Office chairs, software, new employees, the company picnic – you name it, your organization has probably budgeted for it. Sometimes, however, critical initiatives aren’t included or only added in as an afterthought. Unfortunately, this is all too often what happens to the cybersecurity budget at some organizations.
The 2018 Study on Global Megatrends in Cybersecurity survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that less than half of IT security professionals are confident in their ability to protect their organizations from cyberthreats.
Additionally, in a survey of IT generalists conducted by 451 Research last year, 16% of respondents indicated that information security was the area that would be getting the largest budget increase. Cybersecurity budget came second to off-premise cloud services in terms of increased spend. Despite these digitization plans, 60% of respondents said that they had no formal digital transformation strategy in place and will face challenges aligning their IT initiatives with business goals. (Aligning your cybersecurity program with business goals can be a growth enabler for organizations.)
IT and Information Security professionals understand the importance of security and know that these initiatives can impact the overall health of the organization. And yet this isn’t always reflected in the cybersecurity budget.
Two stats from the 2018 Study on Global Megatrends in Cybersecurity might help us understand this a bit better.
The threat landscape continues to evolve and breaches are increasing in both scale and sophistication. Are you communicating this to the stakeholders in your organization? Until decision makers are educated on how cybersecurity can impact the bottom line, the needle won’t move on the cybersecurity budget. A comprehensive budget will allow you to address common business concerns, such as vendor security questionnaires, winning business contracts, simplifying compliance, and minimizing the impact of security incidents, among others.
The number that works for their organization may not work for yours. After all, how do you know they are spending wisely? An astronomical budget doesn’t always equate to a strong security posture. Your cybersecurity budget should be unique to your business and based on what you require to be secure. It’s not about what it costs to build your program; it’s about how effective your cybersecurity program is at defending your business.
Do not just focus on the technology piece – instead, you need to be looking at the organization from a holistic perspective. This will help you demonstrate to leadership that you are considering the budget and your program thoughtfully. Being able to showcase that you are being proactive and fiscally responsible within your cybersecurity spend will build confidence inside the board of directors. Performing a risk assessment and using the resulting corrective action plan will give you the data you need to identify your top challenges that need to be worked through to put you in a strong place from a cybersecurity perspective.
When you know your top challenges and can assess your program accurately, you can approach your cybersecurity budget from a value perspective. What value are you getting for the money you spend? How does it relate to business goals and objectives? What you are able to accomplish with your resources is more important than what you are spending.
In many organizations, cybersecurity has a negative connotation. You are the “bad guy” that introduces policies that people feel restricted by. This is why the entire organization needs to be involved in your budget process. If you can help your organization to understand cybersecurity as a whole, you will start to build a coalition inside of the company that will help you achieve your goals.
By “socializing” your program, you can make policies more palatable and manageable to relevant parties. Education is key and when you empower people through knowledge, you may see spend coming from departments or areas you weren’t expecting. For example, you may be interested in putting an awareness initiative in place but lack the funding to do so effectively. If you educate your human resources department on the human element of cybersecurity, they will learn that it is a people issue, not a technology issue, and may partner with you to secure the necessary budget.
Socialization can also help you build a cybersecurity coalition: an inter-departmental group that can help to build a culture of security throughout the organization as well as identify other areas where spend may come from rather than just the IT budget.
You have the internal data, you have performed an assessment to understand it, and built a budget based on your findings. Don’t let a third party or outside organization dictate your budget to you. The budget is yours – ensure that you own it.
As the digital transformation continues in the business world, you will see two things grow within organizations: the role of Information Security professionals and the budgets that they manage. The important thing to remember is that a higher number doesn’t necessarily translate to better security; it’s about how you use the money you have.