Effective cybersecurity depends on adequate funding. Yet, gaining and maintaining a sufficient cybersecurity budget can seem like you're trying to use a trampoline to jump over the moon.
Cyberthreats are always changing, and the nature of cybersecurity must constantly advance to match the growing threat landscape. Unfortunately, the mindset in the industry fails to match the risk. Instead of taking a proactive response to cybersecurity, company leaders wait to address security needs until after an attack or when budget money is freed up sometime in the unforeseen future. When organizations attempt to minimize spending, cybersecurity often gets pushed aside.
As a result, IT managers face a constant struggle trying to justify cybersecurity spending. When it comes to a cybersecurity budget, most IT professionals are either fighting to get it or fighting to keep the funds they have. Justifying your company's cybersecurity budget is not just an IT priority. It's a critical function that could have a major impact on the future of your organization.
A company with a cybersecurity budget needs to know how to continually justify its value to avoid cuts. An organization without a cybersecurity budget must learn how to sell the value of adequate security funding to the company CEO or the board. Unfortunately, neither is an easy task. Even when you know cybersecurity is necessary, it can be difficult to convey the importance of justifiable funds to decision-makers.
Allocating funds is never easy. However, the right knowledge and strategies can help you pass on your knowledge of the importance of cybersecurity to those in a position to do something about it. This guide describes the importance of cybersecurity, how to explain the relevance of the situation to others, and pitfalls to avoid when trying to gain or maintain an adequate cybersecurity budget.
Why Cybersecurity is Necessary
Every business is a target for cyberthreats. Cybersecurity, like physical security, is essential to keeping your business safe. Yet, even while awareness of the need for cybersecurity is growing, plans are often devised as though the organization will never face an attack. It's not enough to believe that cybersecurity is important. To prove your company's budget needs, you must know why it is critical and have the ability to convey the importance of cybersecurity to company leaders.
The cyberthreat landscape is growing faster than ever before. As organized cybercrime and the availability of illegal products and services grow, companies of all sizes are facing bigger risks. Large organizations and Fortune 500 companies are no longer the most likely targets for cybercrime. The use of botnets means attacks are more likely to be random and opportunity based. If your organization isn't adequately protected, the eventuality of a cyberattack is no longer matter of if, but when. These statistics show the astronomical growth of cybercrime in recent years.
- 85% of breaches involve a human element.
- Businesses experienced 50% more cyberattacks in 2021 than in 2020.
- The average cost of a data breach is 4.24 million (far more than any cybersecurity budget requirements).
- In 2021, 96% of organizations were targeted by an email-related phishing attempt.
- It's estimated that an organization suffered a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021 and is expected that the frequency will increase to every 2 seconds by 2031.
- Cybercrimes are vastly undercounted because they aren't reported. Some estimates suggest as few as 10% of the total number of cybercrimes committed each year are actually reported.
- If it were measured as a country, then cybercrime would be the world's third-largest economy after the US and China.
- Cybercriminals can penetrate 93% of company networks.
- Software supply chain attacks increased by 650% in 2021.
Cybersecurity Trends Shaping 2022
Cybersecurity is a top concern for businesses in 2022. Full-time remote work or hybrid models are likely to become permanent in many industries. The attack surface is growing exponentially. Attacks that result in physical danger and interrupt critical systems have occurred in several locations. Gartner predicts the ever-expanding digital footprint of modern organizations will drive this year's top cybersecurity trends, including:
- Attack Surface Expansion: A vast increase in remote work and the dependence on IoT devices has changed the way organizations work and requires new approaches to security monitoring, detection, and response.
- Identity System Defense: Misuse of credentials is becoming increasingly common for discreet attacks that are hard to recognize. Effective security must have the capability to detect behavior that indicates an attack in progress.
- Digital Supply Chain Risk: Gartner predicts that by 2025, 45% of organizations worldwide will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains. Comprehensive security must have the power to offer an end-to-end solution for all network and software vulnerabilities.
- Vendor Consolidation: Security providers are addressing new threats with consolidated products like extended detection and response (XDR) that accomplish multiple security tasks from a single platform. These products reduce complexity, cut costs, and improve efficiency.
- Cybersecurity Mesh: Security solutions are evolving to create a security perimeter for each network device that is managed from a centralized authority. This allows organizations to provide security to all assets, including that on-premise, in data centers, or in the cloud.
- Distributed Decisions: As more aspects of business become digitalized, the job of overseeing cybersecurity is becoming too big for a centralized CISO role. Assistance from an off-prem SOC will help companies navigate cybersecurity talent shortages.
- Beyond Awareness: Human error continues to be a top contributor to data breaches. Companies must move beyond traditional compliance-based training methods to build programs that promote a security-first culture.
How to Evaluate Your Cybersecurity Needs
There is no set price that will provide adequate cybersecurity for every company. No company is too small or unimportant to be a target for a cyberattack. Yet, all organizations don't need the same level of security. Determining how much you need to spend on your cybersecurity will depend on the size of your company, your employees, and exactly what you need your security efforts to provide.
Learn the Factors that Impact Your Cybersecurity Costs
These factors will determine your cybersecurity costs.
- Size of the Company: Larger companies house more data and have more devices and employees than smaller companies, which offers a bigger attack surface to exploit.
- Types of Data Handled and Stored: Some types of data are protected by federal and state regulations. Security efforts must reflect these requirements.
- Products and Services Used for Cybersecurity: The products and services you use will likely have the most impact on your cybersecurity price tag. Companies with an in-house SOC are likely to require a bigger upfront investment. Some companies depend on multiple or co-managed solutions that require distributed costs.
- Professional Audits: Your cybersecurity tools and methods can be optimized to meet your compliance requirements along with providing essential security benefits. The cost of audits and annual compliance checks should be an important part of your budget.
- Added Services: Companies preparing to meet certification requirements may need temporary services from a cybersecurity provider like readiness assessments and remediation plans.
Determine the Elements You Need for Your Cybersecurity Solution
- Software and Products: Cybersecurity tools and systems for comprehensive network protection include products that provide perimeter defense, protect endpoints and cloud-based apps, and detect suspicious behavior.
- Cybersecurity Professionals: An effective cybersecurity team has security analysts, security engineers, a SOC manager, and a chief information security officer (CISO). These professionals can either be a part of your in-house team that requires a substantial yearly salary or provided as an off-prem solution from your cybersecurity provider.
- Services: Comprehensive cybersecurity to protect against modern threats will likely include vulnerability testing, penetration testing, compliance auditing, security program development, security architecture review, and monitoring services.
5 Tips to Justify Your Cybersecurity Budget
Cybersecurity is an organizational issue not just an IT issue. Cyberattacks are growing in complexity and the related expenses can completely derail even the most successful business. As businesses struggle to recover from pandemic losses and manage business expenses during economic turmoil, many are forced to cut back on unnecessary expenses. IT managers must prove that cybersecurity is not only necessary but crucial to future success.
Your business needs an adequate budget for cybersecurity. Yet, the company can't afford to waste millions on ineffective or unproved cybersecurity efforts. To secure your cybersecurity budget, you must be able to clearly express the dangers of an inadequate security solution and your organization's needs as well as cost-effective solutions that offer the best likelihood of success. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to make this an easy task. When preparing for your budget meeting, these tips can help you clearly justify your cybersecurity budget.
Consider the Previous Year
Whether you have a cybersecurity budget and methods/tools that are working effectively or your cybersecurity efforts can only be called minimal at best, citing occurrences in the previous year can help make your budget request relatable. Consider your company's track record of approving budget requests and increases. Create a proposal that shows the ROI of previous investments, new dangers, and how specific tools can address new threats while offering significant benefits that save money in the long run. If cutting costs have led to increased expenses due to poor security, these mistakes can offer insight into the long-term expense of restricting funding.
Describe the Threat Environment
While high-profile attacks offer gasp-worthy numbers and frightening scenarios, they might not be the most convincing way to justify your organization's need for effective cybersecurity. It's important to describe the threat environment as it relates to your organization and note the risks of not investing. Consider these examples.
- The manufacturing industry experienced a 300% increase in cybercrime in 2020 as compared to 2019.
- Education and Research was the most targeted sector in 2021, with 1,605 weekly attacks.
- 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, but only 14% of small businesses are prepared to respond to an attack.
- 70% of healthcare organizations reported that ransomware attacks have resulted in longer hospital stays and delays in procedures that have resulted in poor outcomes, including an increase in patient mortality.
The goal is to build understanding. These specific concerns may be more relatable to your organization than the dangers associated with the Colonial Pipeline attack or the attack on JBS Foods. In industries where cybersecurity has previously been overlooked, it will likely be important to cite the fines and penalties associated with missing deadlines for new certifications, and the overall cost of a cyberattack.
Outline New Cybersecurity Needs
The cyberthreat landscape is growing continually and recent events have only fueled the expansion. However, many organizations are facing critical budget shortages, and requests for increased cybersecurity funds may go unheard without a convincing justification of need. Consider if any or all of these recent changes affect your organization's cybersecurity needs.
- An Ongoing Cybersecurity Talent Shortage: A recent survey revealed that 87% of security leaders are suffering skills shortages, with over a third saying positions were left unfilled after a 12-week period.
- Burnout: Among professionals currently working in the industry, 51% experienced extreme stress or burnout in 2021, and 65% considered leaving their job because of job stress. Only 33% would recommend such a career to others and the same number would also likely discourage people from entering the industry.
- Growing Cybersecurity Dangers for Small Businesses: Data breaches targeting small businesses jumped 152% globally in 2020 and 2021, while breaches targeting larger businesses only jumped 75% in the same timespan.
- Remote Work: The anticipated workforce model for 2022 and beyond suggests that 24% will remain exclusively remote, 53% will be hybrid, and 23% will have a complete on-site workforce.
- The Growth of Cybercrime as a Service: When potential criminals can purchase products and services to carry out complex attacks without the need for advanced technical skills, the barrier to cybercrime entry is lowered.
- Increased endpoints: The growth of IoT devices creates new vulnerabilities for companies. IoT sensors collect, communicate, analyze, and act on information. However, they don't rely on human intervention to function. Since these devices interact with your company network, they can provide a way for hackers to access customer information or even penetrate manufacturers' back-end systems.
When discussing the impact of these changes, it's important to note specific occurrences that relate to your company. Along with relevant new concerns, it's important to suggest relevant solutions with proven ROI that can be backed by measurable data.
Clarify the Nature of Data to Protect
Your organization has a responsibility to protect certain types of sensitive data. Protection laws can vary from state to state or across different industries. Most organizations must follow regulations for the personal information of customers and employees. Other requirements include intellectual data, government data, research materials, etc.
Data protection methods like backup, protection, storage, and sharing procedures can be perceived as a burden to user productivity and a wasted expense to company leaders. By drawing parallels to the specific data your company uses and the dangers of leaving it unprotected, you can clarify the need for essential funds.
Consider the Human Element of Cybersecurity
Tools and technologies are only part of the cybersecurity puzzle. Without data analysts, engineers, and other cybersecurity professionals, tools won't perform effectively and new threats can't be recognized. Humans in cybersecurity bring experience and knowledge as well as critical thinking needed for effective threat hunting, detection, and incident response. Yet, the cost of employing a full cybersecurity team and the challenges of recruiting make it difficult to maintain a fully staffed team.
If you don't already have cybersecurity experts on your payroll, adding these yearly salaries to your budget will require a massive investment:
- Analyst: $53K-$116K
- Engineer: $73K-$130K
- Director: $105K-$198K
- CISO: $176K-$263K
- CIO: $100K-$263K
For many companies, increasing cybersecurity headcount through managed or co-managed services like MDR is a much more achievable solution. Companies can invest in 24/7 monitoring, detection, and incident response from a full team of experienced cybersecurity professionals at a fraction of the price of an in-house SOC.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Although two-thirds of businesses have suffered some type of cyberattack, many businesses still have a false sense of confidence that they're unlikely to become a target. This overconfidence leads businesses to limit security measures to compliance or other minimal efforts that can leave organizations open to attack. Without carefully defining your company's needs and recognizing solutions that are both cost-conscious and effective, you could fall victim to these pitfalls and lose funding for essential cybersecurity functions.
Industry, state, or federal compliance with certain laws is a requirement for businesses in practically every industry. However, it should not be the defining factor of your cybersecurity plan. Effective cybersecurity is the end-to-end effort used to protect your organization. Compliance should be a by-product of your effective cybersecurity plan. Cybersecurity that is minimalized or dictated by requirements is likely to be ineffective and potentially even cost more than a comprehensive plan that prioritizes security initiatives.
A One-Size Approach
Every organization faces unique risks. Effective protection comes from the recognition of relevant information and where your company's risk lies. Unfortunately, many organizations take a broad spray paint approach to cybersecurity that spreads funds equally across all areas of network security. This approach can lead to overspending in some areas while underinvesting in others. The overall result of such a budgeting approach is a costly budget request with little proof of ROI.
You get what you pay for. This statement is often true. However, when it comes to effective cybersecurity aided by modern technology, what you see might not be what you get. For example, the cost of employing a full in-house SOC might be the most expensive option available. It is an admirable solution that can yield successful results. However, the security professionals in your organization aren't likely to be actively protecting your organization's network 24/7. Similarly, investing in a large collection of cybersecurity tools can backfire when systems don't integrate properly or your IT/security team doesn't have the headcount to manage each tool effectively. By considering the value of cost-effective services that consolidate multiple services into a single solution, you can limit spending and develop a more comprehensive cybersecurity solution.
C-suite professionals and board members are increasingly recognizing the importance of cybersecurity and the impact an attack can have on your business. This recognition means that budget approvals are more likely to be easier to get. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean the company has unlimited funds or the capability to obtain resources that simply aren't available.
There are currently about 435,000 cybersecurity job openings in the US. The unemployment rate in the industry is 0%. Is your organization in the position to recruit top talent in a very competitive industry? For many businesses, the answer is no. In fact, cybersecurity recruitment is so challenging that large corporations recruit cybersecurity professionals that are gainfully employed with higher pay or improved compensation. Pitching a budget plan for resources you can't get could mean losing funds that could be used in different ways for effective cybersecurity.
Skipping the Planning Phase
An ad-hoc budget plan isn't a plan at all. Recognizing the cybersecurity solution you think is best for your organization and comparing costs isn't enough. Whether you have a budget or you need one, you'll need a plan to defend your position. To justify your budget request, you'll need to complete a comprehensive plan that shares the effectiveness of the solutions outlined in the budget. When planning for your budget meeting, take these steps to outline a successful proposal.
- Consider past budget meetings and the way your organization's C-suite leaders react to cybersecurity spending. Prepare for the potential of more stringent measures related to current economic challenges.
- Note new concerns that directly affect the security of your company. For instance, the dangers of remote work are a new and relevant concern in many industries.
- Incorporate ideas that note potential savings and ROI into your budget plan. For example, by outsourcing cybersecurity services, you can free up time for your IT/security team to create and implement employee training programs. Proper education is the first step in eliminating the 85% of attacks that exploit human error.
- Cite specific issues that arose in your organization or industry within the past year that highlight the relevance of your spending requests.
- Be prepared with research-backed metrics that illustrate potential ROI and success stories.
Your Cybersecurity Budget is an Investment Guaranteed to Save Money Over Time
When it comes to cybersecurity expenses, the bottom line is that no attack will cost less than prevention methods. When you can illustrate the dangers of falling victim to an attack and showcase effective solutions with a visible ROI, you're more likely to obtain and maintain the funds you need for a realistic budget.
During uncertain economic times, it's common for organizations to cut costs and decrease spending. With the right approach, your effective cybersecurity budget will illustrate cost savings in the form of ROI and end-to-end protection. When you use these tips to prepare for your budget meeting, security leaders are more likely to approve your request. Cybersecurity is a necessity and a way to help your organization save money over time. Learn more about budgeting for cybersecurity by downloading the BitLyft Cybersecurity Budget Guide.