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Organizations spend about 5.6 percent of their IT budget on security

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December 9, 2016

According to Gartner, companies and various organizations spend about 5.6 percent of their overall IT budget on internet security and risk management.

IT security spending ranges from approximately one percent to thirteen percent of their IT budget. However, Gartner warns that simply looking at the size of security spending, even in comparison to other firms in the same sector is potentially misleading.

"Various enterprise clients want to know if what they are spending on information security is equivalent to others in their industry, geography and size of business in order to evaluate whether they are practicing due diligence in security and related programs," asserted Rob McMillan, research director at Gartner.

"But general comparisons to generic industry averages don't tell you much about your state of security. You could be spending at the same level as your peer group, but you could be spending on the wrong things and be extremely vulnerable,” added McMillan.

“Alternatively, you may be spending appropriately but have a different risk appetite from your peers,” he asserted.

Gartner adds that the majority of organizations will continue to misuse average IT security spending numbers as a measure of security program maturity, at least in the short to medium term.

On any given day, overall business requirements and risk tolerance need to be brought into the equation when evaluating whether or not an organization has set its security budget at the right level, Gartner warns.

Security features are being incorporated into hardware, software, activities or initiatives not specifically dedicated to security. And staff who have a security role often have other duties as well, further complicating matters even more.

Gartner's industry experience is that several organizations simply don't know their security budget. “This is partly because few cost accounting systems break out security as a separate line item, and many security-relevant processes are carried out by staff who are not devoted full-time to security, making it impossible to accurately account for security personnel,” according to Gartner.

“In most instances, the chief information security officer does not have insight into security spending throughout the enterprise,” added Gartner.

Deciding exactly what to spend on that budget is a different and even trickier proposition. Security spending is generally split among hardware, software, services (outsourcing and consulting) and personnel.

Gartner asserts that secure organizations can sometimes spend less than average on security as a percentage of their IT budget. The lowest-spending organizations fall into two divergent camps-- Unsecure organizations that underspend, and secure organizations that have implemented best practices for IT operations and security that reduce the overall IT complexity.

Gartner added that enterprises should be spending between 4 and 7 percent of their IT budgets on information security-- lower in the range if they have mature systems, higher if they are wide open and at risk.

Source: Gartner.

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