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5 ways to save money on cybersecurity and network equipment

As any IT administrator can attest, robust data protection does not come cheap. Any means by which one can save money on cybersecurity gear is welcome.

Between hardware upgrades, repairs, replacements, service subscription fees and even the additional expense of keeping your network equipment cool and ventilated, most companies find themselves dedicating between 0.2% and 0.9% of their revenue to their cybersecurity, with this number varying due to company size and industry. 

Financial organizations, for example, spend about 10% of their IT budget on security. 

Microsoft, however, allocates $1 billion a year to cybersecurity initiatives, which are obviously a tremendous priority for such a major tech enterprise.

While determining how much of your company’s budget to spend on security can be a complicated consideration, finding a few ways to save money along the way is simpler than one might think.

1. Save money on cybersecurity with refurbished gear

Buying brand new gear comes with more than just a hefty price tag.

New hardware that has not had time to be fully utilized in wild, real world security environments may harbor exploits that are yet to be discovered by developers and hackers alike.

New tech may also be rife with built-in bugs. This can make recently purchased, cutting edge gear a time bomb, ready to explode the moment you attempt to implement it in a situation that the manufacturer may not have adequately tested for.

Purchasing refurbished gear is therefore not only a way to save money on cybersecurity equipment, but also a more sound security strategy altogether.

Previous years’ equipment has had months of actual implementation across a wide spectrum of applications and configurations. During this time, manufacturers are able to release security patches and firmware updates that address any vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

Additionally, widely used gear will likely have a large user base from which to gain knowledge. 

If you are not able to find the information you need already posted somewhere, IT and cybersecurity websites, YouTube channels and forums will have users from all over the world who may be able to answer questions you may have from their own personal experience.

However, it is important to purchase equipment from a reputable supplier that carries refurbished products from highly regarded manufacturers. Be sure the company in question provides easily accessed customer service, as well as a guarantee that lets you know they stand by their products.

At all costs, avoid low cost knockoffs or too-good-to-be-true prices from marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. These sites are often full of knock-off products and some sellers provide few options for recourse in the event of your dissatisfaction.

2. Fully utilize the tools you already have

Hardware manufacturers may lead the public to believe that the only way to fully protect your network is by purchasing their new products. 

Being that cybersecurity is a quickly and constantly evolving field full of opportunists fast to pounce on newly discovered exploits, there is a kernel of truth to the sense of urgency that this type of advertising language employs.

Occasionally there are indeed cases where a company has a unique threat that is specific to their business and requires a new or very specific piece of technology. However, a shiny new box is rarely a substitute for proper implementation of the tools you likely already have at hand.

A protocol that implements a firewall, an intrusion detection system (IDS), anti-malware protection, authentication/authorization processes and an auditing system will cover the bases needed to maintain security.

Be sure to keep your system properly adjusted and dialed in to prevent any cracks from forming in your defenses.

Tightening up your network under the direction of an experienced security administrator may even result in some equipment becoming redundant. As an added bonus, gear that is not needed can be sold, with the resulting money put back into your security budget.

3. Use older hardware to perform basic functions

It may seem counterintuitive to use old gear against new threats, but putting outdated computers to work performing basic network jobs is a great way to save money on cybersecurity and networking equipment. 

By using the Linux platform, seemingly obsolete hardware can be re-purposed in order to perform as firewalls, fire servers, routers and more. Without needing the power requirements to run the latest Windows OS, many laptops and desktop computers can find new life performing simple, foundational background tasks.

Be sure, however, that your older machines don’t introduce any new vulnerabilities into your system via compatibility issues, unpatched exploits or unsupported legacy products.

4. Migrate to the cloud

One of the biggest ways to save money on cybersecurity and network hardware is to not have to purchase it at all.

In today’s age of cloud computing, many companies opt to outsource their networks to cloud service providers and, in turn, follow suit with their security. 

There are many advantages to taking this approach. Most notably, companies are able to save the funds that they would otherwise need to pay for the space and additional staff needed to house and administer an in-house network.

Usage of the cloud also allows for further flexibility when it comes to remote workforces.

However, cloud computing is not for everyone and does come with its own special security considerations. Additionally, monthly subscription expenses that see you paying for services you may not require will add up over time.

Business owners and IT administrators will need to think carefully about whether or not they should adopt a cloud strategy. 

5. Maintain your equipment properly

Network and cybersecurity equipment is meant to be continually running to provide you with nonstop service.

This constant activity, however, means that you will need to maintain your equipment properly in order to extend its working life. 

Cleanliness is critical. Environments full of dust or moisture can significantly decrease the lifespan of your gear.

Particulates accumulate in fans and on circuit boards, insulating components and forcing them to work under high temperatures.

Humidity can corrode delicate metal components and also cause dust to cake and stick more easily to surfaces.

Equipment requires space with adequate cooling and ventilation. Temperature settings need to be maintained low enough not just to keep your gear at safe operating temperatures but also to contend with the heat it will naturally produce while operating. 

While cooling and ventilation comes at a cost when it comes time to pay the utilities, you are likely to save money in the long run on the equipment itself if you can squeeze a few extra years out of hardware that has not been consistently running hot under adverse conditions.

Sources

Derek Walborn
Derek Walborn is a freelance research-based technical writer. He has worked as a content QA analyst for AT&T and Pernod Ricard.

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