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Overcoming the Challenges of Security Metrics in Order to Quantify What Matters

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“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” stated famed management guru Peter Drucker. Standard metrics clearly show whether or not departments are on pace to accomplish corporate objectives in some business operations, such as sales and human resources. Unfortunately, security programmes aren’t as straightforward.

While many businesses recognise that they won’t be able to completely remove cyber risk, they must nonetheless measure their security efforts and create thresholds to determine if they’re improving or increasing risk. The correct measurements can provide insight into a company’s existing security posture and, more significantly, where gaps, flaws, or opportunities for future improvement should be prioritised.

Why Metrics Are Hard?

Data collection on security posture, risk, and programme maturity can be time-consuming. This is a significant difficulty since it detracts from other jobs that offer value. Another issue is that many businesses are unsure about the accuracy of their measurements. Leaders who make decisions based on incomplete and outdated data from a single source are prone to come to incorrect conclusions.

Companies that have more faith in security metrics collect data from a variety of sources to ensure a clean, correlated, and bias-free dataset. Adding several data sources makes it easier to uncover commonalities, trends, and stronger signals in the data. In today’s quickly changing security world, successful executives are also tracking metrics in short time intervals—daily, hourly, or even minutely—to guarantee the data is up to current.

In addition, mature security teams carefully link their KPIs with corporate objectives and examine the outcomes they track. “Are we evaluating these indicators to demonstrate that have increased our security posture?” they inquire. Or are we measuring to show that we’ve improved our security team’s efficiency?” Because it’s difficult to demonstrate how security activities are assisting the business’s success without considering outcomes.

Following the resolution of these issues, the most advanced cybersecurity teams identify KPIs from the five categories below to provide important insight into their security program’s maturity and performance. Teams wishing to improve their metrics should think about these suggestions in terms of their desired business results and implement what’s most important to them into their programme.

Security Posture Management

Adherence to frameworks with security maturity models, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework or the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Top 20 Controls, is a standard statistic to track. Of course, assessing adherence to these frameworks necessitates the use of a diverse collection of other indicators. This is a large effort in and of itself, but it is worth it.

Companies can measure mean dwell time to understand how all of their security processes function together, which is how long it takes to address security issues – or how long a threat actor could access systems until the threat is eradicated.

Finally, keeping track of the number of assets that are exposed to the outside world has become a crucial part of maintaining security posture. With cloud adoption on the rise, it’s more important than ever to keep track of your external attack surface and how it changes over time.

The percentage of identified vulnerabilities that have been patched can be tracked by security leaders. Companies will be able to tell if there is consistent patching if they monitor the vulnerabilities discovered and the patch rate at the same time intervals. Furthermore, determining the average vulnerability age will reveal whether patching cadences are on track or are too slow, thus exposing users to additional danger.

Vulnerability management metrics should include asset criticality as a criterion. Monitoring the patch rate for important assets can give you insight into the most critical risk areas. Patching rates for essential assets should be faster, indicating that priorities are aligned.

Cloud Security

Elevated privileges are responsible for a significant portion of cloud risk. Teams may better understand if and when they need to revisit access-level regulations by tracking the number of employees with admin or elevated credentials to cloud applications over time. It’s also crucial to track how many times cloud security policies have been broken and how many misconfigured assets there are in the environment. The efficiency of their entire cloud security initiatives can be determined by comparing these indicators to a set of best practices, such as the CIS Foundations Benchmarks.

Executive-Level Reporting

Metrics at the executive level are more concerned with the business impact than with the security programme. Problem costs, which assess the time required to detect and handle an incident and translate it into the total pay expenses of the personnel, are one item that could be included in this type of reporting. Risk quantification is another metric field. Companies can evaluate where their security programme is in a palatable fashion for senior audiences if they can quantify cyber risk beyond event expenses. Organizations like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) provide advice on assessing information security procedures.


When it comes to evaluating cybersecurity initiatives, there are countless elements and possibilities. And security teams have plenty of information at their disposal. Measurements that best match the business and programme results they want to achieve are incorporated into successful metrics programmes, as are efforts to assure their confidence in the data that informs them.

Shergroupies with their experts can find the best security solutions to combat the obstacles and smoothen your workflow and ensure your office space is well protected with the most appropriate security system in place. Contact us via our website or drop us a message on any of our social platforms and we will revert within 24 business hours.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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