You’ve invested in cybersecurity, but are you tracking your efforts? Are you tracking metrics and KPIs? If you’re not, you’re not alone.
A report by PwC found that just 22% of chief executives believe that their risk exposure data is comprehensive enough to inform their decisions. This statistic has remained unchanged for the past 10 years. Other recent reports back this up — a report by EY shows that 36% of organizations in the financial services sector are worried about “non-existent or very immature” metrics and reporting when it comes to cybersecurity efforts.
These are organizations that, in some cases, have spent millions on cybersecurity for the sake of compliance. However, they are not maximizing their infosec investment by measuring their efforts.
The importance of cybersecurity metrics
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. And you can’t measure your security if you’re not tracking specific cybersecurity KPIs. Cybersecurity benchmarking is an important way of keeping tabs on your security efforts. You need to be tracking cybersecurity metrics for two important reasons:
Seeing the whole picture when it comes to infosec: If you’re not tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and key risk indicators (KRIs), you won’t be able to clearly understand how effective your cybersecurity efforts have been, or how they’ve improved (or declined) over time. Without solid historical data to rely on, you won’t be able to make informed cybersecurity decisions going forward. Instead, you’ll just be making decisions blindly.
Communicating with business stakeholders: Without good cybersecurity metrics, you won’t be able to make a case for your infosec efforts — or budget — when you report to your organization’s board members or leadership.
You need cybersecurity benchmarking that tells a story, especially when you’re giving a report to your non-technical colleagues. The KPIs you choose should be clear, relevant, and give a full picture of your organization’s cybersecurity posture.
Below are some examples of clear metrics you can track and easily present to your business stakeholders.
Level of preparedness: How many devices on your network are fully patched and up to date?
Unidentified devices on the internal network: Your employees bring their devices to work, and your organization may be using Internet of Things (IoT) devices that you’re unaware of. These are huge risks for your organization as these devices are probably not secure. How many of these devices are on your network?
Intrusion attempts: How many times have bad actors tried to breach your networks?
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): How much time exists between system or product failures when looking to determine reliability?
Mean Time to Detect (MTTD): How long do security threats fly under the radar at your organization? MTTD measures how long it takes for your team to become aware of a potential security incident.
Mean Time to Acknowledge (MTTA): What is the average time it takes you to begin working on an issue after receiving an alert?
Mean Time to Contain (MTTC): How long does it take to contain identified attack vectors?
Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR): How long does it take your team to respond to a threat once your team is aware of it?
Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR): How long does it take your organization to recover from a product or system failure?
Days to patch: How long does it take your team to implement security patches? Cybercriminals often exploit lags between patch releases and implementation.
Cybersecurity awareness training results: Who has taken (and completed) training? Did they understand the material?
Number of cybersecurity incidents reported: Are users reporting cybersecurity issues to your team? That’s a good sign because it means the employees and other stakeholders recognize issues. It also means your training is working.
Security ratings: Often the easiest way to communicate metrics to non-technical colleagues is through an easy-to-understand score. SecurityScorecard’s security ratings give your company a simple A-F letter grade on 10 security categories (network security, DNS health, patching cadence, cubit score, endpoint security, IP reputation, web application security, hacker chatter, leaked credentials, and social engineering). Based on these 10 factors, your then assigned an overall grade, so you and your colleagues can see at a glance how secure your company is relative to the rest of your industry.
Access management: How many users have administrative access?
Security Policy compliance: How well are you tracking and documenting exceptions, configurations, and compliance controls?
Cybersecurity awareness training: How well are you maintaining documentation for your cybersecurity awareness training? Are you including all members of your organization, including senior executives?
Non-human traffic (NHT): Are you seeing a normal amount of traffic on your website or is there an uptick that indicates a potential bot attack?
Virus infection monitoring: How often does your antivirus software scan common applications such as email clients, web browsers, and instant messaging software for known malware?
Phishing attack success: What is the percentage of phishing emails opened by end-users?
Cost per incident: How much does it cost to respond to and resolve an attack? How much money are you spending on staff overtime, investigation costs, employee productivity loss, and communication with customers?
Choosing your cybersecurity metrics
There is no hard and fast list of the cybersecurity KPIs and KRIs all businesses should be tracking. The metrics you choose will depend, in large part, on your organization’s needs and its appetite for risk.
That said, you will want to choose metrics that are clear to anyone who looks at your reporting. A good rule of thumb is this: your business-side colleagues should be able to understand them without having to call you for an explanation. So, you’ll want to avoid squishy KPIs — metrics that might have a large margin for error — or esoteric metrics that don’t make sense to your business-side colleagues.
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