Budgeting for Cyber Security

Do You Have a Cyber Security Budget?

“There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.” former Cisco CEO John Chambers.

Cyber security is protecting computers, networks systems, devices and data from cyber-attacks.

Cyber Security is gaining attention as businesses increasingly rely on technology to operate their businesses

When it comes to cyber security, prevention is the key.  Waiting until an attack before taking action can result in significant losses and damage to a businesses reputation. Cyber security is not just relevant to large organisations. Small businesses are also frequently targeted and must ensure they protect themselves against threats.  Currently, one of the leading risks to small businesses is the threat of cybersecurity attacks.

The costs of a cyber security breach may include direct costs such as theft of money, system repair costs, legal costs and regulatory fines for non-compliance.  It may also include indirect costs such as damage to a business reputation, loss of trust from customers, productivity, and downtime.

Prevention and detection of threats require investment from a business and, therefore, budget to manage cyber security.

Cyber Security Threats

There are many motivates for cyber security attacks. Some motives include financial gains, political reasons or spying for competitive advantage.  

Malware – Malicious Software is designed to cause harm to a computer system and may include damage to other related resources, systems and devices.  Categories of malware include viruses, spyware, adware, worms and trojans. Malware may disrupt normal system operations, destroy data, cause a computer to crash, steal sensitive data, or set up backdoor access for hackers.

Denial of Service – A DoS attack intends to overwhelm a targeted server to disrupt the services.

Phishing – An attacker will send fraudulent emails that appear to be from a legitimate, trusted entity to potential victims. The email will attempt to induce a victim to click on a link to a seemingly genuine website that is malicious and tricks the victim into providing sensitive information or downloading malware onto their computer.

Passwords – Weak passwords pose a threat to a business. Attackers can guess or use brute force to crack weak passwords and gain access to sensitive information.

SQL Injection – An SQL injection attack uses malicious SQL code to manipulate a database within a website allowing an attacker to exploit vulnerabilities within the script. This will enable an attacker to access unauthorised information of a given database.

Man in the middle – This is a form of eavesdropping. The attacker will set up network access to enable the interception of sensitive information transmitted across a network.  

Ransomware – Malicious software that enables an attacker to gain access to victims sensitive data, which the attacker encrypts, making it inaccessible to the victim and effectively holds the data captive while demanding a ransom in return for releasing the data back to the victim.

Things to Consider When Budgeting for Cyber Security

The budget for cyber security will depend on several factors, such as compliance requirements, the size of your business and the nature of the data you collect, store and use, and your risk appetite.  When creating a cyber security budget, it is essential to remember that it may cost less to prevent cyber security attacks than to suffer significant losses from a breach.

Cyber security insurance

An insurance product may cover the costs associated with a cyber security event. This may include expenses such as legal fees, notifying customers of a data breach, compensation due to breach of personal data, damage to your computer systems, regulatory fines and penalties, incident response and as well as losses caused by the disruption.

Investment in staff education and training  

Cyber security events can arise from employees unwittingly making careless mistakes that are entirely preventable with the proper training. Investing in regular training and educating your employees can add an extra layer of protection to your business. This may include providing information and videos, online courses, encouraging strong passwords, creating a cyber security awareness and accountability culture, and teaching staff how to recognise and report cyber security threats.  Some insurers will also require all employees to undertake cyber security training.

Up to date resources

A cyber security budget should include funding to update hardware and software. Old desktop and laptop computers may be running outdated operating systems which may no longer be supported and contain vulnerabilities.  Computer systems may need firewalls, intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, anti-virus software, anti-spam and spam filtering software and anti-malware software to manage threats.

Cyber Security service providers

There is an abundance of options with service providers who can provide quality security for your business. Outsourcing may be a cost-effective option for those with a smaller cyber security budget or those who don’t want to manage it in-house.

An in-house cyber security team

For those businesses with a large enough budget and resources, an in-house solution with competent, qualified staff could be an option.

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