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May 16, 2015

Metrics to govern and manage information security

Section 9.1 of ISO/IEC 27001:2013 requires organizations to 'evaluate the information security performance and the effectiveness of the information security management system'.  The standard doesn't specify precisely what is meant by 'information security performance' and '[information security?] effectiveness' but it gives some strong hints:
"The organization shall determine:
a) what needs to be monitored and measured, including information security processes and controls;
b) the methods for monitoring, measurement, analysis and evaluation, as applicable, to ensure valid results;
c) when the monitoring and measuring shall be performed;
d) who shall monitor and measure;
e) when the results from monitoring and measurement shall be analysed and evaluated; and
f) who shall analyse and evaluate these results."
The standard specifies (much of) the measurement process without stating what to measure i.e. which metrics.  No doubt the committee would argue that it is not possible to be specific about the metrics since each organization is different - and there's a lot of truth in that - but it's a shame they didn't explain how to select metrics or offer a few examples ... which is where our security awareness paper originally delivered in August 2008 picks up the pieces.

We drew on the IT Governance Institute's advice on information security governance for inspiration, suggesting metrics corresponding to the four aspects identified in the ITGI paper (governance outcomes; knowledge & protection of information assets; governance benefits; and process integration).

[The original hyperlink to the ITGI paper now gives a 404 page-not-found error, unfortunately.  It was a good paper.  Perhaps they moved or updated it?]