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Penetration Testing Costs

How to Estimate and Optimize

In cybersecurity services since 2003, ScienceSoft is ready to estimate the price of your security checkup, share the best cost optimization strategies, and perform end-to-end penetration testing to ensure comprehensive and cost-effective vulnerability exploration.

Penetration Testing Cost - ScienceSoft
Penetration Testing Cost - ScienceSoft

Penetration Testing Price: Outline

An important part of consistent security and compliance management, penetration testing is imitating real-life hacking techniques to detect and exploit vulnerabilities in apps and IT infrastructures. Pentesters unearth dangerous security flaws that could enable successful cyberattacks, evaluate their potential impact, and define optimal remediation measures.

The average cost of penetration testing ranges from $5,000 to $40,000+ and depends on the number and complexity of the testing targets, the pentesting model (black, white, or gray box), test scenarios, and the qualifications of the testing team.

Penetration Testing Cost Factors

The cost drivers that apply to all pentesting projects are the following:

  • The scope of the security checkup.

ScienceSoft's Penetration Testing Consultant, Certified Ethical Hacker

The scope of pentesting activities is the key cost factor. It defines the number of security engineers involved in the project, their qualifications, and the required time.

  • Specific requirements to the testers (skills, certifications, experience) or pentesting time (e.g., only during weekends or night hours to keep uninterrupted availability and performance of the targets in scope).

Elements Comprising the Scope of a Pen Test

Testing targets

The type, number, and complexity of testing targets influence the overall project cost. For example, to calculate the price of web application pentesting, the vendor will consider such factors as the number of user roles, input fields, and dynamic pages. Cloud pentesting depends on the amount of cloud services and accounts. Advanced technologies, like IoT, cloud, or blockchain, have more nuances to consider during the testing, which is likely to raise the price of the security checkup.

Here are approximate cost ranges for moderate-scope and medium-complexity pentests of different IT assets:

External IT infrastructure

$5,000–$20,000

Internal IT infrastructure

$7,000–$30,000

Mobile applications, web applications, and APIs

$5,000–$30,000

IoT network

$7,000–$50,000

Cloud environment

$12,000–$50,000

Cost consideration: The need to bypass corporate cybersecurity systems (e.g., firewalls, DLP, or IPS) will become an additional cost factor.

ScienceSoft's Head of Information Security Department

It is vital to choose publicly accessible IT infrastructure components as testing targets: customer-facing web applications, IoT systems and their components (e.g., API gateways), etc., as the internet connectivity increases the number of cybersecurity threats they are exposed to.

Test scenarios

Pentesting scenarios cover the most vulnerable features of a target and its security loopholes commonly exploited by hackers.

Penetration testing typically includes the implementation of testing scenarios outlined in the following standards and frameworks:

It is also possible to design custom scenarios, e.g., to check compliance with a certain regulatory standard or resistance to social engineering attacks.

Cost consideration: Custom scenarios are an additional factor influencing pen testing costs.

Testing model

The penetration test model determines what kind of an attacker’s behavior a security engineer will simulate.

Black box 

Curious how cybercriminals might breach your outer defenses? Our testers employ real-life hacking techniques to gather information about your IT environment and unearth security loopholes.

Typically, the cost of external penetration testing starts from $4,000.

Pros:

  • It provides valuable insights into your security from an outsider's perspective.

Cons:

  • Since our ethical hackers will examine your targets "blindfolded", the black box testing approach can take longer than, for example, gray box pentesting. Also, it may not comprehensively explore internal vulnerabilities.

Gray box

Do you wish to find out how far intruders can get once they are inside your systems? Our security experts will explore what harm can be inflicted by an attacker with some insider knowledge about your IT environment.

The price of gray box pen testing commonly starts from $5,000.

Pros:

  • Our security team can delve into potential vulnerabilities, revealing both external and internal weaknesses. It's faster than the black box method, and you won't need to share as much company info as you would with the white box approach.

Cons:

  • It requires skilled security pros who can quickly evaluate how serious a vulnerability is and if it needs more investigation.

White box

Can you imagine what a super-informed intruder is capable of? Our tech experts will play the role of an attacker who has gained admin rights, secret keys, and blueprints.

The cost of white box penetration testing is $7,000+.

Pros:

  • We uncover as many security weak spots as possible. Our report comes loaded with advice on how to fix those issues.

Cons:

  • We skip the outsider's view. And yes, you'll need to share some of your sensitive technical details with us.

See how our clients benefited from white box testing

Cost consideration: Black box testing is usually the cheapest. It explores fewer scenarios due to less information about the targets. White box testing is pricey because it implies a wide range of tests and in-depth vulnerability checks. The gray box approach helps balance the scope and cost, as security engineers can adjust the testing coverage when needed.

ScienceSoft's Head of Information Security Department

Though it is likely to increase the cost of a pentest, the best practice is to commission white box and gray box pen tests to security engineers holding official penetration testing certifications (e.g., Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), etc.).

Automated vs. Manual Penetration Testing

Automated pentesting

Manual pentesting

Scope

Can check apps and IT infrastructure components for most of the common vulnerabilities.

Detects complex vulnerabilities and threats that require human intuition, creativity, and experience, such as multi-step attack chains or the latest exploits.

Speed

Provides quick results.

Can be time-consuming.

Findings

Produces false positives and false negatives.

Analyzes, validates, and prioritizes security issues.

Reporting

Standardized reports that may require additional interpretation by cybersecurity experts.

Tailored reports with detailed vulnerability descriptions and actionable remediation guidance.

Cost consideration: Hiring qualified penetration testers can be more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Automated tools provide the opportunity to conduct quicker and cheaper security check-ups. However, you may need to allocate resources to validate the findings and define optimal corrective measures.

ScienceSoft's Penetration Testing Consultant, Certified Ethical Hacker

At ScienceSoft, we aim to balance cost-effectiveness with thorough vulnerability exploration. That's why we complement manual penetration testing with efficient automated testing tools. As a result, we identify vulnerabilities within a short time, ensure the reliability and relevance of our findings, and provide practical reports that help our customers quickly improve their cyber defense.

Check ScienceSoft's selected projects to see how we enhance manual testing with automated tools

Feel Lost in Pentesting Nuances?

Get a quick free advice from our experts to understand what pentesting type and approach will benefit you most.

Sample Penetration Testing Prices

Take a look at sample one-time projects of varied scopes to better understand pen testing services cost.

Project 1

Project 2

Project 3

Project scope

Rough estimate

Pricing Information

The average cost of penetration testing ranges from $5,000 to $40,000+. ScienceSoft’s cybersecurity consultants will be happy to analyze your IT infrastructure specifics and outline the testing targets, scenarios, and model to clearly answer how much your penetration test will cost.

Get a clear picture of your pentesting budget!

Get a custom quote

Wondering How Much a Professional Pen Test Will Cost You?

Answer a few simple questions about your pentesting needs. This will help our team provide a tailored estimate for your case much quicker.

*What type(s) of penetration testing are you interested in?

*For penetration testing for compliance, choose the applicable standard:

*Choose the planned testing target(s):

*What time do you want the testing activities to take place?

*Do you need to test your cloud assets?

*For the external network, please fill out:

*For the internal network, please fill out:

*For mobile apps, please fill out:

*For web applications, please fill out:

*For APIs, please fill out:

*For social engineering testing, please fill out:

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Penetration Testing Pricing Models

Fixed price

The price is set for a predefined package of penetration testing services. A clear idea of pentest costs makes it easy to plan the budget for security checkups.

Best for: engagements with a clear scope.

Time & material

Per-hour billing offers flexibility and transparency. The customer pays exactly for the job done and can easily modify the scope of testing.

Best for: long-term or large-scale projects where the scope is hard to define and the requirements to pentesting can change.

Common Questions, Answered

How long does a penetration test take?

The duration of a pentesting engagement can vary depending on the testing type and targets. On average, a pentest takes 1–3 weeks. If the target environment is extensive and complex, we at ScienceSoft assign more pentesters to complete the project within a reasonable timeline.

How much does penetration testing cost per hour?

On average, a US pentester costs $40+ per hour. However, the actual range of fees is wide and depends on the testers' experience, skills, certifications, tools they use, the company they work for, etc. Some freelance pentesters ask $15 per hour for their services, while the hourly fees of a top tester from a highly-advertised company can be around $300.

Does a company's size influence the price of pentesting?

The size of a company does not directly drive the cost of pentests. However, in the digitalized world of today, bigger companies commonly have larger and more complex IT environments. So, in their case, the testing scope is likely to be more extensive. On average, penetration testing costs up to $10,000 for small companies, $10,000–$30,000 for midsize organizations, and $30,000–$100,000 for large enterprises. If needed, ScienceSoft's security experts can advise on scope reduction to reduce testing expenses.

Why Penetration Testing Always Pays Off

Although penetration testing might seem costly, it leads to substantial savings in the long run. Here's how:

  1. Allocate your resources wisely. Pentesting pinpoints vulnerable areas in your IT environment, guiding informed investments in your cyber defense.
  2. Minimize the risk of downtime. Proactive management of security flaws prevents operational disruptions and revenue loss caused by cyberattacks.
  3. Avoid recovery expenses. Fixing vulnerabilities early is always cheaper than restoring your IT assets and operations after a security incident.
  4. Prevent litigations. Penetration testing helps avoid legal costs and regulatory fines related to data breaches.
  5. Preserve your reputation and customer loyalty. A breach can erode trust in your business, leading to customer churn. Rebuilding damaged reputation is much more expensive and time-consuming than regular pentesting.
  • $4.45 million

    is an average cost of a data breach in 2023 (IBM).

  • $14.8 million

    is the average cost of non-compliance due to business disruption, productivity loss, fines, and other factors (GlobalScape).

Smart Strategies for Optimizing Penetration Testing Costs 

The common cybersecurity best practice is to perform penetration tests regularly: quarterly or at least annually. This checkup should also follow any significant changes to your IT infrastructure or critical applications: networks' modification or upgrade, the launch of new applications or app modules, cloud migration, re-architecting, introducing third-party integrations, etc. So, it is important to find ways to make it affordable.

We are happy to share a few tips on how to avoid extra spending during pentesting.

 

Maintain your cybersecurity measures and policies

  • Keep an up-to-date inventory of IT assets and prioritize critical components.
  • Perform regular automated vulnerability scans.
  • Educate employees about security practices and social engineering threats.

This way, your vendor will focus on specific targets during the next engagement and reduce the number of penetration and social engineering testing projects.

Agree with your vendor to divide the testing scope into stages

This can make the pentesting budget more manageable and each consequent step will require less time and investment, as the vendor’s security engineers will be familiar with your IT infrastructure specifics.

Find a trusted partner for long-term cybersecurity cooperation

Long-term cooperation can help save the penetration testing budget in the following ways:

  • Multi-year contracts usually presuppose discounts for regular penetration test services.
  • Your pentesting partner can provide a tailored penetration testing budget optimization strategy based on the previous results of the previous engagement and the knowledge of your IT landscape peculiarities.

ScienceSoft as a Pentest Vendor

  • 20 years in cybersecurity, Certified Ethical Hackers in the team.
  • Recognized among the Top Penetration Testing Companies by Clutch.
  • A vast portfolio of successful projects for BFSI, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, energy, and other industries.
  • Adherence to the best security testing practices outlined by NIST SP 800-115, OWASP Web Security Testing Guide, PTES, and other frameworks.
  • Profound knowledge of the major security regulations and standards: HIPAA, PCI, SOX, SOC 2, GDPR, GLBA, and more.
  • An ISO 9001-certified quality management system to guarantee high service quality and value-driving results.
  • ISO 27001-certified security management that ensures the safety of our customers' data.
  • Recognized as a leading outsourcing provider according to the IAOP.
  • For the second straight year, ScienceSoft USA Corporation is listed among The Americas' Fastest-Growing Companies by the Financial Times.

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Consider Expert Pentesting Services with Optimized Costs

In IT security since 2003, ScienceSoft offers comprehensive pentesting services. Whether you're seeking field-tested recommendations, a one-time assessment, or regular security check-ups, we've got you covered.

Penetration testing consulting

Leverage the advanced knowledge of our ethical hackers. We are ready to support you at every pentesting stage: planning, execution, interpreting the results, and defining optimal remediation steps.

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End-to-end penetration testing

Using real-life hacking tricks, our pentesters will thoroughly explore vulnerabilities in your IT assets, deliver a detailed roadmap to tackle security issues head-on, and implement the required enhancements if needed. We also offer re-testing to validate remediation efforts.

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About ScienceSoft

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is a global provider of IT consulting, software development, and cybersecurity services headquartered in McKinney, Texas, US. Our cybersecurity team, comprising Certified Ethical Hackers (CEHs), delivers expert cybersecurity and penetration testing services to help our customers ensure and maintain their IT infrastructures’ security and compliance with applicable regulatory standards. ScienceSoft’s information security management system is confirmed by the ISO 27001 certificate to guarantee the security of your corporate data entrusted to us.