Many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have benefited from integrating the latest technology into their daily operations. Productivity tools help improve employee output, which helps SMBs achieve key growth targets and why many of them are investing in IT.
Despite that, when planning their IT budget, many businesses regard cybersecurity as an afterthought and allocate only a small percentage of funds to it. The lack of good cybersecurity defenses is one reason SMBs are frequently targeted by cybercriminals. In fact, in 2019, 43% of data breaches were all aimed at SMBs.
Why You Should Include Cybersecurity Tools in Your IT Budget Categories
Advancements in technology have provided cybercriminals with new and more sophisticated ways of launching cyberattacks against SMBs. Including security tools in your IT budget can enable you to:
- Protect your business from cyberattacks
- Safeguard your data and infrastructure
- Stop unauthorized users from spying on your network
- Recover quickly after a data breach
How to Prioritize Your Cybersecurity Budget
SMBs face various types of cybersecurity threats depending on their industry. For example, healthcare organizations are common targets of phishing and/or ransomware attacks. When planning your cybersecurity budget, sit with your IT team or managed IT services provider (MSP) and ask yourselves these questions:
- What Are the Biggest Threats to Your Industry?
The first step in planning your cybersecurity budget is identifying the threats to your business. Threat intelligence reports are an excellent source of information about the latest trends in cybersecurity. You can find these reports online, which can help you make better budgeting decisions.
- What Percentage of the IT Budget Should Be Allocated Toward Security Tools?
After identifying the biggest threats to your business, determine how much of your total IT budget should be allocated to cybersecurity. According to Gartner, the ideal amount to set aside for security tools is 4–7% of your IT budget.
- Do You Have Resources to Help You Plan Your Cybersecurity Budget?
Your in-house IT staff or MSP can help you plan your budget, but if you don't have any of those, add the cost of hiring one to your budget.
What Security Tools Should Be Included in Your IT Budget?
Simply allocating larger amounts of money to your cybersecurity budget is not enough to safeguard your business from cyberthreats. You also have to know what security tools to implement in order to maximize your investment. Here's a list of cybersecurity solutions you should include in your budget:
Firewalls are your company's first line of defense against data breaches. They analyze incoming and outgoing network traffic, and determine which ones can be allowed to pass through based on predefined rules.
Antivirus is best used together with a firewall. While the firewall filters traffic coming in and out of your network, the antivirus will scan, remove, and protect your computers, devices, and files from malware.
Endpoint encryption tools encrypt data that are copied onto and stored in removable media devices such as flash drives, external hard drives, smartphones, and tablets. They scramble and lock files sector by sector and can only be unlocked using the right decryption key. This protects sensitive data even when devices are lost or stolen.
Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
MFA is a security tool that adds an extra authentication step to verify a user's identity. Besides their password, users must provide one or more verification factors such as one-time passwords and biometrics to access your company's network and resources. The additional verification steps ensure that cybercriminals won't be able to break into your network, even when using stolen login credentials.
While not a security tool, cybersecurity training should be included in your budget. This is because many data breaches are the direct result of human error or negligent employees rather than cyberattacks. By investing in continuous cybersecurity training, you're arming your employees with the knowledge they need to keep your business safe from cyberthreats.
Another cybersecurity tool to invest in is a reliable MSP like Charles IT. Our proactive IT services will monitor and safeguard your network, ensuring less downtime and fewer disruptions. Call us today to get an instant quote!
Editors Note: This blog was originally published on November 30th, 2020 and was updated on January 6th, 2023 for accuracy.