The Biggest Spend Category for 2023 Is Cybersecurity: Here’s Why and What’s Next

By: Stephan Miller - Guest Contributor on February 27, 2023

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have to make crucial decisions regarding the allocation of their budgets for 2023, especially when it comes to software

With the increase of hybrid/remote work and ever-evolving technology, software architecture has become more complex but also has made work more flexible. 

To compete, you don’t have to embrace every new system or piece of tech, but you do have to adopt the tools that both meet your business needs and keep it relevant. And keeping your systems and data secure is both more complicated and more important than ever.

Prioritizing security: A dominant trend in SMB software adoption across industries

A recent Software Advice survey of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) found that more than half of respondents (55%) adopted IT architecture and security software in 2022, a nine percent increase over the previous year.* 

This trend highlights the vital role that security software plays in protecting businesses from various security threats, such as ransomware and phishing attacks, which have become more prevalent in the age of hybrid work.

The rise in security software adoption also reflects a changing business landscape and the increasing complexity of tech stacks, which can introduce new vulnerabilities if left unsecured.

An increased focus on cybersecurity has a significant impact on professionals in various industries. For example, financial services businesses must follow stringent regulations regarding data privacy. Advanced security software can make this process simpler and help the organization protect customer information in various ways. Cloud security software can keep data stored in the cloud safe, and container security software and website security software can prevent cyberattacks on relevant applications.

The takeaway

Given the importance of security software adoption, SMBs should take this trend seriously and respond accordingly. Assess your business’ current security measures and make any necessary upgrades or investments in security software to keep your org safe from cyberthreats.

Balancing flexibility and security: The impact of hybrid work on SMBs

According to the same Software Advice survey, 60% of hybrid teams adopted IT architecture and security software, compared to only 47% of in-person teams.* This trend highlights the unique challenges that hybrid work presents in terms of managing technology and data security.

The shift to hybrid work has added new layers of complexity for SMBs to manage, including the need to secure distributed teams and technologies that increase the attack surface for potential security threats. 

SMBs with hybrid teams must make security a primary focus in their daily operations, and especially when evaluating new technology.

The unique parameters of hybrid work can be even more important pending on industry or niche. For example, professionals in the healthcare industry must comply with strict regulations regarding patient data privacy and security. 

Security software can ensure that hybrid teams at medical practices comply with regulations and keep patient information secure. Threat intelligence software hunts for threats and neutralizes threats as soon as they are detected, and endpoint detection and response software keeps employee devices safe even when they are working from home.

Protecting the foundation: The significance of SMB spend on IT architecture and security

Last year, SMBs spent an average of $37,000 on IT architecture and security software.* This significant spend shows that many SMBs are taking active precautions to protect their business and technology, and keep data secure. 

This finding can help guide professionals concerned with the security of their organization’s technology and information, as well as those wondering if such investments are worth it. In addition to protection from cyberthreats, investing in IT architecture and security will help SMBs keep pace with their competitors and signal to customers and stakeholders that they are trustworthy. 

There are countless options within this broad category that can help protect your business, including: 

Don’t be a statistic: SMBs must urgently address phishing attacks

In a different 2022 data security survey, Software Advice found a concerning trend: a rise in phishing attacks. 

In the past year, the number of companies reporting phishing incidents jumped from 77% to 89%. Even more alarming is the increase in the number of companies reporting someone actually clicking a link in a phishing email, which rose from 64% to 81% in just one year.**

Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, and companies must be proactive in protecting their businesses from costly attacks and data breaches.

The increase in phishing attacks puts SMBs' sensitive data and intellectual property at risk. A successful phishing attack can lead to data theft, business interruption, and loss of customer trust, and all it takes to make such attacks successful is one person clicking one link they shouldn’t.

To protect against phishing attacks, SMBs need to pair the right technology with clear, consistent security awareness training. This education should cover the basics of recognizing phishing emails and the steps to take if a suspicious email is received.

Other tools such as email security software can divert phishing emails before they reach an employee's inbox.

How SMBs are embracing the future while protecting against cyberthreats

SMBs are becoming bolder in their approach to emerging technology, but this new trend comes with increased security risks. 

In Software Advice's SMB software buying trends survey, 57% of SMBs that identify security concerns as a major challenge when planning tech investments also self-identify as early explorers of emerging technology compared to their peers.* This is exciting news, but also highlights the need for SMBs to thoroughly evaluate security challenges before adopting innovative software.

The internet of things (IoT) is a prime example of emerging technology that brings both benefits and security risks to SMBs.The IoT involves the integration of a large number of interconnected devices, giving cybercriminals many more endpoints to probe to find vulnerabilities and attack your network.

SMBs must balance the benefits of new technology with security concerns to ensure their company remains protected from cyberattacks. As one example, businesses in the retail industry looking to implement an IoT-based inventory management system to improve efficiency should work with their tech vendors to implement robust security measures such as endpoint security software and network security software to protect their devices. 

This approach is one SMBs should follow, regardless of industry. The rise of emerging technology adoption among SMBs is an exciting trend, but professionals must remain vigilant and proactive in their approach to security. 

These resources will make your software search easier

It’s clear that businesses across industries are stepping up to the plate by investing in security software and adopting emerging technologies. However, it’s also important to remember that with every innovation comes new security challenges.

To achieve the best results, SMBs must stay informed on the latest threats and mitigation strategies while ensuring all employees receive regular training on security best practices and conduct thorough evaluations of the security challenges that come with new technologies.

Survey methodology

*Software Advice’s 2023 SMB Software Buying Trends Survey was conducted online from August 2022 to October 2022 among 1,513 respondents from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and France and from SMBs with revenue less than $1 billion and 2-999 employee size. Respondents were screened for their involvement in software purchasing decisions and those who were a leader/ member of the group or had significant influence qualified for the study.

**Software Advice's 2022 Data Security Survey survey was conducted in August 2022 among 1006 respondents who reported full-time employment. 289 respondents identified as their company's IT security manager.