How to build a business case for endpoint security


Bottom line:  Endpoint security business cases do much more than just quantify costs and benefits; they uncover gaps in endpoint and cyber protection that need urgent attention to avert a breach.

Bad actors and hackers prefer to attack threat surfaces that are isolated, vulnerable with out-of-date security patches, yet integrated into a corporate network to provide access. For these reasons and more, endpoints are now the popular choice for hacking attempts. Ponemon Institute’s Third Annual Study on the State of Endpoint Security Risk published in January of this year found that 68% of organisations were victims of successful endpoint attacks in 2019 that compromised data assets and IT infrastructure. Since 2017, successful endpoint attacks have spiked by 26 percent. The Ponemon study also found that it takes the typical organisation 97 days to test and deploy patches to each endpoint. When the average endpoint is three months behind on updates, it’s understandable why breaches are increasing. In 2019 the average endpoint breach inflicted $8.94m in losses. The following graphic compares the escalating number of breaches and economic losses for the last three years:

How To Build A Business Case For Endpoint Security

Exploring endpoint security’s many benefits

Think of building a business case for endpoint security as the checkup every company needs to examine and identify and every threat surface that can be improved. Just as all efforts to preserve every person’s health is priceless today, organisations can’t let their guard down when it comes to keeping endpoint security strong.

The economic fallout of COVID-19 is hitting IT budgets hard. That’s why now is the time to build a business case for endpoint security. CIOs and CISOs have to make budget cuts due to revenue shortfalls. One area no one wants to compromise on, however, is allowing endpoint agents to degrade over time. Absolute Software’s  Endpoint Security Trends Report found that the more complex and layered the endpoint protection, the greater the risk of a breach. Overloading every endpoint with multiple agents is counterproductive and leaves endpoints less secure than if fewer agents were installed.  Additionally, Absolute just launched a Remote Work and Distance Learning Insights Center, providing insights into the impact of COVID-19 on IT and security controls. An example of the dashboard shown below:

How To Build A Business Case For Endpoint Security

Business case benefits need to apply to  IT and operations

Absolute and Ponemon’s studies suggest that autonomous endpoints are the future of endpoint security. Activating security at the endpoint and having an undeletable tether to every device solves many of the challenges every business’s IT and Operations teams face. And with the urgency to make IT and Operations as virtual as possible with budgets impacted by COVID-19’s economic fallout, team leaders in each area are focusing on the following shared challenges. COVID-19’s quarantine requirements make hybrid workforces instantly appear and make the budgets needed to support them vanish at the same time.  The following are the shared benefits for IT and Operations that need to anchor any endpoint security business case:

  • The most urgent need is for greater IT help desk efficiency. While this is primarily an IT metric, the lack of real-time availability of resources is slowing down remote operations teams from getting their work done.
  • Both IT and Operations share asset utilisation, loss reduction, and lifecycle optimisation ownership in many organisations today. Having a persistent, undeletable tether to every device at the hardware level is proving to be an effective approach IT, and operations teams are relying on to track and improve these metrics. The Absolute and Ponemon studies suggest that the more resilient the endpoint, the better the asset efficiency and lifecycle optimisation. Autonomous endpoints can self-heal and regenerate themselves, further improving shared metric performance for IT and operations.
  • The more autonomous endpoints an organisation has, the quicker operations and IT can work together to pivot into new business models that require virtual operations. Education, healthcare, financial services, government, and professional services are all moving to hybrid remote workplaces and virtual operations as fast as they can. Using the business case for endpoint security as a roadmap to see where threat surfaces need to be improved for new growth is key.

Endpoint security benefits 

The following are the benefits that need to be included in creating a business case for endpoint security:

  • Reduce and eventually eliminate IT help desk backlogs by keeping endpoints up-to-date. Reducing the call volume on IT Help Desks can potentially save over $45K a year, assuming a typical call takes 10 minutes and the cumulative time savings in 1,260 hours saved by the IT help desk annually.
  • Reduce security operations staff interruptions and emergency security projects that require IT’s time to run analytics reports and analyses. Solving complex endpoint security problems burns thousands of dollars and hours over a year between Security, IT, and Operations. Having a persistent, unbreakable connection to every endpoint provides the device visibility teams need to troubleshoot problems. Assuming the 2,520 hours IT Security teams alone spend on emergency endpoint security problems could be reduced, organisations could save approximately $130K a year. 
  • Autonomous endpoints with an undeletable tether improve compliance, control, and visibility and is a must-have in the new hybrid remote workplace. For endpoint security to scale across every threat surface, having an undeletable tether to every device is a must-have for scalable remote work and hybrid remote work programs in the enterprise. They also contribute to lowering compliance costs and improve every aspect of asset management from keeping applications current to ensuring autonomous endpoints can continue to self-heal.
  • Reducing IT asset loss, knowing asset utilisation, and system-level software installed by every device can save a typical organisation over $300K a year. Autonomous endpoints that can heal themselves and provide a constant hardware connection deliver the data in real-time to have accurate IT asset management and security data teams need to keep software configurations up to date. It’s invaluable for IT teams to have this level of data, as it averts having endpoint patches conflict with one another and leave an endpoint vulnerable to breach.
  • Accurate asset lifecycle planning based on solid data from every device becomes possible. Having autonomous endpoints based on a hardware connection delivers the data needed to increase the accuracy of asset life cycle planning and resource allocation, giving IT and Operations the visibility they need to the device level. IT and Operations teams look to see how they can extend the lifecycle of every device in the field. Cost savings vary by the number of devices in the field and their specific software configurations. The time savings alone is approximately $140K per year in a mid-size financial services firm.
  • The more autonomous and connected an endpoint is, the more automated audit and compliance reporting can become. A key part of staying in compliance is automating the audit process to save valuable time. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) all require ongoing audits. The time and cost savings of automating audits by organizations vary significantly. It’s a reasonable assumption to budget at least a $67K savings per year in audit preparation costs alone.

Evaluating endpoint security costs

The following are the endpoint security costs that need to be included in the business case:

  • Annual, often multi-year endpoint security licensing costs. Endpoint security providers vary significantly in their pricing models, costs, and fees. Autonomous endpoint security platforms can range in licensing costs from $750K to over $1,2M, depending on the size of the organisation and the number of devices.
  • Change management, implementation, and integration costs increase with the complexity of IT security, operations, and IT service management (ITSM) integration. Expect to see an average price of between $40K to over $100K to integrate endpoint security platforms with existing ITSM and security information and event management (SIEM) systems.

Creating a compelling business case for endpoint security

The best endpoint security business cases provide a 360-degree view of costs, benefits, and why taking action now is needed.

Knowing the initial software and services costs to acquire and integrate endpoint security across your organization, training and change management costs, and ongoing support costs are essential. Many include the following equation in their business cases to provide an ROI estimate. The Return on Investment (ROI) for endpoint security initiative is calculated as follows:

ROI on Endpoint Security (ES) = (ES Initiative Benefits – ES Initiative Costs)/ES Initiative Costs x 100.

A financial services company recently calculated their annual benefits of ES initiative will be $475,000, and the costs, $65,000, will yield a net return of $6.30 for every $1 invested.

Additional factors to keep in mind when building a business case for endpoint security:

  • The penalties for non-compliance to industry-specific laws can be quite steep, with repeated offenses leading to $1M or more in fines and long-term loss of customer trust and revenue. Building a business case for endpoint security needs to factor in the potential non-compliance fees, and penalties companies face for not having autonomous endpoint security. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other laws require audit reporting based on accurate endpoint security data.
  • Endpoint Security ROI estimates fluctuate, and it’s best to get started with a pilot to capture live data with budgets available at the end of a quarter. Typically organizations will allocate the remaining amounts of IT security budgets at the end of a quarter to endpoint security initiatives.
  • Succinctly define the benefits and costs and gain C-level support to streamline the funding process. It’s often the CISOs who are the most driven to achieve greater endpoint security the quickest they can. Today with every business having their entire workforces virtual, there’s added urgency to get endpoint security accomplished.
  • Define and measure endpoint security initiatives’ progress using a digitally-enabled dashboard that can be shared across any device, anytime. Enabling everyone supporting and involved in endpoint security initiatives needs to know what success looks like. Having a digitally-enabled dashboard that clearly shows each goal or objective and the company’s progress toward them is critical to success.

Conclusion

The hard economic reset COVID-19 created has put many IT budgets into freefall at a time when CIOs and CISOs need more funding to protect proliferating hybrid remote workforces. Endpoint security business cases need to factor in how they can create an undeletable resilient defence for every device across their global fleets. And just as every nation on the planet isn’t letting its guard down against the COVID-19 virus, every IT and cybersecurity team can’t let theirs down either when it comes to protecting every endpoint.

Autonomous endpoints that can self-heal and regenerate operating systems and configurations are the future of endpoint security management. The race to be an entirely virtual enterprise is on, and the most autonomous endpoints can be, the more cost-effective and valuable they are. The best business cases bridge the gap between IT and Operations needs. CIOs need endpoint security solutions to be low-cost, low maintenance, reliable yet agile. Operations want an endpoint solution that has a low cost of support, minimal if any impact of IT service help desks, and always-on monitoring. Building a business case for endpoint security gives IT and operations the insights they need to protect the constantly changing parameters of their businesses.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech ExpoBlockchain ExpoAI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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