Security Audit

How Much Does a Penetration Testing Cost on Average?

Updated on: September 1, 2021

How Much Does a Penetration Testing Cost on Average?

Once you decide that you need a penetration test for your online business, the next obvious question that pops up is – how much does penetration testing cost?

Other common concerns that often follow include: 

  • What criteria penetration testing pricing depends upon?
  • What price will I be looking at when conducting a web app pentest, a network pentest, a mobile app pentest, or a permutation and combination of these?
  • Does the dearest pentest always mean the best?

If you are also wondering the right answer to these questions, stick around until the end. We’ll answer each of these questions (and several others) in today’s blog post, starting off with what penetration testing is.

I will shorten my explanation of penetration testing here, as I believe you already know what it is.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing checks the ‘stamina level’ of your whole web system with a series of technical attacks. It diagnoses the web application and network system and provides a comprehensive report of:

  • Vulnerabilities
  • Strengths
  • Key work areas
  • Scope of improvements for the whole setup.

If you wish to learn more about the penetration testing process, we’ve covered it in great detail in our blog post: What, Why, and How of Penetration Testing.

Why penetration testing is important?

If you are still on the fence here’s why you must get penetration testing for your business:

  1. A penetration test finds out most lurking vulnerability in your system that may be exploited by hackers. A timely vulnerability disclosure & remediation saves you tonnes of money and spares you the embarrassment following a cyber attack or data breach.
  2. The cost-value ratio of a penetration test is huge. It positively impacts your organization’s security & business decisions.
  3. Penetration tests also helps in aquiring & retaining key certifications (such as PCI-DSS, HIPAA, etc) often necessary for your business operations.
  4. A secure application builds customer trust.

Factors penetration testing cost depend upon

Most penetration testing services prefer not disclosing their pricing and rely on one-on-one quotations. This is because penetration testing costs tend to differ widely from application to application.

Coming to the factors on which penetration testing pricing depends upon. Here they are:

  • Size: The cost of penetration testing is directly proportional to the scale and complexity of the organization. Size refers to the number of employees and branches of an organization, complexity refers to the complexity of applications, servers, IP address, facilities, and database that is involved. 
  • Scope: Every penetration testing follows a scope declaration by the organization as a roadmap for the testing. The scope defines priority areas to be tested in your application or network such as – number of pages, APIs, test cases, network devices, etc. It also puts forward the objective of the organization in conducting the testing.
  • Methodology: Penetration testing pricing can also vary as per the methodology and comprehensiveness of the test. Different methodolgies have different focus areas and consist of different set of tests. Adding or removing specific tests, again, affect penetration testing costs.
  • Experience: An established company charges more based on its service record, accreditations, and experience. This is because, with experience comes the competence so necessary to carry out this job without breaking the system. With a trusted service, you can also be sure of the safety & privacy of your organizational details.
  • Remediation: Most penetration tests end post reporting the vulnerabilities. Some services, however, go the extra and assist you in fixing those vulnerabilities. That sometimes, add up to the overall costs.

Standard pricing for penetration testing is not the norm in the security audit & penetration testing world. That said, there are penetration testing providers who challenge this norm by having a set of standard pricing for their services. For instance, at Astra Security, we offer three standard plans: Basic, Expert, & Elite.

Average penetration testing cost

Keeping in mind that penetration testing pricing does vary on a case-to-case basis, you can still expect the penetration testing pricing to fall in the range of $2,000 to $20,000.

Further, a pentest by an individual cybersecurity professional usually costs more as compared to a pentest service. Costs of a traditional pentest may come down by 31% with a pentest service. Getting penetration testing by a company also cuts down the completion time by 60%, says research.

Penetration testing costs according to testing styles

Different penetration testing styles cost different.

White box penetration testing cost

White box testing is a style of penetration testing in which the pentester is provided with the background of the system beforehand.

A white box pentesting is usually the cheapest penetration testing style. It may cost you somewhere around $500 to $2000 per scan.

Black box penetration testing cost

Black box testing is a pen-testing style in which the pentester is provided with almost zero information about the system beforehand.

A black box pentesting is the costliest of the three penetration testing styles. The costs range from $10,000 to $50,000 per scan.

Gray box penetration testing cost

Gray box testing is a penetration testing style in which the pentester is provided with some information about the system beforehand.

The cost of Gray box pentesting ranges somewhere between the above two types.

Penetration testing costs according to type

Penetration testing types Average cost
Website/web apps$500-$1000 per scan
Network & network devices (Router, switches, modem, keys, etc)$100-$200 per device
Cloud$600-$800 per scan
Mobile apps$600-$800 per scan
SaaS$1500-$3000 per scan
Penetration testing costs

Does the costliest penetration testing mean the best?

There’s no direct answer to this. Many a time, penetration testing costs are high due to the extensive testing plans. Other times pentesting costs are proportional to the credentials of the security researcher.

To choose the best option for you, you need to have a clear idea of what you wish to achieve with the test. If your application does not really require or is not at a stage to go through extensive tests, you can opt that out and go for moderate pentest instead.

Experience and accreditations can be extremely valuable in security testing, so paying extra for that is not actually a bad idea. Testing the ins & outs of an application is a very delicate matter and should be handled with utmost care & attention, which often comes with experience.

Further, getting a pentest from a trusted company ensures that your application is thoroughly tested, detecting all existing security flaws, thus ensuring overall security.

How often should I perform a penetration test?

To decide on the most suitable penetration testing frequency for your organization you need to thoroughly understand your application & network, as well as your security objectives.

For instance,

  • If you roll out new app features, updates, & fixes frequently, you may need to test your application’s security more often. Monthly pentests would likely work best for you in such a case.
  • If you roll out new features, updates & fixes every quarter, you can go for quarterly pentests, or after every new release.
  • If your organization is not big on new feature additions, but want to uphold security at all times, a quarterly pentest would work well for you too.
  • If your only concern is to acquire and retain certifications, you can opt for a yearly penetration testing service.

What to look for in a pentesting service/solution provider?

When choosing a trusted and reputed third-party penetration testing service provider, look at 

  • Customer reviews
  • Security person’s accreditations
  • Detailed plans and methodology
  • Vulnerability management dashboard
  • Retesting after remediation facilities
  • Warranty possibilities
  • Certifications
  • Turn around time
  • Team and communication, among the very first things.

Besides, you can also ask for a case study, known companies they worked with, customer reviews & testimonials, etc.

Astra’s penetration pricing – complete details

Astra security offers comprehensive penetration testing services for websites, web apps, mobile apps, cloud, network, and saas. We have three penetration testing plans: Basic, Expert, & Elite, which differ in the frequency of scans (monthly, quarterly, & yearly), number of tests, re-scans, type of available support, team addition, and so on.

Cost of Astra Pentest:

  • Basic pentesting plan – $210/per scan
  • Expert pentesting plan – $350/per scan
  • Elite pentesting plan – $700/per scan

Astra Pentest provides an intuitive pentest dashboard that facilitates real-time vulnerability reporting & collaboration for each vulnerability, thus cutting the vulnerability fixing time for developers.

Other reasons why Astra Pentest suite shines among other services out there:

  • Hacker-style penetration testing (with over 2500+ tests)
  • Developer-friendly intuitive dashboard
  • Real-time vulnerability reporting (first set of vulnerabilities added within 24 hours)
  • Direct collaboration (no email threads)
  • Vulnerability PoCs & selenium scripts
  • Fixing advice
  • Rescans
  • Detailed reports
  • Publicly verifiable certificates.

Also check out the new features added to our pentest dashboard.

Astra’s Pentest Dashboard

More details here.

Conclusion

Spending a little extra money on external penetration testing is not an extravagance but a wise investment as it can save the system from an exploit or a breach and prevent it from getting into a security muddle. A data breach can cause irreparable damage to an organization’s reputation hence a trusted and thorough penetration testing is insurance for the technical setup of your organization.

Considering a pentest for your platform? Talk to us with the chat widget below!

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Aakanchha Keshri

Aakanchha is a technical writer and a cybersecurity enthusiast. She is an avid reader, researcher, and an active contributor to our blog and the cybersecurity genre in general. To date, she has written over 200 blogs for more than 60 domains on topics ranging from technical to promotional. When she is not writing or researching she revels in a game or two of CS: GO.
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