The Cost of Pen Testing a Web Application

Companies are taking efforts to strengthen information security mechanisms, as cyber threats and attacks become more complex. Penetration testing, or pen testing is an effective approach that can help organizations assess their security architecture. However, pen testing and vulnerability assessment are often mistaken for the other. This paper differentiates pen testing by identifying its unique characteristics, and suggests when and how enterprises should adopt it, and at what cost

Understanding Pen Testing
Vulnerability assessment only identifies known vulnerabilities while pen testing additionally checks for stealth vulnerabilities and seeks to establish a correlation between different low intensity vulnerabilities. As web applications are more susceptible to security breaches, this paper looks at how pen testing can help your organization’s secure it. You may choose to conduct pen testing for regulatory reasons, to manage vulnerabilities better, or to conduct a more thorough and proactive study of your organization’s security landscape, whatever the motivation or complexity level of applications requiring analysis, there is no denying the importance of pen testing to streamline an organization’s security positioning.

Zooming in on the Ideal Pen Test
In a pen test, the tester needs to take on the mantle of a hacker and exploit vulnerabilities. As there is no well-defined industry specification for a standard pen test, this remains an open-ended exercise. However, based on our experience, pen tests can be of three types – advanced: Where all high-impact visible and stealth vulnerabilities are chased and exploited; customized: Where the test is personalized for different business needs, in line with industry policies and standards; and regular: Where the test is conducted to mainly target known vulnerabilities and neutralize them.

The Pen Test Framework
Usually, a factsheet is developed at the beginning of the pen test containing vital asset information. Experts gather information about the application from public sources. This helps prepare the threat landscape and zero in on the attack surface. Inputs are fed into the automated and manual scanning system to modify the attack surface and chase the final vulnerabilities. On successful completion, the final pen testing report is generated. The paper also offers an indicative cost chart for different types of pen testing, helping companies understand drivers that impact the budget.

The Future of Pen Testing
Although pen testing may seem like a cost-heavy exercise, its ability to secure enterprise-wide operations is increasingly making it a necessity, instead of an option. Ideally, sensitive applications should undergo pen testing on a half-yearly basis, to ensure their robust performance. 

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