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Penetration Testing Pricing: 4 Key Factors to Consider


When building out your IT business objectives, it’s essential to consider an information security strategy and budget aligned with your business goals.  Every organization today needs penetration testing, as it supports and strengthens cyberinfrastructure and protects company data against security predators.  A risk-based security management strategy must be developed and executed to proactively know where the gaps are in your organization’s infrastructure. Penetration testing reports support your security program in assessing and understanding where security gaps need to be closed.  For these reasons, every overarching information security strategy or program budget should include penetration testing.

So how much does a pen test cost?

Penetration testing pricing varies from $5-$150K, with most costing between $40-$50K. The budget you will want to allocate for this vital component of your risk-based security investment depends on four key factors:

1. Testing objective and goals

2. Environment/infrastructure complexity and scope

3. Methodology and approach

4. Tester’s skills and experience

1. Testing Objective and Goals

There are two kinds of penetration testing, coverage-based and depth-based. If your organization has a mature security posture, and penetration testing is part of your existing strategy, then a depth-based penetration test should be considered. However, most organizations first opt for a coverage-based penetration test to gain a more holistic view of their entire IT infrastructure to determine and resolve security gaps. It’s also essential to align your IT security testing program with your business goals to truly understand the ROI. Determining the cost vs. potential upside scenarios will help your internal stakeholders understand the value of a penetration test. When including a penetration test within their IT strategy, organizations reduce corporate risk, streamline security, breach contractual compliance, and gain peace of mind to ensure regulatory compliance. 

With penetration testing, not only are you reducing your risk of cyber attacks and security breaches, but you could also be supporting other departments by understanding where the gaps are and streamlining functions to achieve and surpass security compliances. For example, your sales team could experience a faster sales cycle if an obligatory compliance phase is corrected due to your penetration testing discovery.  Your sales team and HR team can deliver stories to clients and new hires, outlining how your organization has iron-clad security, making your company the best choice for data security. There are countless ways that penetration testing can support your data, your communication with potential customers, and your recurring customers.

2. Environment/Infrastructure Complexity and Scope

Your pen testing team should help you understand your environment’s complexity as it plays an essential role in finalizing the testing environment, level of detail, and penetration testing pricing.

Some penetration testing components may include assessing: 

Applications, devices, and systems

Infrastructures or networks

Complex systems with mobile apps, internal and external servers, etc.

Web applications with sensitive data

Checking the organization’s resilience to social engineering, phishing, and other kinds of attack,

At Packetlabs, we take the time to understand every in-scope component and its role in the overall system tested. We custom tailor our approach to each environment we assess, which makes us unique from our competitors.

3. Methodology and Approach

Often, firms will try to commoditize security testing through performing automated testing, with little benefit to the client. Our methodology only begins with automated testing. Just as people, not computers, create computer threats, people, not computers, need to penetrate systems and discover vulnerabilities. Automated pen tests can only go so far in uncovering high-risk vulnerabilities; this is why it is critical to ensure that what you are paying for includes manual testing methodologies. Packetlab’s pen testers are always digging deeper to uncover vulnerabilities that may have been overlooked.

Packetlabs penetration testers have efficiency and cost-effectiveness in mind. Not only do we assess the required environment and create a comprehensive plan catered to your business needs, but we offer additional coverage industry standards often neglect without impacting pricing. 

4. Tester’s Skills and Experience

Be aware that conventional penetration testing may just be ticking items off a check box. Choose a penetration testing firm that offers more than automated testing. A valuable penetration test goes beyond running a penetration software application.  A comprehensive penetration test requires human judgment, analysis, decision-making. We have advanced quite a bit when it comes to automation technology; however, a human with a deep understanding of cybersecurity challenges and development will beat out a penetration testing application every single time. That’s why it’s crucial to select a cybersecurity company with skilled and experienced testers who can identify hard-to-find vulnerabilities and weaknesses that conventional testing misses.

Packetlab’s penetration testing pricing is aligned with industry standards, but the value offered is higher because we mandate training, continually learn and adapt new attack techniques for our clients. We are always digging deeper to uncover vulnerabilities that may have been overlooked. The Packetlabs team is qualified well beyond industry standards, as each team member has, at minimum, a 24-hour OSCP designation. Not one of our clients has been breached by a vulnerability we’ve missed, and we take pride in knowing that our services genuinely protect our client’s most sensitive data. Cybersecurity is never stagnating, it’s constantly evolving, and we at Packetlabs make it our mission to keep on top of trends to ensure our client’s systems are secure.

A Final Word

Many variables affect penetration testing pricing, and you’ll want to watch out for companies that offer automated penetration testing as their primary offering. When choosing a penetration testing vendor, be sure to select one that is willing to take the time to understand your company, your goals, the scope, and the complexities of your company. Remember, the cost of being proactive is much more cost-effective than being reactive. When you invest in your cybersecurity, you are creating a sustainable business and amplifying your competitive advantage.

Email us at info@packetlabs.net to know more, or ask for a free, no-obligation quote here.