3/16/2015
06:00 PM
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10 Ways To Measure IT Security Program Effectiveness

The right metrics can make or break a security program (or a budget meeting).



As CISOs try to find ways to prove ROI to higher ups and improve the overall effectiveness of security operations, the right metrics can make or break their efforts. Fortunately, infosec as an industry has matured to the point where many enterprising security leaders have found innovative and concrete measures to track performance and drive toward continual improvement. Dark Reading recently surveyed security practitioners and pundits to find out the best time-tested metrics to prove security effectiveness, ask for greater investment, and push security staff to improve their day-to-day work.

Average Time To Detect And Respond

Also referred to as mean time to know (MTTK), the average time to detect (ATD) measures the delta between an issue occurring—be it a compromise or a configuration gone wonky—and the security team figuring out there's a problem. 

"By reducing ATD, Security Operations Center (SOC) personnel give themselves more time to assess the situation and decide upon the best course of action that will enable the enterprise to accomplish its mission while preventing damage to enterprise assets," says Greg Boison, director of cyber and homeland security at Lockheed Martin.

Meanwhile, the mean time to resolution or average time to respond, will measure how long it takes for the security team to appropriately respond to an issue and mitigate its risk.

"Average Time to Respond (ATTR) is a metric that tells SOC management and personnel whether or not they are meeting objectives to quickly and correctly respond to identified violations of the security policy," Boison says. "By reducing ATR, SOC personnel reduce the impact (including the cost) of security violations."

Tracking these two metrics continuously over time can show how well a security program is improving or deteriorating. Ideally they should be growing smaller over time.

(Image: Freeimages.com)

 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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