Protecting your business – how much to budget for cyber security?

18 June 2024 by
Daniel Sparkman
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The internet has revolutionised how we conduct business, but great connectivity comes with great risks.   

A 22-23 report from The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) showed a 23 per cent increase in cybercrime reports, and the average cost per report is up 14 per cent ($46K for small businesses, $97.2K for medium businesses). A breach can cripple small and medium businesses (SMBs), leading to financial losses, reputational damage, and even closure. 

SMBs are prime targets for cyber criminals due to their perceived lack of robust security. Prioritising a cyber security budget is crucial in bolstering your cyber resilience in today’s IT landscape.  

Here are some reasons why:

  • Evolving threats: Cyber criminals are constantly developing new tactics. The "spray and pray" approach of mass phishing emails is giving way to more targeted attacks that exploit specific vulnerabilities.
  • Increased reliance on technology: SMBs increasingly depend on digital infrastructure for core operations. A compromised system can disrupt sales, customer service, and even production.
  • Data is king: Businesses collect and store customer information. A data breach can expose sensitive data like credit card details and social security numbers, leading to legal trouble and hefty fines. 

Building your cyber security arsenal – a budget breakdown

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cyber security spending, here is a breakdown of three budget levels to get you started:

Level 1: Essential Protection (Budget: Up to $1,000 per month)
  • Focus: This level prioritises basic safeguards.
  • Suitable for: Businesses of all sizes.
  • Tools: 
    • Endpoint Detect and Response software (such as CrowdStrike Falcon Prevent): The first line of defence against common threats.
    • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): Adds an extra layer of security beyond passwords.
    • Firewall: Monitors incoming and outgoing traffic, blocking suspicious activity.
    • Strong passwords and password management: Enforce complex passwords and a password manager for secure storage.
    • Employee security awareness training: Educate staff on identifying phishing attempts and other cyber threats.
Level 2: Enhanced Security (Budget: $1,000 – $5,000 per month)
  • Focus: Builds upon Level 1 with additional protection.
  • Suitable for: Medium to large businesses (20-100 people).
  • Tools (in addition to Level 1):
    • Endpoint detection and response (EDR): Continuously monitors devices for suspicious activity.
    • Data encryption: Protects sensitive data even if accessed by unauthorised users.
    • Vulnerability scanning: Regularly identifies and addresses weaknesses in your systems.
Level 3: Comprehensive Security (Budget: $5,000+ per month)
  • Focus: Offers the most robust protection for businesses with high-value assets.
  • Suitable for: larger businesses (>100 people).
  • Tools (in addition to Level 1 & 2):
    • Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP): Allocates security monitoring and incident response to a dedicated team (could be in-house or outsourced).
    • Penetration testing: Simulates cyber attacks to identify and patch vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them.
    • Cyber security insurance: Provides financial protection during a cyber attack.

Do note these figures and tools are starting points for further discussions. Consult with your IT partner to assess your specific needs and build a customised cyber security plan that fits your budget and business. You can also reach out to us at Netway Networks for an obligation-free chat to find out more.  

Cyber security is an ongoing investment, not a one-time expense. By prioritising it and allocating appropriate resources, SMBs can significantly reduce the risk of cyber attacks and safeguard your business for the future.

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