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Penetration Testing Contract – You Need to Know About

Published on: September 28, 2021

Penetration Testing Contract – You Need to Know About

Data breaches have become a daily occurrence in the news cycle. Whether it is a large company, a local hospital, a major law firm, or a government agency, the fear of data breaches has driven a new wave of cyber security spending, as organizations invest in tools to prevent, detect, and respond to attacks. Cybercriminals, on the other hand, are becoming better at their craft. Value of stolen data grows, the incentive to breach also increases and the threat is no longer a matter of “if” but only a matter of “when” and “how big”. 

Penetration testing contracts are a great way to analyse the IT Infrastructure of the organization and protect organization’s data and reputation from bad actors such as Hackers.

Penetration testing contracts are a buzzword in the IT industry. Let’s understand that in detail in this blog post.

Introduction to Penetration Testing Contract

Security is the foremost priority for any business today. If your business relies on technology, knowing whether your systems can withstand any vulnerabilities and threats is essential. Hackers and cybercriminals are using the latest technology to get into your system and steal data. A penetration test is a way to evaluate the potential vulnerabilities in a business’s network and to prepare it for a cyberattack. 

A penetration testing contract is an agreement between the client and the penetration tester, who performs the penetration testing on the desired application or network. It is similar to any other contract. A penetration testing contract contains various elements that both the pentesting organization and a client are mutually agreed upon. An example pentesting contract may contain a consistent date for the commencement of pentesting, scope of work, service level agreement, potential pentesting completion date and so on… It will also include the  other terms and conditions as well as pricing details.

Penetration Testing is like a medical checkup: You get tested for your vulnerabilities, and then your doctor recommends a treatment to keep you healthy. Similarly, Pen Testing helps you find and fix the vulnerabilities in your system so that you can continue to enjoy the online experience without the fear of cyberattacks.

Why do you need a Penetration Testing Contract?

“Why do you need a Penetration Testing Contract?” This question is being asked by most companies who are using IT services or are into IT Security. If you are one of them, then you might be having the same question. Penetration testing is a service wherein a security tester tries to find the security flaws in your company’s information systems.

Security is becoming a top priority for businesses. Bad actors are getting more and more creative in the way they steal and monetize data, which has become a significant concern for companies. It’s a whole different ball game in the world of cybersecurity. The bad actors are very creative, and they often use the same techniques repeatedly but in another way. That’s why it is such a challenge for security professionals.

Related Guide – Penetration Testing Report

The bad guys are always thinking of new ways to steal data and break it into networks and servers, and security professionals are always trying to stay one step ahead. What is even more challenging is that businesses typically have developers trying to make their applications more secure, but they don’t have any security people to help them. They need to know how to do it themselves. This gap is exceptionally high, and that’s why the need to cover the gap is so critical. 

10 things to note when getting a penetration testing contract

Let’s break this part into two different sections and understand what needs to be considered when getting a penetration testing contract.

  1. What should be the contents of the penetration testing contract?
  2. Things you should do before entering into a penetration testing contract/initiating a penetration test.

I. What should be the contents of the penetration testing contract?

A penetration testing contract is a legal document where a client and a pentester define all the terms and conditions required for a penetration testing exercise. The contract should specify the following points:

1. Scope of the test

A Scope of Work is a document created by a customer for a service provider to outline the deliverables that the service provider will produce for the customer. In a penetration testing engagement, the Scope of Work may include a description of what is to be tested, how it will be tested. The scope of work document also contains details of assets that should not be tested while performing pentest.

2. Time frame & Milestones:

The work time frame is one of the main things that everyone should agree on before beginning a penetration test. The client wants the pentester to complete the test quickly; the pentester intends to take his time to be thorough. Neither side is wrong, but each wants their way.

When both sides agree to something like ‘2 weeks for the risk assessment, 1 week for the penetration test, 1 week for the report’, everyone wins. The client gets the report on time; the pentester gets to be thorough. The client can also see the pentester’s progress and how the budget is being spent. The pentester can go into more detail for the client, and the client can budget more time if they want a more detailed report.

3. End of Contract

The client should ensure that the testing firm has a proven track record of successful data security audits. If the client is not satisfied with the services rendered, there should be a provision to terminate the contract without any penalties. In addition, the client should have the right to request a refund.

4. Payment Details

Client payment terms are one of the things that you should ensure are clearly outlined in your contract. The amount, based on the contract, should be paid based on the agreed testing period. The payment terms should also outline how the payment will be made to the 3rd party contractor. For instance, the contract should specify whether payment will be made in the form of a lump sum or an instalment.

5. Key Deliverables

A key deliverable is any product or service based on your project’s goals. Make sure the penetration testing contract correctly outlines the deliverables provided to the company by the contractor.

6. Weekly Updates

Since the penetration test involves many unknowns and uncertainties, it is essential to get regular updates from the testing team to the client organization. The client organization should also report any detected issues to the testing team immediately. Communication is essential in this sort of security testing to keep the client organization informed of the testing progress.

II. Things you should do before entering into initiating a penetration test

7. Prepare Documentation Map and Assets List

Create a list of assets and documents that should be available to the penetration testing team. It is essential to ensure the team has access to the correct information about your website and its environment. 

8. Create a Staging Environment (If necessary) and Dummy Accounts

If the pentest is to be performed on a staging environment, make sure it has an exact number of functionalities as that of the main application. Generate dummy credentials such as application login credentials, AWS credentials (If Cloud Infra is in the contract), etc.

9. Notify your customers

There are high chances that the pentest might affect your customers. Send an email to all of your customers who may be using that software or application during the pentest.

10. Alert your Developers

The pentest team would need support from the development team to understand applications that they have made. It is highly recommended for both parties to be on the same page.

How much does an average penetration testing contract cost?

Penetration testing is a critical function in any organization and is used to locate current vulnerabilities and get insights into the current security posture. When you look at the cost of a penetration testing contract, it is always better to take an average figure. However, it is not easy to find the exact figure because the cost of penetration tests varies from one company to another. It depends on the number of assets involved in the test, the test’s complexity, and the test’s time duration. The penetration testing costs between $2,000 to $20,000.

Read Also: How Much Does a Penetration Testing Cost on Average?

Image: Average cost of Penetration Testing Contract

Why should Astra’s security professionals be handling your security?

Penetration Testing is a sensitive job; it requires individuals who are trained and experienced in this field. Therefore, the best way to conduct penetration testing is to outsource this task to an experienced penetration testing company. Astra is a team of highly skilled security engineers whose only job is to keep your application secure from attackers.

Astra offers an optimum level of security to any kind of asset of your organization such as cloud infrastructure, blockchain apps, SaaS applications, mobile application etc. and protects it against a wide range of cyberattacks, malware, and hacking attempts.

One of the essential things that most penetration contractors miss is manual testing, Astra’s pentest contract offers a wide range of benefits.

Image: Why choose Astra? 

Some of the benefits offered by Astra’s penetration testing contract

  1. Provides more than 2600 vulnerability tests
  2. Manual and Automated testing
  3. Thorough vulnerability scanning
  4. Ensures all industry compliances such as ISO, GDPR, PCI-DSS, SWIFT CSP, NHS DSP are met
  5. A user-friendly dashboard for developers and management teams
  6. Direct collaboration with other team members 
  7. Patch advise and session for development teams
  8. Detailed reports and Publicly verifiable certificates

Summary

Security is one of the biggest concerns for any organization. No one wants to see their data being leaked or their network being hacked. The best way to prevent that is to hire a penetration testing company that will have an expert check out your network, infrastructure, and even your website. It takes years for an organization to create a reputation in the market and all it takes is a single attack on your network or infrastructure to ruin that. Get in touch with a professional team of security analysts today.

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Keshav Malik

Keshav is a hacker by heart. He loves playing with fire (code) and loves discovering bugs. Not only in web applications but in all kinds of software. His first introduction to the world of Cyber Security was through bug bounty programs. He quickly made a name for himself as a bug hunter and now actively participates in bug bounty programs. Other than Infosec, he loves creating full stack web applications using cutting edge technologies.
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