According to a recent report on technology spending, 69% of organizations prioritize security and increase their cybersecurity budgets this 2022. The pressure to focus more on cybersecurity comes from the disturbing spikes in cyber-attacks over the last couple of years. To identify and prioritize risks and strengthen security posture, more organizations around the globe are undergoing regular penetration testing.
A penetration test simulates a cyberattack against your computer system to check for vulnerabilities and strengths. Penetration tests are important because they can help organizations mitigate security risks and avoid the costs of a cyber-attack. Here are the top ten things you should know about penetration testing.
1. What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing or pen testing is also often referred to as ethical hacking. It’s considered hacking because the pen tester follows the same process that a cybercriminal would perform to breach a system. The difference is that a pentester or ethical hacker is there to report vulnerabilities so that the organization can address its weak points.
2. Penetration testing methods
There are different penetration testing methods, including:
- External testing
- Internal testing
- Blind testing
- Double-blind testing
- Targeted testing
3. Other penetration testing techniques
Beyond the different penetration testing methods, other penetration testing techniques are also used. The top ones are the following:
- Black-box penetration testing
- White-box penetration testing
- Social engineering penetration testing
- Network service penetration testing
- Web application penetration testing
- Wireless penetration testing
4. Penetration testing can be broken down into five stages:
- Planning and reconnaissance
- Gaining access
- Maintaining access
- Analysis and WAF configuration
5. The scanning stage is typically done using static and dynamic analyses.
Dynamic analysis involves inspecting the application code while it is running, allowing the penetration test to scan its performance in real time.
6. The Analysis stage provides us with a report
During the Analysis stage, the penetration test details the specific vulnerabilities that were exploited and the sensitive data they could access. The report will also include how much time the pen tester could remain in the system undetected.
7. There are five main factors that determine the cost of penetration testing.
8. Experience is a major factor in the price of penetration testing because not all pen testers have the accreditation and service record of conducting a penetration test competently. The most experienced penetration testers have extensive knowledge of vulnerabilities and exploits outside of tool suites, an understanding of secure web communications and technologies, and the ability to script or write code and report writing skills.
9. The average cost for a penetration test for websites is between €500 and €1500, while pen testing for web apps and mobile apps can be as low as €1000 and as high as €5000.
10. Black-box testing is less expensive than white-box penetration testing technique.
Indeed the exact pricing for pentesting services can vary widely based on factors such as the size and complexity of the target of evaluation, the depth of the testing required, and the specific market rates at the time of service. Generally, white-box pentesting, where the tester has full knowledge and access to source code and infrastructure details, is more expensive than black-box pentesting, where the tester has no prior knowledge of the system. This is because white-box testing often involves more detailed, time-consuming work as the tester needs to analyze the entire codebase and infrastructure. Black-box testing, on the other hand, simulates an external attack and does not require the same depth of analysis. As a broad estimate, The cost for black-box pentesting might range from €5,000 to €15,000 while the cost for white-box pentesting could be higher, possibly starting at around €10,000 and can go up to €50,000 or more if it is conducted under some certification schemes such as the Common Criteria. Remember, these are rough estimates and actual costs can vary based on a multitude of factors. Always request a quote from a reputable cybersecurity lab for the most accurate pricing. Moreover, it's important to consider that the cost of not performing adequate penetration testing can be much higher, as a single security breach can result in significant financial and reputational damage.
In conclusion, penetration testing is an essential component of an organization's cybersecurity strategy. By identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in systems, applications, and networks, organizations can take proactive steps to protect their digital assets. If you want to learn more about how penetration testing can benefit your organization, get in touch with specialized experts for more information on our services.