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How Will COVID-19 Affect Cybersecurity Spending?

Aidan Simister by    Published On - 07.07.2020   Data Security

This is a good question, but it’s not one that is easy to answer. As it currently stands, most studies indicate that spending on cyber security will increase as a consequence of the corona virus pandemic.

According to a recent report by Learn Bonds, 70% of organizations have plans to increase cybersecurity spending following the COVID-19 outbreak, with 55% of large organizations planning to invest more in automate on solutions. Likewise, according to the 2020 Technology Spending Intentions Survey, by ESG Global, 62% of organization will increase spending in 2020, while 36% will keep cybersecurity budgets flat.

However, it should also be noted that global IT spending is likely to fall. According to the following press release by Gartner, global IT spending is projected to fall by as much as 8% in 2020, while the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts a drop of 5.1%.

What’s Driving the Increase in Cybersecurity Spending?

Naturally, spending on cyber-security is driven by demand, and there has been a significant increase in cyber-crime over the past decade. According to the 2019 Cybersecurity Market Report, the cyber-security market is approximately 35x bigger than what it was 13 years ago.

Recent events [cough] have created an environment where the need for strong cyber-security has never been so important. To start with, significantly more people are working from home, which means that security teams must adapt in order to keep their data secure.

They now have to find a way to enforce security policies without having any direct visibility and control over what devices employees are using, how they are using them, how they connecting to the network, and from where. And of course, they must ensure that employees are correctly the handling sensitive data those devices have access to.

The only way security teams are able to do this isby investing in advanced cyber-security technologies.

While the shift towards remote working is probably the main reason for the increase in cyber-security spending, there are other notable reasons. For example, increasingly more people are using the internet for shopping, banking, socializing, and some have even been seeking medical advice online, as opposed to visiting their GP. And let’s not forget, cyber-criminals will never let a crisis go to waste.

Attackers have been doing everything that can to capitalize on the situation, which includes everything from targeted phishing campaigns designed to scare people into installing malware or handing over sensitive data.

Which Security Technologies Are Attracting the Most Demand?

Perhaps the most notable spike in spending came from the VPN market. According to Top10VPN.com, demand for commercial virtual private networks in the U.S. jumped by 41% between March 13 and March 23. This is hardly surprising as the primary role of a VPN (at least for organizations) is to enable remote workers to connect to their company network securely, by providing encrypted and anonymous communication between the client and the sever. Of course, the downside is that VPNs make perimeter defense solutions much less effective. Still, the transition from a perimeter-based approach to cybersecurity to a data-centric one is inevitable and must be embraced.

Data-Centric Audit and Protection (DCAP) solutions are another growing market. The role of a DCAP solution is to aggregate event logs from a wide variety of sources, including most popular cloud platform.

Security teams can then analyze the data and receive real-time alerts on important events. As you might expect, DCAP solutions focus on user behavior; in fact, DCAP is just another term to describe User Behavior Analytics (UBA). Given that an increasing number of people are working from home, security teams need as much visibility as possible into how their data is being accessed, moved, modified, copied, deleted, downloaded, shared, and so on.

Can Businesses Afford to Spend More on Cyber-Security?

This is a good question, but as it stands, nobody really knows how COVID-19 will affect the global economy in the coming years. One the one hand, economies are remarkably resilient. On the other hand, many would argue that an economic downturn is inevitable. After all, Governments borrowed large amounts of money to the cover cost of shutting down their economies, and we won’t feel the effects of that immediately.

If we did fall into a recession, businesses will have their backs against the wall. They can’t afford not to ramp up their cyber defense programs, as hackers will be looking for every opportunity possible to exploit the situation. At the same time, when resources are scarce, they will need to do what they can to stay afloat. If that means cutting security budgets, then that’s what they must do. However, there are other factors that we need to take into account.

Firstly, by allowing employees to work from home and use their own devices, business could actually make a lot of savings. They will have less equipment to purchase and maintain, and some companies may even look into shutting down their physical premises, or at least move into offices that are smaller. In which case, overheads and maintenance costs would fall significantly.

The Importance of Automation

There’s no doubt that companies are going to have to choose wisely. What they don’t want to do is find themselves in a difficult situation where they have to let go of invaluable IT security staff, as the consequence of doing so could end up costing them even more money than what they saved.

With careful planning and consideration, they can automate as many tasks as possible, to ensure that if the worst comes to the worst, and they will at least be covered for most eventualities. As a start, businesses will need to ensure that they can automatically discover and classify sensitive data, detect and respond to events that match a pre-defined threshold condition, such as bulk file encryption, or multiple failed login attempts.

They should have a solution which can automatically generate pre-defined reports that can be used to satisfy the relevant compliance requirements, and be able to automate the process of detecting and managing inactive user accounts, especially if they are planning to cut back on staff.

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