Penetration Testing for Startups

Ensure your startup’s resilience against cyber threats with ROSCA Technologies. Our expert penetration testing services simulate real-world attacks to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, safeguarding your business from potential breaches.

One of the key challenges faced in this day and age are the growth number, and sophistication, of cyberattacks. As a startup, understanding and properly implementing cybersecurity measures, such as penetration testing, is crucial for the longevity of your business.


What Is Penetration Testing for Startups?

Penetration testing for startups is a way to simulate cyberattacks in a safe and controlled way to preemptively identify weaknesses in your systems. Taking this step allows you to strengthen your organisation’s overall security posture and build your company’s defences before malicious actors can exploit them.

How Prevalent are Cyberattacks for Startups?

While it might be easy to assume that startups are safer from cyberattacks than established companies – due to their smaller clientbase, less established reputation and lower revenues – startups are just as likely to become a victim of cyberattacks. Research from the Identity Theft Resource Centre showed that 58% of cyberattacks in 2022 were targeted at small businesses – with 75% of these victims attacked more than once in the same year.

Not only that, but startups are typically less equipped to handle sophisticated cyber threats. Unlike large corporations, which might have a dedicated budget and resources for cybersecurity, startups and small businesses may have not allowed financially for protection against cyberattacks. However, it is one of the best investments that a startup or small business can make.

Why do Startups Need Penetration Testing?

There are various reasons why startups should consider penetration testing:

Dynamic Environments Give Rise To Vulnerabilities

Startups are known for constant product development and regular updates. While that is great for company progression, it means that they are frequently accumulating vulnerabilities. Delaying pentests in an environment such as this could expose them to greater risk.

Gain Competitive Edge

If you undergo regular pen testing and vulnerability scanning, you help identify any critical vulnerabilities early on. This can help win and retain clients as it positions you as a reliable partner who takes security seriously.

Adhere to Compliance

Undergoing regular penetration testing can help you address vulnerabilities on a frequent basis. This makes your company better prepared for mandatory compliance, minimises the risk of non-compliance fines and mitigates against potential data breaches.

Establish a Culture of Security

 Starting as you mean to go on with cybersecurity is advisable for new businesses. Getting into a habit from the start of regularly identifying and fixing vulnerabilities will help adopt a proactive approach to security. This establishes a more secure foundation for your company which can avoid expensive data breaches in the future.

What Are the Different Types of Penetration Testing Available for Startups?

There are various different types of penetration testing that your startup may benefit from:

Black Box Penetration Testing

Black box pentesting adopts an outside-in approach. This external penetration testing simulates a real-life attack and approaches the system as an external attacker would – with no prior knowledge about the company’s systems.

Using hacking techniques, such as social engineering attempts, brute-force password attacks, SQL injection and vulnerability scanners, black box penetration testing aims to identify and exploit system weaknesses.

White Box Penetration Testing

White box pentesting is considered a form of internal penetration testing. Unlike black box testing, white box penetration testing assumes that the tester already has full access to your systems and simulates an attack from inside the organisation.

For white box testers, they will receive full access to the systems’ architecture, internal documentation, codebase, and network configurations. This allows them to simulate an attack from something trusted within the organisation, enabling a more thorough analysis of your company’s security posture.

Grey Box Penetration Testing

Grey box penetration testing is often the recommended approach for startups. Also known as translucent box testing, grey box pentesting offers a balance between the full visibility approach of the white box and the limited knowledge of the black box. It combines the best of both ways to offer a realistic view of your security posture.

Using mature vulnerability scans, these tests can identify weaknesses, exploit publicly available vulnerabilities, and carry out testing focused on specific functionalities.

This facilitates an in-depth analysis of the organisation’s security posture and helps them address any vulnerabilities earlier on. As a result, they can adopt more secure coding practices and faster remediation cycles.

How Does Penetration Testing Work: Step-by-Step Process for Startups

1) Planning and Reconnaissance

During the planning stage, define the boundaries of the pentest including scope, budget, systems, timelines and the testing methods to be used.

Using this information, our testers can then work to gather information about the target systems both through conversations with the client (depending on the agreed scope) and through publicly available sources.

2) Scanning

At this stage, the penetration testing team uses mature vulnerability scans to identify emerging bugs and existing vulnerabilities including things such as outdated software, weak passwords or misconfigurations within security software.

The testing team then analyses the scan results to make a plan to exploit them.

3) Exploitation and Gaining Access

Using knowledge from the previous step, the tester uses different hacking techniques (such as SQL injections, user manipulation or spoofing) to attempt to exploit the system.

This helps to understand how the target application will respond to various intrusion attempts and allows us to see the persistence, severity and impact of attackers both during and after exploitation.

4) Reporting

Once the pen test is complete, the team creates a comprehensive and detailed report about the vulnerabilities identified, the weaknesses that were exploited and what that could potentially mean for your business.

At this stage, the team also makes remediation recommendations to address the vulnerabilities found.

5) Remediation

Organisations can use the information from the report to address vulnerabilities and, following this, carry out a rescan.

The rescan will check that remediation has been carried out correctly and identify any vulnerabilities that may have arisen during the security patching process.

ROSCA design

What Are the Benefits of Penetration Testing for Early-Stage Startups?

Regardless of the stage in which your startup is, a penetration test is recommendable because of: 

  • – Regulatory compliance: Regular penetration testing helps adhere to legal and compliance standards, including GDPr, HIPAA, ISO 27001, PCI DSS and SOC 2, avoiding potential legal issues or fines
  • – Customer trust: When companies have more secure measures in place – such as appropriate certification, audits or penetration testing reports – customers are more likely to want to use them and stay with them. This can also help them gain a competitive advantage.
  • – Protection against data breaches: Addressing vulnerabilities early on will help startups significantly lower the risk of data breaches, helping to protect sensitive business data both for themselves and their clients.
  • – Supplier and third party requirements: working with third parties or vendors, especially larger corporations with stricter security standards, may require a penetration testing report to demonstrate system security 
  • – Long-term improvement of security posture: Frequent penetration testing helps startups have a more robust and resilient security posture against potential cyberattacks.

What Are Common Vulnerabilities Found in Startups During Penetration Testing?

Common vulnerabilities for startups include the following:

SQL injection: where an attacker uses structured query language (SQL) code to manipulate a database and gain access to company information

Cross-Site scripting (XSS) attacks – where an attacker injects malicious executable scripts into a code – this can sometimes be through a malicious link to a user.

Server security misconfiguration – when server security is misconfigured in software, it gives rise to various different vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.

Phishing – emails or messages supposedly from a recognised company encouraging individuals to reveal personal information. For small companies (1-250 employees), around 1 in 323 emails will be an attempted phishing attack.

How Often Should Your Startup Conduct Penetration Testing?

Regular penetrating testing is imperative for protecting your startup. Experts recommend a minimum of once a year to maintain comprehensive cybersecurity protection.

How Much Should Startups Spend on a Pentest?

The price of a penetration test depends on multiple factors including organisation size, assessment type, scoping, compliance requirements and the company carrying out the test. 

Simple web, application or API penetration tests tend to be cheaper but are far less thorough.

Penetration tests tend to be quoted on a ‘day-rate’ basis ranging between anything from around £800 to £2500 per day.

Get a Quote Today!

At Rosca Technologies, we offer a custom-made quote depending on your startup’s cybersecurity needs to help you secure your business.