Penetration Testing Cost
Penetration testing, also known as ethical hacking or white-hat hacking, is like putting on a hacker’s hat (but with authorisation!) to test the security of a computer system, network, or application for vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The goal is to evaluate how secure the system is and how effective its defences are in protecting against potential threats.
Penetration testing encompasses different types of tests, each focusing on specific areas of an organisation’s digital infrastructure. Here are some of the main types of penetration tests:
- Network Penetration Testing
- Web Application Penetration Testing
- Security Vulnerability Assessment
- Social Engineering Penetration Testing
- IoT Security Penetration Testing
- APT Attack Testing
- Red Team Testing
- Cloud Security Testing
- Risk-Driven Application Security Testing
- Mobile Application Security Testing
Variables that Affect the Cost of a Pen Test
When planning a penetration testing engagement, it’s crucial to understand the variables that can influence the overall cost. By considering these variables, organisations can better understand the investment required. Here are the key variables that affect penetration testing costs:
- Scope and Complexity of the System: A complex system may involve various applications, databases, servers, and network infrastructure, which increases the complexity of the testing process and, subsequently, the cost.
- Testing Goals and Objectives: For instance, if the focus is solely on a specific application or critical infrastructure, the cost may be lower compared to a comprehensive assessment of an entire network or multiple systems.
- Methodology: The depth of testing, testing techniques used, customisation requirements, compliance considerations, and engagement duration all contribute to the cost.
- Engagement Duration: Longer testing periods allow for more in-depth assessment and detailed analysis, which can result in a higher cost. On the other hand, shorter engagements may be suitable for smaller systems or limited-scope assessments, reducing the overall cost.
- Testing Frequency: Regular and ongoing penetration testing, conducted on a quarterly or annual basis, may offer discounted rates due to the commitment to continuous security improvement.
- Compliance Requirements: Organisations operating in regulated industries, such as finance or healthcare, may have specific compliance requirements mandating regular testing. Meeting these requirements might involve additional testing components or documentation, leading to higher costs.
What Is the Average Cost of a Pen Test
For a basic penetration test focused on a small to medium-sized organisation with limited scope, costs can range from £2,000 to £30,000. More comprehensive assessments involving larger systems, complex architectures, and in-depth testing methodologies (such as a Red Team Test) may cost between £25,000 to £50,000 or even more. Keep in mind that these figures are approximate, and the actual cost may vary depending on the factors mentioned earlier.
Costs of Pen Test by Types
Here is a breakdown of the estimated costs for some common types of penetration testing:
- Network Penetration Testing Costs: Network penetration testing costs typically range from £2,000 to £15,000. Factors influencing the cost include the size and complexity of the network, the number of devices to be tested, the level of segmentation, and the depth of the assessment. Larger networks with intricate architectures and numerous devices will require more time and effort, resulting in higher costs.
- Web Application Penetration Testing Costs: The cost of web application penetration testing generally falls in the range of £3,000 to £10,000. Factors that influence the cost include the complexity of the application, the number of functionalities to be tested, the presence of third-party integrations, and the level of customisation required.
- Wireless Network Penetration Testing Costs: This ranges from £4,000 to £8,000. Factors influencing the cost include the number of wireless access points, the encryption mechanisms in use, and the level of segmentation and access control.
- Social Engineering Penetration Testing Costs: Social engineering penetration testing evaluates an organisation’s human-centric security measures. The cost for social engineering penetration testing usually falls within the range of £2,000 to £20,000.
Penetration testing includes various high-level approaches and methodologies to assess the security of systems and applications. Here are some common types of penetration testing based on different testing approaches:
- Covert Testing: This simulates real-world attacks without the internal security team’s knowledge to assess the organisation’s ability to detect and respond to unauthorised activities.
- Black Box Pen Test: This simulates an external attacker with no prior knowledge of internal systems, infrastructure or source code. Testers uncover vulnerabilities through external assessments.
- White Box Pen Test: This provides penetration testers with complete knowledge of internal systems, including network architecture, source code and documentation. This approach allows for an in-depth assessment of vulnerabilities, especially for critical applications.
- Grey Box Testing: Testers have partial knowledge of internal systems, such as network diagrams or limited access to source code. This approach combines external testing realism with internal knowledge utilisation to identify vulnerabilities.
- Internal Penetration Testing: Focuses on evaluating the security of systems, applications, and networks from within the organisation’s internal network. It helps uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by insider threats or unauthorised access from within the network perimeter.
- External Penetration Testing: Assesses the security of systems, applications, and networks from an external perspective, simulating attacks over the internet. It aims to find vulnerabilities that external attackers can exploit – providing insights into the organisation’s security measures for external-facing systems.
How Often Should Your Organisation Conduct a Penetration Test?
The frequency of penetration testing depends on various factors, including the nature of your systems, the level of risk exposure, regulatory requirements and industry best practices.
- Regular Scheduled Testing: Implementing a regular schedule for penetration testing helps ensure consistent coverage. Many organisations opt for annual or biannual testing cycles to maintain continuous security assessment.
- Trigger Events: Significant changes in infrastructure, such as network upgrades, application deployments, or major system updates, should trigger additional penetration testing.
- Post-Remediation Testing: After addressing vulnerabilities identified in previous tests, it’s crucial to conduct follow-up penetration testing to verify the effectiveness of the remediation efforts. This helps ensure that vulnerabilities were adequately addressed and that security measures have been properly implemented.
- Emerging Threats and Industry Trends: If there are significant changes in the threat landscape or new vulnerabilities in technologies used by your organisation, consider increasing the frequency of penetration testing to address these emerging risks.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pen Testing Provider
Choosing the penetration testing service provider is a big deal and can make a real difference in the effectiveness and value of your security testing. So, here are some important factors to keep in mind when making your decision:
- Look for providers with a strong track record of expertise and experience.
- Understand the provider’s penetration testing methodology and approach.
- Inquire about any specialised knowledge or certifications they hold in relevant areas such as web applications, network infrastructure, or wireless security.
- Verify if the provider holds relevant certifications such as Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Compliance with regulatory standards like PCI DSS, HIPAA, or ISO 27001 is also important if your organisation operates in a regulated industry.
- Evaluate their responsiveness, willingness to address your questions and concerns, and their ability to provide ongoing support and guidance.
- Ensure that the provider has a strong commitment to confidentiality and non-disclosure.
When choosing a penetration testing company, consider these factors and do your research to find one that meets your organisation’s needs, enhances your security, and helps you manage risks effectively.
Remember, selecting the right provider is an investment in the long-term security and resilience of your organisation.
Penetration Testing Buyer’s Guide
If you are just starting your testing programme or are looking to enhance the current one, we have a buyer’s guide for you! It provides valuable insights — on everything from defining your scope and choosing a provider to receive maximum benefits to protect your critical information security assets.ACCESS GUIDE HERE