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 on a daily basis. So, when it comes to penetration testing, you want an easy answer to the question: “how much does penetration testing cost?” Only it’s not that cut and dry. These considerations all factor into the pricing of a penetration test.

What is penetration testing?

Before we get into the budget crunching part of the blog, let’s first make sure we’re talking about the same thing. When we talk about penetration testing, we’re referring to viewing your network, application, device, and/or 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:

  • Where a hacker might target you
  • How they would attack
  • How your defenses would fare
  • Possible magnitude of the breach.

Penetration testing seeks to identify application layer flaws, network and system level flaws, and opportunities to compromise physical security barriers too. While automated testing can identify some cybersecurity issues, true penetration testing considers the business’s vulnerability to manual attack as well.

But how much does pen testing cost?

The easy 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 testing will cost.

Objective

Pricing your penetration test will depend on what you aim to accomplish.

Are you looking to test physical access of a small, family-owned business or of a utility with several remote transmission stations? Do you want to test networks, applications, IoT devices or all of these? Do you want to also test your organization’s resilience to social engineering?

Size will also factor in when it comes to the testing environment. Plus, how much information you make available to the testers (are they flying blind — as in black box testing? Or can you give them deep background to start — white box?).

Scope

This relates to the amount of time the testers will need. After all, the cost and duration are closely linked to the number of parties/networks/IP addresses/applications/facilities involved, etc.

For instance, a single IP with a large customer-facing web portal and several user roles is going to take more time to test than 200 IP addresses that only need to be pinged. In pricing, the testers will also need to consider any restrictions they may encounter (e.g. is the system available during business hours? How available are personnel to handle incidents?).

Approach

There are many ways to approach testing.

Some of them are not what we’d actually call penetration testing. For instance, there are companies that automate vulnerability scanning. This is the basic level of testing.

Or, you can get a pen test that searches for entry points and confirms that those are exploitable. The focus then is on identifying places to remediate.

The most comprehensive approach to pen testing (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 testing that helps a company comprehend the extent of risk and prioritize its remediation tactics.

Skills

As with any other service, you can pay for more skilled help. You’ll want to pay for a pen tester or team that has expertise in your industry and the experience needed to perform a viable test.

RedTeam Security’s pen 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 build a network or application and how to break it.

Re-Testing

When you conduct a penetration test, you uncover vulnerabilities. That’s the point of the test, after all. But what happens from there? Vulnerabilities in your networks and applications will require re-testing to determine whether the issue has been corrected.

No matter what company you use for your pen test, it’s important to consider how the cost of remediation re-testing will impact the overall budget for the project. RedTeam Security provides remediation re-testing after every engagement, 100% free of charge. There’s no time limit; we work with you as long as necessary to ensure you’re able to effectively resolve the vulnerabilities we find.

Re-testing is one of the most important factors to consider when adding up the cost of a penetration test.

Service

It’s probably best to pay for pen testers who can clearly communicate what’s going on and discuss actionable remediation. A so-called security testing mill is going to 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.

Ultimately, a penetration test can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a small, non-complex organization to more than $100,000 for a large, complex one. Want to get a complete quote on what a penetration test would cost your company? Complete our simple scoping questionnaire to receive a customized quote quickly.