How to Get the Absolute Most from Your Cybersecurity Budget
Modern organisations are spending more on cybersecurity than ever. A recent report from Gartner predicts that global spending will reach more than $129 billion AUD by the end of 2018—an eight percent increase from 2017.
And this is a good thing considering that a total of 47,000 cyber incidents had been identified in Australia in 2017, which was up by 15 percent from 2016. Never before has it been more important to shield your company from cyber threats.
But at the end of the day, you only have a finite cybersecurity budget. Therefore, it’s crucial to allocate resources effectively and spend your money wisely. This is true for businesses of all size—especially for SMBs.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to get the absolute most from your cybersecurity budget so that the money you invest goes the furthest.
Where Are Other Companies Spending Their Money?
Benchmarking can be an extremely helpful way to begin. Knowing where other companies are spending their money can offer insights into which aspects of cybersecurity are most important.
Fortunately, the SANS Institute released a report on IT Security Spending Trends that specifically states how organisations are spending their budget.
Here’s how it breaks down in terms of the percentage of companies that are spending on each technology:
While this doesn’t mean that spending on these exact technologies is right for every company, it does suggest the order of importance for organisations on average. In turn, this can serve as a nice starting point when deciding which elements of cybersecurity most deserve your attention.
Spending and Effectiveness
Another thing the SANS Institute looked at was how satisfied organisations were with their spending. From their research, they identified the top 10 “big wins” where organisations felt that their investments had really paid off.
Here’s how that broke down:
By analysing this data, there are two types of cybersecurity technology that appear to be most important across the board:
- Access and Authentication
- Advanced malware protection.
Not only are companies spending the bulk of their cybersecurity budget on these technologies, many are reporting them as being big wins and are seeing a very favorable return on investment (ROI).
Therefore, these are likely areas where you’ll want to spend a sizable percentage of your cybersecurity budget.
Besides that, the following these are also likely to result in a favorable ROI:
- Vulnerability management
- Continuous monitoring
- Data protection
- Log management
So these technologies are definitely worth your attention if you’re wondering where to allocate your resources.
Examine Your Current State of Security
At this point, we’ve discussed how organisations are spending their money and which cybersecurity technologies have been the most effective on average. That’s a great starting point, but doesn’t tell the whole story.
What’s important is that you take an in-depth look at the current state of your company’s cybersecurity to determine what must be addressed in order to mitigate your risk. Although you certainly want your security to be comprehensive, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able address every tiny detail. Therefore, you need to prioritise your strategy so that any major vulnerabilities are resolved.
How do you go about this?
For starters, you’ll want to take a look at any prior issues you’ve had in the past. If you’ve had the misfortune of suffering a cyber attack, you can at least use the experience to fortify your defences for the future.
Say for example your company dealt with a data breach that was the result of a malicious insider. In this case, your primary goal might be to implement more sophisticated access and authentication controls to keep non-intended individuals from accessing sensitive data.
Next, take a look at your most critical vulnerabilities. Are you seeing the same issues pop up again and again when scanning your network? Are you getting the same type of alerts?
These are warnings that one or more areas of your cybersecurity is lacking, which means you’ll want to make it a top priority.
Finally, it’s wise to have a professional service provider perform a risk assessment in order to get a better idea of what your current state of security is like. This will help you better understand your current system/environment and pinpoint critical risks through analysis of the data collected.
Risk Assessment is executed using a combination of techniques, which include:
- A design and architecture review
- Assessing current digital and physical protection
- Penetration testing
- Reviewing the cybersecurity policies of third-parties (e.g. vendors and hosting providers)
An added advantage is that an expert can help you identify which particular products are most relevant for your needs and offer advice on new technologies that can help enhance security.
Examine the ROI of Prior Investments
It’s also helpful to take a look at how successful (or unsuccessful) current or previous expenditures have been.
Maybe you spent a good chunk of money on an advanced network traffic visibility tool and it worked out beautifully. It allowed you to proactively detect threats and keep your entire network safer. The ROI should justify your spending.
On the other hand, maybe you invested in a mobile device management solution to keep track of and secure your staff’s mobile devices but found that it was overkill and didn’t result in the ROI you were looking for.
Whatever the case may be, take note of the success and failure of these technologies because this too should provide you with insight into where your cybersecurity budget will be best spent.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Just as it’s important to know what to spend your money on, it’s equally as important to know what not to spend it on. Often, you can reduce expenses by identifying processes that aren’t really critical to your overall cybersecurity infrastructure.
For example, if the ROI of a mobile device management solution was paltry, you would want to consider eliminating it and funneling that money into another technology.
Or maybe you currently have a cybersecurity specialist working in-house whose salary is tying up a lot of your budget. You may want to consider downsizing and outsourcing these tasks to a cybersecurity firm instead. Often this route can achieve the same or even better results but at a fraction of the cost.
Whatever the case, taking note of your cybersecurity expenses (especially major ones) and measuring their effectiveness should help you pinpoint those that aren’t carrying their weight. From there you can decide which ones to eliminate.
Prioritise Your Spending
By now you know where companies are spending the most money on average and which technologies are netting the biggest returns. You should also have a pretty good idea of which aspects of cybersecurity most demand your attention within your organisation, which investments have paid off in the past and which expenses you could potentially eliminate.
The final step is to synthesize all of this information and set your cybersecurity budget around it.
Maybe after seeing that advanced malware protection ranks number two in spending effectiveness and after personally dealing with ransomware, you’ll come to the conclusion that it’s in your best interest to devote the largest percentage of your budget to preventing malware attacks.
The goal here is think objectively about your situation and use your data to figure out where your money will be best spent. When it’s all said and done, your cybersecurity budget should align with your organisation’s needs and priorities.
This way you’re getting the most bang for your buck and will know for certain that every dollar is being spent wisely on the right areas.
Enhancing Cybersecurity Without Breaking the Bank
Juniper Research predicts that the cost of global cyber crime will be over $2.68 trillion AUD by 2019—nearly four times what it was in 2015. This is largely due to the growing attack surface where consumers’ lives and enterprise records are becoming increasingly digitised.
This is tangible proof that cybersecurity isn’t something you want to skimp on. But if you’re a SMB with limited resources, you’re almost guaranteed to have some budgetary restrictions meaning that you have to pick and choose where to spend your money.
Following the strategy outlined here should help aid in your decision-making process to ensure that you’re adequately protected against common attacks without it costing a fortune. At the same time, you’ll be able to maximise your ROI and make each dollar go further.
Which aspects of cybersecurity do you think are most important in 2018 and beyond? Please share your thoughts: