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What is the Average Cost of a Pentest?


The cost of a penetration test or, pentest, can range anywhere from $5K-$150K depending on several factors.

The most significant factors that can affect the cost of a pentest include the following:

  • Scope: The more comprehensive the pentest, the higher the cost. This includes everything from identifying and testing vulnerabilities to performing a social engineering assessment.

  • Type of testing: A black box test is more expensive than a white box test because it is more time-consuming

  • Methodology: Penetration testing should be conducted using globally accepted and industry-standard frameworks.

  • Automated vs manual: Manual penetration testing is more costly but more effective in identifying vulnerabilities. At packetlabs, automated testing accounts for only 5% of the testing. The other 95% consists of manually simulated real-life attacks 

  • Complexity of target environment: The more complex the environment, the more time and effort it will take to identify and assess potential vulnerabilities.

  • Tester qualifications: Experienced and certified ethical hackers will provide you with a more thorough pentest which can save you time and money in the long run

  • Time frame: As expected, the longer the testing timeframe is the higher the cost will be.

Why is penetration testing important?

Before spending valuable resources on pentesting, it is important to understand the benefits of investing in the first place.

According to a report from IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach was 6.75 million per incident in 2021. That is up from 2018 when the average was roughly $4M dollars. Not only is the cost massive, but consequences can also include corruption of databases, loss of customer privacy, loss of business relationships, potential lawsuits and large fines.

Another common reason to perform a pentest is to meet compliance requirements. Regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and GDPR require organizations to have a formal pentesting program in place.

Pentesting is a necessary tool to protect your organization's data and improve your security posture. Pentesting can help identify vulnerabilities before they are exploited by an attacker. By identifying and fixing vulnerabilities, you can greatly reduce the chances of a successful attack.

Questions to consider

In order to get an accurate estimate, your penetration testing consultant will need to understand specifics about the engagement. Here are some of the questions they may ask:

  • General business details (business name, address, etc.)

  • What are your objectives for this pentest?

  • What is the scope of the evaluation? (How many domains, are networks segmented from each other, and how many live IPs require testing?)

  • Are there specific compliance requirements that need to be met?

  • What is your timeline and budget?

Note that these are only a few of the questions that may be asked. Depending on the type of assessment and your goals, more in-depth questions may be asked.

Putting it all together

The cost of a pentest can vary greatly depending on the scope and complexity of the engagement. However, it is important to remember that the benefits of penetration testing can be invaluable. By identifying and fixing vulnerabilities, you can reduce the chances of a successful attack which can save you much more than the cost of a pentest.

If you are considering penetration testing, be sure to contact an experienced and certified consultant to get an accurate estimate. Packetlabs is a passionate team of highly trained, proactive ethical hackers. With the majority of the testing process being manual, we are able to focus on identifying the most critical vulnerabilities. We also have extensive experience with regulatory compliance requirements such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and GDPR.

Contact Packetlabs for more information or a free consultation.