Measuring/certifying security programs Risk management

Cost of penetration testing

Companies are responsible for their own data, but in today's increasingly connected world, protecting this data can be both challenging and expensive. Every organization addresses this challenge through information security teams and specialized technology. However, finding out if the protections are actually working is another matter entirely. You don't want to wait for an attacker to find the holes in your data theft preventative measures, which is why your information security team may turn to penetration testing.

Penetration testing (also known as "pen testing" or "ethical hacking") is the deliberate attempt to break into your own company's data architecture. This process tries to analyze your network, identify potential vulnerabilities, and then attempts to exploit those vulnerabilities just like an attacker would. For more basic pen testing info, check out our pen test FAQs.

The pen testing process can be time-consuming and requires specialist knowledge and equipment, so what is the cost of penetration testing?

Benefits of pen testing

Penetration testing is the only way to truly test your company's security architecture. While you can have the finest information security team, the best security procedures, and the greatest network security software and devices, nothing proves your company's security like a pen test actually trying to break into the system.

If a company does regular pen testing, it can rest assured that it has done everything possible to protect its sensitive data.

How much does a penetration test cost?

A high-quality penetration test will likely cost a minimum of $25,000. However, you will find prices for the cost of penetration testing ranging from $4,000 to $30,000. 

The difference between $4,000 and $25,000 is huge, so what's happening in that price gap? Well, there are other services that sometimes get confused with penetration testing, like vulnerability assessment or scanning. While vulnerability scanning can be valuable, it is not the same as penetration testing.

Vulnerability scanning vs. penetration testing

Vulnerability scanning is an automated, software-assisted method of probing and exploring a network to look for exploitable vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can be caused by out-of-date hardware and software, misconfigured systems, or even weak security policies. While vulnerability scanning is an invaluable component of information security, it is a tool used by penetration testers and not a replacement for penetration testers.

Penetration testing uses vulnerability scanning alongside other techniques and human ingenuity to find vulnerabilities in a company's network and operational security. It is far more thorough than vulnerability scanning.

How long does a penetration test take?

Every penetration testing engagement is unique, not only because every company has its own unique network, but because companies change over time. Because of this, it can be difficult to predict exactly how long a penetration test can take. A typical penetration test can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks.

When hiring a penetration testing team, your company should be careful to outline the scope of the test. This can help predict the length of time a penetration test will take, as well as give the company more control over costs.

Types of pen testing

Penetration testing usually comes in three varieties: black box, white box, and gray box.

With black box pen testing, the team has no idea about the network and systems they are going to test. While this type of test can be the most difficult to design, it also does the best job of emulating an actual cyberattack.

Gray box penetration testing is performed with some knowledge of the company's IT infrastructure. This type of pen test is excellent for testing a company's internal controls and its ability to prevent unauthorized access to restricted data from within the organization.

White box penetration testing is also known as clear box testing. With this type of test, the team has full access to all information about a company's IT infrastructure. White box pen testing is the best way to perform a full, in-depth audit of a company's security controls.

Penetration testing can also focus on specific applications and objectives, such as network services, web applications, or even wireless networks.

Penetration testing costs

Penetration testing costs include:

  • expert security personnel with specialized training
  • specialized software and hardware & cloud resources
  • travel expenses for on-site pen testing

A number of elements can impact the cost of penetration testing for a company. Among them are:

  • The size of the organization.
  • The complexity of the organization's infrastructure.
  • The scope of penetration testing.
  • The type of penetration testing requested, such as black box, gray box, or white box.


How Strike Graph reduces penetration testing cost

With the Strike Graph enterprise trust platform, our recommended best practices can help you achieve and maintain important cybersecurity milestones. This includes a suite of more than 230 audit-tested controls that dynamically adjust to your company's cybersecurity program.

By giving your team the knowledge and confidence needed to maintain your company's security architecture, they will be ready and prepared for penetration testing. Strike Graph can also help reduce the need for repeated testing, lowering ongoing penetration testing costs.

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