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Edge Articles

04:40 PM
Joan Goodchild
Joan Goodchild
Edge Articles

How to Wring Every Last Drop Out of Your Security Budget

In the face of tighter budgets and lowered spending forecasts due to the pandemic, optimizing and improving the efficiency of security programs -- without sacrificing integrity -- has never been more important.

(Image: Monkey Business via Adobe Stock)
(Image: Monkey Business via Adobe Stock)

Getting creative about identifying threats and mitigating risk is even more necessary these days, when every dollar counts. In fact, Gartner has revised its 2020 security spending forecast and is predicting a much smaller increase in spending -- 2.4% growth as opposed to the 8.7% growth it projected in December.

With spending getting tighter, executive management and boards will want to ensure security leaders are making the most of the budgets they are given in 2020.

"To make their dollars stretch, CISOs need to focus cybersecurity purchases on solutions that will enhance processes, integrate with their wider security ecosystem, and offer automation that can free up resources," says Gidi Cohen, CEO and founder of Skybox Security.

The Edge spoke with security managers for their recommendations on how to optimize security programs and improve efficiency – without sacrificing integrity.

Recommendation #1: Adjust Budget for Remote Work
Work-from-home arrangements are not predicted to end anytime soon. A separate Gartner survey found 41 percent of employees are "likely to work remotely at least some of the time post coronavirus pandemic." And that changes the threat landscape. Research from BitSight found 45% of remote office networks observed malware in March alone, compared with 13% of corporate networks.

If it hasn't already been locked down, long-term support and security for the remote workforce is one of the smartest ways to allocate budget – now and in the foreseeable future, says Jeff Hausman, ServiceNow VP & general manager, ITOM, Security & CMDB.

"Priorities need to take into account changes in the attack surface given increased volumes of remote workers and the use of greater cloud services," he says. "Many companies are calendaring renewal dates for tool licenses and building a strategy to have fewer vendors carry more of the work. By thinking about this now with an eye to execution throughout 2021, they can free up budget to accommodate the need for savings, as well as covering the expanding attack surface."  

Recommendation #2: Let the Incident Response Plan Guide New Investments
What's the most effective way to identify what could be most vulnerable in today's largely remote workforce environment? Simulate a worst-case scenario.  

"If you don't already have a clear, documented, and tested incident response plan, create one," says Bill Swearingen, cyber strategist at IronNet Cybersecurity. "Find an example of a really bad day for your organization and exercise how you would respond. Organizations often find critical omissions from the incident response plan in these exercises, such as legal, marketing, and customer service."

Once businesses have had a chance to reassess what risks they may face now, they can be more strategic about which tools and services to invest in this year.

Recommendation #3: Assess Areas That Can Be Ditched and Replaced
Now is also a good time to take a fresh look at potential redundancies and areas of bloat, says Shuman Ghosemajumder, global head of AI at F5 and former "fraud czar" at Google.

"Many cybersecurity investments don't have their benefit quantified," he says. "Measuring the actual benefit you get from various tools will result in you eliminating some products and technologies, but probably spending more on others."

Also, keep in mind that any new investments is an opportunity to retire old solutions that no longer make sense, says Gregory Touhill, the country's first federal chief information officer and currently president of AppGate, Federal Group.

"I don't buy any tool that doesn't help me retire at least two others, costs a fraction of the previous tools, and boosts my security posture," he says.

Recommendation #4: Maximize Vendor Relationships
Let's be frank: Vendors are trying to cover their own expenses during uncertain times. Security leaders should consider them another resource in the effort to save money for their organization. During these times, vendors are often willing to negotiate to acquire new customers and keep their existing customers, says Ed Bellis, CTO and co-founder of Kenna Security and former CISO of Orbitz.

"Even if you just renewed a given service, one lever you have to work with is the length of subscription," he says. "If you're happy with the service but looking to lower your monthly or annual rate, talk to your vendor about extending the length of your commitment. You can often get discounted rates if you're willing to make a longer commitment."

Next Page: Staffing and automation 

Joan Goodchild is a veteran journalist, editor, and writer who has been covering security for more than a decade. She has written for several publications and previously served as editor-in-chief for CSO Online. View Full Bio
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