As the COVID-19 pandemic began to accelerate in early 2020, it quickly became clear that it would have an enormous impact on the business world. With contracting economies and substantial uncertainty looming in financial projections, many organizations began reevaluating their budgets. Naturally, security teams are not completely immune to tightening the belt. Consider the following points to help make the most of your security budget after COVID-19.
COVID-19 Implications for Security Budgets
Smaller budgets are a reality for most teams in many organizations. More than half of CFOs are considering pushing back or canceling investments, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey. Even as some regions are able to return to a semblance of normalcy, others are having to scale back to early-pandemic measures as cases start to rise again, signaling that it will likely take some time before businesses are spending as freely as they were pre-COVID-19.
However, security operations are in a unique situation. Despite being subject to tightening budgets like anything else, they are also more important than ever. Security teams will need to take careful steps to ensure success as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.
Greater Need for Security
One of the most substantial business impacts of COVID-19 has been the transition to remote working. Many businesses are working to reopen their office spaces. However, even those that are reopening are likely to continue offering work from home options. Numerous major technology firms have indicated that they will offer or even encourage remote work for the rest of the year and beyond.
Remote work requires additional security considerations. Team members need to be set up with tools such as VPNs, which they can use to secure their work while using a personal network. Additionally, security teams may face more challenges trying to ensure workers follow security guidelines and policies. Reducing security budgets could make addressing these new concerns even more difficult.
Furthermore, with fewer people working on-site, providing physical security for facilities may look different than it has in previous years. In some cases, it may be necessary to protect key data assets in new physical locations. Security teams need tools like alarm monitoring software that will empower them to protect the interests of their organizations remotely.
Tighter Budgets Across the Board
Although tighter budgets may be affecting your security team, now is the time to prove the value of strong security operations. A good starting point for many teams is to emphasize the importance of securing remote work and digital assets that could be vulnerable without proper measures. Detailing how time is spent to ensure the safety of mission-critical operations can also be a helpful way to protect your budget. Furthermore, consider detailing threats that have been neutralized or averted; security is all too often “out of sight and out of mind” for executive leadership.
Four Ways To Make the Most of Your Budget
Even with the most persuasive arguments in the world, it is likely that many teams will see their security budgets cut. Therefore, it is a good time to think about ways to achieve more with less.
1) Audit and Prioritize
As is always the case with budget reevaluations, it is valuable to carefully audit current risks, assets, and strategies to identify the most critical. An in-depth threat assessment and evaluation of your priorities should help maximize the impact of your efforts while minimizing waste.
While general security industry frameworks can provide some helpful guidance for priorities, the needs of every organization are different. Even with a smaller budget, it is worth investing time and resources into auditing your needs and processes. In most cases, this will deliver a far greater return on investment in the form of a more intentional and data-backed approach to security. It may also help you argue for fewer or no budget cuts.
2) Leverage Budget-Friendly Solutions
Examine some of the tools you use and determine whether there are any investments you can make to increase efficiency. For example, helping centralized security teams to remotely monitor assets is an excellent way to cut costs while improving effectiveness. Tools like alarm monitoring and remote access controls can be very useful.
This is especially important in the work-from-home world. With fewer people on-premises, security teams need the ability to monitor assets, sometimes in multiple locations, through centralized systems. The right solutions will help you contain costs without sacrificing your efficacy.
3) Focus on People
There is a tendency in the security field to focus only on technology. Certainly, some tools can enhance the impact of personnel, but every team should focus first and foremost on its people.
Errors and inefficiencies are far more costly than hiring or training. Having reliable employees on your team may help you cut costs in the long run, even if you must invest in developing them. Training is typically a very cost-effective way to improve results.
The silver lining of the COVID-19 economic slowdown is that there are many talented professionals looking for new positions. This may be an opportunity to find qualified people without having to poach them from other organizations.
4) Develop a Culture of Security
Consider expanding your training efforts for the rest of your organization (or clients, if you are a security service provider). Humans are the most vulnerable element of any system. Phishing continues to be the most commonly used attack and the coronavirus pandemic has increased its intensity with health-based scams.
Develop educational resources to help your team understand their roles in ensuring company security. Including specific information about working from home and handling security in the COVID-19 world can make your training courses more relevant and more useful. Fostering a cultural sense of involvement in security can lead to positive and far-reaching results.
Streamlined Operations with Alarm Center
Although many teams will need to wrestle with tighter security budgets moving forward, the right tools can make teams more effective with fewer resources. Security Information Systems’ Alarm Center software is a powerful alarm monitoring solution that gives your team the ability to centrally manage and dispatch security resources. Schedule a demo today to learn more.