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How much does Penetration Test Cost, or Price of your Security

11 minutes

By Hacken

Request Consutation Security is an essential part of any business. There are multiple ways a system can become compromised which is why one needs to ensure high quality modern technologies are applied, such as SSL certificates, firewalls, physical machinery protection, and many others. To keep your company safe from potential security attacks you will need to undertake constant performance and security monitoring. Penetration testing has shown itself to be the best method of discovering any potential security breaches and in this article we will detail the potential advantages, disadvantages and how much does penetration testing cost. We will also include practical recommendations and case studies showing the benefits available to companies for implementing appropriate security protection.

What is a Penetration Test

Penetration testing is a process of discovering possible vulnerabilities within a system, application, website, etc.

It aims to protect the system from unauthorized access and possible weaknesses within the network infrastructure and also helps to improve the configuration of an application. When a company isn’t efficiently protected, it leaves a coding vulnerability that could lead to sensitive data being accidentally damaged or exposed to the public. Around 69% of organizations in the U.S. do not believe their anti-virus protection or firewalls can effectively protect them from attacks. The security test cost is a small price to pay to safeguard your data and systems.

Needless to say, a weak security system can result in financial and reputational losses for a company. Ponemon has carried out a research with over 400 companies and the results have shown that globally the average cost of stolen records has reduced however, the attacks that do happen are now on a much larger scale and more financially damaging. The average company cost per breach has reached almost $7.5 million in the U.S and almost $5 million in the Middle East and this is why any potential issues should be eliminated as soon as possible.

A highly skilled professional who typically performs a penetration test is more likely to spot system vulnerabilities than any specialized software due to the fact a living person can perform an investigation based on their previous experiences.

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In 2017 cyber attacks were recorded every 40 seconds resulting in total losses of $5 billion (an increase from $325 million dollars in 2015). This figure is set to increase to an attack every 14 seconds resulting in total losses of $21.5 billion by 2019. Industries that suffer the most are medical and financial which account for losses of $380 and $245 per capita respectively. Improved security could have prevented all these attacks and saved billions of dollars globally.

Why are Pen Tests extremely Important?

Any security breach that occurs within your company can affect it’s income, reputation and also destroy customer trust. A poorly-performed pen can cost you everything you worked hard to create. In September 2017, the news of Equifax breach has spread over the net, revealing that the sensitive information of almost 150 million people has been exposed. The losses are said to have reached $275 million in 2017 and are predicted to reach $439 million by the end of 2018. Only $125 million of that amount will be covered by the insurance.

43 percent of the attacks are performed on small business. Out of those , 62% are phishing and social engineering attacks. Web-based attacks make up for 64% of all attacks. 59% of companies experience malware attacks. The calculation of losses due to attacks depend on several factors, which include the damaged data, reputation, machinery, loss of customers, and partners. The total damage inflicted on companies worldwide has reached $100 billion. The number of the attacks increases every year, and the targets include big corporations as well as small businesses and individuals.

What Is Included In The Penetration Testing Cost?

Due to the uprising risks, many companies are looking for efficient ways to protect themselves. The specialists say that $1 trillion will be spent on cybersecurity between 2017 and 2021. Only 38% of the companies claim they are prepared for the upcoming attacks. Hence, penetration tests are a way to protect yourself. Below we list the information on the types of testing.

  • Application testing. Web applications are quite complex. Hence, they have many possibilities for vulnerability investigation including internal and external testing. The difference from a regular vulnerability test is the exploitation of possible weak spots in the system. In most cases, the pen testing price can start from $2,000. The final decision will depend on the number of roles in the application and the aim of the testing.
  • Network testing can also include multiple options. Generally, it incorporates firewall bypass tests, DNS attacks testing. Overall, it is a crash test of your system. Depending on the complexity of your network, the tests can vary in length and price. Network penetration testing cost depends on those factors as well. Some of the companies provide a fixed price, and that will usually include a fix list of services available.The network testing can include IPS and routing issues scans, port scanning, services like FTP, MySQL, SSH, etc. Each contractor can suggest you their vision of the vulnerability scanning process. The penetration test cost and techniques may differ by the number and types of services to be tested and the tools used in the processThe pricing for a network pen test starts at $4,000. Anything below the price is very unlikely to be a quality testing. The testing is divided into internal and external components as they might be using different tools. If your system is complex, the price will incorporate various features and will depend on many factors.
  • A wireless pen test aims at finding loopholes within the access points of the network, keys, weak protocols, and other possible breach points. You need to keep in mind that not every vulnerability scanning process is a pen test. Compared to the vulnerability scans, penetration tests are much more extensive. The vulnerability tests only look at the potential vulnerabilities in your system, while pen tests exploit the weaknesses in the architecture of the system.
  • PCI (Payment Card Industry) penetration testing is intended to protect sensitive card data. The industry now requires a PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance. Non-compliant companies can end up paying a fine of $5,000 – $100,000. Another aspect to consider is the unwillingness of businesses to work with non-compliant companies. The PCI penetration testing cost will depend significantly on the size and type of the system. The main aim is to create a secure network, which will protect the cardholder environment.

What Can Influence a Pen Testing Cost?

We have already mentioned, that a penetration test can include many options. Every company that provides the service adjusts the penetration testing pricing depending on a few factors:

  • The complexity of your system. A penetration test is an essential part of the process for small startups as well as big corporations. The size of the application or network will influence the amount of required work. This impacts the price of the service. Top pentest companies provide testing consultations, which help to distinguish the volume of work required as well as pricing. The number of systems, access level, the number of roles, and the type of testing determine the methods and the price of the test.
  • The tools used for the testing are an essential part of the process. The cost of penetration testing can go up if any additional or specific tools are required. And, while some of the tools might be free, the person using them might need special certification. Some of the tools might be quite pricey (for example, Burp Suite paid version costs $349 per user).

The tools can be divided into several categories:

  • Static tools exploit the known vulnerabilities’ patterns in the source code.
  • Dynamic tools are used to perform the crash tests on the system. This is done by using the patterns of known attacks.
  • The Interactive analysis runs an agent on a server or a built-in code library. It creates an instrumented version of the software for easier detection of weaknesses.

The tools might create a lot of data to be processed by a specialist; thus, should be customized to fit the requirements of a certain company.

  • Certifications don’t influence the penetration test costs that much on average. Still, they play a significant role in finding a professional. The price for certification may vary from about $349 (CompTIA) up to around $6,210 (SANS). Each contractor takes care of training their specialists on their own. The course of training may take from a few weeks up to several months. In any case, a certified specialist should be working with the right tools to ensure the highest efficiency of the process.
  • Another thing affecting pen testing rates are the hurdles in preparing a good tester. A specialist needs to be aware of any potential attacks or loops in systems as well as specifics of various methods. On the other hand, they also should be able to advise on how to eliminate those threats in the most efficient way.


An average cost of a penetration test can vary from $4,000 to $100,000. When done correctly, it’s worth every penny. Mainly, because you are getting a specialist or a team of specialists who will work on finding any possible way your system can be affected. Later, you receive a recommendation regarding the discovered vulnerabilities and, when necessary, continuous system support. Another factor that affects penetration testing costs is the regularity with which you perform it. As many other assessments, pen tests are necessary on a regular basis, to ensure you comply with all the standards and no new issues appear. Depending on the complexity of your system and the frequency of updates, the recommended testing regularity is once or twice per year.

On the one hand, software automated performance checks are performed. Yet, the quality of such tests is generally not sufficient. On average, the software will cost you around $1,000-$2,000. Still, it is impossible to advise on the priority of holes discovered in the system which have to be taken care of first. This is something that only a professional can advise on. This point is essential as your company might end up spending thousands on fixing something that is not critical.

Who Typically Performs a Penetration Test

A pen test should be performed by a certified specialist with experience in the field. This is extremely important as it can influence not only the results of a test but also the potential breaches of the system in future. A highly-skilled developer performing a test will help with distinguishing the weaknesses as well as with fixing and preventing them in future. Besides, there is also a danger of damaging the system during the test. This is way less likely with a specialist.

Summing up

There is no one answer that determines how much does penetration testing cost as the number of variables in each situation is different. Most companies that have a fixed price for a pen test will not help you to improve your security due to limitations of the testing tools used.

The decision of how much to charge for pen testing depends strictly on the contractor. Yet, this is the case when a few thousands can save your company millions and the hassle of reinstating your reputation. Discussing the terms and the scope of work in advance will also give you more clarity.

How Hacken can help

At Hacken, we take security extremely seriously, and all the checks are performed according to the highest standards. If you have any questions about the topic or need a consultation, feel free to contact our Team!

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Read our success stories:

Penetration testing of TTC test-net
Crypto Exchange Penetration Testing As It Is
Hacken performed penetration testing for Tokenaire


Read about the latest case studies by Hacken:

Hacken performed a security analysis of Codex exchange


Hacken performed Secure Code Review for AirAsia

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