Cybercrime is a huge problem — not just for businesses but for individuals too. In fact, according to a report, the levels of cybercrime affecting the UK doubled from 2015 to 2020 — and it’s likely that this number will continue to rise.

It is unsurprising then that companies and individuals are spending more on cybersecurity. Indeed, worldwide spending on IT security and risk management technology rose to over $150 billion in 2021.

This narrative comes about through dual issues. Not only is cybersecurity technology becoming more expensive, but everyone is being urged to spend more.

‘While spending on countering [cybercrime] could grow by almost 15 per cent a year, that may not be enough’, says Davey Jose, Thematic Analyst — Disruptive Technologies at HSBC. Adding:

‘As cybercrime soars, investment in cybersecurity is increasingly important. Security technology has evolved from the physical to the digital too: the next evolution will be to deploy artificial intelligence to automate security further’.

However, this is creating a problem. As international businesses with large cybersecurity budgets and high net worth individuals conduct an arms race to defend themselves against cybercrime, smaller companies and those who can’t afford significant cybersecurity tech find themselves left behind.

The rising cost of software

It was once the case that virtually any business or individual could afford high-quality antivirus software. This was when cybersecurity was simpler, and such programmes worked by identifying file-based signatures. If the software saw a signature it knew to be malicious, it could stop it from entering your system.

However, cybercriminals have become far more sophisticated, and to stay protected, companies and individuals need advanced antivirus that can detect fileless and polymorphic malware, as well as advanced attacks such as ransomware.

But this cost is a necessary expense. Cybersecurity experts understand that without next-generation cybersecurity software, businesses will struggle to keep themselves secure.

‘The huge rise in ransomware attacks is a trend only likely to continue’, says George Glass, Head of Threat Intelligence at Redscan. ‘This means that investment in next-gen antivirus and endpoint detection and response tools should be a high priority for security teams in 2021’.

A 24/7 threat

It’s not only the expense of software that is going up. For businesses, modern cybersecurity requires work from humans.

This work can take many forms depending on the cybersecurity strategy of the business, but it often includes round the clock monitoring. If a business suffers a cyberattack, the software may be able to recognise the attack, but it might not actually be able to do anything about it.

Dealing with the issue takes human cybersecurity staff — and they need to be available to deal with problems 24/7.

Of course, cybersecurity staff are expensive. Once again, few small businesses can afford the rising cost of cybersecurity professionals. This is especially true in the wake of the cybersecurity skills shortage, which saw in excess of four million cybersecurity roles go unfilled in 2020.

It comes down to the fact that richer businesses have the budget for cybersecurity staff which is likely to be impossible for the vast majority of companies across the country.

How smaller businesses can afford rising cybersecurity costs

Small businesses that want to keep themselves secure against cybercrime need to accept that they will have to account for it in their budget.

However, that doesn’t mean that every company needs to go out and hire a full cybersecurity team to proactively monitor and react to attacks. In fact, it’s a better idea to consult with cybersecurity specialists to understand the specific needs of the company.

Additionally, it can be sensible to outsource your cybersecurity to a team that handles businesses similar to yours. This way, it is the cybersecurity specialists that take on the cost of upgrading software and other tech.

What can individuals do to stay secure?

Of course, it’s not just businesses that face rising cybersecurity costs. Thankfully, for individuals, the standard advice remains useful.

The most important thing that individuals can do is stay as informed as possible. Understanding the latest threats and types of attacks is vital to have an idea of how to deal with them.

Human error is, unfortunately, the most common issue relating to cyberattacks so you need to do everything you can to ensure that you are protected. This includes keeping any device up-to-date and making use of antivirus software.