Cybersecurity is more important than ever. Every year, it seems that the number and variety of potential digital threats get bigger and bigger. Even as your organization hires more security experts and invests in ever-better cybersecurity technology, malware, phishing, and other attacks remain a persistent threat to your organization and the data of your customers.
Many companies have noted that, as they have increased their cybersecurity budgets, the number of cyber threats has also increased. But does spending more on cybersecurity mean that you'll be more vulnerable to attacks? Today, let's tackle this myth and explore why spending smarter—not necessarily more—could be the ideal way to protect your organization against cyber threats in the future.
Spending trends for companies around the world
It's no secret that cybersecurity spending is on the rise. Your organization has likely experienced this increase, as well. According to an IDC forecast, global cybersecurity spending is projected to reach $219 billion by the end of 2023. It could grow up to nearly $300 billion by 2026.
It's no wonder that many businesses are taking hard looks at their technology budgets. There are other priorities to invest in aside from defense, of course. For example, cloud spending increased to nearly $500 billion in 2022 and will continue to increase this year. However, the amount spent on cybersecurity is nothing compared to the amount of money projected to be lost by cybercrime. In other words, even though it costs your organization significantly to maintain cybersecurity standards, you can't exactly stop spending on digital defense.
Is cybersecurity spending driving cybercrime?
Not likely. It's more likely to say that the increased spending around cybersecurity is driven in response to cybercrime and potential economic fallout.
Every year, malware, ransomware, and other types of digital attacks become more sophisticated, adaptable, and dangerous. A single breach can cost a company millions or billions of dollars as a result of stolen information, infrastructural damage, and fines due to losing customers' private information. Legislation such as the GDPR and CCPA impose heavy penalties on companies that are victimized by data breaches.
It's safe to say that many companies are increasing their cybersecurity spending in response to this increased risk. As cybercriminals become better at their work, they become more dangerous and require companies to spend more money to defend themselves. This trend is a classic case of correlation not equaling causation—in fact, it's the reverse!
How to maximize your cyber defense budget
There are a few different ways in which you can maximize the effectiveness of your cybersecurity budget without having to spend even more. Let's take a closer look.
Keeping up to date with security tools
You should always make sure your organization keeps up to date with the most modern security tools. One easy example is antivirus.
Every terminal at your organization should be equipped with antivirus software, and any cloud servers or resources you use should also be protected by antivirus. Antivirus firewalls are the first line of defense against many malware and other intrusive attacks.
However, these tools are only as effective as their definition bases are extensive. In other words, if you don't regularly update your antivirus firewall, it won't be able to recognize the most modern, newest malware threats.
With this in mind, make sure every security tool you use at your organization is updated, modernized, and ready for current threats. The same goes for scanners, threat tracking software, and other cybersecurity software you or your defense team might leverage in the protection of your organization.
Implementing cyber hygiene training
In addition to the above steps, make sure to implement and require all employees to complete cyber hygiene, or security awareness, training. Such training essentially teaches your employees how to practice good cyber defense habits while in the workplace and while away from the office. A few examples include:
- Teaching your employees how to make strong passwords that utilize many different types of characters, like upper and lowercase letters and numbers. Strong passwords are highly important for protecting organization security, but lots of people use the same simple passwords for everything, including their personal accounts.
- Telling your employees not to leave ID badges and other keys lying around. These can be vulnerable tools that a cybercriminal or bad actor might use to get access to business systems.
- Teaching employees how to recognize email phishing scams, which are among the most common ways that bad actors get access to company systems and databases. Employees should also know how to respond to ransomware attacks (e.g., not paying the ransom when it is demanded).
You can adopt these approaches and teach employees about cyber hygiene at workplace seminars. You can also have employees complete one-on-one modules when they have time. In any case, good cyber defense usually starts with good intelligence and education in the workforce, so don't discount this approach.
Practicing impactful threat intelligence
The last, and perhaps most important, way to maximize your cybersecurity spending is to practice impactful threat intelligence.
In a nutshell, threat intelligence focuses on increasing the visibility of risks and maximizing cyber agility when responding to and neutralizing cyberattacks. Threat intelligence has to be actionable; it does you no good to be aware of a cyber threat if you can't do anything about it. Therefore, your threat intelligence must be impactful.
Impactful threat intelligence is usually practiced by ensuring you focus on the below four attributes in your defense strategy:
- Accuracy. Impactful threat intelligence is highly accurate, so you know that any detected attack is true (and you know where the attack is taking place).
- Relevance. Good impactful threat intelligence is relevant to your organization so you don't waste defense resources elsewhere.
- Actionability. In other words, impactful threat intelligence should be actionable. Your organization should be able to take various actions to defeat the threat that it faces.
- Cost-effectiveness. The cost of the threat has to be greater than the cost of remediation or defense for it to be worth your time fighting.
By focusing on this framework, you and your security team can come up with new, agile threat responses against a variety of digital attacks. As an example, it might be worthwhile to focus your spending on threat intelligence and detection instead of threat recovery.
Why? Based on the analysis of your defense team, it might cost you more to recover after a successful attack than it does to increase your spending on threat intelligence and detection. In this way, you could spend less money intercepting and detecting cyber threats than you do recovering from them.
Ultimately, spending your cybersecurity budget wisely by investing in impactful intelligence is the best way to protect your organization against malware and other cyber threats. Take a look at your cybersecurity budget and see where you can redistribute that money for maximum effect.