5 Powerful Outcome-Driven Metrics in Cybersecurity

Written by Jasmine Tatter

Outcome-driven metrics are the new way to measure the performance of cybersecurity, which has traditionally been tracked using metrics and indicators that are specific to a company’s security posture. However, these metrics are focused more on operational insight into security, rather than the overall strategic initiatives and goals of the organization as a whole.

Even when a company’s cybersecurity measures are effective in supporting the goals of the organization, it can be difficult for the chief information security officer (CISO) to communicate the necessity and effectiveness of those measures to the other C-level executives.

The adoption of outcome-driven metrics (ODMs) shifts the focus of cybersecurity from security for the sake of security to security that directly protects and aligns with overarching business interests. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what outcome-driven metrics are and the benefits of using them.

What Are Outcome-Driven Metrics?

Outcome-driven metrics are metrics that are based on the results of cybersecurity initiatives that are directly connected to the strategic goals of the organization. This is in contrast to metrics that are based only on the inputs used and activities performed, such as the application of patches and updates or the number of threats detected. In other words, the goal of ODMs is to protect the company’s assets, ensure they are compliant, and support business continuity.

Examples of the different types of outcome-driven metrics include:

  • How much time it takes to detect and respond to a cyberthreat
  • Incidents of customer data breaches
  • Rate of system availability
  • Risk management of third parties
  • Detection rate of phishing attempts
  • Cost of cybersecurity incidents

Benefits of Outcome-Driven Metrics

Organizations that use outcome-driven metrics are able to prioritize cybersecurity initiatives that support the strategic goals of the business. This comes with a number of important benefits.

  • Strategic alignment – When using outcome-driven metrics, every single cybersecurity activity is aligned with the company’s goals, such as maintaining the trust of customers, protecting intellectual property, or ensuring business continuity. The result is strategic investment in cybersecurity, with an emphasis on optimizing boosting its overall impact.
  • Better decision-making – With strategic alignment comes better overall decision-making. This ensures a more strategic allocation of resources and enables CISOs to adjust their strategies to more effectively respond to threats.
  • Improved communication – Using outcome-driven metrics makes it easier for CISOs to communicate with other C-level executives and stakeholders about why certain cybersecurity initiatives are important and how they directly impact business objectives. This makes it easier to garner support from leadership.
  • Proactive risk management – With outcome-driven metrics, there is a shift from a reactive stance to cybersecurity to a proactive approach to risk management that helps CISOs predict threats in advance and neutralize them before they cause a disruption.

How to Implement Outcome-Driven Metrics

Implementing outcome-driven metrics is a multistep process that focuses on adapting cybersecurity metrics to the organization’s objectives and risk profile. The framework for outcome-driven metrics implementation are:

Identifying business objectives

Before you can tailor your cybersecurity approach to your strategic business objectives, you need to know what those objectives are. Take the time to work with leadership to identify business objectives and gain a clear understanding of what they are and how you can support them through your cybersecurity efforts.

Determine outcomes

Your company’s strategic objectives will allow you to determine the specific outcomes you need to achieve to support your broader business objectives. These can include outcomes such as regulatory compliance, adopting a zero-trust policy and practices, and safeguarding customer data.

Develop strategic metrics

Each outcome you have identified needs to be supported by metrics that are specific, measurable, actionable, and allow you to maintain visibility into your progress toward the outcome.

Implement metrics

Once your metrics have been identified, it’s time to implement them and regularly monitor and report on their effectiveness. To accomplish this, you will need to establish baselines, set targets, and review performance on a regular basis. This will allow you to identify opportunities for improvement.

Iterate and adapt

Since cybersecurity is always changing with the advent of new technology and new threats, it is important to review your metrics on a regular basis and update them as needed. This will provide you with an iterative approach to cybersecurity that will not only ensure you stay aligned with overall business objectives, but also keep up with the changing threat landscape.

It takes time to implement an outcome-driven metrics approach to cybersecurity, but it is the best way for an organization to ensure they are aligning their cybersecurity posture with the strategic initiatives of the company. A cybersecurity partner can help with the transition to outcome-driven metrics.

At Platinum Technologies, we offer a consulting and advisory service that will help you align your cybersecurity to your business goals. We also offer a full security assessment and security consulting services. We will help you ensure your endpoint and network security is adequate to protect against nation-state attacks.

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