Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Operations

11/12/2016
09:00 AM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Security Metrics Checklist

Which metrics are the best indicators of a strong cybersecurity team? Experts say security pros should be recording and reporting these data points to demonstrate their success.
Previous
1 of 9
Next

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

It's easy to assume the best sign of security success is an absence of malicious activity. However, it's unrealistic for security pros to adopt the "no news is good news" approach to defense, security experts say.

Pete Lindstrom, vice president of security research with IDC's executive program, says the argument of "when we're successful, nothing happens," is the wrong approach. He says security departments tend to focus more on incidents and less on the "bits and bytes" of their programs.

CISOs, IT managers, and other security leaders need to record and report metrics to their CIOs and business executives to demonstrate the performance of their teams. But right now, most security teams lack definitive guidelines for gauging their success.

"The challenge with measuring security metrics is you never know what your security operations are not seeing," explains Jeff Schilling, chief of customer operations and security at Armor. This causes some metrics, like the number of hosts, to be false because teams have a tough time parsing false positives and don't know if they're finding all their infected hosts.

With so many unknowns, he continues, it's difficult to paint a full picture of performance. 

There are a few metrics today's security leaders are studying to gauge the success of their employees, explains Joseph Carson, CISSP, who handles EMEA product marketing and global strategic alliances for Thycotic. 

Some businesses measure their success by the number of security incidents they are experiencing and handling at any point in time, for instance. Others evaluate their system vulnerabilities by recording where their systems are patched, where they have been exposed, and the number of identified viruses trying to compromise systems within the organization, he says.

Security pros also evaluate the behavior of the perimeter, and record instances like firewall incidents and potentially dangerous websites. The number of solutions implemented is another common metric considered when evaluating security posture.

"Most of these things relate to different types of security measurements," Carson says. "But it also comes down to how well organizations can collect inventory from Web system applications and users in the environment." 

The problem with many of these metrics is they don't bridge the gap between business and security. Security pros should be focusing on metrics like the location and accuracy of information, and efficiency of alerts, to paint a better picture of their security strategies. 

"Many of the metrics we measure today don't translate into the business," Carson explains. "If an incident occurs, what is the business impact?" 

Here are eight key metrics for measuring the success (or failure) of a security program:

 

 

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Previous
1 of 9
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-20001
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.2.0, BinaryHeap is not panic-safe. The binary heap is left in an inconsistent state when the comparison of generic elements inside sift_up or sift_down_range panics. This bug leads to a drop of zeroed memory as an arbitrary type, which can result in a memory ...
CVE-2020-36317
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.49.0, String::retain() function has a panic safety problem. It allows creation of a non-UTF-8 Rust string when the provided closure panics. This bug could result in a memory safety violation when other string APIs assume that UTF-8 encoding is used on the sam...
CVE-2020-36318
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.49.0, VecDeque::make_contiguous has a bug that pops the same element more than once under certain condition. This bug could result in a use-after-free or double free.
CVE-2021-28875
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.50.0, read_to_end() does not validate the return value from Read in an unsafe context. This bug could lead to a buffer overflow.
CVE-2021-28876
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.52.0, the Zip implementation has a panic safety issue. It calls __iterator_get_unchecked() more than once for the same index when the underlying iterator panics (in certain conditions). This bug could lead to a memory safety violation due to an unmet safety r...