Penetration tests have become a part and parcel of most cybersecurity initiatives, especially for corporates. Therefore, penetration test pricing is an important factor of consideration so that separate funds can be allocated within the firm’s budget for the same. While we may be aware of the different security tools and services used in the procedure, we may not be aware of their individual or group pricing to put a label on the entire process.
Penetration tests usually follow the range of USD 10,000 – 40,000, moving with the introduction of different elements into the testing process. To put a number to it, we need to consider the multiple determinants and their relevance to the firm’s security posture. For this, we can refer to both the general prices available in the market and the information provided by the respective service providers.
Pricing a Penetration Test
As we mentioned, when employing a third-party quality analysis company or freelancers for pentesting, it’s necessary to define your expectations and the services required. You may require just vulnerability assessments, complete penetration testing procedures, web security and encryption measures, or security auditing.
Others may price their services according to fixed hourly rates, allowing you to define the costs and carve out a space within your budget. However, it’s often difficult to judge the pentesting skills of such service providers, especially for those who are amateurs and lack experience. In such situations, you should read reviews on the chosen provider by verified customers or firms who come with good client recommendations.
You can also possess a basic understanding of certain features that define the pricing of penetration tests – here are a few:
- Testing objectives
This is a crucial step when beginning with the penetration testing procedure since it defines the direction of the testing as well. Here, you need to identify the need for penetration testing your company, such as compliance requirements, the addition of new features to company systems, etc. Different reasons can determine the kind or the depth of testing, which subsequently defines the price.
Reasons for testing can vary from new systems in their nascent development stage, periodic testing for flaws to the recognition of errors by the company’s IT team. These kinds of situations require more attention as they are fully developed apps and may not always openly display such vulnerabilities.
New companies stepping forward in the software space or the purchase of new assets by old companies may also count as reasons for penetration testing.
If you’re looking to revise your software’s requirements, you’ll need to ensure that these fit compliance requirements according to the industry you’re in. This will also call for a penetration testing procedure.
- Testing methodology
The method of conducting the penetration testing process influences the pricing to a great degree. Manual and automated testing techniques command different skillsets and experiences and are useful in their respective situations. Many companies prefer manual testing as they believe their security situation must be unique and may require the tester’s ability to adapt accordingly. Outcomes can also be analysed with respect to the security context of testing – however, this requires more time, resources, and skills.
Automated testing, on the other hand, only looks out for commonly found errors and security misconfigurations. These would also include weaknesses and vulnerable points in your networks and systems that pose a potential risk. However, it doesn’t employ exploitation methods and therefore identifies security risks that may not be the reality – this leads to ‘false positives’. Some cybersecurity companies offer competitive rates by simply conducting automated tests which you should be aware of and be able to recognize.
- IP addresses for testing
This is a part of the scope of testing and defines the number of network devices, routers, networks, web and mobile applications, connected facilities and parties, and IP addresses for testing.
The scope of testing provides a picture to the ethical hacking team about what else needs to be studied for vulnerabilities. Small components would require lesser pricing as compared to broader areas with more extensive discovery and manipulation of security vulnerabilities due to both the time and resources required for the exercise. More the scope, the more extensive the effort required to test the system in terms of physical and mental exertion.
- Skill and experience of the pentesting company
If you’re proceeding with a high-quality penetration testing service provider, their security guarantee and services will demand higher pricing. Such companies can also be expected to form ethical hacking teams with highly qualified individuals with appropriate certifications (e.g., ISTQB) and the experience to show for it.
In addition, the right kind of security tools and framework may also add to the costs. Services such as remediation which aren’t included under the basic package are also a trademark of an ideal penetration testing company, which may be included in the pricing.
Penetration testing price structures can only be generalized to a certain extent. A great portion of it depends on the security requirements of each firm and their willingness for in-depth testing.