Cybersecurity budgeting: Choosing the best security solutions for your business

No matter what type of business you run, your networks and data are always at risk of being targeted in a cyber attack. This makes robust cybersecurity a necessity, and attempting to cut these costs can result in far greater losses down the line. The good news is effective cybersecurity doesn’t have to break the bank.


If you are planning to implement DIY cybersecurity for your business, it’s possible to make smart investments based on your threat landscape, risk tolerance, and existing resources — but it requires prioritization and commitment. In this article, we’ll outline six steps for determining the best cybersecurity solutions for your business.



1. Understand your threat landscape

Before investing in any cybersecurity measures, it’s essential to understand the threats your business faces. Armed with this knowledge, you can target your specific risk factors and budget more effectively. Start by seeking out threat intelligence reports like Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report to discover which risks are most relevant to your industry.


Your threat landscape will vary depending on the type of information you process, the industry and environment in which you operate, the size of your company, and the extent of your exposure. Impacting all these variables will be your level of preparedness and ‘cyber hygiene’. 


At this point many organizations have a cybersecurity assessment performed by an MSP or MSSP.  With a clear understanding of your risk profile, you can begin to investigate the best cybersecurity solutions for your company’s specific needs.



2. Establish your risk tolerance

One of the greatest challenges that IT departments face when proposing cybersecurity solutions is a lack of understanding from management. Those in charge of allocating the budget often fail to grasp the severity of the risk the company faces. More often than not, cybersecurity budgets are increased only after a breach has occurred. Clearly, a more proactive approach will end up costing far less in the long term. 


For this reason, it’s important to present a clear and concise image of potential cybersecurity threats and the outcomes they could have on your organization, such as noncompliance penalties, reputational damage, or debilitating downtime. With this information, your company can better decide which risks are not severe enough to warrant the cost, and which risks are too severe to be tolerated. 


While some organizations choose to spend heavily on cybersecurity in an attempt to differentiate themselves from competitors, others that deal with less sensitive information often prefer to strike a balance between risk and spending. 


Unless your budget is unlimited, there will always be certain departments or data stores that take precedence over less critical areas. By determining your risk tolerance, you can prioritize the most impactful cybersecurity measures, rather than pouring time and money into solutions based on immediate needs or previous practices.



3. Don’t assume being compliant covers everything

Although cybersecurity frameworks and industry-specific regulations — such as HIPAA for healthcare services and CMMC for DoD contractors — are designed to ensure uniform protocols, adhering to them does not always negate the need for further security measures. Although they should form a significant part of your cybersecurity plan, your strategy should be to create a robust solution that covers your compliance obligations and your specific risk factors. 


If you’re unsure how to adapt your existing solutions to evolving compliance demands, you should seek the advice of a cybersecurity firm or consider outsourcing compliance management to an expert.



4. Big budgets don’t always mean better security

As we saw above, implementing a singular, all-encompassing cybersecurity solution is not always the most cost-effective approach. This was also the conclusion of research by McKinsey & Company, which highlights a disparity between security expenditure and the level of cybersecurity protection in different industries.


The study shows that high-risk businesses with big budgets, such as those in the banking sector, tend to spend large amounts to achieve only average or subpar security. Those in the healthcare sector, meanwhile, were found to achieve excellent protection on relatively lower budgets. This demonstrates that investing in cybersecurity without tailoring it to your specific needs is often a false economy.


Again, understanding your unique threat landscape and risk tolerance can help you avoid wasting resources on a low-risk area that could be better utilized to secure more sensitive data. Another cost saving measure is to evaluate how you can leverage your existing investments wisely to combat the most pertinent threats you face.


Most importantly, you should avoid budgeting based on immediate needs. This approach may work in the short-term, but eventually, it could leave your organization exposed to an unaccounted for threat or need.




5. Make staff training a priority

As we’ve discovered, budgetary constraints don’t necessarily have to leave you at risk. Relatively low-cost exercises like employee security awareness training can have a far greater impact than implementing expensive technologies. Some of the most costly and common cyberattacks result from unsophisticated phishing emails targeting employees — a threat that can easily be mitigated with proper cybersecurity training. 


Training should be ongoing and regularly updated to include new developments and threats. Constant reinforcement ensures that employees maintain a feeling of responsibility and vigilance regarding cybersecurity. Staff should also be educated on the time-critical nature of incident reporting.



6. Consider outsourcing

When evaluating the best cybersecurity solution for your business, the question of outsourcing will always arise. Putting the security of your sensitive company data into the hands of a third-party can seem unappealing to some businesses at first. However, outsourcing your cybersecurity is often the best choice, especially if you lack an in-house security team. 


Experienced MSPs have a deep understanding of the evolving threat landscape, cybersecurity best practices, and shifting compliance requirements for a broad range of industries. Not only will they be able to quickly assess vulnerabilities in your network, they will also have a much better understanding of the types of threats your business will attract.


Compared to hiring and training a full-time cybersecurity team, outsourcing to an MSP can also deliver significant cost savings. As an IT partner, they will work with you to determine the most effective security solutions for your business and create a predictable budget that takes your threat landscape and risk tolerance into account.

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