Understanding Penetration Testing Costs: Pricing Trends 2024

Pen testing, sometimes known as penetration testing, is a security tool used to replicate actual attacks to assess an entity’s defenses. As cyber dangers change, the value of consistent penetration testing has never been clearer.

Businesses depend on knowledge of the expenses related to this important security precaution in 2024.

Depending on variables, including project scale, complexity, and the testing company’s reputation, penetration testing expenses can range from $5,000 to $100,000. Compliance with HIPAA, PCI DSS, and ISO 27001 laws also affects pricing since specialized knowledge is needed.

Other penetration tests, such as online, mobile, infrastructure, and cloud testing, may influence the cost. Another important consideration is the experience level of the testers; senior penetration testers typically demand pay between $250 and $300 per hour.

Although the initial expenses of penetration testing could seem high, one should consider the possible financial and reputational repercussions resulting from a data hack. Frequent testing helps find and fix weaknesses before hostile actors can exploit them.

As we investigate penetration testing expenses in 2024, we will examine several pricing strategies, elements influencing costs, and the need to select a credible testing partner.

This article will help you to grasp what to expect when budgeting for this important component of your company’s security strategy. Let’s begin this vital dialogue.

Comprehending Penetration Testing Expenses

Penetration testing is a vital cybersecurity tool that enables companies to find and resolve system weaknesses. Penetration testing costs depend on the target’s complexity, the technique applied, the pen testers’ experience, and other elements.

Penetration testing, sometimes known as pen testing, is a computer system simulation of an attack. It looks for easily exploited weaknesses in networks, online apps, and other IT assets.

Pen tests support intrusion detection systems and firewalls, among other security mechanisms. They assist in spotting flaws that would allow malevolent hackers to get illegal access or pilfer private information.

Five basic phases comprise the process: planning and reconnaissance, scanning, getting access, preserving access, and analysis. Pentesting techniques include:

  • External tests from outside the network perimeter.
  • Internal tests with some degree of access.
  • Blind tests are where testers have limited knowledge about the target system.
  • Double-blind tests are where both testers and defenders have limited information.
  • Targeted tests emphasize particular assets or vulnerabilities.

Organizations can better grasp and reduce their cyber risks by investigating defenses with ethical hacking tools akin to real-world threat actors.

Features of penetration testing

For companies, penetration testing is quite advantageous. It points out flaws in systems, apps, and networks before attackers can exploit them. This proactive approach prevents intellectual property theft, data breaches, and financial losses.

Penetration testing replicates real-world attacks using social engineering, malware insertion, and brute-force attacks. It offers a complete picture of a company’s security situation.

Good offense is the best defense. Sun Tzu:

Penetration testing also enables companies to satisfy regulatory needs, including GDPR, PCI DSS, and ISO 27001. Non-compliance could damage a company’s reputation and result in large fines. Frequent penetration testing shows due care and dedication to security best standards.

They enable one to prioritize remedial actions and offer insightful analysis of a company’s risk exposure. When weighed against the possible expenses of a security breach, penetration testing is a reasonably affordable risk-reducing tactic.

While developing the material, I have included some pertinent terms from KEYWORLD, including penetration tests, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, data breaches, malware, and intellectual property.

Variables Affecting Penetration Testing Expenses

Several elements determine the cost of penetration testing. The target’s complexity partly determines the final price, the method applied, the testers’ experience, the kind of assets being evaluated, and the test schedule.

Target’s complexity

The complexity of the target largely influences penetration testing expenses. The general complexity of the network depends on elements, including its size and complexity, the number of devices and endpoints, and the diversity of technologies applied.

Testing a small, simple web application with few APIs, for example, will be less costly than evaluating a big, distributed system, including several cloud services, mobile apps, and IoT devices.

Higher expenses follow from more time and skill needed to fully test the security of a more complex target.

Furthermore, the kind of penetration testing used influences the complexity and, hence, the expense. Generally speaking, white box testing—which gives testers a great understanding of the system’s inner workings—is more costly than black box testing, in which testers have little knowledge.

On the other hand, white box testing lets testers replicate insider threats and spot weaknesses that would be overlooked in a black box technique, enabling a more complete evaluation.

Ultimately, the company’s particular security needs and financial restrictions will determine which of these approaches to take.


Turning from the complexity of the target, the cost is mostly determined by the penetration testing approach used. Methods of penetration testing include grey-box, white-box, and black-box testing techniques.

Every technique provides a different viewpoint and level of study that influences the cost structure.

Black-box testing—external testing—evaluates a system without knowing its inner workings beforehand. This strategy models actual cyberattacks, offering an insightful analysis of a company’s security posture.

Based on the extent and complexity of the engagement, black-box testing usually costs from $5,000 to $50,000 per asset. Conversely, internal testing—known as white-box testing—allows the penetration tester complete access to the system’s architectural and source code.

With expenses ranging from $500 to $2,000 per asset, this all-encompassing strategy lets one review possible weaknesses closely. Grey-box testing gives the tester partial knowledge while nevertheless balancing the two.

Combining the advantages of both techniques, this strategy provides a more focused evaluation while preserving some degree of real-world simulation. Depending on the project’s particular criteria, grey-box testing expenses usually range between $5,000 and $50,000.


A pentest’s cost and quality are significantly influenced by penetration testers’ experience and knowledge, often with industry-recognized qualifications like the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), highly talented, ethical hackers—who can find difficult vulnerabilities and offer insightful analysis—command higher prices.

Using cutting-edge testing methods and approaches, these seasoned experts fully evaluate a company’s security posture and provide complete findings and remedial support.

Engaging top penetration testers guarantees that the pentest replicates real-world attack scenarios by addressing a broad spectrum of assets, including web apps, mobile apps, cloud infrastructure, and IoT devices.

Their thorough awareness of the most recent cybersecurity risks and hacking techniques helps them to find important security flaws less experienced testers could miss.

Although hiring seasoned pen testers may be more expensive, the long-term benefits far exceed the initial outlay in terms of improved security and risk reduction.

Variables influencing penetration testing expenses

Type of property

Penetration testing cost is largely influenced by the kind of assets under test. Unique security problems abound in web apps, networks, cloud infrastructure, mobile apps, and APIs.

Pen testers must customize their strategy to the particular asset using several tools and methods. Testing a sophisticated web app, including several user roles and inputs, requires more work than testing a basic static webpage.

Likewise, checking a small office network takes less time than assessing the security of a large corporate network, including hundreds of devices.

Pricing also affects asset criticality. Systems running important tasks or managing sensitive data call for more extensive testing. Because of the possible impact of a breach, an e-commerce site handling credit card transactions or a hospital network keeping patient records will pay more fees.

Pricing for penetration testing companies is frequently established based on the value and complexity of the assets under examination. Budgeting for a pentest requires an awareness of how your assets fall into these levels.

Test timeline

The cost of a penetration test is significantly influenced by its timeline. Shorter timescales usually require more resources and knowledge, translating into higher prices. Longer timescales, on the other hand, enable a more complete and thorough evaluation but could also raise expenses because of the length of the involvement.

It is imperative to find the ideal mix between the allocated funds and the needed level of testing.

The urgency of the penetration test is also very important in deciding the schedule and, hence, the expense. Should a company need quick results from regulatory deadlines, compliance needs, or upcoming product introductions, the penetration testing company could have to commit more resources and work long hours to satisfy the strict deadline.

This restricted schedule often results in more customer expenses. Conversely, if the company allows a more laid-back schedule, the penetration testing team can operate at a more measured pace, possibly saving costs.

The next section will discuss the several forms of penetration testing and their related expenses.

Penetration Testing Types and Their Prices

Penetration testing of various kinds has different costs. Examples are web application pen tests, network security evaluations, and mobile app pen testing.

Penetration testing in web applications

One of the most important procedures for finding weaknesses in web applications is web application penetration testing. Simulating assaults on the program helps identify vulnerabilities hackers might exploit.

Depending on the quantity and complexity of the web apps under test, this testing runs between $5,000 and $50,000. This price range comprehensively evaluates the application’s security by employing SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).

Security experts hunt vulnerabilities using technologies such as Acunetix, Burp Suite, and OWASP ZAP during web application pen-testing. They also do hand tests to find problems that automatic scanners might overlook.

The aim is to find and fix any security flaws so malevolent actors cannot use them. Investing in web application penetration testing helps businesses safeguard their private information, maintain customer confidence, and prevent expensive data leaks.

Network penetration testing

Network penetration testing assesses an organization’s network security by modeling real-world threats. Usually costing between $5,000 and $30,000+, this thorough evaluation ranges from $150 to $1,000 per gadget tested.

The ultimate cost is much influenced by elements like the complexity of the network, the approach used, and the pentester’s experience.

Ethical hackers seek to exploit weaknesses in firewalls, routers, switches, and other network components during a network pen test. They scan using tools like Nmap, Wireshark, and Metasploit to find flaws, intercept traffic, and gain illegal access.

The aim is to find security flaws that might be exploited by hostile parties, enabling companies to strengthen their defenses against such leaks.

Cloud penetration testing

A specialist service, cloud penetration testing assesses the security of cloud-based systems, including Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

This testing replicates actual attacks to find weaknesses and setups that hostile actors would exploit. Covering a broad spectrum of topics, cloud pen testing addresses access restrictions, data encryption, network segmentation, and industry-standard compliance—the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Recent market research indicates that the extent and complexity of the involvement will greatly affect the cost of cloud penetration testing. On average, fees for a thorough evaluation range from $5,000 to $50,000; some companies quote amounts as high as $40,000 for more involved projects.

These expenses consider the number of cloud instances, the kinds of services under examination, and the degree of penetration testing team skills needed.

When choosing a supplier of cloud penetration testing, one should consider their background, approach, and capacity to make feasible correction suggestions.

Mobile apps

Maintaining the security of mobile apps depends critically on penetration testing of mobile applications. This penetration testing mostly targets backend systems supporting iOS and Android applications and vulnerabilities and flaws in such programs.

The cost of mobile app penetration testing can vary greatly, from $5,000 to $40,000, depending on the app’s complexity, the extent of the test, and the skill of the penetration testers.

Security professionals use many tools and approaches to replicate real-world attacks during mobile application penetration testing. They look for weaknesses such as inadequate authentication systems, poor encryption, and unsecured data storage.

Additionally, penetration testers evaluate the app’s resistance to reverse engineering, hacking, and other risks unique to mobile platforms. Organizations may improve the security of their mobile apps by spotting and fixing these problems, safeguarding private user information, and preserving consumer confidence.

API penetration testing

Another crucial element of safeguarding an organization’s digital resources is API penetration testing following mobile application penetration testing. Modern web and mobile applications are built on APIs, sometimes called application programming interfaces, allowing data interchange and communication between many software components.

However, since they frequently include sensitive information and give access to important features, APIs can also be a prominent target for cybercriminals.

Simulating real-world attacks on an organization’s APIs, API penetration testing seeks to find weaknesses and vulnerabilities that malevolent actors might exploit. Usually comprising methods including parameter tampering, session manipulation, and injection attacks to expose security problems in the API’s authentication, authorization, and data validation systems, this kind of testing aims to.

The complexity and scope of the APIs being examined will affect the cost of API penetration testing; rates for in-depth, customized assessments range from $5,000 to $30,000 or more.

Although the cost could appear high, API security is vital for safeguarding private information, preserving consumer confidence, and preventing the possible catastrophic financial and reputational fallout from a successful cyberattack.

Choosing the right penetration testing type

Choosing the best penetration testing solution means carefully balancing elements such as the target system’s complexity, the technique used, and the testing team’s experience.

Working with a credible cybersecurity company that provides a selection of testing choices catered to your particular requirements, such as red teaming or black box testing, can ensure a thorough evaluation of your security posture.

Several important considerations influence the choice of a penetration testing vendor. Think about the following to guarantee you decide with knowledge:

Search for a pen testing company with highly qualified, accredited experts. Certifications proving the testers’ knowledge and commitment to industry standards include Offensive Security’s OSCP, OSCE, PNPT, and CREST accreditation.

Experience and reputation:

Select a service with a track record of effective interactions across several sectors. Review case studies, quotes, and testimonies to evaluate its standing and caliber of work.

Verify that the service provides a thorough scope for your company’s security requirements. Their approach should address network, online application, cloud, mobile, and API penetration testing, among other attack paths.

Flexibility and customization:

Choose a provider whose offerings can fit your particular needs. Their strategy should be able to change depending on your company’s size, sector, and compliance requirements.

Reporting and communication:

Thorough, clear reporting is essential for understanding vulnerabilities and prioritizing remedial action. Look for a provider who maintains open contact channels throughout the engagement and provides practical advice.

Value and cost:

Although pricing is a major factor, never sacrifice quality for a reduced cost. Analyze the value the penetration testing service offers in light of elements, including the level of testing, testers’ experience, and report thoroughness. In the United States, day rates for penetration testing can go from $1,000 to $3,000; in the UK, they might run from £800 to £2,500 per day.

Value of a reputable business

It is vital to select a reliable penetration-testing cybersecurity company. Certified ethical hackers working for these companies follow rigorous industry norms and techniques.

Their experience helps them spot weaknesses in web apps, networks, cloud architecture, APIs, and web apps. Reputable companies offer thorough analyses, including practical advice, to enable companies to satisfy compliance criteria and improve their security posture.

Maintaining abreast of changing cyber threats requires constant penetration testing conducted under trust by a reliable supplier. These businesses use cutting-edge tools such Nmap, Metasploit, and Burp Suite to model real-world attacks.

They also keep current with security developments and the most recent hacking methods. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, companies may reduce risks, safeguard private information, and maintain consumer confidence by routinely verifying security controls and spotting vulnerabilities.

Various business models

Different commercial models provided by penetration testing companies help to meet the needs and budgets of different companies. The most often used pricing systems are fixed cost, time and material (T&M), and managed penetration testing services.

Fixed-cost models set a price for a certain range of work, enabling more consistent budgeting. T&M models charge according to the real-time and resources invested in the project, offering flexibility for changing needs.

Subscription-based, managed penetration testing services often provide continual evaluations and support, guaranteeing constant security monitoring and improvement.

The choice of commercial model will depend on elements such as the complexity of the target environment, the necessary approach, and the desired degree of support. While T&M models better fit dynamic environments and iterative testing procedures, fixed-cost models suit companies with well-defined needs and stable systems.

Managed services offer businesses looking for frequent assessments, remedial advice, access to specialist knowledge, and a complete solution. Understanding the several price choices and their consequences helps companies choose the most appropriate model for their particular situation and maximize their penetration testing expenditure.