As advanced cybersecurity threats become commonplace, organizations from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies must take a critical look at security budgeting. The Wall Street Journal reports that the national average cybersecurity budgetincreased by 6%from 2022 to 2023. Since a single cyberattack can cost a company billions of dollars and damage consumer trust, a large security budget is a necessity in the modern business sphere.
However, as with any budget, the raw number is only a small part of the equation. Strategically allocating a security budget is equally important. Each organization has unique security needs and risks, so a budget plan should never be one-size-fits-all. Here’s how to get started.
The budget for an organization’s cybersecurity involves more than simply spending on new security technology. Effective cybersecurity involves constant monitoring, data gathering and strategizing. Applying for cybersecurity certification from a third-party organization is another large yet important use of a company’s cybersecurity funds.
There is no one solid number recommended across all businesses, or even ranges for small, medium, large and enterprise businesses. This is because each organization has its own cybersecurity needs and vulnerabilities.
Gathering hard data can help determine and secure a sufficient security budget for the coming year. Cybersecurity heads should have the numerical chances of a breach and the costs of a breach ready during budget request meetings. They should also prepared to prove how last year’s interventions affected the company overall. Data is key to all aspects of effective cybersecurity.
After you have a set amount of funds for cybersecurity, where should allocation begin? This is a trick question: Strategy and analysis must come first.
The Harvard Business Review compares a cybersecurity program to adoctor treating a patient, with the patient being the company. A good doctor would never simply prescribe the most statistically effective medical treatments without examining the patient. Therefore, start your own diagnosis of the company’s weaknesses before beginning a cybersecurity budget breakdown.
Start by identifying the most high-value assets the company must secure. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has alist of critical softwareto use as a starting point. The most high-value targets for cybercriminals include:
Ensure your cybersecurity budget protects high-value assets first before spreading out to less valuable targets and systems.
Any device that can access company software is a potential attack surface, or entry point, for cybercriminals. The number of attack surfaces to secure varies by organization. Mobile phones, company laptops, desktop computers and external hard drives are all examples of attack surfaces.
If your company uses third-party apps or vendors, their attack surfaces are also potential sites of a data breach. A cybersecurity plan must evaluate and address the risks of each entry point, includingrisks from third parties.
Cyberattacks on large corporations usually make headline news, but small businesses are frequent targets of cybercrime as well. Small, medium, large and enterprise businesses have slightly different risks, though some types of cyberattacks, such as ransomware, affect all businesses equally.
Small and medium businesses that are not connected to a large cloud service provider risk cybercriminals circumventing password controls and logins entirely. They must test and ensure that their business software is secure or consider cloud migration to a more advanced platform.
Businesses using Microsoft 365 or other reliable cloud platforms should focus more heavily on user protection and employee training. Cybercriminals attack these systems by phishing for login information with convincing-seeming fake links and business applications. Large businesses must also monitor for threats within the organization, which isn’t as much of a risk to smaller and more tight-knit businesses.
Priority assets, risks and attack surfaces differ across businesses. However, all cybersecurity budget plans should cover these key components.
Strategies that address risks are the bread and butter of a security plan. These can include moving data to a more secure server or cloud. They should also include employee training at all levels, including executives, to spot phishing scams. Investing in third-party security software also falls under direct intervention.
Be sure that each intervention corresponds to one of the specific risks outlined in the planning stages. Prioritize high-value assets.
Cybersecurity interventions are not useful without monitoring and evaluation tools in place to test their effectiveness. Ensure that every intervention receives a robust evaluation program to complement it. For example, regularly test the effectiveness of employee phishing training by sending out your own fake phishing link and monitoring how employees respond.
A thorough cybersecurity program requires round-the-clock monitoring. This is too large a task for a human IT department. Automation is a key way to boost cyber defenses.
Both front-line defenses and monitoring and evaluation can be automated, saving tech employees’ time and effort for emergencies and non-security functions. Though this strategy requires more of an investment upfront, a strongcybersecurity automation programcan pay for itself in future budget years.
AchievingISO 27001or similar certifications proves to shareholders, consumers and partners that a business has a robust security plan. Pursuing a certification can also help create and refine a cybersecurity strategy, as it requires you to put together materials and evaluate your business’s specific risks. After the plan is complete, an independent auditor can catch any oversights that make it through the cracks.
Creating, implementing, and evaluating a cybersecurity plan is important for businesses of all sizes, especially businesses that store sensitive financial or medical information. Compyl software can automate key cybersecurity tasks, arrange all data in one platform and save money in a cybersecurity budget.Request a demoto learn more about our cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions.