Budgeting for the New Season: Make Cybersecurity a Critical Piece

Shreya Patil

08 January 2024

10 min


It comes as no surprise that CEOs increasingly recognise cybersecurity as the foremost risk confronting their businesses. The 2021 KPMG survey revealed that 18% of 500 CEOs surveyed said cybersecurity would be their greatest threat over the next few years. Cybersecurity incidents not only have the potential to paralyse your business but can also erode customer trust, and the aftermath of recovering from such attacks can be financially crippling. To fortify your business against these threats, it is essential to prioritise cybersecurity and allocate your budget strategically. 

Key Categories for Cybersecurity Budget Allocation 

When allocating your cybersecurity budget, consider these five main categories: 

Compliance: Certain industries have specific compliance regulations dictating security budget allocations. For example, the healthcare sector must adhere to Health Information Privacy Code and Health Information Governance Guidelines. 

Ongoing Risk Assessments: Continuously monitor the efficacy of security controls and reallocate the budget if risks surpass agreed-upon thresholds. Include tools and services like cyber insurance, penetration testing, bug bounty initiatives, and incident response. 

Ongoing Security Training: Security training should be an ongoing effort for every employee and contractor to stay ahead of evolving threats. 

New Business Initiatives: Assess and apply a security budget to any new business initiative to ensure the security of the company and its customers. For instance, outsourcing content creation or storing support cases in a cloud platform. 

Business Priority Shifts: Adapt your security strategy to accommodate shifts in people, technology, or monetisation. Examples include the hybrid work model, technology shifts like moving to the cloud, or changes in business priorities. 

Strategic Approaches to Cybersecurity Budgeting 

As you navigate the complex terrain of cybersecurity budgeting, here are some practical tips to guide your decision-making process: 


  1. Gradual Investment:

When developing your cybersecurity budget, resist the urge to allocate a large sum all at once. Instead, consider incorporating a modest amount into your upcoming budget. Even a small investment can yield significant returns. By taking this approach, you can initiate the crucial first step of conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment, laying the foundation for key improvements without overwhelming your financial resources. 


  1. Consult Your Cybersecurity Provider:

Leverage the expertise of your cybersecurity provider to pinpoint your business’s highest-priority and lowest-cost action items. Collaborate with them to tailor your cybersecurity program and incrementally expand your budget for enhanced protection and risk mitigation. Recognise that cybersecurity is an ongoing initiative, not a one-time project. Regular consultations with your provider can ensure your security strategy evolves in tandem with emerging threats. 


  1. Secure Leadership Support:

In the realm of small businesses, tight budgets are a common constraint. To overcome potential resistance from leadership, engage in a dialogue with key decision-makers, including the board of directors and C-suite executives. If there is hesitation about the critical nature of cybersecurity, conduct a basic risk assessment to illustrate your company’s current standing and demonstrate how a strategic investment can fortify protection. Leadership, whether at the board level or within the executive team, plays a pivotal role in steering the company in the right direction, safeguarding it from evolving threats. 


Avoid the pitfalls of point solutions that strain your budget. Instead, seek integrated cybersecurity solutions that offer comprehensive protection under a single platform or managed service. This approach not only simplifies management but also delivers economies of scale, reducing overall cybersecurity costs. 


Key Considerations for Cybersecurity Budget Allocation 

The Cost of Cybersecurity 

Understanding the financial implications of cybersecurity incidents is the first step towards effective budgeting. The consequences of a breach can extend beyond monetary losses to include damage to reputation and customer trust. To prevent such devastating consequences, businesses need to invest in cybersecurity safeguards. 

Measuring the Value of Cybersecurity Investment 

One of the significant challenges faced by businesses is measuring the value of their cybersecurity investment. However, tools and methodologies are now available to translate cybersecurity efforts into tangible costs and benefits, check with GS. By attaching real numbers to cybersecurity risks and investments, security teams can work collaboratively with the C-suite to make more informed decisions. 

Assessing and Analysing Cybersecurity Risks 

The cornerstone of effective cybersecurity budgeting is a comprehensive risk assessment. Failing to conduct a risk assessment is, in itself, a significant risk. This assessment should measure the organisation’s cybersecurity state across various variables aligned with industry-standard best practices. It helps in understanding the unique risks your business faces. 

Once the assessment is complete, the next step is to develop and implement a strategy and roadmap for risk mitigation. This strategy should align with the business goals, including an understanding of the potential costs of a breach and the acceptable level of risk for the organisation. 

Tying Risk Mitigation to Benefits 

Connecting the dots between the risk mitigation roadmap and actual benefits is crucial. While it’s straightforward to look at direct costs in terms of investments in technologies, operations, and personnel, measuring the financial impact of that investment in terms of risk mitigation remains a challenge for security teams. 

Mitigating the Impact 

To protect your organisation’s bottom line, it’s imperative to take proactive steps in cybersecurity. Here are some crucial measures: 

Incident Response Team and Cybersecurity Plan: Establish a dedicated incident response team and a comprehensive cybersecurity plan to swiftly address and mitigate potential breaches. 

Encryption: Implement encryption protocols to protect sensitive data, rendering it unreadable to unauthorised individuals even if accessed. 

Employee Training: Regularly train employees on cybersecurity best practices to reduce the likelihood of human error leading to security breaches. 

Cyber Insurance: Consider investing in cyber insurance to provide an additional layer of financial protection in the event of a breach. 

Spending by Sectors:

A surprising shift has taken place. While the financial industry has historically led in cybersecurity investments, the torch has now been passed to tech and business services organizations, according to the 2022 Security Spending Benchmark Report by IANS Research and Artico Search. These sectors are allocating just over 13% of their total IT budgets to cybersecurity, surpassing the overall average of 9.9%. Government and financial services sectors follow closely, spending 9.6% and 9.7%, respectively. Intriguingly, sectors most vulnerable to cyber threats, with a critical need for risk management and minimal tolerance for disruptions, tend to spend the least on security.

Education organizations, for instance, allocate only 5.9% of their IT budget to cybersecurity, while healthcare remains another sector notorious for underinvestment in security measures. Unravel the complexities of cybersecurity spending trends with us as we delve into the implications for various industries and the evolving dynamics of digital defense.


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