9 Cybersecurity Metrics + KPIs to Track

By Phoebe Fasulo

Posted on Jul 8, 2019

You’ve invested in cyber security, 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 percent 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 percent of organizations in the financial services sector are worried about “non-existent or very immature” metrics and reporting when it comes to cyber security efforts. 

These are organizations that, in some cases, have spent millions on cyber security for the sake of compliance. However, they are not maximizing their infosec investment by measuring their efforts. 

The importance of cyber security metrics

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. And you can’t measure your security if you’re not tracking specific cyber security KPIs. Cyber security benchmarking is an important way of keeping tabs on your security efforts. You need to be tracking cyber security metrics for two important reasons: 

  1. 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 cyber security 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 cyber security decisions going forward. Instead, you’ll just be making decisions blindly. 
  2. Communicating with business stakeholders: Without good cyber security metrics, you won’t be able to make a case for your infosec efforts — or budget —  when you talk to your organization’s leadership or board members.

You need cyber security 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 cyber security. 

You may also need to choose benchmarks for your vendors and other third parties, who have access to your networks and can expose your organization to risk.

Cyber security KPIs to track

Below are some examples of clear metrics you can track and easily present to your business stakeholders. 

  1. Level of preparedness: How many devices on your network are fully patched and up to date?
  2. 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? 
  3. Intrusion attempts: How many times have bad actors tried to breach your networks?  
  4. 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.
  5. Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR): How long does it take your team to respond to a threat once your team is aware of it?
  6. Days to patch: How long does it take your team to implement security patches? Cybercriminals often exploit lags between patch releases and implementation.
  7. Cyber security awareness training results: Who has taken (and completed) training? Did they understand the material? 
  8. Number of cyber security incidents reported: Are users reporting cyber security 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.
  9. Security ratings: Often the easiest way to communicate metrics to non-technical colleagues is through an easy-to-understand score. SecurityScorecard’s security posture score gives 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. 

Choosing your cyber security metrics

There is no hard and fast list of the cyber security 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.  

You may want to track a combination of different sorts metrics: technical security metrics, recovery metrics like backups, and non-technical metrics, like employee security training. 

Lastly, and most importantly, your cyber security benchmarking should communicate something important about your organization’s security to business leaders.

How SecurityScorecard can help

SecurityScorecard’s security ratings allow you and your organization’s business stakeholders to enables users to continuously monitor the most important cyber security KPIs for your company and your third parties. The software automatically generates a recommended action plan when any issues are discovered and clearly shows your historical data. 

By monitoring the cyberhealth of your extended enterprise, you’ll be able to collect data on your cyber security efforts and make informed security decisions in the future. 

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