Security metrics are somewhat of an enigma. Executives want something tangible to speak to and analyze yet they are not easy to define or measure. Most likely you will hear examples such as ‘number of laptops stolen’ or ‘number of servers with known vulnerabilities’, but what do those numbers mean? Why do we or should we care about them? Yes, they will help to indicate areas of risk or improvement, possible ROI, but before you start the never-ending process of defining security metrics, it is beneficial to understand your organization’s security level of maturity by utilizing CMMI maturity levels.
It’s like the saying you don’t know what you don’t know. You can’t produce a metric if you don’t know your starting point.
CMMI Maturity Levels provide a rigorous benchmark rating method that enables you to compare your organization’s capability to its competitors, its industry, and itself over time. CMMI provides five maturity levels that demonstrate a visible path for improvement.
What is Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)®(n.d.). Retrieved from http://cmmiinstitute.com/capability-maturity-model-integration
Although CMMI is based on software development practices the maturity levels can be curtailed to be security centric for any aspect of your program. CMMI levels are very straightforward. The example below is specific to a security program.
0- Non-Existent- Overall lack of a security program
1- Initial- There is no evidence to support the security program. Security policies, processes, and procedures are unpredictable and reactive.
2- Managed- The security program itself is intuitive, documented and repeatable but at times is unpredictable and still reactive in its security approach.
3- Defined- The security program is implemented, predictable and proactive in its security approach and can be measured qualitatively.
4- Quantitatively Managed – The security program is implemented, predictable and proactive in its security approach and can be measured using statistical and other quantitative techniques.
5- Optimized- The security program is highly effective with full integration.
Once you know what your maturity level is you can determine which level you want to achieve and maintain. From there you can create metrics that will provide you an accurate view of your environment, what metrics best address your areas of risk as well as areas for improvements.
Always remember you can’t measure something that you do not know. So, know your maturity level, that is your first metric.
Author Surname A (Year Published) Title. What is Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)®? Available at: http://cmmiinstitute.com/capability-maturity-model-integration (accessed 03/05/18).