as well.
But How Much Does Penetration Testing Cost?
The most direct answer is “it depends.” But don’t get annoyed with that vagueness; we have a lot more to say yet on this topic. Let’s discuss some of the many different variables that will factor into the calculation of how much your particular penetration test will cost.
Objective: What Do You Aim To Accomplish?
Pricing your penetration test will depend on what you aim to accomplish.
- Are you looking to test the physical access of a small, family-owned business or a utility with several remote transmission stations?
- Do you want to test networks, applications, IoT devices, or all of these?
- Do you also want to test your organization’s resilience to social engineering attacks?
The size of your target environment will also factor in when it comes to conducting the test. Plus, how much information do you make available to the testers?
- Testers are not given any information and begin the test blind (black box testing)
- Testers are given a deep background of information to jump-start the test (white box testing)
Scope: What Systems and Endpoints Will Be Tested?
This is the final tally of systems or endpoints that will be included in the test and directly relates to the time the testers will need to complete a thorough review of those systems. After all, the cost and duration are closely linked to the number of parties, networks, IP addresses, applications, and facilities involved.
A web application running a large customer-facing web portal that has several user roles is going to take more time to completely evaluate than 200 IP addresses that only need to be pinged to verify whether they are reachable and online.
In determining the total complexity of testing, the testers will also need to consider any restrictions they are likely to encounter for the scoped environment.
- Is the system available during business hours?
- How available are company personnel to handle incidents that may occur during testing?
Approach: Automated vs. Manual Testing and Depth of Testing
Penetration Testing vs. Vulnerability Scanning
There are many ways to approach penetration testing. Some of the approaches are not what we would call true penetration testing. For instance, some companies use automated vulnerability scanners but halt their efforts once they’ve completed that automated scan and the scan results have been exported. While a vulnerability scan is an important component of a penetration test, that scan alone does not provide the level of rigor or human intellect required to provide real insights about the risk observed in your target environment. In short, a vulnerability scan can contribute towards a complete test but is insufficient without further testing efforts.
Penetration Testing ‘Lite’
Or, you can get a penetration test that searches for entry points and confirms that those are exploitable. The focus then is on identifying places to remediate.
Comprehensive Penetration Testing
The most comprehensive approach to pentesting (and hence, more costly) not only finds and exploits entry points but tries to leverage those vulnerabilities to see what else the bad actor might be able to do. This is a deeper level of testing compared to a basic vulnerability scan. That extra effort and attention is the differentiator that helps organizations comprehend the true impact of identified risks, as well as aid in prioritizing their remediation efforts.
Skills: Team of Experienced and Certified Industry Professionals
As with any other service, you pay for skilled help. You’ll want to pay for a penetration tester or team of testers that have appropriate expertise in your industry as well as the experience required to perform a thorough test.
RedTeam Security’s penetration testers, for example, hold a number of industry certifications demonstrating high standards of proficiency. Plus, our people typically have knowledge of both sides of the table. This means they know how to both build a network or application as well as how to break it.
When you conduct a penetration test, you uncover vulnerabilities. That’s the point of the test, after all. But what happens from there? Once remediation efforts have occurred to address the identified issues, it’s important to conduct retesting to ensure the issue has been corrected.
No matter what company you choose to work with for your next penetration test, it’s essential to consider how the cost of remediation retesting will impact the overall budget for the project. After all, validating remediation efforts through testing is an essential step in reducing your overall risk exposure. RedTeam Security provides remediation retesting at no additional cost for up to six findings within six months of project completion.
Pricing for Penetration Testing Services
It’s probably best to pay for pen testers who can communicate what’s going on and discuss actionable remediation strategies. A so-called “security testing mill” may cost less, but you’re not going to get the advantage of talking to a human who will continue to support your efforts to get it right and prevent future hacks.
So, just how much does a penetration test usually cost? The average cost of a penetration test can vary anywhere between $4,000 for a small, non-complex organization to more than $100,000 for a large, complex one.
Factors that can impact penetration testing costs include:
- Company size
- Scope and complexity
- Number of live IP addresses
- The goals of the test
- Type of test
- Type of applications
- Overall data sensitivity
Some security companies advertise a flat rate for their projects. Still, those promises suggest they’re offering the same off-the-shelf service to a small business as an enterprise, which doesn’t indicate that anybody will get precisely what they need or pay what they should.
Want to get a complete quote on what a penetration test would cost your company? Complete our online scoping questionnaire to receive a customized quote from our team, or schedule a free consultation online with a RedTeam cybersecurity expert today.