How to Measure Your Company’s Cybersecurity Effectiveness?

measuring cybersecurity effectiveness

With the annual cost of cybercrime predicted to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025 – a 300% increase over ten years, the implementation of cybersecurity programs is at an all-time high. As business owners, executives, and other stakeholders realise that no one is exempt from cyber attacks, increasing numbers of organisations are starting to take cyber threat mitigation seriously.  

However, companies can’t afford to rest on their laurels once they’ve implemented a cybersecurity strategy plan: they need to ensure it works effectively. More importantly, measuring cybersecurity effectiveness isn’t something that companies only need to think about once or every so often – it needs to happen consistently and with purpose.  

This post explores the importance of measuring your cybersecurity effectiveness, common metrics for evaluating mitigation strategies, and how to address IT security gaps. 

How does a company measure their cybersecurity effectiveness? 

There are several steps involved in measuring cybersecurity effectiveness:  

Risk identification 

The first, and most important, step for measuring cybersecurity effectiveness is a comprehensive and accurate risk assessment. This is crucial, as without correctly identifying the most significant risks, an organisation will concentrate time, effort, and resources on less relevant cyber threats – rendering their cybersecurity mitigation strategies ineffective. 

You can determine your company’s most significant threats through cyber risk modelling, which enables you to identify and quantify as wide a range of potential cybersecurity events as possible. Additionally, security teams should confer with different managers and other key stakeholders to ascertain what they think the most significant cyber risks are. 

Develop cybersecurity strategies to mitigate significant risks 

After determining its risk profile, a company needs to categorise cyber threats according to their severity and likelihood of occurrence, e.g., assigning them a risk rating of “low”, “medium”, or “high”. From there, security teams can start implementing policies and controls to mitigate high-risk cyber threats. RiskXchange Platform identifies new risks every 24 hours and helps you determine the order or mitigation, highlighting “critical” issues first and then listing high, medium and low risks.

Select cybersecurity metrics and measures 

Security teams must now choose appropriate metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the effectiveness of their cybersecurity strategies. Security metrics are quantifiable measures that remove ambiguity and subjectiveness from evaluating the effectiveness of an implemented policy or control. 


Another critical aspect of measuring cybersecurity effectiveness is benchmarking: comparing the performance of their cybersecurity program against peers, industry standards and frameworks, and compliance requirements. Cybersecurity benchmarking allows you to determine where your company’s cybersecurity measures stand in relation to your competitors, which helps manage reputational risk. Benchmarks are also an effective way to justify cybersecurity expenditure on security services and solutions to stakeholders – or to procure the additional budget required to improve mitigation efforts.  

Implement and test cybersecurity controls and policies 

After implementing the appropriate cybersecurity controls and policies designed to address high-priority threats, security teams must test their efficacy, through penetration testing, simulating realistic cyber attacks, and other vulnerability assessments. Additionally, you need to implement the tools and solutions that will enable your company to collect and analyse the required cybersecurity metrics and measures. You can then compare your metrics against your initial expectations and chosen benchmarks.  

Continuous monitoring and re-evaluation 

Your security teams must constantly monitor your IT infrastructure for security events, analyse their associated metrics and KPIs, and compare them to established cybersecurity benchmarks. Over time, after consistently collecting and comparing metrics from different periods, you can better measure your company’s cybersecurity effectiveness and, consequently, gaps in your IT security.  

Also, if you determine your current controls and policies are ineffective or have chosen inadequate cybersecurity metrics to measure their efficacy, you can re-evaluate your strategy and make adjustments. 

What metrics should a company choose to determine cybersecurity effectiveness? 

The cybersecurity metrics a company chooses to assess their cybersecurity posture depend on its risk profile, compliance requirements, and overall business objectives. Here are some of the most common metrics companies can use when measuring their cybersecurity effectiveness.  

  • Number of assets: this is a crucial metric as it illustrates a company’s knowledge of its IT ecosystem and the size and complexity of their attack surface.
  • Intrusion attempts and responses: this refers to the number of cybersecurity incidents detected and mitigated by security teams over a specific period, daily, weekly, quarterly, etc. 
  • Unidentified devices on networks: this helps an organisation identify potential intrusion attempts and compromised devices, increasing the number of responses and decreasing response time.  
  • Number of known vulnerabilities: the more vulnerabilities a security team is aware of, the more they can contain and mitigate. 
  • Response time (MTTD, MTTR, and MTTC): Mean time to detect (MTTD), mean time to resolve (MTTR), and mean time to contain (MTTC), are considered by many as the most important metrics for measuring cybersecurity effectiveness. While MTTD details the average time it takes security teams to notice security events, MTTR and MTTC describe how quickly it takes your company to resolve or contain cyber threats, respectively.  
  • Patching cadence: how frequently security teams install software patches, i.e., fixes or updates. This reflects how often companies search for and identify software vulnerabilities within a given period. 
  • Vendor risk exposure: this reflects how well an organisation manages third-party riskquantifying the risk a vendor represents to the company. Related metrics such as vendor incident rate and percentage of vendor risk assessments completed also help measure the effectiveness of a company’s supply chain cybersecurity mitigation strategy. 
  • Security Rating: perhaps the most concise way of measuring a company’s cybersecurity effectiveness, security rating measures a company’s cybersecurity posture, as provided by a security rating system or independent audit.   
  • Cybersecurity awareness training completion rate: this indicates the success of cyber threat education efforts within your organisation. Similarly, phishing click-through rate and number of security incidents caused by employee error reflect how effective your cybersecurity awareness training programs are.  

What steps can be taken for a company to address gaps in performance? 

After a period of recording and analysing cybersecurity metrics and measures, security teams will have invaluable insights into how they can improve controls and policies and, subsequently, reduce risk factors within their IT infrastructure. Here are a few ways companies can address IT security gaps.  

  • Improve employee cybersecurity awareness training: as many security incidents are caused by employee negligence or a simple lack of awareness, educating your staff on cyber threats is a fundamental way to improve your cybersecurity posture. The more educated your workforce, the less likely they are to succumb to social engineering attacks, like phishing attacks, or be careless with sensitive data.
  • Establish a patch management process: the more effective your system for applying updates and fixes, the less frequently malicious actors can take advantage of software vulnerabilities. Where possible, apply automatic updates so a software patch is applied as soon as it’s available.   
  • Reduce supply chain risk: mitigate third-party risk through comprehensive risk assessments and requiring vendors, suppliers, etc., to implement your prescribed controls and policies. 
  • Strengthen access control mechanisms: this could include enforcing better password hygiene, introducing multi-factor authentication (MFA), or implementing Zero Trust architecture (ZTA).  
  • Continuous monitoring and periodic testing: this includes installing continuous monitoring tools to constantly measure your cybersecurity effectiveness and ensure you have sufficient metrics to make informed decisions regarding mitigation strategies. Additionally, this includes intermittent independent audits to highlight security gaps your security team may have missed.  

How RiskXchange can help your company with measuring cybersecurity effectiveness 

RiskXchange’s comprehensive security assessment and attack surface management solutions will identify gaps in your company’s cybersecurity strategies, highlight third-party risks and our team of security experts will help you remediate them and improve your cybersecurity posture.
Contact us for your free trial of Riskxchange Platform and start enhancing the effectiveness of your cybersecurity program today.  

Measuring cybersecurity effectiveness FAQs 

How do you measure cybersecurity effectiveness? 

Cybersecurity effectiveness is measured through the use of carefully chosen metrics and KPIs. To best determine which metrics will be most applicable, you need a comprehensive risk assessment process and to implement cybersecurity controls and policies based on your most significant risk factors.

What are measurement metrics in cybersecurity? 

Metrics are quantifiable indicators that allow security teams to measure the performance of cybersecurity strategies or programs. By comparing metrics against industry benchmarks – or analysing the same metric over a given period, companies can assess how their cybersecurity strategies compare to their peers and if they’re increasing in efficacy.  

What is the key focus of effectiveness in cybersecurity? 

The main focus of cybersecurity effectiveness is how well policies and controls help detect, contain, mitigate, and, where relevant, recover from cyber threats based on an organisation’s risk profile.