Learning Center January 2, 2024

22 Cybersecurity Metrics & KPIs to Track in 2024

What are cybersecurity metrics?

In 2024, cybersecurity metrics have become essential for evaluating the effectiveness of a company’s cyber defenses. These metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) go beyond tracking investments; they offer insights into threat patterns, incident response efficiency, and system vulnerabilities, thanks to advancements in AI-driven analytics.

These metrics are crucial for communicating cybersecurity health to stakeholders, showcasing the return on investment and the robustness of security measures. In an era of increasing digital reliance, they play a pivotal role in strategic decision-making, highlighting a company’s readiness against evolving cyber threats.

Cybersecurity metrics are not just numerical data; they reflect a company’s adaptability and preparedness in a dynamic digital threat landscape, underscoring the importance of tracking and continuous improvement in cybersecurity strategies

What are information security metrics?

Information security metrics are tools used to assess and measure the performance and strength of organizations’ cybersecurity. These powerful metrics can provide businesses with crucial data points to help them strategize and prioritize areas where their existing cyber procedures are weak, and where they should allocate more time and spend to strengthen their cyber posture.

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Why are cybersecurity metrics important?

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. With cyber threats constantly evolving and becoming harder to detect, you need to have measures in place to assess the effectiveness of your cybersecurity programs. Cybersecurity benchmarking is an important way of keeping tabs on your security efforts. You need to be tracking cybersecurity metrics for two important reasons:

1. Ability to make informed cybersecurity decisions

Tracking KPIs and KRIs is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of your cybersecurity strategies. This data provides a historical perspective, helping you to see trends and changes in your cybersecurity posture over time. Without these metrics, decision-making in cybersecurity becomes speculative rather than evidence-based. Having a solid foundation of data allows for more strategic and proactive cybersecurity planning, moving beyond reactive measures to a more anticipatory approach in dealing with cyber threats.

2. Communicate with business stakeholders

Accurate cybersecurity metrics are essential for communicating the state of your cybersecurity to stakeholders. These metrics enable you to present a clear picture of the network infrastructure’s health and justify the budget and resources allocated to cybersecurity initiatives. When reporting to non-technical members of the organization, such as board members or leadership, well-chosen KPIs can effectively illustrate the cybersecurity landscape. This storytelling aspect of cybersecurity reporting is vital, especially in highlighting the organization’s overall cybersecurity posture.

In today’s interconnected business environment, cybersecurity benchmarking extends beyond your organization. With a significant number of companies experiencing breaches via third-party relationships, it’s imperative to establish benchmarks not only for your organization but also for third and fourth parties connected to your network. Almost 98% of organizations have a relationship with at least one-third party that has experienced a breach in the last two years, so it’s no longer enough to secure your own organization; the companies you do business with need to meet similar standards.

22 Cybersecurity metrics and KPIs to track in 2024

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

1. Level of preparedness

Assessing the level of preparedness against cyberattacks is a key metric. It evaluates the readiness of your organization to handle and mitigate cybersecurity threats.

  • Device and software updates: Track the percentage of devices and software that are fully patched and up-to-date. Regular updates are a fundamental part of maintaining a strong defense against emerging threats.
  • Continuous update compliance: Determine how consistently your devices and software are updated. Continuous update compliance ensures that you’re not just reacting to threats but proactively preventing them.
  • High-risk vulnerability identification: Count the number of high-risk vulnerabilities identified within your system. This metric helps in prioritizing which vulnerabilities to address first, ensuring efficient allocation of resources towards mitigating the most critical risks.

2. Unidentified devices on the internal network

The presence of unidentified devices, such as employee personal devices or unrecognized Internet of Things (IoT) devices, poses a significant risk. These devices often lack proper security measures and can become entry points for cyberattacks.

Device count: Quantify the number of unidentified devices connected to your network. This helps in understanding the scale of potential risk exposure.

Device inventory log: Establish if your organization maintains a comprehensive log of all devices connected to the network. A detailed inventory aids in tracking and managing network access, ensuring better control over network security.

Security protocol for new devices: Evaluate if there are protocols in place for new device detection and security assessment. Proactive measures for new devices can significantly mitigate risks associated with unauthorized or vulnerable devices on your network.

3. Intrusion attempts

Monitoring and quantifying intrusion attempts is essential for understanding the intensity and frequency of cyber threats your organization faces. Regularly tracking these attempts helps in evaluating the resilience of your cybersecurity measures.

Breach attempts count: Document the number of times attackers have attempted to breach your networks. This metric provides insight into the level of interest or targeting by cybercriminals.

Frequency analysis: Assess the frequency of these unauthorized attempts. Are they sporadic or do they follow a pattern? Understanding the pattern can help in predicting and preparing for future attacks.

Source identification: Identify the common sources or methods of these intrusion attempts. This information is crucial for reinforcing your cybersecurity defenses against the most prevalent attack vectors targeting your organization.

4. Data Loss Prevention Effectiveness

Evaluating the performance of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) systems is crucial in measuring their efficiency in protecting sensitive information. This metric gauges the system’s ability to effectively prevent unauthorized data access or leaks.

Incident prevention ratio: Calculate the ratio of successfully thwarted data incidents to the total number of attempts. This ratio offers a quantifiable measure of your DLP system’s effectiveness.

Response time: Assess the response time of the DLP system to potential data breaches. A quicker response time can significantly reduce the risk and impact of data leaks.

False positives and negatives: Monitor the rate of false positives and negatives. A high rate of false alerts can indicate over-sensitivity, while missed incidents point to gaps in the system. Balancing accuracy with responsiveness is key to an effective DLP strategy.

5. Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)

MTBF is an essential metric for assessing the reliability and durability of your cybersecurity systems. It calculates the average time interval between two successive system or component failures.

Reliability assessment: MTBF provides a benchmark for evaluating the reliability of your cybersecurity infrastructure. A longer MTBF indicates more robust and reliable systems.

Predictive maintenance: By tracking MTBF, organizations can predict potential system failures and schedule maintenance proactively, minimizing downtime and disruptions.

Performance trends analysis: Analyzing trends in MTBF over time helps in identifying patterns and areas of improvement. If MTBF shortens over time, it might indicate aging infrastructure or increased external threats, signaling a need for upgrades or enhanced security measures.

6. Mean Time to Detect (MTTD)

MTTD is a key metric that quantifies the average duration it takes for your cybersecurity team to detect a potential security incident. It’s crucial in assessing the responsiveness and vigilance of your security operations.

Detection efficiency: MTTD helps gauge how efficiently and swiftly your cybersecurity systems and team can identify threats. A shorter MTTD implies quicker detection, allowing for faster response to mitigate risks.

Improving response strategies: By analyzing MTTD, you can identify areas for improvement in your threat detection methodologies. This could lead to enhancements in your security monitoring tools, alert systems, or team training.

Benchmarking against industry standards: Comparing your MTTD with industry benchmarks can provide insights into your organization’s detection capabilities relative to peers. This comparison helps in understanding if your cybersecurity measures are on par, ahead, or lagging behind industry norms, guiding strategic improvements in your security protocols.

7. Mean Time to Acknowledge (MTTA)

MTTA plays a critical role in assessing the efficiency of an organization’s response to cybersecurity incidents. It measures the average duration between the initial detection of an incident and when it’s formally acknowledged or logged by your team.

Response readiness: MTTA is indicative of your team’s readiness and ability to start addressing cybersecurity issues. A lower MTTA suggests a prompt recognition and initial handling of potential threats, which is vital for effective incident management.

Documentation and protocol compliance: Documenting MTTA and ensuring adherence to set protocols is crucial. It not only standardizes the response process but also provides valuable data for analyzing your security team’s performance.

Improvement of response procedures: Regularly reviewing MTTA statistics can help identify trends or delays in incident acknowledgment. This insight is invaluable for refining alert systems, optimizing communication channels, or enhancing staff training to improve overall response times.

Benchmarking for enhanced security: Comparing your MTTA with industry standards or past performance can guide strategic improvements in your incident response strategy. Consistently tracking and aiming to shorten MTTA can lead to a more agile and effective cybersecurity posture.

8. Mean Time to Contain (MTTC)

MTTC is a crucial metric in cybersecurity, indicating the efficiency with which your team can control or limit the impact of a security breach or threat once it’s been detected, including how long it takes to contain identified attack vectors.

Containment efficiency: The MTTC measurement reflects how swiftly your security team can isolate and mitigate a threat, minimizing its potential damage. A lower MTTC is indicative of effective containment strategies and robust incident response protocols.

Process evaluation and optimization: Analyzing the MTTC helps in evaluating the effectiveness of your incident containment procedures. It provides insights into areas needing improvement, such as the need for more efficient tools or enhanced staff training.

Consistency in containment practices: Ensuring that the steps taken to contain threats are well-documented and consistently executed is vital. This uniform approach to incident containment not only streamlines responses but also enables a more systematic analysis of security protocols.

Scenario planning and preparedness: Regularly reviewing and practicing containment scenarios based on past MTTC data can improve your team’s preparedness for future incidents. It fosters a proactive security culture, enhancing the organization’s overall resilience against cyber threats.

Benchmarking and continuous improvement: By benchmarking your MTTC against industry standards or historical data, you can set realistic goals for improvement. Continuous monitoring and striving to reduce MTTC can significantly strengthen your cybersecurity defenses and response capabilities.

9. Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR)

MTTR is a vital metric in cybersecurity, representing the duration it takes for an organization to fully resolve and recover from a security incident after its initial detection.

Resolution efficiency: This metric gauges the effectiveness and speed of your cybersecurity team in resolving threats. A shorter MTTR signifies a more efficient response and recovery process, crucial in minimizing the impact of cyber incidents.

Recovery process and protocols: Understanding the MTTR helps in assessing the robustness of your recovery protocols. It provides insights into how well-equipped your team is in restoring normal operations after a breach, including data recovery and system repairs.

Documentation and consistency: Ensuring that the procedures for threat resolution are well-documented and consistently followed is critical. A standardized approach aids in swift and effective recovery, reducing the MTTR.

Improvement through analysis: Regular analysis of MTTR can identify trends and patterns in response times, highlighting areas that need improvement. It can also inform training and resource allocation to enhance response capabilities.

Benchmarking against industry standards: Comparing your MTTR with industry benchmarks can provide a clearer understanding of where your organization stands in terms of cybersecurity resilience. Striving to meet or exceed these benchmarks can drive continuous improvement in your security posture.

10. Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR)

MTTR in the context of cybersecurity refers to the average duration required to recover from a cyber breach or system disruption and return to normal operational status.

Recovery efficiency: This metric is crucial for understanding how swiftly and effectively your organization can bounce back from cyber incidents. A lower MTTR indicates a more resilient infrastructure and a well-prepared recovery plan.

Historical analysis: Analyzing historical MTTR data can reveal trends and improvement areas in your organization’s recovery processes. This analysis can guide strategic enhancements in your cybersecurity protocols and resource allocation.

Benchmarking and improvement: Comparing your MTTR with industry standards can help benchmark your organization’s recovery capabilities. Striving to improve this metric can lead to more robust cybersecurity practices and faster recovery times.

Preparedness and testing: Regularly testing your recovery procedures can help reduce the MTTR. This includes conducting drills, reviewing recovery plans, and ensuring that all team members are aware of their roles during a recovery process.

Documentation and consistency: Maintaining detailed and consistent documentation of recovery processes and times helps in creating a database that can be referenced for future incidents. This contributes to a more structured and efficient approach to handling cyber breaches.

Impact analysis: Understanding the MTTR also allows for an assessment of the overall impact of cyber incidents on your operations. This can inform strategic decisions regarding cybersecurity investments and improvements.

11. Days to patch (Vulnerability Patching Rate)

One of the fundamental cybersecurity metrics is the Vulnerability Patching Rate, or days to patch, which measures how quickly an organization addresses identified vulnerabilities. It gauges the efficiency of patch management systems and processes in place. A high patching rate indicates a proactive approach to addressing vulnerabilities, minimizing the exposure window and reducing the potential attack surface.

To calculate this metric, divide the number of patched vulnerabilities by the total number of identified vulnerabilities within a specific timeframe, typically monthly. A higher percentage suggests a robust patch management strategy and a lower risk of successful cyberattacks exploiting known vulnerabilities.

Cybercriminals often exploit lags between patch releases and implementation. Measuring this is a good way to understand the efficiency of your team post cyber breach.

  • How long does it take your team to implement security patches?
  • How is the “days to patch” cybersecurity metric defined and measured within your organization?

12. Cybersecurity awareness training

This metric evaluates the effectiveness of educational programs and activities aimed at enhancing employees’ knowledge and practices regarding cyber threats and prevention.

Training coverage and inclusivity: It’s vital to ensure that cybersecurity training encompasses all levels of the organization, from entry-level employees to top management. Including senior executives in these programs reinforces the importance of cybersecurity across the organizational hierarchy.

Documentation and compliance: Maintaining comprehensive documentation of training sessions, attendance, and content helps in tracking compliance and identifying areas needing additional focus. This documentation serves as proof of proactive cybersecurity measures, which is crucial during audits or post-incident analyses.

Effectiveness and engagement: Assessing the effectiveness of these training programs through feedback and tests helps in understanding how well the information is being absorbed. Engaging and relevant training material is more likely to resonate with employees and lead to better cybersecurity practices.

Regular updates and relevance: Cybersecurity threats evolve rapidly, so training content should be regularly updated to reflect the latest threats and best practices. This ensures that the training remains relevant and effective.

Cultural integration: Integrating cybersecurity awareness into the organizational culture can significantly improve the overall security posture. Creating a culture where cybersecurity is a shared responsibility encourages vigilance and proactive behaviors among all staff members.

Metrics and KPIs: Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) for cybersecurity training, such as engagement rates, knowledge improvement, and behavior change, can provide valuable insights into the training program’s impact and areas needing improvement.

13. Cybersecurity awareness training results

This metric refers to the effectiveness of the cybersecurity awareness training programs implemented and conducted within an organization.

  • Who has taken (and completed) training? Did they understand the material?
  • Does your organization offer recurring employee cybersecurity training?
  • Are employees tested on the material they learn from their cybersecurity awareness training?

14. Number of cybersecurity incidents reported

Reporting incidents demonstrates that your employees and other stakeholders recognize issues within your network and take action to try and resolve these issues. It also means your training is working.

  • Are users reporting cybersecurity issues to your team? How does the number of reported cybersecurity incidents compare to industry benchmarks or previous years?

15. 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 an 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, you’re 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.

  • What is the security rating of your organization?
  • How does your security rating compare against competitors?

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16. Access management (and User Authentication Success Rate)

Access management as a cybersecurity metric relates to the controls, practices, and processes created and implemented by an organization to manage the control of user access to systems and networks.

  • How many users have administrative access?
  • How is user access managed within the organization’s systems and networks?

User Authentication Success Rate evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of authentication mechanisms in place, such as passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), or biometrics. It measures the percentage of successful user authentications compared to the total attempts.

A high authentication success rate indicates robust access controls and authentication mechanisms, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. Monitoring this metric helps organizations identify potential weaknesses in authentication systems, enabling timely enhancements and strengthening security measures.

17. Security Policy compliance

Security policy compliance refers to the organization’s ability to align security practices, procedures, and controls with established security policies and standards. Adhering to compliance requirements is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity, as regulatory standards often dictate essential security measures. Monitoring compliance adherence assesses how well an organization aligns with relevant industry-specific or legal cybersecurity standards, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI-DSS.

  • How well are you tracking and documenting exceptions, configurations, and compliance controls?
  • Is there a process in place to track and monitor employee compliance with security policies?

18. Non-human traffic (NHT)

Ensuring that your business is not tracking bot traffic as a metric is key to understanding the success of business operations and efforts. Non-human traffic is a cybersecurity metric that refers to the portion of network or web traffic that originates from automated sources rather than human users.

  • Are you seeing a normal amount of traffic on your website or is there an uptick that indicates a potential bot attack?
  • What percentage of your overall web traffic is categorized as non-human?

19. Virus infection monitoring

Continuously monitoring virus infections is a cybersecurity KPI that refers to ongoing surveillance of applications, systems, and endpoints to monitor for the presence of viruses, malware, or malicious code.

  • How often does your antivirus software scan common applications such as email clients, web browsers, and instant messaging software for known malware?
  • What actions are taken once a virus infection is identified
  • How is it contained and remediated?

20. Phishing attack success

Phishing attack success refers to the success rate of cybercriminals or threat actors achieving their malicious objectives in deceiving users via phishing attempts.

  • What is the percentage of phishing emails opened by end-users?
  • Are there any specific types or variations of phishing attacks that have been successful?

On a broader level, Phishing Click Rate is also a crucial cybersecurity metric. This evaluates how successful users are in identifying and avoiding phishing attempts. It is calculated by measuring the percentage of users who clicked on phishing links in simulated or real-world phishing campaigns.

A high click rate indicates a need for enhanced user training and awareness programs, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and reporting phishing attempts. Regular training and simulated phishing exercises can help organizations reduce the click rate, strengthening the human element of cybersecurity defenses.

21. Cost per incident

Cost per incident in cybersecurity metrics refers to the amount of money and financial impact associated with each security incident on an organization.

  • 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?

22. Security audit compliance

A security audit compliance will help your business to highlight areas where you may be lacking in terms of effectiveness with the software you are currently using.

  • What is the effectiveness of tools, technologies, and procedures your business is currently using?
  • What is the current process for updating existing softwares and programs?

What are the best cybersecurity metrics to measure for an organization?

There is no hard and fast list of the cybersecurity metrics, KPIs, and KRIs that 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 KPIs that are clear to anyone who looks at your reporting, even non-technical stakeholders. A good rule of thumb is this: your non-technical 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.

Industry benchmarks and comparisons are an effective way to make complex metrics even more understandable. In addition, the most important metric is cost. Make sure when presenting to the executive team and board that your report is able to convey how cybersecurity is saving the organization money or generating revenue.

How to simplify cybersecurity reporting

SecurityScorecard offers easy-to-read A-F security ratings across ten groups of risk factors so you can provide at-a-glance visibility into your continuous cybersecurity monitoring. Instead of giving long technical details that are difficult to understand, you can provide consistent ratings across all factors and a brief explanation of how those ratings apply to business initiatives.

Threats move fast. We move faster.

Cybersecurity metrics and KPI FAQS

What is a KPI in cybersecurity?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) in cybersecurity refers to the specific metrics used to measure the effectiveness of your organizations cybersecurity and the preparedness in the event of a cyber attack.

What should be included in a cybersecurity dashboard?

A cybersecurity dashboard is a visual representation of metrics and KPIs that help stakeholders monitor the effectiveness of your cybersecurity posture and strategy. Some common components of a cybersecurity dashboard include:

  • Level of preparedness
  • Mean Time to Detect (MTTD)
  • Cybersecurity awareness training result
  • Intrusion attempts
  • Virus infection monitoring

How do you measure cybersecurity effectiveness?

Measuring the effectiveness of your cybersecurity efforts means assessing the strength of your organizations ability to find, fight, and defend against cyber attacks. While it can be hard to quantify the success of your cybersecurity strategy, measuring cybersecurity KPIs and metrics can help you evaluate the overall security posture.

What are the common security metrics?

The most common cybersecurity metrics that businesses should track include number of security incidents, Mean Time to Detect (MTTD), Mean Time to Respond (MTTR), phishing attack success, user access controls, and vulnerability management.

What is an example of a key performance indicator for cybersecurity?

An example of a key performance indicator (KPI) for cybersecurity is the “Mean Time to Detect” (MTTD). MTTD assesses the time it takes for your team to become aware of a potential security incident or attack.