According to IT Governance stats, as of April 2024, over 5.3B data records have been compromised in more than 650 publicly disclosed cybersecurity incidents. So, for businesses, the question is not if but rather when a cyberattack will occur. Penetration testing is the key to staying ahead of these threats and addressing your vulnerabilities before cybercriminals exploit them. 

Penetration testing or ethical hacking simulates real-world attacks on your systems to identify and fix security weaknesses. While essential, conducting these tests in-house can be challenging due to the lack of specialized skills and resources. That's why many enterprises outsource penetration testing to leverage the specialized expertise of cybersecurity services providers.

This article explores how delegating your pen testing to external teams benefits your business, outlines steps for finding a reliable penetration testing vendor, and provides tips on how to avoid common pen testing outsourcing risks. Let's dive in!

Key benefits of outsourcing penetration testing

Outsourcing penetration testing can bring several strategic advantages to an organization, enhancing its cybersecurity posture while optimizing resource allocation. Let's overview the main benefits you get with delegating penetration testing to a pen testing vendor:

Benefits of outsourcing penetration testing

Access to specialized expertise

One of the main reasons why businesses outsource penetration testing is to gain access to specialized expertise that may not be available in-house. According to the Core Security research, 36% of surveyed organizations don't have in-house penetration testing teams due to a lack of talent with the required skill sets. Outsourcing allows companies to leverage the skills of dedicated professionals who focus on cybersecurity solely and monitor the latest threats and mitigation techniques.


Maintaining an in-house cybersecurity team can be expensive, not only in terms of hiring and training staff but also in purchasing, updating, and managing sophisticated tools and systems. In addition, sustaining a pen testing team during periods of low demand is an ineffective allocation of your resources. As mentioned in the Core Security research, 38% of surveyed companies reported conducting penetration testing only once or twice a year. When enterprises outsource penetration testing, they can ramp their cybersecurity efforts up or down based on their current needs and, as a result, manage costs more effectively.

Use of advanced tools and technologies

You can effectively leverage more sophisticated and advanced tools when outsourcing penetration testing. Since focused cybersecurity vendors invest heavily in the latest cybersecurity software, you can be sure that your cybersecurity measures will always be up-to-date. In addition, outsourcing allows businesses to access the latest tools without direct investment, which can lead to considerable cost savings.

Focus on core competencies

Another significant advantage of outsourcing pen testing is the ability of in-house IT teams to focus on their core responsibilities. By delegating security testing to external experts, the company can concentrate internal resources on primary business operations and strategic initiatives—whether that be implementing new products, upgrading services, or expanding into new markets.

Objective perspective

By choosing outsourcing, you ensure that penetration testing experts will evaluate an organization's security posture with no bias. External specialists are not invested in the company's security measures, so they can offer a fresh and objective perspective on potential vulnerabilities.

Reasons why organizations utilize third-party penetration testing

How do you choose a reliable vendor to outsource penetration testing?

Selecting a reliable company to deploy a successful pen testing strategy for your organization is challenging. As of May 2024, Clutch lists around 8,460 tech vendors that provide comprehensive cybersecurity services. Here are essential steps that will help you choose the right partner:

1. Outline your needs and requirements

The first step is to define the goals of penetration testing—this will lay the foundation for successful cooperation with a vendor. Are you conducting it to comply with specific regulations, such as GDPR or PCI DSS? Or is your goal to enhance overall security before a major product launch? Setting clear objectives will shape the testing process and help you communicate your needs to the vendor. Another vital thing to identify is the scope of the penetration testing by deciding, which parts of your network, applications, or systems should be checked. That way, you can ensure that all critical areas will be covered and that resources will be efficiently allocated.

2. Select midsize or large vendor

When choosing a company to outsource penetration testing, consider large and midsize enterprises. Tech companies with more than 250 experts on board usually have access to a larger number of workforce, which ensures prompt project launch. At the same time, smaller companies usually have limited resources for finding the right talent quickly.

Related: Top 15 cybersecurity assessment companies

3. Evaluate the expertise of your potential partner

Before initiating a partnership, it's important to evaluate your potential penetration testing vendor's technological capabilities and skill set. Opt for tech companies that demonstrate proficiency in pen testing across various technologies and platforms, such as web applications, mobile applications, network infrastructure, cloud environments, and IoT devices. Moreover, ensure they use advanced tools and methodologies and can adapt their testing procedures to your organization's specific needs and risk profile.

4. Assess compliance with relevant standards and regulations

It's essential to check whether your penetration testing partner adheres to necessary regulatory and security standards. To have confidence in their testing processes and data protection policies, ensure your partner complies with recognized certifications and standards such as ISO 27001:20013, ISO/IEC 27701:2019, and others. Additionally, depending on the industry, businesses might require additional compliance with specific regulations such as HIPAA for health information in the US or PCI DSS for secure card transactions.

Security-related compliances that distinguish a reliable vendor

5. Check the provider's portfolio

Before cooperating with a tech vendor to outsource penetration testing, thoroughly review their portfolio of security projects. Use GoodFirms, Clutch, and other ranking platforms for objective client reviews and insights about the company's service quality. Additionally, we recommend reading success stories on the vendor's website and viewing client testimonials to understand their track record and customer satisfaction better. It would be a huge plus if they have proven experience in conducting penetration testing for your or related industry.

6. Consider the vendor's way of communication and reporting

Last but not least, prioritize vendors with solid communication practices and reporting capabilities. This is crucial for ensuring transparency throughout the penetration testing process and for effective management of security risks. Your tech vendor should provide regular updates and deliver clear, detailed reports that not only list vulnerabilities but also offer actionable recommendations and risk assessments. 

Outsourcing penetration testing: Challenges and tips

Before partnering with a third-party penetration testing vendor, it is crucial to consider potential challenges. To ensure your pen testing initiatives are risk-free, N-iX cybersecurity experts outlined the most common pitfalls and provided ways of mitigating them:

Scope and coverage limitations

A narrowly defined penetration testing scope might result in missed opportunities to enhance the company's security. This can increase the risk of successful cyber attacks in the long run, as not all potential threat vectors are examined and addressed.

N-iX's tip: To mitigate this risk, define the scope of work in your contracts in detail. Include all critical assets, from physical servers and networking equipment to applications and databases.

Lack of remediation activities after penetration testing

What if your vulnerabilities are known but remain unpatched? This is another common worry of businesses that outsource penetration testing. Often, the focus of penetration testing is solely on identifying security weaknesses without a corresponding plan or commitment to address these issues effectively. 

N-iX's tip: Prioritize penetration testing providers that provide comprehensive cybersecurity services, including advisory on how to fix identified vulnerabilities and prevent them in the future. At N-iX, we capitalize on maintenance, conducting vulnerability management after we run pen tests, as well as conduct regular training for your engineering teams.

Legal and compliance risks

In most cases, penetration testing presupposes access to sensitive or protected systems and data. Therefore, failing to meet legal and compliance obligations while outsourcing penetration testing can lead to severe consequences for businesses, including financial penalties and reputational damage. 

N-iX's tip: To prevent such scenarios, make sure that your outsourcing vendor adheres to all relevant regulations, including, such as ISO/IEC 27001 standards for information security management systems as well as industry-specific regulations for your domain.

Why should you partner with N-iX to outsource your pen testing?

Safeguarding your business is our top priority at N-iX. We provide comprehensive cybersecurity services, including but not limited to penetration testing. Our expertise in the field also spans cybersecurity consulting, application security services, governance and compliance support, as well as establishing a Security Operations Center, and is backed up by 21 years of industry experience. 

To keep your assets safe, we apply industry best practices to simulate hacker attacks utilizing advanced pen testing tools for mobile and web applications. Our cybersecurity experts are well-versed in internal and external network penetration testing, incident response, Red vs Blue team evaluations, SOC operations, and employee vulnerability assessments.

In addition, N-iX supports organizations in meeting regulatory compliance requirements, especially in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, banking, and finance. With certifications including PCI DSS, FSQS, CyberGRX, ISO 9001:2008, ISO 27001, and ISO/IEC 27701:2019, we ensure adherence to cybersecurity policies and standards.

If you're seeking a dependable tech partner for penetration testing, N-iX is the perfect choice for you. Reach out to us to discuss how we can enhance your security posture and protect your valuable assets!

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N-iX Staff
Andriy Varusha
Head of Cloud & Security

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