Your company spends a whole lot of money on cybersecurity products, services, solutions, staff, and consulting. But is your investment paying off?
More specifically, what is the ROI of your cybersecurity investments? How can you even measure it? It’s like calculating the ROI of a liability insurance policy—the best return is achieved when nothing at all happens.
From a financial perspective, however, it is possible to measure and validate the effectiveness of your security architecture, and thereby get vital information about three key elements of ROI:
The degree to which your company is receiving the level of protection you paid for
Your ability to maximize the productivity and job satisfaction of security staff
Where you should target future investments
Here are 5 keys to assessing the effectiveness of your security architecture:
Get better visibility into your current security posture—both within a given slice of time and across time. For example, vulnerability scanning or penetration testing (pentesting) of network elements can help you identify vulnerabilities at a point in time, while solutions such as Data Breach Assessment can provide continuous assessment of your live production security architecture . By combining and “rightsizing” these approaches, your business can begin to validate the right things the right way so you get meaningful security visibility that can help you prioritize your cybersecurity spending.
Get proactive about finding vulnerabilities. Many companies still depend exclusively on reactive, point-in-time assessment solutions. To get ahead and stay ahead of sophisticated new attacks and attackers, organizations need to be proactive about harnessing up-to-date threat intelligence and assessing the security architecture constantly, not just occasionally. Without a structured, proactive approach to assessment, companies end up assessing the wrong things, testing too little, or simply relying on vendor-supplied security metrics and not assessing the environment at all.
Measure the impact of the vulnerabilities you identify. One way to do this is through realistic attack emulation, using the actual attack traffic and techniques hackers use—not just simulating attacks with basic packet replay, which can lead to false results. With emulation you can assess the impacts of your security countermeasures in real time against real attack vectors, and you can also evaluate the impact your security measures have on your business model. For example, if application performance is paramount and cannot be sacrificed due to security measures, you can identify security policies that degrade performance without providing additional security coverage, so your teams can make changes and verify the balance between performance and security continuously.
Evaluate where your defenses need shoring up. Every business has different priorities for security, and your organization may not need to plug every security gap identified. The first step is to move to proactive, continuous assessment so teams can draw accurate, meaningful comparisons of the effectiveness of remediations from one period to the next. They can test and validate the impact of policy changes on the overall security posture and compliance status, and they can get a full picture of the types of vulnerabilities that can be remediated efficiently.
Prioritize new investments to strengthen security based on your evaluations. For example, you determine that you do not need to install a test point on every single endpoint to accomplish your endpoint security goals. Instead, based on your evaluations, you may decide it makes more sense to assess specific representative sample systems to verify security capabilities prior to a major policy or software roll-out. In addition, you can decide what security tasks can and should be automated to reduce the burden on staff. This can in turn increase job satisfaction, loyalty, and retention rates among prized security specialists.
In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at the specific capabilities you need to achieve these objectives. In the meantime, take a look at this white paper for fresh insights into optimizing your cybersecurity investments.