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Many companies are finally taking cybersecurity seriously and have implemented programs to meet their organization’s specific needs. Having a program in place, however, is only the first step. Measuring the effectiveness of a cybersecurity plan is equally important. There are several steps a company should take to adequately measure the effectiveness of their plan.
There have to be specific ways to measure security efforts in order to determine their effectiveness. Before beginning this process, it’s important to understand the difference between measurement and metrics. The United States National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) states that measurement is defined as observable and quantifiable. Metrics, however, are normally something that can be supported by measurement. Metrics are to be used to assist in decision making and to improve accountability and ultimately performance. Cybersecurity metrics should include accurate data that can be compared in different time periods. In particular, it must include specific and objective data. Cybersecurity effectiveness can generally be divided into three areas. These include systems, incidents, and people.
Establishing a few key metrics to determine cybersecurity effectiveness is a good place to begin. An organization will need to start by tying in their business goals with how increased security can help meet those specific goals. This would include establishing a company’s threat profile and identifying scenarios that would potentially cause the greatest impact to an organization. The following are examples of various metrics that can be used.
After a few general metrics have been established, a company will want to put in place those that are more specific. The following are just a few examples of specific metrics that can be used to assess the effectiveness of a cybersecurity plan.
Another way to gage cybersecurity performance is in relation to how other organizations in similar industries are doing. After deciding which metrics to use to determine security effectiveness, an organization will want to find out how successful other companies are in these areas. Comparing performance to other companies is also known as benchmarking.
How many security breaches have occurred when compared to other companies in the same industry of a similar size? How did they handle different types of incidents? What percentage of the budget is being spent on cybersecurity? These are just a few questions to ask when making valid comparisons. There are a variety of peer networking forums and online meetings that can be used when finding out how other organizations are doing when it comes to cybersecurity.
Finally, how an organization addresses gaps in performance will determine how effective their cybersecurity program will ultimately be. After metrics have been in place for a specified time period and then evaluated, the company will want to implement the following to strengthen weak areas.
After completing the previous steps, an organization will now have a better understanding of how effective their cybersecurity program is and how it aligns with their overall business goals. They should also have a plan in place for improvement and specific ways to track and monitor improvement. Finally, it’s important to remember that assessing cybersecurity effectiveness is an ongoing process. This means it’s necessary to continually update and tweak the metrics that are used so they align with the ongoing security needs of the organization.