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Application Security

12/21/2018
04:15 PM

7 Business Metrics Security Pros Need to Know

These days, security has to speak the language of business. These KPIs will get you started.
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Operating Productivity
At its most basic, calculating productivity is simple: Divide the units of output by the units of input, and the result is productivity. The bigger the number, the higher the productivity. Simple, right?
The complication tends to arise when deciding what, precisely, constitutes a 'unit of input.' There is capital, labor, and materials to be considered - and the question of whether the most accurate answer comes from weighing everything equally or applying different weights to different pieces of the whole. Answering such questions is the subject of countless dissertations, reports, and books.
What security professionals need to know is that the cost of security will absolutely be part of the 'unit of input.' This is a fact that will be made clear each year at budget time.
It might be less obvious that an operating productivity metric can be useful for security. Figuring out the unit of output - whether blocked attacks or something more encompassing - and then calculating the units of input can help security teams know whether they're being as effectively as possible within their resource limits. Then they can use that information when it comes to discussing budgets and processes with the rest of the business.
(Image: katherinebercasio VIA Pixabay)

Operating Productivity

At its most basic, calculating productivity is simple: Divide the units of output by the units of input, and the result is productivity. The bigger the number, the higher the productivity. Simple, right?

The complication tends to arise when deciding what, precisely, constitutes a "unit of input." There is capital, labor, and materials to be considered and the question of whether the most accurate answer comes from weighing everything equally or applying different weights to different pieces of the whole. Answering such questions is the subject of countless dissertations, reports, and books.

What security professionals need to know is that the cost of security will absolutely be part of the "unit of input." This is a fact that will be made clear each year at budget time.

It might be less obvious that an operating productivity metric can be useful for security. Figuring out the unit of output whether blocked attacks or something more encompassing and then calculating the units of input can help security teams know whether they're being as effectively as possible within their resource limits. Then they can use that information when it comes to discussing budgets and processes with the rest of the business.

(Image: katherinebercasio VIA Pixabay)

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ThomasMaloney
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ThomasMaloney,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/16/2019 | 4:11:30 AM
Always improving ourselves
We do not become an expert overnight and even when we have reached a certain standard, there is always room for improvement. There are always guidelines or metrics that we can fall back on even if we have reached an expert level. We should always allow ourselves to have room for improvement in order for us to remain relevant in the sector and know any progressive updates.
mark@polaris
50%
50%
[email protected],
User Rank: Apprentice
1/15/2019 | 9:59:29 PM
Re: Productivity/accessibility as security considerations (or not)
Interesting feedback from others reading the article. Here's my take:

Productivity should be measured as there is a lot that can be learned IF they are done correctly. Hours worked is another interesting metric but is not something that should be measured daily or weekly, at least in my opinion. This would start to drive the wrong behaviors on the floor. As for the Net Promoter Score, I don't think that I've ever really agreed with the metric at least from any process that can game it (and most that I've seen, can.) I just don't think that it's very useful in a cyber security setting. I agree with the Lead to Client conversion rate but think that a cyber security operation should focus more on cycle time and quality of hand off to them if they are concerned about inbound work. By looking at these two areas a tremendous amount can be learned and improved on. Personally, I think that cyber security has a very long way to go when it comes to metrics and improvement. The legitimate need to focus primarily on technology means that people and process are not focused on as much as they should be.
EdwardThirlwall
50%
50%
EdwardThirlwall,
User Rank: Moderator
1/3/2019 | 9:39:01 AM
Re: Productivity/accessibility as security considerations (or not)
I think that a lot of businesses forget about customer retention a lot. Because I run a business that builds its whole premise around making sure that a customer sticks with you once they've signed on, I think I'm a little qualified to make the comparison. It's not just about giving them a good price for the goods they've placed in storage with you but making sure your services are up to par so they don't want to move away from your company!
Joe Stanganelli
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50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2018 | 10:37:35 PM
Productivity/accessibility as security considerations (or not)
The operating productivity (a.k.a. accessibility) metric is a tough and debatable one. On the one hand, security and accessibility are polar opposites of each other -- and, as such, it can be fair to assign security to the security teams and accessibility to the operations/business teams...and then let the C-suite make the appropriate decisions from there (in other words, letting both sides fully advocate/fight it out, and let the appropriate decision-makers earn their decision-making paychecks). OTOH, security professionals fully have to account for the possibility that overly burdensome/draconian security policies may perversely incentivize bad security in the long run.

I'd be interested to see what other readers think on this.
ashwinK123
50%
50%
ashwinK123,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2018 | 3:15:38 AM
ashwin
Thank you to this post!
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
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