Cybersecurity Budgeting Strategies During an Economic Downturn

Cybersecurity Budgeting Strategies During an Economic Downturn

Businesses across many industries will likely face pressure to look for alternative cost-cutting measures due to the current labor shortages and talent gaps.

Budget cuts, layoffs, and shrinking profit margins have made adopting recession-proof cybersecurity strategies more important than ever. Understaffed security teams face an increasingly critical need to accomplish more with fewer resources.

Organizations are entering a recession as the market’s purchasing power is dropping due to rapidly rising inflation in most parts of the world economy. Because of this, businesses are facing slow growth and uncertain financial gains. The post-pandemic economy and workforce are anything but typical, whereas traditional recessionary measures result in hiring freezes, layoffs, or terminations.

Businesses across many industries will likely be forced to look for alternative cost-cutting measures due to the current labor shortages and talent gaps. This will ensure that companies look for innovative ways to maintain profitability while restricting spending and eliminating costs.

Cybercrime is still rising even though people and companies across many industries feel the pinch of an impending recession. It should be no surprise that financial crimes frequently rise when the economy weakens.

The current cybersecurity landscape necessitates ongoing attention to prevent the catastrophic costs associated with a successful cyberattack, even in an economic climate that typically requires cost cuts to areas that aren’t considered core services.

However, businesses must cut costs while maintaining efficiency as the economy struggles. Fortunately, there are methods by which companies can strengthen their cybersecurity posture without raising prices.

An increased focus on cybersecurity

In light of the constantly shifting economic landscape, corporate boards are beginning to give cyber initiatives more attention in addition to a long list of other priorities. However, the increased interest hasn’t resulted in more funding for CISOs.

In the recently released State of Email Security Report 2023 from Mimecast, 66% of respondents said their organization’s budget for cyber-defense is below what it should be. The sentiment supports a similar tenor in the annual report’s 2022 edition. The respondents with a smaller cyber budget agreed (95%) that their organization’s cyber resilience was compromised.

Organizations must prioritize cost-effective security investments to operate safely and survive any potential downturn. That is the million-dollar discussion for CISOs across industries, and their choices could make or break their company for years.

The growing cybersecurity talent shortage and precautionary hiring freezes

Cybercrime thrives in an environment of economic uncertainty if recent history is any guide. Modern businesses were much less reliant on the operational technologies and cloud-based networks that are cornerstones of today’s culture of remote work during the Great Recession of 2008 than they are now. There weren’t even any of the numerous business collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams, emerging vectors of the hybrid attack surface.

Threat actors have a wide range of new vulnerabilities to exploit due to the rapid digital transformation across traditional enterprise ecosystems for a few years. Given the growing cybersecurity talent shortage and precautionary hiring freezes, organizations should prepare for sharp increases in human error, social engineering, ransomware, and insider threats during and after the current downturn. Today’s action (or inaction) will determine their survival during the impending storm.

Patching Gaps in Cybersecurity Skills

While CISOs may believe that the skills gap and the talent shortage in the cybersecurity industry are two different ways of referring to the same issue, these problems are similar in cybersecurity. The landscape of cyber threats and the equipment, know-how, and techniques needed to combat them constantly evolve.

Therefore, cybersecurity professionals need to continue their education to stay current in the field. The lack of learning and development opportunities, heavy workloads, and pandemic restrictions prevent cybersecurity professionals from pursuing the additional training they require.

The demand for up-to-date training intensifies as businesses look to professionals switching careers to solve the talent shortage. Threat actors always learn new technologies and ways to compromise corporate networks by exploiting vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity experts must continue their education to stay current and keep up with changing threats.

The best way to develop evolving knowledge of the current cybersecurity landscape within an organization is to foster a learning culture. All employees need continuous education about cybersecurity awareness and avenues for cybersecurity professionals to advance their field knowledge.

Mitigating Burnout

Working in high-stress environments with long hours and demanding tasks is a requirement of the cybersecurity profession. However, burnout hasn’t always been common in the sector. Burnout is on the rise among cybersecurity professionals due to increased workloads, threats from emerging technologies, and pandemic restrictions.

Burnout among cybersecurity professionals is rising too quickly. These numbers are especially concerning when businesses consider turnover costs at such rates. When many overworked workers leave the industry, the remaining professionals face heavier workloads, which increases burnout and turnover.

A thorough analysis of the underlying causes will be necessary to solve burnout during a recession. Although the pandemic exacerbated the causes of burnout, many cybersecurity-related stressors still exist today. There are more threats than ever, more extensive networks with more endpoints, remote and hybrid work environments, long hours, and irrational on-call requirements for security professionals.

However, given the critical talent shortage in the industry and the constrained budgets, better recruitment practices are not likely to solve the cycle of burnout. It is simply impossible for many organizations to hire more cybersecurity personnel during a downturn. Even keeping cybersecurity professionals on staff is difficult due to budget cuts and the tight labor market.

It’s critical to remove particular burnout contributors to prevent burnout and the eventual turnover that will come after. Overworked teams can avoid burnout by using these suggestions.

Automate security procedures

It’s no secret that people are a crucial part of reliable cybersecurity. However, organizations waste their cybersecurity team’s critical skills without security automation. Cybersecurity is made faster, more scalable, affordable, consistent, and less prone to human error by implementing AI-enabled software.

Cybersecurity professionals are relieved of redundant tasks by automated data collection, alert prioritization, and orchestration with SIEM and automated orchestration and response with SOAR. Security automation eliminates some of the leading causes of cybersecurity burnout by addressing alert fatigue and giving cybersecurity professionals valuable time to work on high-value projects.

Also Read: Strategies to Minimize the Instance and Impact of Credential Theft

Invest in third-party solutions

With the assistance of an off-site SOC, managed security solutions from seasoned cybersecurity vendors offer useful tools. As a result, businesses can select the tasks and level of support they want to outsource. Outsourced solutions can support ongoing cybersecurity initiatives. Managed SIEM or co-managed SIEM, managed SOC, and MDR are some of the most popular offerings.

Outsourced solutions offer round-the-clock network monitoring and incident response, allowing businesses to expand their cybersecurity staff without affecting the internal team. As a result, some cybersecurity duties can be taken off the shoulders of overworked professionals.

Adopt a security model of zero trust. Due to zero trust security, IT teams must verify every user and device before accessing an organizational network. Adopting such a policy calls for a particular infrastructure that enables ongoing system monitoring and employee education that guarantees all users are aware of best practices.

Two benefits of zero trust security are improved regulatory compliance and removing vulnerabilities brought on by credential theft or other internal attacks. More secure networks reduce the stress associated with a system that is constantly vulnerable to attack.

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