How many responsibilities are there to balance in your IT environment? It’s likely that on some days you’re asked to walk the line between cutting edge integration and legacy support. Other days you might find yourself on a tightrope between securing endpoint permissions and giving your users the freedom to operate effectively—it can seem like a never-ending battle at times.
Balancing your IT budget to thwart incoming cybersecurity threats is no different. Each day brings new vulnerabilities that require both money and time to patch. This constant flow of threats creates a sort of cybersecurity fund vacuum that makes it hard to justify spending a dime on anything that doesn’t directly solve an existing threat—innovation included. As a result, you may find yourself wondering when you should choose innovation and progress over risk mitigation.
What innovation should look like
Fortunately, risk mitigation and cybersecurity innovation aren’t mutually exclusive uses of your precious budget. Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at what innovation actually looks like in the cybersecurity world to clear things up.
What cybersecurity innovation doesn’t look like:
- Designing the one, impenetrable firewall to rule them all
- Inventing a fast, seamless, uncrackable form of encryption
- Typing furiously before a screen of cascading green text to track down infamous hackers on the darknet
Sure, these may be noble goals, but you can hardly call them practical. And yet, too many let their thoughts drift toward these lofty aspirations when cybersecurity innovation is mentioned. No wonder it can be so difficult to allocate any appreciable funds for innovation in an IT environment.
Here’s what cybersecurity innovation should look like:
- Seeking “cyber-smart” devices when upgrading or deploying new infrastructure
- Integrating ongoing cybersecurity education into the fiber of your office culture
- Transitioning from a reactive approach to cybersecurity threats to a proactive one
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t set high standards when it comes to innovation in your IT environment. However, there is a benefit to being realistic, especially in the struggle for the limited IT budget. The sooner you can set these reasonable expectations for your team, the better chance you have to improve your security posture without breaking the bank.
Giving your IT strategy a dose of reality
The benefits of innovation mostly come from working smarter, not harder. Expanding on the blueprint above, you can provide some very real cost savings while easing your cybersecurity burden.
A good chunk of your cybersecurity budget is likely tied up in protecting countless endpoints from never-ending cybersecurity threats. Useful? Absolutely. But there’s a better way to spend your money and effort. With a small slice of that budget dedicated to innovation, you could look into endpoints that include integrated threat monitoring and self-healing properties. And these aren’t mythical devices plucked from science fiction; the features exist in very real, readily available products like smart printers. Start small with a few devices, investing the time to train with them and configure them properly, and be ready to demonstrate to stakeholders how your new smart tech has actually made a difference.
Culture of security
Ever wasted an afternoon cleaning up an infected computer or fighting ransomware holding a user’s data hostage? Many have been there before. Rather than spend time and money on these frustrating endeavors, take the time to inject your company’s culture with some cybersecurity savvy. Implementing interactive workshops, drills, rewards, and even games focused on security can go a long way toward giving staff a healthy skepticism of strange sites, correspondence, and visitors. The same users who are all too eager to open that email with the poorly spelled but irresistible subject line will learn to think twice about these simple threats. Enlist your fellow IT colleagues in creating this shift, as new and non-technical employees will be taking their cues from your team. Although it can be slow going at first, this culture will eventually perpetuate itself for free.
When it comes to cybersecurity, a reactive mindset can be costly. Fortunately, all it takes is a little upfront work to equip your organization to nip cybersecurity threats in the bud before they grow into massive time and money sinks. Think of this as preventative care. It’s much more budget-friendly to spend some coin proactively—updating aging tech on your own schedule—than it is to buy and implement a solution in an emergency situation or pay the fines and legal fees associated with a breach. If a smarter solution exists, every day you spend without it is time and money wasted.
The overall idea here is to avoid using your cybersecurity budget as a blunt weapon to wield against an agile enemy. Instead, use these tips and a little creative energy to find smarter ways to spend, and you may just find more time and money to splurge on the initiatives that drive success rather than those that simply keep your head above water.