The content of this post is solely the responsibility of the author.  AT&T does not adopt or endorse any of the views, positions, or information provided by the author in this article. 

How can you effectively manage a security budget in a recession? An economic downturn will likely impact your team, so you must prepare to balance your cybersecurity needs with your spending limits.

How will a recession impact security teams?

Cyber attacks become more common during recessions because potential insider threats and fraud cases increase. On top of the risks, you likely must deal with reduced budgets and staff. Less flexible spending usually means you have to take on larger workloads.

In addition, you face increased risk from anyone who was let go due to the economic downturn. They know your organization’s security vulnerabilities and how to exploit them if they want to retaliate. Cybercrime also gives them an opportunity to utilize their skills for financial gain. You must effectively manage your budget to prepare for such effects.

Preparing security budgets for a recession

Your organization will likely cut or limit your security budget, so you must prepare to handle increased security threats with less flexible spending. The key to an adequate long-term solution is to consider the returns you’ll get for each investment.

  •  Consider a loan

Getting a loan to boost your security budget may be a good approach if you need more flexibility with your expenses. However, you must be aware of transaction types to navigate the complexities of borrowing adequately. For example, hindering is the practice of keeping assets from creditors, which is fraud. Establish a relationship with a trustworthy lender before committing. In addition, you should ensure you fully understand your contract and repayment responsibilities.

  •  Get cyber insurance

Cyber insurance is a great consideration. You can justify the expense because a recession puts you at greater risk for data breaches and network intrusions. Since it typically covers damages, information restoration and incident response, it can put you in a better place financially.

  •  Prioritize spending

Prioritizing cybersecurity spending is the first step you should take to prepare your team for an economic downturn. Identify your compliance and essential security needs, and determine how to support them with a smaller budget. You can then take inventory of your technology and labor necessities and decide how to allocate funds properly.

  •  Analyze technology needs

You can only effectively manage your security budget if you fully understand what you’re working with. Take inventory of the hardware and software you possess, and categorize it. Even if you don’t have to cut your existing equipment, doing so may give you future spending flexibility. Identify what is essential to your team and isn’t, then decide what you can efficiently operate without.

In addition to potentially saving you money in the long term, taking note of your equipment can inform your security decisions. For example, your cloud platform may be helpful for storage purposes but can also open you up to unique risks. Since everything is a potential attack surface, you may be better off operating with only the essentials.

Assessing your technology may help you optimize spending, as well. You can recognize security gaps more quickly when you have an accurate inventory. It also allows you to patch, update and manage devices, reducing the chance of experiencing an expensive breach.

  •  Reconsider vendor relationships

Most organizations have relationships with vendors for their cybersecurity needs. While many outsource to reduce expenses during economic downturns, it can open them up to increased risk. You should reconsider your use of third-party services or platforms. It may be more affordable to use them initially, but consider they may also be making compromises that threaten your data or systems.

Effectively budgeting during a recession

Preparation is crucial, but continuous budget management is essential. You’ll have to routinely reevaluate your security spending to align with the recession’s effects.

  •  Leverage automation

Automating workflows with artificial intelligence (AI) is an excellent solution if you have large workloads or need more staff. It can complete tasks in seconds without your input or assistance, so you can let it run on its own while focusing on more essential duties. Despite its speed, its decisions are accurate because they’re data-driven. While AI may require a larger initial investment, it’s usually worth it.

On top of reducing labor expenses, it can save your team money when handling security issues. Organizations using automation and AI saved over $3 million during data breaches and controlled them 74 days earlier than those without the technology. It allows for more flexibility in your department’s budget because dealing with situations becomes more affordable. Since it can also scale with your needs, you can adjust its involvement as necessary.

  •  Increase training

Training is essential since human error causes 95% of cybersecurity issues for organizations. You only need to spend on labor, which can be an effective strategy. Your department’s budget may be limited, but consider the benefits of allocating funds toward upskilling. It can inform your team of potential risks during the recession. Also, it can better prepare them to respond to security threats — a critical factor for those dealing with high workloads or understaffing.

  •  Focus on employee retention

The cybersecurity skills shortage is a significant factor to consider because you’ll likely see its impact during the recession. The longer it goes on, the more you may feel its effects. Employee retention is essential to mitigate this challenge.

You could use a multi-layered security architecture to make your role manageable. It’s a cost-effective approach to reducing burnout and simplifying tech stacks — some of the main ways to keep your team productive.

Balancing security and spending

A recession may limit your budget, but you can continue to provide security to your organization if you manage it effectively. Ensure you understand your equipment needs, prioritize spending and stabilize your team’s workload.