Vulnerabilities / Threats

4/18/2018
10:30 AM
John Moran
John Moran
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

The Role of KPIs in Incident Response

Using KPIs can have a positive impact on the tactical and strategic functions of a security operations program.

When chief marketing officers want to know if an expensive new campaign inspired people to buy their company's product, they look at the key performance indicators (KPIs) defined for the campaign. When chief information security officers want to know if the current mix of threat prevention and detection technologies are effective, they should see what their security operations program's KPIs are telling them.

KPIs typically are used to measure the success or failure of a business goal, function, or objective. They also provide actionable information that is helpful for decision-making. While KPIs are most commonly used in business categories such as sales, financial, project management, and marketing, they can be useful in security operations as well.

The measurement and analysis of well-considered KPIs can have a positive impact on both the tactical and strategic functions of a security operations program. KPIs help ensure that the program remains effective and that any process or technology gaps are addressed appropriately.

What a security program should measure to develop meaningful KPIs varies from one organization to another. Start by identifying which security operations goals or functions are most critical to the program. Each KPI should have meaning to the organization, add value to the security program, and be "SMART": Simple, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Every successful security operations program has common components. Therefore, KPIs should be targeted at assessing at least some of the following:

Analyst skills: Utilizing KPIs to measure analysts' current skill sets and comparing them to the organization's present needs can identify gaps in training and personnel. Addressing gaps can improve the overall readiness of the security operations team.

Key risks: Organizations face myriad risks and have a limited budget to address them. Using KPIs to help identify which risks pose the greatest potential impact allows the security team to feed actionable information back into the overall risk assessment process, thus maximizing the effectiveness of limited time and financial resources.

Detection success: KPIs that measure the performance of prevention and detection technologies can identify gaps where additional or different technology may benefit the organization, as well as ways to tune existing technologies to increase efficiency.

Mitigation success: Once a security incident has been identified, organizations often use technology in the mitigation process. KPIs measuring the performance of mitigation technologies can identify gaps where the organization could benefit from additional and/or better-tuned technology.

Process success: Utilizing KPIs to measure the performance of a security program's processes and procedures can help ensure they remain optimized and as effective as possible against a range of security incidents.

Workload: Analysts who are overworked are more likely to take shortcuts or miss key indicators of security incidents. KPIs that measure analyst workload can identify staffing inefficiencies that could result in risk to the organization.

The security operations team can brainstorm which KPIs to track; there will be no shortage of suggestions. The key is choosing KPIs that will have a real, practical impact on the organization's security program. Here are a few examples that can inspire ideas to help an organization identify its own important KPIs.


All facets of business are measured with KPIs these days. Even security operations can benefit from deriving actionable information from KPIs and applying it to improve incident response programs.

Related Content:

Interop ITX 2018

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop ITX. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop ITX 2018 agenda here.

John Moran is a security operations and incident response expert. He has served as a senior incident response analyst for NTT Security, computer forensic analyst for the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit and computer forensics task force officer for the US Department of ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
twadenh
100%
0%
twadenh,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2018 | 12:13:24 AM
Never really pondered the idea of KPI's for security teams...
Quick, interesting read that got right to the point, so thank you for that.  This was interesting. As you mentioned, I'm used to seeing KPI's for business goals in sales and marketing efforts, even call centers.  Hadn't really even given a chance into KPI's for security teams.  I think this would give our team a nice subject to brainstorm over in the coming weeks.  We'll have to see where we stand, where KPI's fit into our team and how they can strengthen our security posture and team structure.  Thanks for the straight-to-the-point article!
New Free Tool Scans for Chrome Extension Safety
Dark Reading Staff 2/21/2019
Making the Case for a Cybersecurity Moon Shot
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  2/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-6485
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
Citrix NetScaler Gateway 12.1 before build 50.31, 12.0 before build 60.9, 11.1 before build 60.14, 11.0 before build 72.17, and 10.5 before build 69.5 and Application Delivery Controller (ADC) 12.1 before build 50.31, 12.0 before build 60.9, 11.1 before build 60.14, 11.0 before build 72.17, and 10.5...
CVE-2019-9020
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP before 5.6.40, 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.1. Invalid input to the function xmlrpc_decode() can lead to an invalid memory access (heap out of bounds read or read after free). This is related to xml_elem_parse_buf in ext/xmlrpc/libxmlrpc...
CVE-2019-9021
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP before 5.6.40, 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.1. A heap-based buffer over-read in PHAR reading functions in the PHAR extension may allow an attacker to read allocated or unallocated memory past the actual data when trying to parse the file...
CVE-2019-9022
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.2. dns_get_record misparses a DNS response, which can allow a hostile DNS server to cause PHP to misuse memcpy, leading to read operations going past the buffer allocated for DNS data. This affects php_parser...
CVE-2019-9023
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP before 5.6.40, 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.1. A number of heap-based buffer over-read instances are present in mbstring regular expression functions when supplied with invalid multibyte data. These occur in ext/mbstring/oniguruma/regcom...