What is Cybersecurity Performance Management?

Last updated by Abi Tyas Tunggal on March 10, 2020

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Cybersecurity performance management is the process of evaluating your cybersecurity program's maturity based on top-level risks and the associated level of investment (people, processes and technology) needed to improve your security security to meet regulatory requirements and business outcomes. 

Security metrics improve decision making by helping risk management and security teams take a risk-based, outcome-driven approach to assessing and managing their organization's cybersecurity capabilities. The same can be said for vendor risk management teams looking to reduce third-party risk.

Despite the benefits, a surprisingly large number, 58%, of organizations aren't adequately measuring the effectiveness of their cybersecurity programs against best practices. 

As the number of successful cyber attacks and cybersecurity incidents climb, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), senior executives and other security leaders need to be comfortable continuously monitoring and assessing their and their vendors' information security and network security standards. 

Table of contents

  1. Why isn't cybersecurity performance management more common?
  2. Why is cybersecurity performance management important?
  3. How security ratings facilitate cybersecurity performance management
  4. How UpGuard can help with cybersecurity performance management

1. Why isn't cybersecurity performance management more common?

Traditional cyber risk management has relied on point in time penetration testing, threat intelligence, occasional audits and point-in-time risk assessments. 

The problem with this approach is that it's subjective, expensive and worst of all, static. It doesn't provide a continuous view of how your security program is performing. 

Continuous monitoring is the key to better security, as new vulnerabilities and exploits are discovered by attackers and researchers constantly.  

Additionally, communicating findings to senior management has always been a challenge. The highly technical metrics used need to be summarized into digestible insights for board meetings, often lacking any real context.  

Mckinsey Digital offers examples of reports send to senior management that mention "millions of attacks the organization faces per week or per day" while this number may be eye-catching, it doesn't provide adequate context.

The truth is most board members want to know how your organization compares to its peers, not that you stopped 3,600 malware threats per day.

Worst of all, these reports generally capture a moment in time which can be out of date tomorrow. 

2. Why is cybersecurity performance management important?

Cybersecurity management is an increasingly important topic for board members and C-suite executives who want to ensure their organization is doing all it can to reduce cyber risk, and prevent data breaches and data leaks.

With the average cost of a data breach reaching $3.92 million globally, you can see why cybersecurity has become so important. Not to mention the risk of corporate espionage, loss of intellectual property, sensitive data exposure (e.g. PII, PHI or psychographic data), reputational damage and the ever growing list of data breach notification laws like GDPR, LGPD, PIPEDA, CCPA, the SHIELD Act, 23 NYCRR 500 and GLBA.

Yet, building defenses and maintaining regulatory compliance is no longer enough. Board members, C-suite executives and even shareholders are demanding to understand the impact and effectiveness of security investments and what the security gaps their organization has.  

The problem for CISOs is that the technical knowledge needed to understand the effectiveness of cybersecurity initiatives is generally lacking, even at the board level. 

This is why many organizations are turning to security ratings and peer comparisons to report on and set goals for security outcomes.   

3. How security ratings facilitate cybersecurity performance management

A security rating is akin to a credit score, the higher an organization's security rating, the better their security posture and the less likely they will suffer from a cyber attack, data breach or data leak

Security ratings are data-driven, objective and most importantly, a continuous measure of an organization's cybersecurity performance. 

Unlike traditional cyber risk management strategies like penetration testing, security questionnaires or onsite visits, security ratings are an instant, non-intrusive way to measure the security posture of any organization, anywhere in the world. 

Learn what the top security questionnaires are here.

Security ratings are derived from objective, verifiable information such as a lack of DNSSEC, DMARC or SSL and the risk of email spoofing, man-in-the-middle attacks, phishing, spear phishing, domain hijacking, exposure to wormable vulnerabilities like EternalBlue which led to WannaCry, different types of malware and ransomware, poor configuration management and other cyber threats.

Armed with first-party, third-party and fourth-party security ratings, organizations can proactively identify, quantify and manage cybersecurity risk throughout their ecosystem. 

They can also see how changes to their or their vendors' security infrastructure has impacted their rating, either positively or negatively and then evaluate and mitigate any issues. 

Critically, security ratings provide a common language that can be understood by technical and non-technical stakeholders by providing a easy to understand numeric or letter-grade score. 

This is particularly important for CISOs looking to compare how their organization is performing against its competition and to measure the effectiveness of a vendor's security performance. As organizations outsource more, the risk of third-party data loss or exposure increases. 

This is why the ability to identify high-risk vendors and plan for business continuity is an increasingly in demand skill set.

Read our guide on how to select a third-party risk assessment framework to learn more

4. How UpGuard can help with cybersecurity performance management

Companies like Intercontinental Exchange, Taylor Fry, The New York Stock Exchange, IAG, First State Super, Akamai, Morningstar and NASA use UpGuard to protect their data, prevent data breaches and assess their security controls. 

UpGuard BreachSight can help monitor your organization for 50+ security controls providing a simple, easy-to-understand cyber security ratings.

UpGuard Vendor Risk can minimize the amount of time your organization spends managing third-party relationships by automating vendor questionnaires and providing vendor questionnaire templates that map to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and other best practices. We can help you continuously monitoring your vendors' security posture over time while benchmarking them against their industry. 

Each vendor is rated against 50+ criteria such as presence of SSL and DNSSEC, as well as risk of domain hijacking, man-in-the-middle attacks and email spoofing for phishing.

Each day, our platform scores your vendors with a Cyber Security Rating out of 950. We'll alert you if their score drops.

We're experts in data breaches and data leaks, our research has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Forbes, Reuters and Techcrunch.

If you'd like to see how your organization stacks up, get your free Cyber Security Rating

Book a demo of the UpGuard platform today.


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