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How to Measure and Justify Cybersecurity Investment and Return on Investment

How to Measure and Justify Your Cybersecurity Investment and Return on Investment (ROI)

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

How much does your business spend on cybersecurity? As a IT admin, how do you prove to the company’s leadership you work for that they need to spend more on cybersecurity? According to an article written by Bruce Schneider, companies consider ROI a big deal, but it is challenging to calculate ROI in security.

In this article we will be talking about:

  • How to monitor and address evolving cybersecurity threats?
  • Proactive vs Reactive Cybersecurity
  • Proactive Cybersecurity Return on Investment
  • What Does Proactive Cybersecurity Involve?
  • How to manage cybersecurity and justify your cybersecurity budget
  • Valuable Cyber Defense Resources

According to Deloitte report, the average company will spend somewhere between 6% and 14% of their annual IT budget on cybersecurity. That is less than a quarter of the total amount allocated for cybersecurity in general, so that’s actually not that bad at all. On average, most companies spent around 10% of their IT budget.

Monitor and address evolving cybersecurity threats

If, for instance, you can prove to the management that spending $2000 on cybersecurity can help the company save $30000 every year, they will be happy to release the $2000. However, the problem comes when you have to prove that you need $2000 and not $1500 or any lower amount. Companies spend on threat hunting and vulnerability assessment using methods such as penetration testing. While some companies might have an in-house team, others have to hire an expert to monitor and address evolving cybersecurity threats. This is called proactive cyber defense. It seeks to identify weaknesses and address them before an attack. Preemptively identifying security weaknesses is different from reactive cybersecurity where a company waits for an attack to take any action.

Proactive vs Reactive Cybersecurity

Business leadership and decision makers are hesitant to release cybersecurity investment as they do not consider daily threats as ‘serious.’ According to an ISACA APT Awareness study, about 93.6% of respondents who took part in the study believe that APTs are only the “very serious threats.” However, the Advanced Persistence Threats (APTs) are not always advanced in the sophistication of the methods the attackers use. However, companies are under constant threats from simple, yet sophisticated hacking methods.

If a company chooses reactive approach to dealing with cybersecurity, “they sit back and wait for an attack.” When the attack happens, a data breach or a ransom can cost the company millions of dollars.

Today, companies have several defense solutions to prevent an attack. These proactive measures ready the company for an attack even when it does not happen. However, if it happens, the approach may save the company millions of dollars.



ROI is a big deal in business, but it’s a misnomer in security. Make sure your financial calculations are based on good data and sound methodologies

Proactive Cybersecurity Return on Investment

Digital threats are smarter today. Hackers can spend several months or years collecting details about your company all when you think everything is right. A proactive cybersecurity keeps you on top of these threats before they stall your business.

With proactive security services, you know what professionals you need to protect your business and how to handle an attack in case it ever happens. The approach allows you to monitor threats and addresses any weaknesses in your organization. In case of an attack, the IT department will take charge immediately to prevent loss of data.

The value of digital information continues to grow and not protecting your data may cost your company or organization a lot of money. Again, regulators require that organizations secure their data. Your business may face harsh penalties if you fail to take necessary measures in building sustainable cyber resiliency.

What Does Proactive Cybersecurity Involve?

A proactive approach seeks to prevent an attack before it happens. The company will spend money to prevent an attack that may never happen, and this is why management may be hesitant to spend on cybersecurity. However, assume you cut the cyber threat hunting budget from $4000 to $1500. This means that the IT team may not carry out all the activities they needed to protect the business. If an attack happens, the business may spend thousands or millions of dollars to recover the lost data.

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Here is what cybersecurity experts do to secure your data:

Disk Encryption – This involves securing the hard drives through encryption. In case the organization loses physical devices, their data will be safe.
Employee Cyber Awareness Training – Employee cybersecurity awareness training keeps the team informed of current threats and the optimal cybersecurity strategy they can apply in case of an attack.
Multi-factor Authentication – Organizations need to limit access to some of the systems. There should be security levels with some of the systems only being accessible to select employees. Multi-step authentication ensures there is proper access control.
Cyber Threat Hunting – This involves approaches, such as ransomware threat hunting services, Phishing Attack Simulation, and Managed Threat Hunting among others. They seek to ensure there is no threat that can penetrate the system.
Vulnerability Scanning – Here, cyber resiliency experts scan for weaknesses in the computer systems and in other systems. There are several software programs to scan your computers and there are also antivirus programs to protect your computer.
Managed Security Operations Center – These centers create an incident response plan. They monitor threats and report any imminent threats that a company may face.

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Tracking Cybersecurity KPIs to Justify Your Cybersecurity ROI

According to a report published on PwC, only 22% of CEOs believe that there is enough risk to data security to inform their decisions. The statistics have remained true for more than ten years. As such, not all CEOs are willing to spend on proactive cybersecurity.

It is impossible to manage cybersecurity and justify your budget if you cannot measure performance. As a security professional, you need to show:

• How many times hackers have tried to access your system
• Number of unidentified devices in the organization network
• Number of devices not patched and ready for attacks
• How long it takes for security experts to detect threats that fly under your radar
• How long it takes for security experts to start working on an attack
• How long a business takes to fully handle an attack and recover from it
• How many employees are informed about cybersecurity
• Number of cybersecurity incidents reported within the business and within the industry
• Number of users in the company with administrative access
• Cloud security compliance and other security compliance statuses
• Availability of non-human traffic in the organization network
• The cost of each incident that the security team solves

With the above key performance indicators, it is easy to justify the cybersecurity budget. The idea is to show that threats can happen any time and that the company needs to be ready. With a reactive cybersecurity approach, the company will be caught unaware and data may be lost. This may lead to regulatory fines and expensive recovery of data.

Valuable Cyber Defense Resources:

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