Determining the level of investment in cyber security can be challenging as the cyber threat landscape continually expands. We explore the different factors to consider when investing in cyber security solutions...

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The cyber threat landscape is continuously evolving and with this comes increased risks to organisations across the world. In today’s digital age, no business is safe from cyber attacks, and it would be highly detrimental to believe so. There is so much at risk from financial losses, data losses and breaches, brand reputation and more – applicable to all businesses and organisations, of all sizes.  

So, in the ever-changing threat landscape, how do you determine the level of investment and spending toward cyber security protection? This is a common dilemma faced by individuals and teams overseeing IT and/or Finances of a business. This challenge also becomes increasingly difficult for SMEs and organisations such as not-for-profits who typically have limited resources to dedicate to solving this and managing cyber security in its entirety. 

It is clear that determining the level of investment in securing your business is no one size fits all situation, which also makes it challenging to advise directly on the cost of cyber security investment. However, the below factors should be taken into consideration as a starting point to help considerations and provide some steer on cyber security investment.  

The Threat Landscape

In the past year, half of businesses and 30% of charities reported falling victim to a cyber attack. The statistic is scarily higher for medium and large businesses and, higher income charities with an average of 70%. The most common cyber attack method remains to be phishing attempts whereby employees have fallen victim to scam emails, clicking on links or suspicious attachments and/or releasing their login credentials. Despite phishing being the most common form of cyber attack, other methods including social engineering or, impersonating individuals within the business and, malware attacks are still prominent (35% and 17%). 

With cyber attacks on the rise and with cyber criminals using various methods of attack, organisations need to identify gaps in their current cyber security, practice ‘Cyber Hygiene’ and implement a multi-layered protection solution.  


Determining Cyber Security Investment

Risk Audit

Conduct a thorough risk audit or assessment tailored specifically to your business to identify its unique risks and gaps in your current cyber defences. A risk audit looks at your entire organisation from network management, systems, endpoints, to your business processes. When was the last time your Business Continuity Plan was reviewed and updated? Or your Disaster Recovery Process? If you’re unsure, a risk audit can help identify this and lead to better cyber security hygiene and investment.  

Industry Sector

Reviewing your industry sector and its specific risks is an important consideration when trying to understand how much money should be spent on cyber security. Some industries experience greater risk due to serving larger amounts of people, such as energy or national infrastructure businesses, as in the event of an attack, the impact has a larger reach, more disruption and will ultimately cost more to recover - it can also mean cyber criminals hold you to a larger ransom.  

Business Size

Although cyber attackers are non-discriminative, it is important to determine the differentiators of said risk based on organisational size.  

Whilst large organisations have more devices, more technologies and software which prove to bring both operational and cyber security complexities for the teams of people that manage them, smaller organisations face a lack of resources dedicated to IT alone and this is often a shared role or, overstretched single resource. Both scenarios prove different risks, but both identify a need for support, albeit at different levels of investment, from cyber security solutions.  

Data Sensitivity

If your organisation processes and stores personal data, it is good practice to identify the breadth of this and the severity if it were to be breached. Through doing so, you can grasp budgets required to reinforce and protect this data, and your organisation’s reputation.  

Compliance Requirements

Dependent on your sector, you may have compliance requirements to adhere to and become accredited to. Regardless, being a cyber-compliant business comes with many benefits including increasing work opportunities and ensuring you can operate with certain sectors and governing bodies (for example, through obtaining Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials + accreditation). Factoring obtaining and maintaining compliance accreditations into your cyber security investment is important to consider.  

Could You Cope with a Cyber Attack?

It is important to reflect as a business on the impact of a cyber attack. Try asking yourself, could you really with a cyber attack? Review all aspects of your business that may become affected in the instance of a cyber attack from financials to brand image and reputation to operational issues such as no access to payroll, delivery or distribution systems and more. Remember, when considering cyber security investment, it is not just about protecting your bottom line, but your brand and importantly, your customer base too.  

Working with an MSP

Working with an MSP such as ITRM can help optimise cyber security spending within budget constraints. Our team of cyber security specialists can help you navigate the complexities of cyber security and develop tailored solutions to suit whether you are a charity, an SME, large business or enterprise-based business.  

In Conclusion

Ultimately, there is no magic formula for determining how much to spend on cyber security. It is a complex decision that requires consideration of various factors including other business operational investments. However, through assessing risk, understanding the potential consequences of a cyber attack, staying informed about emerging threats and the UK cyber threat landscape, businesses can make an informed decision on cyber security investment to safeguard their business and future growth.  

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