The Small Business Guide for
Establishing Your IT Budget
It's That Time of Year Again...
A new year means a fresh opportunity to take control of your finances and establish new goals. For many companies, Q4 marks the start of budgeting season. Having a well-planned IT budget for the year will help provide your organization with a stable infrastructure and secure environment. Overall your IT budget should focus on goals towards enhancing compliance, security, and productivity. As a starting point, your IT team should address the following five questions:
1. Are you practicing ongoing monitoring of your network?
Cybersecurity is not a one and done task. You must invest in ongoing programs to properly prepare your business and watch out for your business. As small business networks are highly susceptible to outside intruders, protecting it and practicing ongoing monitoring is of the highest priority. Regularly tested vulnerability scans and penetration tests will allow you to remediate and control any possible vulnerabilities. Other ways to protect your network are utilizing a dark web monitoring service,installing a next generation firewall, and regularly updating software with new releases and patches.
2. Are your employees properly prepared for cyber threats?
One of your biggest targets for cyber attacks is your employees. They are constantly under attack for ransomware, phishing, malware, keylogging, and tech support phone scam incidents. The best way to arm them is through employee security awareness training. Knowledge is power; the better prepared they are to look out for these attacks, the less likely they are to fall subject to them. You can also protect them and yourself by investing in software to scan and filter email and web traffic and establishing strong password policies.
3. Are you investing in cyber insurance?
You can do many things to protect your business using a defense in depth security strategy, but no defense is 100% fool proof. As such, looking at cyber liability insurance for your business is a smart move for any business owner. Many people believe that since they have standard business liability insurance they will be covered in the event of a cyber attack but that is not always the case. Some insurers offer an optional cyber coverage rider and some do not offer it at all. Different policies can cover different things so it is important to consult with an expert in providing this type of coverage so you can be sure to get what you need.
4. Are you confident in your current business continuity/data security program?
You should also make sure you have a plan in place if you do in fact end up experiencing a breach. A proper data security and business continuity program is critical for maintaining business resumption, reputation, and customer reliability after a cyber incident. If you don’t have systems and processes in place for data recovery, your business is taking a big risk. You should always back up your data and schedule regular test restores, particularly with the increasing possibility of cyber threats.
5. Do you have the proper IT team to handle these projects?
If you go through all these questions and end up having more questions than answers, it is probably time to invest in a new method. Maybe your current team is not big enough to handle these extremes, maybe you just aren’t quite sure where to start. Outsourcing your cybersecurity and support to a managed service provider will allow you to be at ease. They have the expertise needed to create a tailored IT budget for your organization and put a plan in place to properly enhance your cybersecurity.
Regardless if you outsource or have in-house support, when making an investment in cybersecurity, you should consider the value of the data, the probability it can be breached, and the effectiveness that the new control provides. While you may have dozens of IT projects that need to be addressed, your team should first take a step back to prioritize and strategize. These questions will guide you toward the most proactive method of establishing your new year's IT budget. If you need a professional opinion, we are always happy to help. Check our our IT Budgeting Guide here.