Stop panic buying your security products and start prioritizing

As 2024 is rounding the corner, many companies are making a fresh start with a new cybersecurity budget. But with the growing number of cyberattacks and their increasingly complex nature, even those companies whose cybersecurity budgets have gone up for 2024 should be looking to maximize their given budget and optimize their tools to ensure they get the maximum return on investment possible.

 cybersecurity tool purchasing

In an industry like cybersecurity where a new “must-have” product hits the market every day, it’s easy to get swayed into spending unnecessary money on products that widen your attack surface and deliver minimal (or no) value. Let’s explore the nuances of security spending and benefits of optimization during a time of economic uncertainty and 2024 budget planning.

The culture of panic buying is real

This is an industry that uses fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) as a selling tactic, making security leaders feel like every product is make-or-break for the wellbeing of their organization. The promise of a fix-it-all solution (the mythical silver bullet) is particularly tempting in this environment, especially for smaller organizations that most likely don’t have the budgets to implement a multitude of security tools or hire cyber specialists in-house. Vendors play on that desperation to make profits, and a lot of them are very good at it.

The fear mongering may also lead to impulsive decisions to invest in products that won’t configure correctly with the buyer’s current technology stack, thus introducing even more risk. The name of the game in a lean operation is a solution that is customizable and adaptable, and that will grow with the changing needs of an organization’s security team.  

The consequences can cost millions

According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report, organizations are now paying $4.5 million to deal with breaches – a 15% increase over the last three years. Aside from spending cash to purchase the product, panic buying can result in a wider attack surface, costly auto-renews and misconfigurations.

There is no doubt that taking advantage of new technological solutions (with AI and machine learning being fan favorites right now), can be extremely beneficial from both a technological and reputational perspective. But without looking at the big picture and calculating the actual value of the product in question, it’s nearly impossible to make a well-informed investment decision.

To assess the value of a product, security leaders should examine whether it adds or minimizes organizational risk and whether their current cybersecurity personnel and tools will be able to interact with it effectively.

Calculating the value of a product doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Risk = likelihood x impact is a great equation to use to solve for the value of a product or service.

To calculate likelihood of an attack, examine the degree of difficulty to execute an attack and the exposure of your assets. Determine your organization’s acceptable risk and use that equation to work backwards to identify the monetary impact of an attack. If that impact is significantly higher than the price of the product or service, it may be worth looking elsewhere.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of impulse buying cybersecurity products that don’t improve security but instead leave you vulnerable to costly attacks. Organizations should aim to protect their most valuable assets and prioritize addressing threats to those critical puzzle pieces of their business.

The solution is possible, and relatively simple

Look inward and optimize. Companies need to understand what inside their networks and data is most attractive and most vulnerable to attackers. Get visibility into what you have, calculate the value of your tools, and use the information to move forward.

Understanding risk by gaining full visibility into what you already have can allow companies to communicate better with investors and the public in the case of an attack or breach. For example, they will be able to give clear information about the impact (or lack of impact) on the business when an attack occurs and lay out clear steps for remediation, not having to guess the next best course of action.

‘Tis the season to prioritize your security investments

It is important to remember that the goal is not to buy more tools to chase the growing number of vulnerabilities that experts find every day, but to protect the assets that are most relevant to overall vital business operations and limit the fallout of inevitable cyber incidents.

By attaching a dollar value to the cyber risks the organization is up against, you will be in a much better position to discuss your security plan and budgetary needs.

When budgets are tight, every purchase must be accounted for with a clear indication of its value to the business operation. This is especially true for security purchases, which tend to be costly line items.

In today’s economic climate, proving ROI for security spend is a big part of security leaders’ jobs. It is crucial that before purchasing a new cybersecurity tool, investing in a service, or hiring specialists, you understand their functionality and purpose.

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