Debates over inequality are a hot topic of debate in America these days. While the technology industry isn’t usually included in these debates, there are some key inequality issues surrounding cybersecurity that are leaving many everyday business owners struggling to maintain a strong line of defense. The conversation isn’t being had enough outside inner IT circles, so let’s explore this inequality and how its impacting everyday business owners like you.
The Have’s and Have Nots: Cybersecurity Inequalities Across the Business Landscape
Chasing the Action
More and more, companies are facing increased difficulty trying to protect their corporate networks. Why? Retaining high-skilled security professionals is harder than ever. This means that despite an intense increase in damaging and disruptive cyber-attacks, everyday SMBs aren’t able to keep their hands on high-quality IT security hires.
The reason is pretty simple. Most high-skilled cybersecurity experts are looking to be at the center of the action. Namely, they want to work on high-profile, big, interesting problems like protecting assets for Wall St. giants or working for the CIA, going head-to-head with Russian hackers. Unfortunately, for security experts, protecting the network of a local bank or construction company simply doesn’t offer the same rush.
High Salary Demands
Everyday cybersecurity jobs also don’t offer the same paycheck that these high-profile positions. How is an everyday SMB supposed to compete with the salaries offered by Fortune 500 companies or government agencies? Simply put, dynamic and highly skilled tech professionals often demand salaries that SMBs simply cannot afford.
Additionally, as the cybersecurity climate continues to become more unpredictable, the demand for high-paying security jobs will only increase. In fact, a recent report from DICE noted that the average “Director of Security” professional makes more than $178,000 a year. This isn’t great news for small business owners and research giants Frost & Sullivan forecast that by 2020, 1.5 million cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled.
Leveling the Playing Field: How Can SMBs Stay Strategic with IT Security
While there are plenty of new, high-tech products on the market, designed specifically to protect companies from unexpected cyber-attacks, these systems can often leave employees with more work than before. Between managing software updates and dealing with constant security alerts, IT management employees can become overwhelmed, which only results in high turnover rates.
However, regardless of the security challenges companies face, consumers still expect their data and money to kept private and secure when traveling through various web-based business channels. So, business owners are left to make the most of what they have, to ensure client and company data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Let’s break down some of the key ways in which business owners can optimize their security strategy:
- Set Realistic Expectations
As noted, the cybersecurity climate is only getting worse as time goes on. This means, for most modern businesses, the chances of being subject to some kind of cybersecurity incident is nearly inevitable. Many businesses want to take on a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to cyber-attacks, but it’s incredibly expensive – and nearly impossible – to do that successfully.
So, the key is to have transparent conversations between executive team members and security staff to determine how your company wants to balance cost vs. risk. First, companies should focus on protecting what matters most and deciding what risks will be accepted.
Maybe your company will decide to invest in cybersecurity insurance as opposed to building an entirely new security infrastructure. Depending on the unique needs and demands of your business, setting realistic expectations helps to avoid surprises and layout standard operating procedures. There are no wrong answers in this discussion, just strategic decision-making.
- Determine Your Security Management Approach
The next step is determining how your company’s security strategy will be managed and overseen. The choices here include managing security yourself, as the owner, designating security management to internal staff or outsourcing IT security management to an external vendor.
Outsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular option, because the truth is, hiring and maintaining a fully-staffed internal security team is a hassle, not to mention expensive. However, for business owners considering outsourcing options, there are key considerations to be made to ensure vendor partnerships support business goals.
When looking for an external vendor, be sure to choose one that is clear and transparent about the value they deliver, their integration capabilities and any additional spending required to make the most of their service offerings. Ask for references and ask them to quantify their value after their first year of service.
Finally, ensure that you choose and IT security vendor who will be an informative and constructive security partner. Make sure that the service provider you partner with will not only alert you to security problems but also give you concrete explanations for why they occurred and how to remediate the issue.
- Develop a Cost Framework
This is the most obvious element of security investments: what kind of security strategies do you want to implement and what are the cost implications over time? For instance, are there additional cost requirements for training new employees about tech security? What is the cost associated with keeping team members up-to-date on security developments? What will it cost to maintain a system on your own versus the cost of paying a third-party vendor?
If you’re going it alone, the consistent maintenance of a dynamic security team can be costly. Make considerations for how long you want to retain employees and make a detailed accounting of proposed salary increases over time. Also, since security professionals are being pulled in every direction, make sure you’re considering costs for training and promoting junior employees and identifying new talent to address turnover concerns.
If you decide to outsource to a vendor, make sure to consider all the costs required including start-up fees, monthly payments, equipment purchases and software investments. Developing a detailed framework for what you need and what you can pay will help vendors match their service plans to your service requirements and budget conditions.
In a sharply divided world of cybersecurity talent, many businesses feel left out in the storm, unable to meet the salary demands of the IT security professionals they’d like to retain. However, if company’s approach security programs smartly and deliberately, they can make security investments work harder. Developing dynamic IT security platforms can restore peace of mind for business owners and optimizes cybersecurity investments.
However, for small business owners, building a dynamic cybersecurity plan can seem like an uphill battle – especially when cybercrime is getting worse, and the most qualified security experts are getting pulled to high-level, high-paying jobs. But business owners do not have to go it alone.
If a salaried security employee isn’t in your company budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t be strategically proactive with cybersecurity. Reach out to a team of IT security experts for guidance and consultation. Tech professionals can help ensure your data is locked down, even if security budgets are tight.