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What does a penetration test cost?

Penetration tests, also known as pentests, are an important part of any security strategy and should be performed regularly in companies and institutions to check the IT security status. Most decision-makers and IT experts are well aware of this by now. But how much does a pentest actually cost and why is it always worth investing in this comprehensive IT security audit for every company?

The scope of a penetration test essentially determines its cost. Basically, there are three types of pentests, which differ primarily in terms of the preparation of the respective security check.

Type 1: Whitebox Pentest

In a Whitebox pentest, the commissioning company provides the security experts with all important information about the IT infrastructure in advance and also actively informs its own employees about the upcoming penetration test. In this way, the penetration testers gain system insights, both from the perspective of the possible attackers and from the user’s point of view.

Type 2: Blackbox Pentest

A black box penetration test, on the other hand, has a much lower depth of information. Our pentesters do not receive any information about the network and IT of the company to be tested. Only the desired goal of the penetration test is specified by the client. In this case, the effort for our IT security experts is correspondingly more extensive and time-consuming, as they have to research and gather all the necessary information for the pentest themselves in the first place. The advantage of this procedure, however, is that many hackers proceed in the same way, as they are naturally not provided with any information by the company either. Blackbox pentests are therefore very close to the attacker’s approach and are usually preferred by commissioning companies. However, the costs for this realistic hacker simulation are also somewhat higher than for whitebox pentesting due to the time involved.

Type 3: Grey Box Pentest

Last but not least, there is also the possibility to choose a combination of whitebox and blackbox penetration testing: This is called a greybox pentest which uses procedures from both variants. With this method, our IT security specialists receive only fragmentary information about the company’s system landscape and must acquire all other relevant data themselves. Only in one of the next steps will they be provided with detailed information about the IT infrastructure. The grey box pentesting procedure is considered to be a particularly realistic and efficient approach and comes closest to an actual cyber attack. However, as the most extensive type of pentest in terms of time, companies must also expect higher costs here than with a white box or black box penetration test.

Conclusion – These are the costs you have to expect

In summary: Pentests are cheaper than you think and are very flexible in their scope. The cost of a penetration test depends to a large extent on the type of pentest selected – and thus primarily on the time required to perform it. The following general principle should be taken into account: The more time-consuming the procedure and the more complex the system landscape of the company placing the order, the higher will be the costs for the pentest in the end. After all, you should reckon with a range of €2,000 to €20,000.

Clearly, performing regular, professional security checks in the form of penetration tests is absolutely worth it – because a potential cyberattack would be significantly more expensive! However, every company is also unique in terms of its IT infrastructure and requires different approaches. Therefore, it is important that pentests are also modularly tailored to the respective company. In this way, potential dangers are identified and eliminated in good time and the IT security of each company is strengthened from the very bottom.

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