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4 Steps to Justify Security Software to the Board

Information Security Offices face a myriad of challenges every day. Often the most daunting challenge is justifying and securing their budget from senior management. That is because senior management often sees the security budget as a nice-to-have instead of a must-have. Until there’s a breach! The following four steps will enable Information Security Officers (ISOs) to justify their security software budget to the board.

1. Step One –
Identify Known and Hidden Security Software Costs

Review all direct and indirect vendor costs of purchasing a
software solution . Be wary if your chosen vendor is not readily able to
support this request. It could mean that there are some expenditure “ghosts” in
their application closet.

We have all heard the nightmares of CISOs trying to mesh
incompatible solutions into their security schema. Make sure the application
provides seamless integration to your existing security applications.

2. Step Two – Review Security
Software Implementation Costs

Often after an ISO acquires a solution, they must dedicate
too much time toward provision and implementation.

Given an already stretched organization, the ISO will find
it difficult to dedicate resources toward implementation. 

Make sure the new software partner can provide a definitive
stepwise path toward seamless provisioning and implementation. This
implementation path must be “rapid” and “intuitive.”, Getting one-time funds
for the solution is difficult, so you don’t want to also hire additional
personnel to implement that solution.

Seamless integration are the keywords here. It’s worthwhile
to ask the solution provider if they have a knowledgeable customer success or
implementation department. Talking with these departments will provide clarity
into the total implementation costs in time and money.

3. Step Three –
Justify the Costs of Security Software

No matter the reasons behind your request for new resource
funding, cost justification is required. Presenting justification for a
non-reoccurring asset that does not provide revenue can be a challenge. Other
than cost-level depreciation, an ROI calculation is somewhat difficult to
define. To fully consider the value of the security software investment, review
the following line items:

  • Cost of Provisioning
    • Personnel
      • The team’s time
      • Additional personnel needed
        • Coders
        • Provisioners
        • Application providers assistance costs
    • Hardware
    • Additional
  • Cost of Implementation
    • Personnel
      • The team’s time
        • Database search for discovery of sensitive data
          • Review of false positives
          • Set up and review of data type library
            • Regulatory
            • Organization specific
          • Review of all false positives
        • Database classification of sensitive data
          • Set up and review of data type library
            • Regulatory
            • Organization specific
        • Database protection of sensitive data
          • Set up and review of data type library
            • Regulatory
            • Organization
      • Additional personnel needed
        • Coders
        • Provisioners
        • Solution providers cost for assistance

Reach out to third-party CISOs and ISOs that have previously
implemented a similar security solution. Find them on social media such as
LinkedIn’s security special interest groups. Also, interview customer
references that should be provided by the vendor As always, review all online
reviews. Keep in mind the bias of the online review providers.

4. Step Four – Anticipate
Future Security Software Costs

Provide a future picture that answers every anticipated
senior management question or objection. Just like any long-term investment,
there are associated costs for running and maintaining the new asset. These
costs can include hard costs for upgrades.

Also included is personnel time spent on updates and
management. Also consider time spent on metrics retrieval and evaluation. This includes
dashboard configurations and management as well as integrations into future DLP
asset acquisitions.

Make sure to proactively compare costs. Security software
solutions are not revenue generating solutions. But there are objective measurements
that can provide a ROI. Demonstrate how the new software will save money, time,
and personnel compared to the current state. Compare the full costs of
competing offerings or technologies including features and benefits. The software
or solution provider should provide all of this information.

Finally, itemize the ongoing updates and optimization of the
application by the provider themselves. These too can add overall value despite
the costs. With the constantly changing landscape of digital security, software
providers must keep up.  This requires
them to develop and implement continuous improvements and additions.

Information Security Offices must justify and secure their budget from senior management. Often senior management views security needs as a nice-to-have instead of a must-have. These 4 steps outlined above will justify your security software budget to the board. They will also aid in vetting the best solution provider.

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