Take a closer look at your risks and how your tools stack up
How are you approaching your 2021 cyber security budget?
It’s a big question for Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) and infosec teams, made all the more urgent by the rate at which cyber attackers are ramping up their efforts. The threat landscape is changing at a rapid pace, and companies everywhere are assessing their current and future needs as they try to address these new risks and challenges.
As tempting as it might be to use every tool you can get your hands on to build an impenetrable fortress around your IT network and infrastructure, the reality is that it’s simply becoming harder to do.
Despite the widespread adoption of remote work and dramatic spending on tools and technologies to support it, nearly 68% of cyber security budgets have decreased or stayed the same, even as threats continue to evolve.
It’s more important than ever before to prioritize your cyber security budget, focusing on the threats that matter to you and your network while establishing effective, efficient security that makes the most of your budget.
There’s good news, though. By focusing on how your cyber security stack addresses risks and critically assessing each tool you use, you can start prioritizing your cyber security budget and create a more effective security program — all while saving a few dollars.
Here’s what you need to know about prioritizing your cyber security budget in 2021.
Assess your cyber security risk
The first step in prioritizing your cyber security budget should be assessing the cyber security risks you face and the tools and technologies you’re currently using to mitigate them.
In the past, we’ve discussed the process of building cyber situational awareness (CSA) — the combined knowledge of your systems, the threats targeting them, and how to respond to those threats. CSA can help you identify immediate risks and help you mitigate them.
But beyond the threats you face, there are other serious things to consider. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework explicitly states that cyber security risk affects a company’s bottom line and should be considered a vital component of overall risk management.
As a result, any cyber security budget investment needs to deliver return on investment (ROI) in the form of measurable reductions to this.
One report by Deloitte stressed the importance of implementing cyber risk assessments as part of a greater enterprise risk management activity. These assessments can inform IT spending, but to manage your budget effectively, taking a closer look at the tools you’re using in your tech stack is key.
Assess and prioritize your security tools
Once you know your risks, you can then ask yourself a few critical questions about your cyber security tech stack.
“Does this tool address our risks?”
When you understand the cyber risks facing your organization and the steps you need to take to address them, it’s easier to determine if the defenses you have in place can get the job done.
Assessing the tools and solutions you’re already using, based on the risks you’re facing, is a must. Start by evaluating your existing tech stack and determine how its capabilities are reducing your threat surface. Technologies that don’t fully address key risks should be flagged accordingly.
“Does this tool provide ROI by mitigating these risks?”
When it comes to cyber security budgets, C-suite executives are increasingly concerned with how tools can mitigate risks while aligning with strategic goals that support the business as a whole and deliver ROI.
Compliance requirements are now a major component of earning new business. Potential partners and customers are more concerned with data privacy and protection than ever before. Companies that stay updated on these regulations and track their evolution have a greater opportunity to earn new business.
Those solutions that enable continuous cyber security compliance, either through their alignment with accepted standards and frameworks or through their ability to support (and simplify) auditing processes, can deliver impressive ROI.
What’s more, tools that automate and simplify complex security tasks — freeing up internal resources in the process — can also improve ROI on your security budget.
“Can this tool be replaced or augmented?”
Not all technologies offer comprehensive, end-to-end cyber security capabilities, which leads to organizations building security toolsets that rely on several point solutions. Point solutions focus on a single function, and can perform that function quite well, but in the case of cyber security, it’s simply not enough these days.
One tool may focus exclusively on endpoint defenses, another on network security, and a third solution may aggregate all activity data from both for security team analysis. Integrating and managing point solutions can be challenging, which in turn can create complexity, making it harder to spot the threats that matter. This approach can also be costly for some organizations, as using individual tools to address separate aspects of your security can quickly add up and eat into your budget.
If you can replace point solutions with options that provide greater functionality, you can drastically simplify your tech stack while improving its capabilities. Look for holistic solutions that deliver a complete approach to cyber security — and reduce your IT spend.
Aligning security and business strategies
Ensuring cyber security budgets align with business goals is becoming a priority for leadership teams, and for good reason: cyber security provides the critical foundation to enable organizations to scale and grow successfully.
Effective security can help differentiate your company from the competition, giving customers peace of mind that their information is safe in your hands. Internally, it can put time back in your IT team’s schedule, letting them focus on strategic projects that will support business plans and goals.
Prioritizing your cyber security budget may feel like a challenge, but approach it as an opportunity. Taking this approach to your security can help you cut products that aren’t moving the needle and may help you save some money. What’s more, it’ll help you determine your cyber risk and create the right security program for your business.
It all starts with assessing your risks and toolset. The CISO role is challenging, especially with a threat landscape that never stands still. Sign up for our newsletter for helpful insights about emerging risks, security tips, webinar invites, and much more.