How To Determine Pen Testing Cost?

How To Determine Pen Testing Cost?

Penetration testing, a critical component of cybersecurity, involves assessing the vulnerabilities of a system to identify potential threats. The cost of penetration testing can vary significantly, with an average estimate of $18,300 based on data from various sources. However, the actual expenses depend on numerous factors, resulting in a broad range from a few hundred dollars to over $100,000. This highlights the significance of security testing companies.

Average costs:

The average cost of penetration testing for applications or websites falls within the range of $8,900 to $34,600 per application. In the case of network penetration tests, the average cost spans from $9,900 to $53,700 per engagement. 

Pricing norms at the lower range  Cost beyond the median 
Penetration Testing for Application or Websites Cost: $8,900 application Cost: $34,600 application
Penetration Testing For Networks  Cost: $9,900 engagement Cost: $53,700 engagement 

Challenges with Average Pricing:

While average pricing provides a benchmark, it can be misleading due to variations in coverage. Factors such as the number of IP addresses, assumed company size, or specific applications covered can significantly influence costs. Standardized pricing might limit the scope of tests, whereas customized pricing offers flexibility but may include additional contingency costs. 

 Biases in Published Pricing:

Published prices on Vendor websites may carry biases aimed at conveying specific marketing messages. Some companies emphasize high-quality tests with a cost range of $10,000-$30,000, setting a perceived standard. On the other hand, those offering low-cost standardized scans starting at $400 may overlook the depth of penetration testing, potentially leading to misconceptions. 

Factors Affecting Costs:

Understanding the eleven key factors influencing penetration testing costs is crucial for accurate budgeting:

1-Scope & Scale: The size and complexity of the organization’s IT environment impact costs, including networks, devices, applications, and personnel. 

2- Penetration Test Type: Different test types, such as black box, gray box, and white box tests, incur varying expenses. 

3- Tester Experience: More experienced testers may have higher hourly rates but can be more efficient, potentially saving costs. 

4- compliance requirements: Specific regulations may mandate certain testing methods or certified vendors, affecting overall costs. 

5- System Type: The nature of systems, including their complexity, influences testing hours and expenses.

6- Remediation and Retesting: Addressing vulnerabilities and retesting may add to the overall cost.

7- Future Opportunities: Organizations seeking ongoing testing may negotiate better pricing. 

8- Special Requirements: Unique testing needs, such as social engineering tests, can contribute to additional costs. 

9- Contract Type: Flat-rate or hourly charges, as well as the inclusion of additional expenses, impact overall pricing. 

10- Vendor Type: Specialized penetration testing companies may offer different pricing structures and expertise. 

11- Costs Beyond The Contract: Additional charges for reposting, travel, and consulting may not be included in initial quotes. 

Compliance Requirements:

Certain regulations, such as PCI DSS, mandate specific testing procedures and approved vendors. Organizations must ensure their chosen vendors align with compliance standards like AIPAA, ISO 27001, GDPR, SOC 2, etc. 

System type:

The nature of the system being tested significantly impacts the testing approach. Whether it; ‘s a website, hybrid environment, or diverse network infrastructure, different skills and tools are required for effective penetration testing. 

Remediation and Retesting:

After identifying vulnerabilities, organizations need to remediate issues. The choice between using the testing vendor or internal IT vendors for remediation varies. Subsequent retesting is crucial to validate the effectiveness of the remediation efforts. 

Future Opportunities:

Long-term engagement contracts, spanning 1-3 years, offer benefits such as discounts and increased testing efficiency as the testing team becomes familiar with the organization’s infrastructure. However, it may lead to a lack of fresh perspectives, promoting organizations to change vendors periodically. 

Special Requirements:

Unique requests like off-hours testing, onsite requirements, physical security tests, observations of processes, and social engineering can influence costs. Each requirement introduces specific challenges, from conducting tests outside business hours to assessing physical security systems. 

Contract type: 

Vendors offer fixed-cost or time-and-materials contracts, each with its advantages. Fixed-cost contracts provide cost certainty but may include additional padding for unforeseen contingencies. Long-term contracts can cover rolling tests or multi-year terms. 

Vendor type : 

Choosing between specialist and generalist vendors depends on the organization’s needs. Specialists often provide enhanced expertise, while vendor size is crucial for matching capacity with the organization’s requirements. 

Costs Beyond the Contract:

Beyond the initial contract, internal IT team labor costs, capability tests, test environments, and potential damages should be considered. Organizations need to budget for the time and resources their internal teams invest in supporting the penetration testing activities. 

Requirement for Obtaining Penetration Test Quote: 

To obtain an accurate quote, buyers should provide estimates or details on scale, and scope. Penetration test type, compliance requirements, system type, future opportunities, special requirements, and contract type. 

Selecting a Penetration Test Service Provider:

References, understandable proposals, credentials of testers, sample reports, and trial test runs are essential considerations when choosing a penetration testing vendor. Checking how vendors handle mistakes and bad news can provide valuable insights. 

Also Read: Best Social Media Marketing Services for Small Business


Investing in professional penetration testing is essential for securing systems and preventing potential breaches. Regardless of the confidence an organization has in its IT security, rigorous penetration testing remains the only way to validate that confidence and avoid unpleasant surprises. Organizations must carefully consider the diverse factors influencing costs and select a penetration testing provider based on expertise, transparency, and a clear understanding of the organization’s unique requirements.