If you use the internet to do business, you need cybersecurity. Keeping your organization secure is an expense that you may not have noticed when your needs were simple. Today, however, you need more than a firewall and a few filters to protect your people and data from cyber criminals. Not only do you need a more robust security strategy but the costs to build and maintain your defenses have gone up.
In this article we explore:
- What drives cybersecurity costs?
- Is there a way to control security costs?
- How do you know if what you’re paying for is really lowering your risk?
Cybersecurity Cost Drivers
The three main inputs for cybersecurity costs are software, hardware, and staff.
The software tools that are used to protect, detect, and respond to cyber intruders have evolved as cyber criminal tactics have evolved. Antivirus and anti-malware used to be the mainstay tools to stop intruders, but they only recognize known threats. These days, you need tools that use Artificial Intelligence to be effective against previously unknown threats. They’re not cheap and every tool that’s added to your arsenal has a cost.
In addition to adding more tools to your security tactics, some of the software that you’ve traditionally utilized is more expensive because of added features. You can end up paying for more than you need if your IT staff don’t know how to use all of the features, or if they overlap with the capabilities of other software tools you’re using.
Your network probably looks different today than it did five or even three years ago now that you’re using more web apps, and have more remote workers and connected devices. Chances are good you still need a firewall and these devices have increased in price. Like software, modern firewalls have more features which are only going to help you if your IT staff know how to configure and manage them.
Whatever equipment you’re talking about, it’s important to make sure that everything is up to date. Modern hardware will handle modern software a lot better than old hardware will. That means that you need to maintain a refresh schedule that cycles in new equipment before performance begins to decline.
We can’t talk about hardware pertaining to security without including data backup and recovery devices. As with any hardware these days, inflation and supply chain issues are pushing up prices.
You might wonder about your staffing needs if so many of your security tactics are software tools. But every tool needs to be managed, starting with setting them up correctly. Every tool sends out alerts that need eyes on them to determine is action is needed and from time to time, tweaks are needed to optimize security operations.
Recruiting for cybersecurity professionals is very competitive because there’s a global workforce shortage going on in the industry. According to a 2022 study by (ISC)2, a cybersecurity professional organization, the workforce gap has grown more than twice as much as the workforce has grown. With a high demand, low supply situation like that, salaries have risen and will continue to rise especially for professionals with advanced skills and experience.
How to Control Security Costs
What can you do to control costs in a climate where software, hardware, and staffing costs are all going up? We have some ideas for you.
Get Strategic Security Guidance
You can’t cobble together a bunch of tools and think that you’ve built a solid cyber defense. Each tactic should be selected by the part it plays in your overall cybersecurity strategy. Most companies need outside guidance to do this, and strategy isn’t just for choosing security tools. It’s for helping you to assess exactly what it is you’re protecting so you can better evaluate your risk.
Speaking of risk, cyber insurance fits into any modern cybersecurity strategy and you may be paying too much if you don’t have the right policy. Additionally, there’s a balance between your security strategy and your ability to get the best rates on cyber insurance because a weak strategy means more risk and higher premiums (if you can qualify at all).
Manage Your Data
It’s easy to keep adding server space for the increasing amount of data that your company generates, gathers, and stores. You’ll save costs on security – as well as storage and backup – if you don’t keep more data than you really need. When it comes to compliance, you may be able to segment controlled data to minimize the costs to meet requirements.
Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Report found that 85% of data breaches involved a human element. The way to decrease the chance that your people will do something to let an intruder into your network is to have ongoing cybersecurity awareness training and phishing simulations. The cost for this kind of training is minimal but the benefits are enormous if it prevents even one data breach from happening.
Does Your Cybersecurity Strategy Reduce Your Risk?
Wouldn’t you like to know that the resources you’re devoting to cybersecurity are actually lowering your risk? Look to the industry that’s focused on risk - insurance - for your answer. If you’ve ever completed a cyber insurance application and you’ve seen what kind of security posture they’re looking for, you’ll have a good measuring stick with which to compare your security strategy.
While meeting compliance requirements is just a portion of security, successful compliance can be another indicator of your ability to manage risk. The thoroughness of the process that you went through to assess your risks and the level of risk you can live with, could also be an indicator of the effectiveness of your strategy.
When it comes to cybersecurity awareness training, you can gather metrics that show you which employees are the most susceptible to social engineering and how they improve their responses. While people still may make mistakes, as employees become more knowledgeable about what to look for and how to respond to social engineering ploys, they’ll exercise better judgment and that translates into reduced risk.
The Cost of NOT Having Effective Cybersecurity
Part of the conversation around the costs of cybersecurity includes what it would cost if you didn’t have an effective security strategy. Think of that cobbled-together scenario mentioned when we talked about software tools. You can spend a lot of money on that and in the end, it won’t do what you need it to do.
If you have a data breach, you’ll feel it because it will show as:
- Remediation and cleanup costs
- Paying a ransom
- Legal fees and penalties
- Damaged reputation
All of these impacts of a cyber attack can affect your ability to keep your business going. Clearly, if there’s going to be a cost, it’s better to pay for prevention than to succumb to a full-blown data breach event.
Are You Asking the Right Question?
When you’re wondering if you’re paying too much for cybersecurity, a better question might be to ask – Do we have the right cybersecurity strategy? When the strategy is right, you can manage cyber risks and the money you’re spending provides value not just for protection but business sustainability.
Up Your Game with DEFEND Managed Security
At XPERTECHS, we work with clients to establish a security strategy that meets their risk level and special needs such as compliance. If you’re not confident in your security stature or you’re just curious about what DEFEND Managed Security would look like for you, we’d love to have a conversation.