A closer look at the cost vs. reliability decision in data security
With today’s increasing data security threats, organizations know that they need to beef up their data security. What kind of security and how much to spend are the big questions.
Some may choose to go it alone to implement data security measures with the intention of saving a few dollars. Others partner with an IT security expert to get increased security, uptime, customer satisfaction and peace of mind.
Lower cost vs. reliability—it’s a difficult choice to make. But I think we need to rephrase the cost vs. reliability tradeoff in light of today’s threat-saturated online business environment. Doing so might make the decision easier.
Clarifying the Decision
I’m not an alarmist, but my passion is to protect business assets from unnecessary loss—those of my clients and my own. So how would I rephrase the cost vs. reliability data security outsourcing decision?
The choice really comes down to this: betting a relatively small monthly payment for security services vs. an unknown and potentially catastrophic result (a data security breach causing loss of revenue and reputation which could prove fatal to the enterprise).
So instead of thinking of the decision as, “Should I choose greater reliability or lower cost?” I would put it this way, “Should I fasten my seatbelt?” The seatbelt analogy is closer to reality than the data security cost vs. reliability argument.
Like the range of outcomes possible when you don’t fasten your seatbelt, the results of having poor data security might range from nothing adverse, or a small inconvenience, all the way up to killing off the business. It’s a morbid comparison, I know, but accurate.
We don’t fasten our seatbelts hoping that we have to use them, but they are there to protect the things that we value the most. The same idea applies to outsourced data security. In addition to providing operational benefits, it’s there as insurance in case you need it.
How many customers can I afford to lose?
Firms with poorly managed data security are increasing the risk of a security breach, downtime, the loss of revenue and reputation and potentially losing the business.
No one wants to drive recklessly, but no one wants to spend more than they have to either. So, here are some important questions to ask when thinking about whether to outsource data security:
- How much downtime can I afford?
- What are the long-term consequences of a security breach or several hours or days of downtime?
- What is the effect on customer loyalty and sales when systems are unavailable or when hackers steal customers’ personal financial information?
We know from our disaster recovery experience that ten days offline is lethal to a business. And, 40% of companies go out of business within one year after suffering a critical IT failure.
Customers are getting more tolerant of data security breaches, considering how many there have been recently, but some will always flee after a breach. So, ask yourself, “How many customers can I afford to lose?”
Is there a clear-cut line where an enterprise should definitely spring for managed data security services? Certainly when they know that any downtime or loss of customer data is unacceptable. But in today’s highly competitive business environment, even a bump in the road might cause a business to fall behind.
Whether it leads to investors changing their minds, or not qualifying for a loan, a small drop in revenue from a data security breach may not be immediately catastrophic but can prove disastrous in the long run.
The Lower-cost Alternative
Whether it’s hackers, malware, or employee destruction of data, unexpected cyber-attacks can happen at any time, and experts are saying that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” an attack will occur.
The safest approach is to contract for managed data security services as part of an overall business continuity plan. These folks live and breath security every day and its there business so they are on the forefront of the best protection. It’s a must-have in retail where even small stores can have a large number of customer-facing systems like POS terminals, signs, wireless access points, and security cameras.
In the long run, managed data security is actually the lower cost alternative. A remotely managed data security solution such as a next generation firewall can pay for itself over time by preventing or reducing downtime, site visits and systems returned for repair. If it prevents a breach, it’s more than worth it.
Then there is the all-important benefit that a seatbelt is designed to provide—prevent serious injury and death. It’s not a 100% guarantee of safety, but expertly managed data security greatly increases the chances of your business surviving long-term by preventing serious injury from an attempted data security breach.
Just click it
In today’s threat-saturated environment, business owners should carefully weigh the merits of a managed data security service based on their business requirements. They should do their homework up front, weighing the pros and cons of going it alone or partnering with an IT security expert, while considering how critical uptime is for their business.
An outsourced IT security approach remains the safest option for organizations that view data security as mission-critical to their success and growth of the business. Partnering with an IT security partner they can trust will ensure that their seatbelt is fastened.
Take these steps to help you decide if managed data security services are right for you:
- Consult an IT security expert you can trust.
- Explore the capabilities of the latest network security technology.
- Carefully review the potential consequences of a data security breach resulting in downtime or loss of customer data.
- Engage in the conversation by commenting on this post. Are you prepared for a data security breach?
Carl Mazzanti is CEO of eMazzanti Technologies, 2012 & 2013 Microsoft WW Partner of the Year Winner and Finalist, and a NYC area IT security expert.