Budgeting is a crucial component of financial planning for companies in all industries, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Most businesses recognize that the sophistication and severity of cybersecurity threats have continued to increase throughout the years and are looking ahead at how these advancements will impact their cybersecurity budget.
While some organizations attempt to follow an industry-standard percentage, like all things in the security world, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Without a risk-based approach to your cybersecurity budget, your company will always run the risk of under or overspending. While you certainly don’t want to leave your business vulnerable, it’s just as important as we say, to avoid purchasing a $1,000 safe to protect a $100 bill.
To combat some of the confusion, and help businesses craft a well-tailored cybersecurity budget, we got to work creating a list of critical considerations to guide you. While the needs of every company will vary, this list will provide you with a solid starting point to work from.
1. Know What You Have
In terms of cybersecurity budget, taking an inventory of your network is one of the best places to start. It’s incredibly costly and difficult to defend assets (physical, virtual, SaaS, sensitive data, etc.) that the security program does not know about, so eliminating this confusion and understanding the scope of what your company is responsible for is paramount.
Prioritize projects that use a combination of line of business domain knowledge with effective tools that provide critical visibility. This visibility will have a force-multiplying effect throughout the organization. Not only will it increase security, but it will reduce costs through the removal of unnecessary duplicate resources and the likelihood of unbudgeted surprises as well.
Remember: You can’t secure what you don’t know you have, and organizations can’t effectively manage what they are unable to measure.
2. Determine Your Level of Risk
Be sure to have regularly occurring risk assessments done so that you are aware of your company’s level of risk. We recommend having an assessment done at least once per year so that you are always aware of where your security program stands and the progress you have made as well.
Showing improvement over time because of your security investments is a great way to help justify your cybersecurity budget, and having a regular assessment cadence will limit the number of surprises when it comes to both cost and risks.
Also Consider: vCISO Services
While vCISO services are commonly used to supplement security expertise in the organization, they can also be a great tool to qualitatively demonstrate progress and help your organization remain on track throughout the year. Consider investing in a virtual CISO to help keep your objectives and cybersecurity budget on pace from beginning to end.
3. Staff Awareness Training
Investing in staff security knowledge beyond standard security awareness training is crucial to gaining support and legitimization from departments outside of IT. Ensure specific roles receive focused security education tailored to their level of risk and responsibility.
Awareness training also reduces your organization’s risk of a serious incident, potentially allowing you to avoid leaning on insurance companies or outside consultancies so that your team can focus its budget on improving security posture rather than recovering from incidents. Keeping your staff educated and formalizing the processes and procedures which require advanced skills are important considerations for any cybersecurity budget.
4. Implementing Zero Trust Architecture
Zero trust, as a policy, is another one of those critical items that should be at the top of your cybersecurity budget. Implementing a zero-trust architecture (e.g., NIST SP 800-207) with an exceptional user experience not only decreases the likelihood of an incident but increases confidence and the ability to improve an organization’s overall security posture. This is especially important for business models that have implemented an ongoing work-from-home infrastructure and those that are using cloud service providers as well.
Almost all companies can benefit from a zero-trust protocol, but it will be especially impactful for those that need high levels of agility and flexibility while remaining secure and compliant.
5. Incident Response
Don’t forget to make room for incident response in your cybersecurity budget! Ensure that insurance policies provide the expected coverage and support necessary based on the level of risk outlined by your latest risk assessments.
Incident response typically evokes thoughts of major data breaches, but organizations should also consider the resources they have to handle less serious incidents. Incident response retainers can provide valuable support, and incident response teams are in high demand. The worst time to plan for an incident is during one.
Certain providers’ incident response hours expire after one year, however, there are some programs that provide the option to convert unused hours into other services so that the organization still receives value for the expense even if an incident never takes place. This is an excellent way to justify the cost of incident response services in your cybersecurity budget.
Protecting the information and people impacted by it is the goal for any IT or security team, but it can be difficult to determine exactly what costs need to be accounted for. Creating a risk-based cybersecurity budget helps to anticipate expenditure and provide a structured plan to remediate any existing holes in a business’s security posture.
It is our hope that this guide can serve as a jumping-off point to help with creating a realistic budget, and verify that your company is taking its most critical needs into consideration.