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4 Metrics That Prove Your Cybersecurity Program Works

83% of organizations are investing more resources into their cyber threat detection and response capability.

If your organization is also spending more on cybersecurity, you have to make sure that your cybersecurity program actually works. But how should you measure the effectiveness of your security operations?

What Do Effective Cybersecurity Metrics Look Like?

According to Gartner’s current benchmarking efforts, cybersecurity metrics need to accomplish the following goals:

  • Inform cybersecurity resource allocation
  • Connect security operations to business goals
  • Impact decisions for both security and overall business operations

The CARE Framework

To focus on the most useful information and reach the goals stated above, you can benefit from the CARE framework.

This model was developed by Gartner as a practical standard for evaluating enterprise security operations. The metrics you develop should give you a better understanding of how the state of your cybersecurity aligns with your overall business goals. You can then communicate those insights to any relevant parties, such as your customers, shareholders, or regulators.

The CARE framework splits your measurements into 4 key areas. You should ensure that your cybersecurity metrics are one of the following:

  1. Consistent
  2. Adequate
  3. Reasonable
  4. Effective

Consistent

Consistent metrics evaluate your security performance over a period of time.

Since both the cyber threat landscape and your organization’s internal risk profile are constantly changing, you need to understand how your cyber maturity may hold up in the long term. You need to consistently update, analyze, and report your performance across some set amount of time, such as days, weeks, months, or quarters.

This category includes security controls across various aspects of your organization and the underlying IT infrastructure. Gartner suggests the following sample metrics:

  • Percentage of third parties who you have completed a recent risk assessment for.
  • Percentage of employees who passed security training, such as a phishing simulation

Adequate

Adequate metrics look at how well your security operations align with business aims.

Gartner predicts that in the next 4 years more than 60% of organizations will base future business engagements on associated security risk. To deliver relevant information to your stakeholders, you need to have a grasp on how your technology stacks up against your organization’s risk tolerance.

Potential metrics in this category could be:

  • Percentage of systems patched to eliminate known vulnerabilities
  • Percentage of endpoints with active malware protection compliant with your operational standards
  • Percentage of systems undergoing recent recovery testing

Reasonable

You can always improve your technology more or adopt new processes, but would those changes be appropriate?

Reasonable metrics show how well your security controls align with their intended outcomes for your security posture or your organization at large.

Data points in this category could include:

  • Downtime resulting from changes to your IT infrastructure, such as installing updates or changing access to endpoints for different teams in your organization.
  • Complaints received from stakeholders in response to a particular security control, such as regular cyber hygiene training
  • Percentage of alerts responded to by your team compared to the total volume on incoming security alerts.

Effective

Finally, you need to evaluate how effective your security program actually is at protecting your organization from potential cyber threats.

Effective metrics measure the strength of your security operations while connecting them to business priorities that you can communicate to the board. How well are you responding to any incoming attacks or eliminating existing vulnerabilities?

Sample metrics from this category are:

  • Average time to response once a threat has been identified
  • Number of network issues detected per year
  • Costs incurred as a result of active attacks or data breaches

Next Steps

Your cybersecurity program is multifaceted, so the way you evaluate its performance should reflect that complexity.

Gartner’s CARE Framework provides you with 4 distinct categories for measuring the value provided by your security controls. By focusing on metrics that are consistent, adequate, reasonable, and effective you can make informed decisions and communicate the impact of cybersecurity operations to all relevant stakeholders.

If you want to implement the CARE framework in your organization, Pareto Cyber is here to help with extensive managed security services structured around your unique risk profile.