Improving network security is a top budget priority for 2020 in most organizations, and with good reason — cybercrime is growing at an astonishing rate. Data breaches hit an all-time high in 2019, and analysts say 175 million individuals become victims of cybercrime each year.

Increased spending won’t necessarily address the problem, however. In fact, one recent survey found that 90 percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) admit their organizations waste millions of dollars on security solutions that prove to be inadequate.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t boost your cybersecurity budget. All companies need to continually upgrade their security environment to address evolving threats. However, there should be a well-considered plan in place to ensure that money is being spent wisely.

In a recent Cisco survey, security industry leaders outlined several best-practice guidelines organizations should follow when developing an effective cybersecurity spending plan:

Balance humans and machines. Consider implementing automated security solutions that leverage AI and machine learning. Our networks are becoming more complex, featuring increasing numbers of computing devices that generate massive amounts of data. Trying to monitor, manage and secure it all exceeds human capabilities. Automated systems can handle a good deal of the tedious work, eliminating many error-prone manual practices in the process. However, organizations still need skilled people who can establish policies, evaluate data and make good decisions.

Find talent in unexpected places. Nearly two-thirds organizations worldwide report a shortage of skilled or experienced security personnel. Organizations must find new ways to bring in talent. In addition to standard recruiting practices, companies should launch training programs to develop in-house talent. Qualified managed services providers (MSPs) such as SSD are also an invaluable resource.

Get the board up to speed. Security teams need the support of C-level executives to create organization-wide improvements. To gain that support, IT pros must be able to explain the threat landscape without using jargon. Executives need to clearly understand how threats will affect business outcomes.

Prepare for the inevitable. All organizations should develop detailed incident response plans, remediation plans and disaster recovery plans. However, these plans must be regularly monitored and tested for gaps or weaknesses. The testing process also serves as valuable training for team members and managers.

Know your network. Organizations often don’t learn they’ve been breached until the damage has already been done. Advanced persistent threats, polymorphic malware and other stealthy exploits sometimes go undetected for weeks or months. Cisco’s intent-based networking solutions use analytics, machine learning and automation to enable complete visibility into all network devices.

Consider compliance an advantage. Although regulatory compliance efforts almost always require significant time and resources, this shouldn’t be viewed as a burden — it also presents opportunities to improve operations. Improved data security reduces the risk of a breach, protects valuable data and diminishes the chance of financial losses from fines and remediation costs. Data security also improves an organization’s reputation and boosts customer relationships.

Companies are right to boost security spending to address the growing threat of cybercrime, but they must take care to spend wisely. Working with an MSP can be a great way to make the most of your security budget. A provider with broad security expertise can give you access to enterprise-grade solutions, toolsets and intelligence for a fraction of what it costs to buy, implement and manage such solutions on your own.

SSD’s Assurance program is designed to provide our customers with comprehensive security based on industry best practices. Give us a call to discuss how we can help you boost your cybersecurity posture.