Cybersecurity Metrics

Are You Tracking These 12 Cybersecurity Metrics?

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is more important than ever before. As the threat of cyberattacks and data breaches continues to increase, businesses and organizations need to take proactive steps to protect their networks and data. One of the most effective ways to ensure your security posture is at the level it needs to be is to measure and track essential cybersecurity metrics. By understanding and monitoring these key metrics, you can effectively secure your networks and ensure the safety of your sensitive data. This article will explore the top cybersecurity metrics you should track to make your digital security bulletproof.

What are Cybersecurity Metrics?

Cybersecurity metrics are quantitative measurements that companies use to assess the level of protection and impenetrability achieved by the organization’s security controls. These measurements provide insight into the effectiveness of your cybersecurity strategy and indicate areas for improvement. Cybersecurity metrics can be used at the organizational, team, and individual levels. For example, your cybersecurity team can use them to track the resources spent on security initiatives, the effectiveness of security policies and procedures, the health of the network, and how successful they are at responding to threats and preventing data breaches and cyberattacks. Cybersecurity metrics are essential for understanding how secure your business is, identifying and resolving cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and improving the effectiveness of your cybersecurity team.

12 Cybersecurity Metrics You Need to Track

1. Mean Time to Detect (MTTD)

MTTD is a cybersecurity metric that measures the time it takes for your security team to detect a cyberattack. How long does a problem exist in your system before it’s noticed? MTTD is an important metric because the sooner your team detects a cyberattack, the less damage it can do to your systems. Conversely, if your security team is taking too long to detect cyberattacks, they might be unable to prevent data breaches and damage to your systems. 

To calculate MTTD, you add the time it takes your team to detect incidents during a given period and divide that by the number of incidents.

2. Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR) 

MTTR is a cybersecurity metric that tracks how long it takes to respond, control, remediate or eradicate a cyberattack to ensure minimal damage. If a cybercriminal is able to breach your network, your cybersecurity team needs to respond as quickly as possible to contain the attack and prevent it from spreading. MTTR is an important metric because it shows how effectively and efficiently your team responds to a cyberattack and stops it from causing damage. 

The Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR) is calculated by dividing the time taken to resolve an IT issue by the total number of incidents. The lower the MTTR, the better the performance of your cybersecurity team. According to a report by Blumira and IBM, the average breach lifecycle takes 287 days, with organizations taking 212 days to detect a breach initially and 75 days to contain it.

3. Unidentified Devices on the Network

Uncovering unknown devices on your network is another critical cybersecurity metric. For example, when an employee uses personal devices for work and connects to the corporate network, they bring the potential for malware and other cybersecurity risks that would have otherwise been caught on a business device. Therefore, implementing a network intrusion detection system is integral to your organization’s cybersecurity strategy.

4. Intrusion Attempts

This cybersecurity metric offers visibility into the vulnerabilities and preparedness of various security measures and response teams. Multiple intrusion attempts typically indicate a large attack surface since attackers prefer to leverage current vulnerabilities as an entry point. Teams can monitor firewall and access logs to determine the number of times adversaries have tried to attack the systems, the number of successful attacks, and the origin of each attack. The attack threats and frequency data also help security teams make informed decisions regarding intrusion detection systems and security hardening procedures. 

5. Security Incidents

A security incident is an event that damages network resources or data as part of an attack or security threat. An incident may not always cause direct damage, but it could put the enterprise’s security at risk. For example, an employee that clicks on a link in a phishing email is a security incident. This incident may not directly cause damage, but it could install malware. Monitoring how many times an attacker has breached your information assets or networks is another vital cybersecurity metric.

6. Security Ratings

Security ratings are a data-driven, objective, and dynamic measurement of an organization’s security posture. They are created by a trusted, independent security rating platform, making them valuable as an accurate and objective indicator of an organization’s cybersecurity performance. 

Security ratings are calculated based on penetration tests, extensive security questionnaires, on-site visits, and externally verifiable information supplied by the organization.

7. Cost Per Incident

The cost per incident is a cybersecurity metric that measures the dollar value of responding to and resolving a cyberattack.

The cost per incident may include non-compliance penalties, legal fees, employee overtime, reduction of employee productivity, suspension of certain activities, customer loss, system downtime, and the cost of investigating the attack.

In 2022, the average data breach cost reached 7 million for Canadian firms, according to the 2022 cost of a data breach report by IBM.

8. Number of Known Vulnerabilities

Identifying vulnerabilities and vulnerable assets within your environment is a vital cybersecurity metric for determining imminent threats your organization may face. The metric guides security priorities, including vulnerable targets, the number of exposed assets, and compromised users. You can use penetration tests and automated vulnerability scans to determine the number of threat vectors within the system. In addition, you should install an efficient vulnerability management system to manage patches and updates across your organization’s vulnerable assets to prevent exploitable loopholes in your environment.

9. Patching Cadence

Patch cycle time is a cybersecurity metric that tracks the time between when a new patch is released and when it is applied to the network. Organizations must patch their systems as soon as possible after a new patch is released. But many companies take too long to apply patches, leaving their systems vulnerable to cyberattacks. To measure patch cycle time, you can use patch management software or integrate your patch management system with a cybersecurity metrics tool.

10. Volume of Data

The amount of data your company generates could put your network at risk of a cyberattack. As a result, a key cybersecurity metric should be tracking the volume of data transferred via the company’s network.

Suppose employees at your organization get unrestricted Internet access. In that case, they may download movies or games, which open the door for malware and botnets that can breach your firewall and security systems. Monitoring traffic volume will provide insight into whether resources are being misused and if malware is a threat. Furthermore, traffic volumes changes, whether gradual or abrupt, can help justify the need for new or upgraded security tools.

11. Access Management

‍Reports suggest that over 95% of cyberattacks are due to human error, with insider threats blamed for 43% of the breaches. When managing cybersecurity, it is vital to have complete control over user access to business resources. Employees should only have access to the data, networks, and assets required for their particular job. By tracking all network users and their access levels and employing the principle of least privilege, you can block unnecessary superuser or administrator roles.

12. Security Awareness Training Effectiveness

Training employees on how to respond to attacks is essential. A key cybersecurity metric to determine the effectiveness of this training is your phishing test success rate. Phishing tests enable you to send realistic but fake emails to your employees to see how they respond. Phishing test boosts employee cybersecurity awareness in a meaningful, controlled environment.

Wrapping Up

Monitoring the performance of your cybersecurity system is crucial to dealing with modern threats. By measuring and tracking the cybersecurity metrics listed above, you can be better prepared to identify, prevent and resolve potential threats, protect your business and improve the effectiveness of your cybersecurity team.

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