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IT Security: 9 Tips to Assess Your Budget Requirements

If you think only the largest businesses have to worry about IT security, think again. There are plenty of studies that show hackers are now targeting businesses that they consider likely to have lax security policies, and there are a number of things that can introduce security risks into your business.

For example, consider the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon. The popularity of BYOD means many of your staff members are probably using their smartphones for work as well as personal purposes. Every time their devices interact with your company’s network, the risk of a security breach is there.

So how can you start to improve your IT security initiatives? And just how much should you spend on IT security? Here are some tips to ensure your business gets the biggest bang for its security buck:

Conduct a risk assessment
Do a risk assessment to root out present and potential threats to your IT system. Make sure to get input from everyone in your company, as some workers may encounter IT risks you aren’t even aware of. Be sure to include risks from any mobile and personal devices that touch your network. Documenting and assessing your risks will give you an indication of where your security dollars are needed the most. If you need help with this task, Bell offers comprehensive risk assessment services from certified security experts.

Rank your risks
Once you’ve done a risk assessment, try to rank which threats are most immediate or could do the most harm. This will help you prioritize your security spending based on what needs attention now and what you feel can wait.

Look forward
Don’t overlook future IT risks that may come up. If you’re planning to build a mobile app, for example, include any threats that may come along with that. If you don’t, your IT security budget will become outdated very quickly.

List the steps
Now that you’ve made a list of threats and prioritized them, break down the steps needed to address them properly. This will allow you to start assessing the cost of taking each step and procuring any technology or services you’ll need to complete that step.

Internal and external costs
Evaluate the skill set and certification level of your current IT team to help you determine which security measures can be handled in-house and which ones will require outside help.

Look at total costs
You may want to take the ‘total cost of ownership’ (TCO) approach to your IT security budget. That means you don’t just consider the cost of purchasing new security hardware and software but also the costs of installation, implementation, monitoring, training and support. For example, will it take up the time of many staff or just one? And,  for how long?

Consider cloud-based services
Many security tools are now cloud-based, which means you pay only for the amount of service you use (usually through a monthly subscription) without having to invest in your own security infrastructure upfront. Instead of buying several security tools separately, look for services like Bell’s Total Protection that bundle them together for you. You may also want to take a moment to view the Bell Total Protection demo to gain some insight into how a cloud-based security service works.

Be dynamic
Realize that just as IT security needs change, so do IT security budgets. They’re dynamic things that need to be revisited and revised as time goes on. Keep in mind that initial costs may differ from recurring costs. So outsourcing things like risk assessment services to security experts may cost more at the start of this process, but they’ll probably be able to reassess your needs faster (and perhaps at a lower cost) as they get to know your business over time.

Determine how much to spend in your situation
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive formula to pinpoint how much a company should spend on IT security. It obviously varies depending on your company’s circumstances. If you really want numbers for the sake of comparison, however, the latest Gartner IT Key Metrics Data study shows most companies spend somewhere between two and seven per cent of their total IT budget (not their total business budget) on security.

The bottom line
If you’re having a hard time convincing yourself (or others in your company) of the need to invest in IT security, consider the high cost of doing nothing. It only takes one data breach to throw your entire business into a tailspin of disaster management that could cost you enormous amounts of time and money you never planned for. On the flip side, it could also add reputational value to your business if you can tell your partners, customers and potential customers you’ve made security a key priority.

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