Security Audit

How Much Does an IT Security Audit Cost

Updated on: May 31, 2024

How Much Does an IT Security Audit Cost

In today’s threat landscape, where attackers leverage AI-powered phishing and supply chain attacks, security audits have become crucial. These dynamic audits go beyond traditional penetration testing, incorporating behavioral analytics and human factors to simulate real-world scenarios and build a zero-trust environment. 

As such, while the average IT security audit costs between $3,000 and $50,000, the final price tag can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as the audit scope, the number of targets, location, and the auditor’s fee.

However, before we dive into the impact, let’s break down the individual costs that make up such an audit.

How Much Does a Security Audit Cost?

Your organization’s size and complexity significantly impact security audit costs. To help you understand the potential investment, the following table breaks down a typical audit into key phases, highlighting the differences in cost between SMEs and larger enterprises.

PhasesCost for SMEsCost for Enterprise
Pre-Audit Activities Cost$100 - $500$500 - $1,000
Assessment Fees for Audit$3,000 - $10,000$10,000 - $30,000
Legal Discovery & Compliance $3,000 - $7,000$5,000 - $12,000
Remediation & Security Awareness Training $500 - $2,000$1,000 - $5,000
Additional Expenses$1,000 - $5,000$2,000 - $15,000
Annual Security Posture Management $2,000 - $3,000$5,000 - $10,000

What is Pre-Audit and its Cost?

Before diving in, security experts must define the audit scope, identify relevant regulations, set up staging environments, and gather documentation such as network diagrams and security policies. 

As such, the cost of such pre-audit activities can range from $100 to $1,000 for SMEs and large firms.

What is the Assessment Fee for Audit?

IT security audits involve a layered approach. Security experts leverage intelligent vulnerability scanners and automated pentesting tools to identify weaknesses. This is often followed by manual penetration testing and third-party assessments for a more in-depth look at the system’s security posture. 

Thus, depending on the scope and assets, the assessment fee for an IT security audit costs $3,000- $10,000 and can go up to $50,000 for MNCs.

What is Legal Discovery & Costs for Compliance?

Legal discovery and compliance fees cover the costs of identifying, collecting, and producing electronic data (ESI) relevant to legal investigations. In an IT security audit, this includes reviewing external contracts with employees, customers and vendors. 

As such, the cost can vary between $3,000 and $12,000, depending on the specific compliance and scope of the reviews.

How Much Does Remediation & Security Awareness Training Cost?

Remediation and security awareness training aren’t typically included in an IT audit but arise from its findings. Depending on the severity of the gaps and vulnerabilities discovered, these can involve new security tools, training programs, or even additional personnel.

Thus, while the number varies significantly, based on the organization’s size and vulnerabilities, the cost of remediation can range from $500 – $5,000.

Are There Any Additional Expenses?

Additional costs for an audit can include specific compliance consultant fees, travel and accommodation for on-site work, and cybersecurity insurance, among other things. 

As such, the cost ranges between $1000 – $5000 for SMEs and can go up to $15000 annually for large corporations.

What is Annual Security Posture Management and its Cost?

While IT security audits provide a snapshot of security at a specific time, maintaining year-round security requires ongoing efforts. This stage incorporates regular vulnerability scans, automated pentests, and regression tests to offer valuable insights and proactively identify threats.

As such, based on the targets and frequency of scans, the cost for the same varies between $2,000 – $10,000.

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  • Astra’s scanner helps you shift left by integrating with your CI/CD
  • Our platform helps you uncover, manage & fix vulnerabilities in one place
  • Trusted by the brands you trust like Agora, Spicejet, Muthoot, Dream11, etc.

Security Audit vs. Compliance Audit: What’s the Difference?

FeatureIT Security AuditCompliance Audit
FocusThe overall security posture of IT infrastructureAdherence to specific regulations, standards, or internal policies such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, and SOC 2
ObjectiveIdentify vulnerabilities, assess risks, and improve security effectivenessVerify compliance with established rules and regulations
MethodologyBroader approach including penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, risk assessments, and code reviewsReview of documented procedures, policies, and controls
OutcomeRecommendations for security improvements, remediation plans for vulnerabilitiesPass/Fail report on compliance with specific requirements
Driven byInternal security needs and best practicesExternal requirements from regulatory bodies, industry standards, or contractual obligations
FrequencyCan be performed regularly (e.g., annually, quarterly) or after security incidentsTypically performed periodically based on individual compliance requirements
AudienceInternal IT and security teams, managementAuditors, regulators, and potentially external stakeholders

While IT security audits and compliance audits are sometimes used interchangeably, there are key distinctions between them. While their goals ultimately differ, they share some similarities as well:

  1. Coinciding Goals: A security audit pinpoints security vulnerabilities in your infrastructure, while a compliance audit ensures adherence to industry regulations for data security. 
  2. Improved Security Posture: Despite different approaches, both foster a more secure IT environment. Compliance audits address control gaps to strengthen security, and IT audits naturally address compliance controls.
  3. Use of Evidence and Documentation: Security audits use vulnerability scan results and penetration test reports, while compliance audits focus on policies, procedures, and activity records.

What Factors Contribute to Security Audit Costs?

Factors contributing to security audit costs

1. Scope of the Audit: 

The breadth and depth of the audit significantly impact the cost. A basic review of a single system will be more affordable than a comprehensive audit encompassing your entire IT infrastructure, including cloud environments, mobile devices, and user access controls. 

The level of testing involved also matters. For example, a vulnerability scan across the entire IT infrastructure, pentest, and a detailed review of access controls will require a larger team of auditors and specialized tools, driving up the cost.

2. Size of Organization and Industry: 

Larger organizations with more complex IT infrastructure naturally require more resources to audit effectively. The number of systems, applications, data types, and user bases influence the audit workload.

Similarly, industries with stricter regulations, like finance or healthcare, often require auditors with specialized expertise in the relevant regulations. This specialized knowledge typically comes at a premium.

3. Security Controls and Compliance Maturity: 

Organizations with weak security controls or limited experience with compliance audits may require more hand-holding from the auditors. This can involve additional time spent on interviews, documentation review, and explaining remediation steps driving up costs.

Conversely, organizations with a strong security posture and established compliance programs can streamline the audit process, potentially reducing cyber security audit costs.

4. Auditor’s Fees: 

The experience and qualifications of the auditor significantly impact their fees. Auditors with industry certifications (OSCP, CEH, eJPT, CCSP), proven track records in your specific industry, and a deep understanding of relevant security standards will likely command higher rates.

However, their expertise can also ensure a more thorough and valuable audit, potentially saving money in the long run by identifying and mitigating critical security risks.

5. Location: 

Geographic location can influence auditor rates due to variations in the cost of living. Auditors in regions with a higher cost of living may charge more to cover their expenses. However, with the rise of remote auditing, location may become less of a factor in the future.

Similarly, economic factors such as exchange rates might significantly increase or lower costs for international penetration testing and audit providers.

6. Additional Services: 

While a core security audit focuses on identifying vulnerabilities and assessing risks, some organizations may require additional services after a security incident. A comprehensive third-party penetration test or forensic analysis can add to the overall cost.

How Do You Get A Better ROI?

Improve your ROI on Security Audits

Define Clear Objectives and Scope:  

Clearly define what you want to achieve with the audit. Are you focusing on compliance with a specific regulation, identifying general security vulnerabilities, or assessing the effectiveness of existing controls? 

A well-defined scope ensures the audit stays focused and avoids unnecessary expenses on areas outside your core objectives.

Prioritize Based on Risk:  

Not all security risks are created equal.  Conduct a risk assessment to identify the most critical vulnerabilities and tailor the audit scope to prioritize those areas. This ensures you get the most value from the audit by focusing on the issues that pose the greatest threat to your organization.

Leverage Internal Resources: 

Involve your internal IT and security teams in the audit process. They can provide valuable insights into your systems, controls, and existing security posture. Such a collaboration can streamline the audit for external auditors, potentially reducing overall costs.

Address Low-Hanging Fruit Beforehand: 

Before the audit, conduct a thorough vulnerability scan internally to identify and remediate elemental security weaknesses, such as patching outdated software or enforcing strong password policies. 

Taking care of these low-risk issues beforehand frees audit time for more complex assessments and potentially reduces costs and timelines.

Negotiate and Compare Quotes: 

Get proposals from multiple qualified auditors and negotiate their fees based on your specific needs and scope. Be clear about your budget and objectives to ensure auditors tailor their proposals accordingly.  

By comparing quotes, you can get the best value for your security audit investment.

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What are Some Common Myths about Security Audit Costs?

Myth 1: Security Audits Are a One-Time Expense:

While a one-time audit can provide a snapshot of your security posture, cyber threats and regulations constantly evolve. Regular audits, ideally annually or quarterly, help proactively identify new vulnerabilities and ensure your security measures remain effective.

Myth 2: Security Audits Are Only About Compliance:  

While compliance can drive some audits, a well-designed audit goes beyond regulations to identify and address your overall security vulnerabilities. Simply put, compliance acts as a baseline, while security audits help improve your security posture continuously.

Myth 3: Security Audits Are Prohibitively Expensive:

While the cost of a breach will always be far more significant, you can tailor the costs to your budget and needs. A basic audit focusing on critical systems may be affordable, while a more comprehensive assessment will naturally cost more. 

By defining a clear scope and leveraging internal resources, you can optimize the value and reduce the potential cost for a cyber security audit.

Myth 4: Passing an Audit Means You’re Secure:

An audit is a point-in-time assessment. Thus, passing an audit simply indicates compliance with specific requirements at that moment. Security threats are ever-changing, so continuous monitoring and improvement are crucial to staying secure. 

Myth 5: All Security Audits Are Created Equal: 

Different audits serve different purposes. Compliance audits focus on regulation adherence, while pentesting simulates real-world attacks. Choose an audit that aligns with your specific needs and objectives. Consider the auditor’s experience and expertise when making your selection.

How Can Astra Help?

Built by security experts, Astra offers a powerful PTaaS platform that blends automation, AI, and human oversight to deliver comprehensive security audits and VAPT solutions.

Astra Pentest - Security Audit Cost

Astra’s intelligent automated scanner performs over 9,300 tests on web applications, pinpointing vulnerabilities with zero false positives thanks to our vetted scans. Our security experts go beyond web apps to assess API endpoints, cloud infrastructure, mobile apps, and network devices.

Our unique AI test cases help identify complex business logic vulnerabilities, while our intuitive dashboard and customizable reports simplify remediation. Our seamless integrations, detailed remediation guidance, and rescans ensure complete vulnerability management at a competitive price.

ScannerPentestEnterprise
$1,999$5,999Starting at $9,999
Weekly Vulnerability Scans & 4 Vetted ScansUnlimited Vulnerability Scans & 1 Pentest by Security ExpertsVulnerability Assessment & Pentesting by Security Experts
9,300+ TestsIntegration with CI/CD ToolsCloud Security Report
Pentest Dashboard, Scan Behind LoginZero False Positive Assurance with Vetted ScansPublicly Verifiable VAPT Certification
No rescans2 rescans + 30 days post pentest support4 rescans + 90 days post pentest support
No certificatePublicly verifiable certificatePublicly verifiable certificate
Trial for 7 days available at $7Everything in the Scanner PlanEverything in the Pentest Plan

While Astra offers three plan options, complex audits often involve multiple targets and extensive customization. Our Enterprise Plan is specifically designed to address these needs effectively.

Astra Pentest is built by the team of experts that has helped secure Microsoft, Adobe, Facebook, and Buffer

Final Thoughts

While security audit costs can seem like a significant expense (ranging from $3,000 to $50,000), they’re not just a cost – they’re an investment in your organization’s digital well-being. Regular security audits go beyond mere compliance. 

They provide a proactive shield, identifying vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them. Define your security needs and leverage internal resources to optimize the value and ROI of your audit. Negotiate with auditors and compare quotes to ensure the best fit for your budget.

Remember, the true cost lies in a security breach. Don’t let your organization become the next headline. Invest in regular security audits to take control of your security posture today.

FAQs

1. When should you conduct a security audit?

While your organization should aim for regular annual checkups, you should consider more frequent scans if you handle sensitive data, have a complex IT infrastructure, or experience significant changes like new software or remote work policies.

2. What does a security audit check for?

A security audit pinpoints software vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and gaps in access controls of your organization’s digital infrastructure. It prioritizes CVEs based on criticality and provides detailed remediation guidance to help you patch them before hackers can exploit them.

3. What is the difference between a security audit and a security assessment?

A security assessment is like a checkup, giving a general sense of your security posture. It scans for weaknesses but might not deeply test them. A security audit is more thorough. It verifies existing controls and actively tries to exploit vulnerabilities, providing a more detailed picture of your security risks.

Ananda Krishna

Ananda Krishna is the co-founder & CTO of Astra Security, a SaaS suite that secures businesses from cyber threats. He has been acknowledged by the Indian Navy, Microsoft, United Airlines, etc. for finding critical security vulnerabilities in their systems. Winner of the Best Security Product at Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017 (awarded by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India) & French Tech Ticket, Paris (awarded by François Hollande, former President of France). At Astra he's building an intelligent security ecosystem - web application firewall (WAF), malware detection & analysis, large scale SaaS applications, APIs & more. He's actively involved in the cybersecurity community and shared his knowledge at various forums & invited talks.
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