How Much Does Cybersecurity Cost?

In today’s world businesses around the world as well as in Australia, face increasingly sophisticated and innovative cybercriminals targeting what matters most to them; their money, data and reputation. Critical business assets like bank accounts, email systems and business devices, face compromise and are lucrative targets for malicious actors. 

With major cyber attacks being reported in the media and an increase in regulatory requirements surrounding information security, businesses have started to realise the importance of a robust cybersecurity function. So how much does cybersecurity cost? 

What does a cybersecurity strategy consist of? 

A successful cyber security approach has multiple layers of protection spread across the entirety of a business. These layers of protection need to address three key factors to be effective:

People -  Users must understand and comply with basic data security principles like choosing strong passwords, being wary of attachments in email, and backing up data.

Processes - Organisations must have a framework for how they deal with both attempted and successful cyber-attacks.

Technology - Technology is essential to giving organisations and individuals the computer security tools needed to protect themselves from cyber-attacks.


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Factors that dictate the cost of cybersecurity 


The cost of cybersecurity is as far from fixed as possible, which makes it challenging to arrive at a budget. However, there are a number of factors that impact the cost of cybersecurity for your business. Below are a number of factors your business may need to consider when arriving at a budget for your cybersecurity:

1. Industry


Cyber threats are rapidly evolving and depending on the industry you operate in your cyber threat landscape may look different. For example some industries like healthcare or finance, consist of businesses that store and handle significant amounts of Personally Identifiable Information or PII, which means they are more lucrative targets for cybercriminals. This has led to these industries being heavily regulated. For example, the finance industry in Australia is regulated by APRA, and businesses need to comply with APRA CPS 234. Another example is the businesses that handle or store cardholder data that need to comply with PCI DSS. Complying with these regulations can mean a significant investment in cybersecurity. 


2. Types of data 


As mentioned above, some industries consist of businesses that hold sensitive information that is extremely valuable to cybercriminals. Information like medical records can be used by cybercriminals to carry out their cyberattacks. For example the recent cyber attacks on Optus and Medibank have meant that the sensitive information of millions of customers have been exposed to the public, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft. Therefore businesses that operate in these kinds of industries will need to invest more in cybersecurity to ensure they are safeguarding the data they store. 


3. Assessment results


A cybersecurity assessment is a great place to start when determining how much cybersecurity will cost your business. Employing an independent third-party assessor to assess your business's cybersecurity posture can help identify any gaps or vulnerabilities you need to address. Based on assessment results, your business can make an informed decision on the cybersecurity solutions to invest in. 


4. Availability of resources 


With the rapid growth of cyber threats and attacks, the cybersecurity industry is experiencing major skills shortages. Your business needs to decide if it has the resources to hire and onboard an internal cybersecurity team or officer to manage its cybersecurity function. Some businesses however can’t afford to maintain a high level of cybersecurity without outside help. For example, small to medium businesses operate in a different environment compared to larger enterprises, with 97% of Australian businesses having less than 20 staff. With limited resources, many of these businesses lack the resources, skills and experience to maintain a high level of cybersecurity. Therefore they may need the help of a managed service provider or a virtual CISO to help them build and uphold a strong cybersecurity strategy. 


5. IT Infrastructure and the size of your business


Cybercriminals do not discriminate, regardless of size, type or industry, businesses in Australia and around the world are under threat from cybercriminals. For the more than 2 million Australian small businesses the actions of cyber criminals can be devastating, leaving their businesses unable to recover. Small to medium businesses operate in a different environment compared to larger enterprises, with 97% of Australian businesses having less than 20 staff. Small to medium businesses depending on the industry they operate in might have a small headcount but a large amount of IT assets or infrastructure. The cost of cybersecurity solutions varies depending on not just the size of a business but the extent of its IT assets. For example, a SIEM solution or a cybersecurity assessment like a penetration test costs significantly more if a business has a large number of servers, applications and devices. 

What is the cost of not investing in cybersecurity? 


A good way to understand the return on investment of cybersecurity is to understand the impact of a cyber attack on your business. Cyber attacks can have a devastating impact on your business, a successful attack can:

  • Cause system or server crashes, bringing your business to a complete standstill
  • Allow hackers' entry into a system to cause damage or steal valuable information.
  • Disable a system until the company pays the attacker a ransom
  • Alter, delete or insert data from/into a system.


The above impacts can result in financial, reputational and legal implications. 


Financial Implications:

  • Loss of money or sensitive information and assets 
  • Loss of business due to a halt in operations
  • Cost of recovery and reporting

Reputational Implications:

  • Loss of credibility with customers and clients
  • Damage to brand image

Legal Implications:

  • Possible legal proceedings due to negligence 
  • Failure to comply with industry regulations may lead to fines


According to research done by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the cost of a data breach averaged USD 4.35 million in 2022. This figure represents a 2.6% increase from last year when the average cost of a breach was USD 4.24 million. The average cost of a ransomware attack (not including the payment of the ransom) was reported as USD 4.54 million.

In their study, they also noted that organisations that had an Incident response plan as part of their cybersecurity strategy saved USD 2.66 million when it comes to the cost of a data breach. Organisations that implemented AI and Automation in their cybersecurity solutions also saved USD 3.05 Million. 

Therefore it is evident that the cost of a cyber attack severely outweighs the cost of having a robust cybersecurity function in your organisation. The return on investment of your cybersecurity spend should be thought of as the money saved by preventing a cyber attack or data breach from occurring in your organisation. 

An Increase In Outsourcing 

Cybercrime has evolved dramatically in recent years. Not only have attacks become more common, but they’ve also become far more sophisticated. So much so that your average small to medium business simply doesn’t have the knowledge or capabilities to battle cybercrime on its own.

Adding fuel to the fire is the growing attack surface that’s stemming from an increased number of sensors, a burgeoning IoT market, cloud integration and so on. Combine this with the fact that many expert cybercriminals are now selling cybercrime tools to low-level hackers for monetary gain, and you’ll see why this problem has grown exponentially.

Therefore, we’re seeing a trend where organisations are choosing to outsource their cybersecurity or opting for Cybersecurity As A Service (CSaaS) services. 

What is CSaaS? 

Cybersecurity As A Service or CSaaS in short is an outsourced model of cybersecurity management.

Rather than handling it in-house where you may have limited resources and expertise, you outsource it to a third-party vendor typically on a pay-as-you-go basis.


How can StickmanCyber help? 

At StickmanCyber we provide a comprehensive fully managed service that protects and certifies your business, resulting in mitigating your risks, building trust, and winning and retaining clients. Our Stickman Cybersecurity As A Service offering provides our clients with unlimited and annual access to multiple cybersecurity resources with different areas of expertise for a monthly subscription. We can help you protect, certify and grow your business, speak to an expert today.

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