Cybersecurity In-Depth

The Edge

Which Security Metrics Should I Use?

Figuring that out actually begins with a broader question.

Question: I'm updating my security metrics program. Are there any old security metrics that I should definitely leave behind?

Stacey Halota, vice president, information security and privacy, at Graham Holdings: That depends. The best question to ask yourself as you update (or create) a metrics program is, "Why am I measuring this?" When you examine your metrics, are they driving desired change in your organization or helping maintain a desired control envionment? Do you have too many detailed metrics so that the message gets lost when reporting?  If the answer to the first question is no and the second is yes, those metrics should be re-evaluated. 

I have found that a few selected metrics that drive change are the most effective. For example, a metric that reports if Web application vulnerabilities are not fixed in the time frame mandated by our policy is helpful in keeping our websites secure. Metrics that mandate that a sensitive data inventory is performed each year help us to secure the data and comply with laws like GDPR. It is also useful to report metrics to senior management for accountability.   

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