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Cybersecurity Metrics and KPIs You Should Know

Businesses have a duty and responsibility to avoid data breaches and protect user data. Many laws and regulations have been enacted on the heels of cybersecurity incidents to protect confidential information. To earn customer trust and for starting on the right side of the law, many organizations are looking for ways to improve cybersecurity.

This is where cybersecurity metrics and KPIs come in. These metrics can be used to inform action and train staff in ways that prevent vulnerabilities. It is important to keep track of the right metrics so you can measure the effectiveness of your cybersecurity posture. Without tracking the right metrics, you may be more susceptible to cybersecurity attacks, which can greatly impact your revenue and reputation.

Here are 11 cybersecurity metrics that every organization that has an online interface should track for better security.

Security Rating

Security ratings are used to quantify an organization’s security posture. For consistency and accuracy, security ratings are provided by an independent ranking authority. The security rating takes a holistic account of an organization’s attack vectors, threats, and security problems. It is calculated after performing extensive penetration tests, onsite visits, security questionnaires, and other information provided by the organization.

Security ratings are usually easy to understand by non-tech-savvy personnel, including everyday employees and executives. As such, they are among the most commonly used metrics to determine an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

The metric also helps you compare the organization’s security with the overall average in the industry. These ratings play an important role in highlighting security issues that may require immediate attention.

Phishing Attacks

Even the most robust cybersecurity system in the world is only as good as the people operating it. And it has been proven time and time again that humans are easy to trick using social engineering attacks, especially if they haven’t been trained in phishing attacks. One survey by Verizon found that nearly 75% of all data breaches are caused by phishing attacks.

This is why attacks are commonly used to test how many employees in the organization can detect and avoid social engineering attacks. This metric is extremely vital given the rise of phishing attacks.

An organization with a high phishing test failure rate must provide phishing awareness training to its employees so they can understand what to look for and protect their company from cybersecurity attacks.

Number of Data Breach Attempts

This vital metric offers insight into the existing vulnerabilities and security posture of various measures and response teams within the organization. A large number of data breach attempts indicates that the organization has a large attack surface. Cybersecurity progressions will typically monitor firewall and access logs to determine the number of times that cybercriminals have tried to attack the systems, the number of successful breaches, and the nature of that attack.

The frequency data of the attack will help security teams make an informed decision about selecting the most appropriate intrusion detection systems and security hardening procedures.

Third-Party Risk

Many organizations depend on third-party vendors for various services and products. These external entities help them deliver crucial services for clients, such as data management and financial information processing. Some of these vendors have access to the organization’s resources in order to carry out their tasks.

This introduces vulnerabilities in the organization that can have devastating consequences. A third-party risk metric assessment studies an organization’s vulnerabilities introduced by vendors and the impact of data breaches based on these vulnerabilities.

As a rule of thumb, it is important to continuously monitor vendor risks to greatly increase your cybersecurity posture.

Patching Cadence

Patching cadence is a term that determines the total number of vulnerabilities in your organization that have yet to be patched. It also determines how long it takes the team to implement critical security patches to address these vulnerabilities.

Cybercriminals are keenly aware of the fact that many organizations delay applying the latest patches. They may deploy threat intelligence tools to create a list of organizations that haven’t yet applied a patch.

Businesses that don’t apply patches in a timely manner will become vulnerable to cyberattacks. A great example of this is the WannaCry virus that leveraged a zero-day vulnerability called Eternal Blue. Despite being patched by Microsoft, many businesses fell victim to WannaCry because of not patching their systems in time.

Access Management

This metric determines the number of users or employees who have administrative privileges. Rolling out access control is among the most cost-effective methods of preventing privilege escalation attacks. You can use a number of tools to help you streamline user accounts and privileges. Top examples include Microsoft Azure Active Directory and SpectralOps.

Unidentified Devices on the Network

Your employees may inadvertently introduce compromised devices with malware to your network. You may also be using a number of poorly configured IoT devices that are not secure. These devices may appear insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they can provide access to your organization. This metric will determine the total number of unidentified devices on the network to help you secure them.

Alarm Time to Triage (TTT)

This metric measures the time it takes for your team to respond immediately to an alarm. It helps you understand how quickly your team can respond to threats in real time. A poor TTT score could indicate that your team may need additional staff to help them focus on alarms. The metric indicates measures within alarm priority bands (such as high, medium, and low bands).

Alarm Time to Qualify (TTQ)

TTQ measures the time it takes to fully inspect and act on an alarm. The metric helps you measure incident outcomes, with a low score indicating weakness in security solutions in the area of data analysis and contextual analysis.

Mean Time to Contain (MTTC)

Mean Time to Contain is an important metric that measures the average time it takes to detect and resolve incidents. The goal of every organization should be to reduce MTTC. A high MTTC score means that it’s time to investigate your weakest link in the overall cybersecurity posture, including detection, acknowledgment, and recovery.

Non-Human Traffic (NHT)

Non-human traffic (NHT) is bad because it can needlessly occupy your hosting resources and slow your website down for human users. A high NHT score is an indication that your website is likely under a bot attack. The goal of bot attacks is to skew your analytics, steal your confidential data, and affect the user experience on your website.

Is There Any Difference Between KPIs and Metrics?

Although both are often used interchangeably when measuring an organization’s cybersecurity posture, there is a subtle difference that is worth noting. KPIs or key performance metrics are used to indicate progress made toward defined security goals. Metrics are used to provide a measure of your overall cybersecurity health.

Cybersecurity KPIs can provide your team with a pathway toward completing long-term objectives. On the other hand, metrics are data-driven values that are tied to your objectives. They help you compare your cybersecurity posture against industry standards.

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it, a quick look at the most important KPIs and metrics you should know of. Together, they can be used to help you learn about your cybersecurity program’s effectiveness and performance. They also help you identify tools and processes that may need to be reconfigured, changed, or reworked.

It is important to choose suitable KPIs for your business units. We recommend working with cybersecurity experts to help you identify the best KPIs and metrics for your organization. Get in touch with our cybersecurity experts here for more information.