Why Establishing Cybersecurity Benchmarks is a Must for Organizations
Bryana Dacri | May 21, 2018
Effective cybersecurity involves regularly assessing the effectiveness of your organization’s policies, tools, and processes to ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve. In order to gain insight into your cybersecurity performance, you need clear, continuous, actionable metrics that you can track over time and compare to peers, competitors, and across business units.
Although many approaches will give you a partial indication of your security posture, relying on standardized and quantitative measures like security ratings is the most effective. BitSight Security Ratings provide a clear indicator (a rating from 250-900) that illustrates exactly how your cybersecurity program stacks up. These ratings can then be used to compare your organization to historical data, competitors, industry averages, or any other data set.
By establishing these benchmarks, organizations give themselves the opportunity to improve their cybersecurity programs in previously impossible ways. Let’s explore some of the benefits of cybersecurity benchmarking.
Learn Where Your Cybersecurity Falls Short
Security ratings like those offered by BitSight feature top-level overview ratings as well as more specific data in certain categories (port protection, botnet risk, etc.). Taking a look at your ratings in each category gives you an instant view into the areas in which your organization excels, and those which need immediate attention. If you don’t understand exactly what a number means, adding context is as simple as pulling up the report for a competitor, peer, or any other organization and comparing your ratings to theirs.
Once you understand which areas of your cybersecurity program require attention, you can prioritize remediation efforts and start allocating resources toward fixing the problem. While some security areas have straightforward remediation strategies and obvious results, others would typically require a penetration test or other assessment strategy to determine whether solutions have succeeded.
With your security rating benchmarks, you can simply compare your current rating in a certain area to your rating before you rolled out your solution. If it has improved significantly, then your strategy is likely working.
Evaluate the Effectiveness of Cybersecurity Tools
There’s no shortage of technology solutions that claim to enhance your cybersecurity posture. Unfortunately, since the effectiveness of these tools is measured by what doesn’t happen (i.e. hackers didn’t access your sensitive data), it can be difficult to determine ROI.
Security ratings change all that. By looking at ratings in the areas these tools were meant to protect, then removing the tools and comparing numbers, you can determine whether a tool is truly adding value. The results of these experiments can help you streamline your cybersecurity efforts and free up resources to allocate toward other important initiatives.
Keep Up with Competitors
Having a benchmark of your cybersecurity performance allows you to understand exactly how you compare to your competitors. With BitSight, you can look at any competitors’ ratings and compare them to your own. These reports can indicate how you’ve compared over the past year, how you stack up now, and in exactly which areas you are succeeding or failing at outpacing them.
Use Security as a Competitive Advantage
Say you’ve compared your cybersecurity performance to your five biggest competitors and determined that your organization is performing significantly better than the rest of the pack. This information is yours to share. Let your investors, prospects, and current clients know that your dedication to cybersecurity initiatives has set you apart, and as a result, their data is safer with your organization than it would be at any of your competitors.
Communicate with Senior Leadership
Reporting cybersecurity to the Board and C-suite has always been a challenge, because the KPIs typically used in these reports are highly technical and difficult to understand. With your new cybersecurity benchmarks, you can report using simple metrics that even non-IT professionals can easily comprehend.
Importantly, comparisons to other organizations can spur action in the executive suite and the Board of Directors. Communicating with clear metrics makes it easier to demonstrate security program improvements and advocate for more resources to remain competitive. For example, showing your 650 security rating to executives and comparing it to the 800 rating of a competitor can light a fire under leadership to prioritize cybersecurity.
Set Actionable Goals
With cybersecurity benchmarks, goal-setting become actionable rather than theoretical. Instead of saying “I’d like to reduce the likelihood of data breach,” you can say “I’d like to bring my BitSight Security Rating from 650 to 700 in the next three months.” In addition, these ratings can serve as an accountability measure attached to any funding increases.
By benchmarking your cybersecurity performance, you can identify weaknesses, better prioritize remediation, clearly track performance, and help improve communication between IT and senior leadership. Simply put, establishing these benchmarks is necessary for competitive organizations.
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