Back when your cyber defense was simple, you probably didn’t think too much about the cost. Now that your cybersecurity strategy is more sophisticated and requires a bigger investment, you might wonder if what you’re paying is reasonable. While we can’t give you precise answer to that question, we can help you understand what drives cybersecurity costs.
The first thing to keep in mind as you’re evaluating cybersecurity services costs is to realize that there are many different components and it’s hard to separate out a specific cost for each. That would be like going to a restaurant and asking for the price of every ingredient and labor cost that went into the meal you’re buying.
In a restaurant, the outcome that you’re buying is the meal, plus the convenience of not having to cook, plus the experience that you’re having as you eat your meal. It’s similar for cybersecurity services.
With cybersecurity, you’re buying risk management which contributes to your business resilience and sustainability. What’s more, in your evaluation of costs, you need to go a step further and compare the cost of cybersecurity versus the cost of a cyber-attack.
A recent study revealed the median cost of a cyber attack in 2022 was $18,000 up from $10,000 in 2021. The same study states that 47% of all U.S. businesses have experienced the repercussions of a cyber attack in some way.
Even if you have a spare $20,000 in the bank that you’re willing to spend on cleaning up a cyber-attack, there are repercussions to your reputation that may weaken your business to the point of failure. However, just because you know you need it doesn’t mean that you’re willing to spend blindly on security. Let’s shed some light on what goes into cybersecurity costs.
Cybersecurity Cost Components
Every security strategy includes tools and labor. How those two broad components are combined depends on your business and industry, the type of data you need to protect, and your needs to maintain regulatory compliance or other type of security accountability.
There are other costs that can be organized under the security umbrella that are separate from service delivery but are required to effectively manage risks. Here’s a breakdown of the main cost components of cybersecurity.
1. Security Tools and Management
Every software tool that your cybersecurity provider uses has a license fee or subscription cost associated with it. These costs can range from $7 – $20 per month, per user.
Each tool requires management which could add between $12 – $40 per month per user.
Management of security tools includes monitoring performance and responding to alerts. Security staff provide monthly reporting to executives on how security tactics are working and make recommendations for changes as cyber-criminal methods evolve.
2. Security Expertise
Whether it’s managing software tools or deciding which tools to weave together to create a cohesive defense, there’s a lot of security brain power involved. Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand and salaries need to be competitive in order to attract and retain talent.
If you get the services of a vCISO for guidance and planning, that will affect your costs but is well worth it to make sure that your security strategy matches up with your risk profile and tolerance. If you have regulatory compliance needs, you may need to pay more for cybersecurity leadership.
Related: What’s a vCISO and Why Do I Need One?
3. Onboarding with a New Cybersecurity Provider
There’s usually an onboarding cost to get set up with a new cybersecurity services provider. First, they’ll deploy their security tools. Then they’ll configure hardware and software to their optimum settings.
An important phase of onboarding will be taking a deep dive into your IT network in order to create documentation and a knowledgebase that will facilitate support. Additionally, this discovery phase may uncover urgent needs to upgrade your systems, which brings us to our next point.
4. Network Improvements
If your IT network doesn’t meet the provider’s standards, you may have some catch-up to do. The improvements that you need to make could be simple like updating your firewall, or you could be looking at a more extensive renovation if you’ve been putting off investment in your IT systems.
You may also need to look at the devices that are connecting to your network and upgrade to newer equipment in order to get built-in security features. This may spin off a discussion about whether or not you will continue to allow employees to use their own devices or provide company-owned equipment that will give you more control over security.
5. Exclusions for Service Delivery
If you decide not to invest in the IT improvements that the cybersecurity services provider recommends, you can expect exclusions that limits services and their liability if anything bad should happen. For example, out-of-support operating systems present known vulnerabilities, so if you decline to update those systems, your provider may decline to support them.
Check the statement of work for other exclusions that may apply or present additional costs such as onsite work. Additionally, if you allow unauthorized individuals to work on your IT systems, be prepared for additional costs if they cause harm or a cyber event happens.
6. Cyber Insurance
Cyber insurance has become an important part of cybersecurity strategy and your security services provider will probably recommend that you have it. Your cybersecurity provider should be able to create a plan to bring your IT systems up to date and implement the technologies that insurers view as essential for minimizing risk.
Your provider may also help you go through the application process which usually includes verification that the security tactics that you indicate are in place, are actually there. This is especially important because executives signing the application may not have the technical expertise necessary to validate everything for themselves.
Related: How to Evaluate a Cybersecurity Services Provider
Pay Now for Security or Pay Later for Clean Up
Business leaders should understand the different components that contribute to the cost of cybersecurity. But if you have the choice to either pay for security or pay to clean up a cyber-attack, you’re money ahead to spend on prevention. What’s more, cybersecurity is a business capability that every organization needs for business resilience and sustainability.
Managed Cyber Defense from Bellwether
At Bellwether, we go beyond the basics to give business leaders cybersecurity peace of mind. Our SOC 2 Type 2 accreditation is a signal of our commitment to providing security at a level that’s just not possible with a small internal team or IT company.
Get a cybersecurity assessment and find out if your team is doing everything they should be to defend against cyber threats.