Is Your Business Protected? Pricing Out

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Cybersecurity assessments are really important for businesses today because as they use more technology, they become more at risk of cyber attacks and data breaches. By regularly doing security assessments, organizations can find weaknesses in their systems, fix security problems, and strengthen their defenses against changing cyber threats.

Even though many companies know cyber security is important, they might have a hard time finding the money for it or knowing where to begin. One big question for any organization is “How much does a cyber security assessment cost?” There isn’t just one answer to that, but understanding the main things that affect the cost can help IT leaders plan and decide where to invest in security.

Cost Factors

The cost of a cyber security assessment can vary significantly depending on multiple factors:

  • Company size – Larger companies generally require more time and effort to fully assess compared to smaller companies. There are exponentially more digital assets, users, devices, networks etc. to evaluate as a company grows.
  • Industry – Highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance require rigorous assessments to comply with standards like HIPAA and PCI DSS. More complex and extensive testing is needed.
  • Assessment depth/breadth – The scope and comprehensiveness of the assessment directly impacts costs. Testing a wider range of assets and vulnerabilities is more expensive than a light assessment of high-risk areas.
  • In-house vs outsourced – Keeping assessments fully in-house is typically cheaper than outsourcing to vendors, but may miss specialized expertise or tools. Many companies use a hybrid approach.
  • Testing frequency – Assessments conducted more frequently, like quarterly vs annually, multiply total costs accordingly. Ongoing testing and monitoring tends to cost more than one-off audits.
  • Business requirements – Any unique compliance, regulatory, or risk requirements for the company can make assessments more complex and expensive.
  • Location – On-site assessments usually cost more than remote due to travel expenses and time on-location of the assessors.
  • Assessment type – The particular testing methodologies used, like network scans, penetration testing, social engineering etc. impact costs.

Understanding these key factors provides context on assessment costs and helps guide smart investments in cyber security.

Assessment Types

There are several main types of cybersecurity assessments that organizations commonly perform:

  • Vulnerability scans: These scan a company’s networks and systems to identify security flaws and vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. Vulnerability scans are usually automated using scanning tools and focus on finding technical weaknesses.
  • Penetration testing: Penetration tests go a step further by simulating real-world attacks to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to systems. The goal is to evaluate how well security controls stand up to threats. Penetration testing is done manually by ethical hackers.
  • Compliance audits: Audits assess cybersecurity policies, controls, and procedures to verify adherence with regulations and compliance frameworks like PCI DSS for payment cards or HIPAA for healthcare data. Compliance audits may involve interviews, document reviews, technical testing, and more.
  • Social engineering: This tests employees’ security awareness through simulated phishing, vishing (voice phishing), USB drop, and other social engineering attacks. It evaluates human vulnerabilities rather than just technical ones.
  • Physical security assessments: These assess physical access controls to facilities, data centers, and other sensitive areas to identify gaps like unauthorized access or lack of surveillance.
  • Third-party risk assessments: Companies that share data with vendors or other third parties often conduct assessments focused on the security of those business partners and data flows between organizations.

Understanding the differences between assessment types is important, as each provides value and reveals different risks organizations should address as part of their cybersecurity strategy.

Industry Standards

The cost of a cybersecurity assessment can vary a lot depending on the industry. This is because different industries have different rules they need to follow, different types of data that need protection, and different sizes of companies. Here are some general cost ranges for different industries:

Healthcare – $5,000-$15,000 for a small practice. Up to $50,000+ for a large hospital system. Healthcare organizations manage highly sensitive patient data and have strict compliance rules under HIPAA.

Finance – $10,000-$25,000 for small banks and credit unions. Over $100,000 for large multinational banks. Financial data requires security against fraud and theft. Regulations like GLBA and SOX apply.

Retail – $2,500-$10,000 for a small shop. $20,000-$75,000 for a large nationwide retailer. Retailers collect payment data and customer personal information. Compliance with PCI-DSS is critical.

Technology – $5,000-$20,000 for a startup. $50,000+ for a large software company. Tech firms harbor valuable intellectual property and customer data. Important to test for data exfiltration risks.

Government – $20,000+ even for small agencies. Up to $500,000 for federal departments. Government entities handle sensitive citizen data and have specialized compliance needs.

So, to sum up, rules about security in the industry, the kinds of data gathered, and the size of the company all affect how much it costs to evaluate cybersecurity.

Company Size

The size of your business or organization greatly affects the cost of cybersecurity assessments. Here’s a breakdown of the usual assessment costs based on company size.

Small Businesses

For small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, cybersecurity assessments usually cost between $2,000 and $5,000 on average. Smaller companies face lower cybersecurity risks and have simpler security needs compared to larger organizations. Testing mainly focuses on critical systems and basic security policies, which is often enough for these businesses.

Mid-Size Companies

Mid-size companies with 50-1000 employees typically spend $10,000 to $20,000 for standard assessments. As they have more systems, data, and compliance requirements, they need broader testing and assessments. It is advisable for these companies to conduct both vulnerability scanning and penetration testing.

Large Enterprises

Large enterprises with over 1000 employees need thorough assessments, which usually cost between $30,000 and $50,000 or more on average. Multinational corporations need to assess complex networks, customer data, and regulatory requirements. It may take several weeks and multiple rounds of testing to cover everything adequately. The biggest organizations require continuous and in-depth assessments.

The cost increases as the company size grows because large enterprises have more digital assets and cyber risks to evaluate. On the other hand, small businesses can have simpler assessments with enough security at a lower cost. The extent and frequency of the assessments should match your company’s size and requirements appropriately.

Assessment Scope

The scope of a cybersecurity assessment can significantly impact its cost. Assessments generally fall into two categories:

Partial Assessments

A partial assessment is a limited evaluation that focuses on specific parts of an organization’s infrastructure, systems, or applications. For example, you may request an assessment of:

  • External network perimeter
  • Web applications
  • Cloud environments
  • Endpoint devices

Partial assessments tend to be less expensive since the scope is narrower. Typical costs range from $5,000 – $20,000.

Comprehensive Assessments

A comprehensive assessment examines the full scope of an organization’s cybersecurity posture. This includes:

  • All external and internal network segments
  • Web, cloud, mobile, IoT applications
  • Email systems
  • Endpoints like servers, workstations, mobile devices
  • Data systems
  • Physical security
  • Policies, processes, and personnel

Comprehensive assessments give a complete view of risk for a company but can be expensive because they require more effort. The cost can range from $20,000 to over $100,000.

You should align the scope of the assessment with your business goals and risk tolerance. If you have a limited budget or only need to evaluate a specific system, a partial assessment may be enough. However, it’s recommended for most organizations to do a comprehensive review every 12-18 months to fully understand their cyber risk.

Testing Frequency

How often you run cybersecurity assessments also impacts the overall cost. There are a few main options:

  • One-time assessment: This is a single assessment done at one point in time. It provides a snapshot of your security posture. The cost is lower upfront, but it does not offer ongoing monitoring.
  • Annual assessment: Many companies opt to conduct an annual assessment. This provides more regular insight into risks and vulnerabilities. However, it may miss issues that arise during the year between assessments. Annual costs are higher than a one-time assessment.
  • Quarterly or monthly: For greater security, some organizations choose to test quarterly or even monthly. This allows more frequent checks and quicker response times if new threats emerge. However, costs ramp up as assessment frequency increases.
  • Continuous security monitoring: This involves constant, automated assessment of the environment to detect issues in real-time. It offers the highest level of security, but also carries the highest costs. Ongoing licensing, systems, and staffing are required.

The frequency of testing depends on your business, industry, and how much risk you can handle. Companies dealing with sensitive data or facing bigger cyber risks should test more often. Some businesses may only need to test once or once a year if they do a thorough job. Talk to your security provider to figure out how often you should test based on your budget, needs, and what’s important to your organization.

Additional Services

A cybersecurity assessment is usually the first step in making an organization’s security better. But it doesn’t stop there. Many companies that do assessments also offer more security services to make protections, processes, and peace of mind even better.

Remediation Assistance

Once security weaknesses are found, getting help with fixing them can ensure they are properly addressed. Security providers usually give detailed plans, steps to take, and direct help to fix issues, strengthen defenses, and reduce risks discovered during the assessment.

Security Training

Comprehensive security training and awareness programs aim to establish a culture of cyber safety throughout the organization. Training is available for technical IT staff as well as general end users on topics like social engineering threats, password security, mobile device protections, phishing avoidance, and secure web browsing habits.

Compliance Evaluations

For companies in regulated industries, like healthcare and finance, compliance evaluations help to check if they meet required standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, GLBA, and others. These evaluations look at their current compliance and provide reports on any potential gaps.

Penetration Testing

Going beyond a regular assessment, penetration testing actively looks for weaknesses in networks using tools and techniques like real attackers. This “legal hacking” finds security flaws that could be used by criminals.

Cyber Insurance

Because residual risk can never be fully eliminated, cyber insurance provides another layer of protection through financial compensation in the event of an actual breach. Policies can offset costs for notification, fines, legal services, forensic investigation, credit monitoring, PR crisis management, and business interruption.

Cost-Saving Tips

There are several ways companies can reduce the cost of cybersecurity assessments while still maintaining effective security:

  • Conduct automated scans: Using automated vulnerability scanning tools can find many common vulnerabilities at a fraction of the cost of a manual assessment. While not a full replacement for human experts, it can help identify low-hanging fruit.
  • Train internal staff: Having internal IT/security staff trained on conducting assessments, identifying risks, and implementing fixes can significantly reduce reliance on external consultants. The up-front cost of training can pay off long-term.
  • Leverage existing audits/assessments: Many companies already conduct audits for compliance with standards like PCI DSS, HIPAA, etc. The findings and frameworks from these audits can inform and reduce the scope of security assessments.
  • Start with a limited assessment: Rather than a full-scale assessment of the entire company, start with a targeted assessment of high-risk systems and gradually expand over time. This helps provide value without a huge initial cost.
  • Prioritize based on risk: Don’t try to assess everything at once. Focus assessments on high-risk systems/areas first to maximize risk reduction per dollar spent.
  • Consider remote freelancers: Skilled freelance security consultants can provide high-quality assessments for a fraction of the cost of large consulting firms. Vet carefully to ensure hiring competent professionals.
  • In-house staff augmentation: Temporarily contracting experienced cybersecurity professionals to work in-house on assessments can cost less than fully outsourcing the project.
  • Reassess periodically, not continuously: After the initial assessment, periodic re-assessments may be adequate to catch new issues vs. constant assessments.

Taking the right approach can help make thorough cybersecurity assessments affordable on any budget. Prioritizing based on risk and using automation and in-house skills can cut costs without compromising security.

Conclusion

Cyber security assessments are very important for any organization, no matter how big or what industry they’re in. The costs can vary, but they’re much less than the potential damages from a security breach.

Regular assessments are the only way to really know how secure your organization is, find any weaknesses, and deal with risks before they cause problems. Many companies only do assessments once a year because of the cost, but more frequent testing is better for protection.

The main things about cyber security assessment costs are:

  • Cost is driven by assessment type, scope, company size and more
  • Budget at least $10,000-$30,000 for an annual assessment
  • Prioritize external and internal testing to cover all threats
  • Consider monthly remote assessments for continual monitoring
  • Leverage free resources like vulnerability scanners whenever possible
  • Work with vendors to customize program within your budget

While it costs money to do cyber security assessments, they save you from much bigger costs by stopping breaches. It’s best to do assessments often, look at the most important risks, and find new ways to work with the companies that help with security. It’s better to be ready for problems than to wait for something bad to happen. Get in touch with Cyber Wise Guy, and we can help you start doing the right things for security today!