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Leveraging Metrics to Enhance Your Insider Risk Management Program

Leveraging Metrics to Enhance Your Insider Risk Management Program

Blog Article Published: 10/18/2023

Originally published by Code42.

Written by Wendy Overton.

In today’s dynamic cybersecurity landscape, organizations must proactively manage and monitor their Insider Risk. Effectively measuring the performance of an Insider Risk program and communicating its effectiveness and needs to senior leaders and the board is critical for continuous improvement and organizational buy-in. This blog is the first of a two-part series exploring the importance of using metrics to enhance your Insider Risk program from the start through maturity. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of program measurement, elucidate how to measure program activities and outcomes, and look at some example metrics for program evaluation.


The Importance of Metrics for Insider Risk Management

There are two ways to measure a program’s effectiveness: Activity-focused numbers and program outcomes. Both metrics play a pivotal role in understanding and improving the effectiveness of an Insider Risk program. Capturing data on program activities and results provides tangible evidence of program performance, guides decision-making, and fosters a data-driven approach. Metrics enable program leaders to identify areas of strength and weakness, measure progress over time, and justify resource allocations and requests. Furthermore, metrics facilitate effective communication with senior leaders and the board, enabling informed discussions on the program’s impact, effectiveness, and needs.


Measuring Program Activities

Activity metrics focus on monitoring the ongoing activities within an Insider Risk Management program. These metrics help gauge the effectiveness of specific program components and highlight areas that require attention. Examples of activity metrics include:

  • Number of Insider Risk incidents detected
  • Training completion rates
  • Policy compliance rates
  • Frequency of risk assessments conducted
  • Amount of suspicious activity reports received

These metrics provide insights into the level of program engagement, employee awareness, policy adherence, and the effectiveness of monitoring initiatives.

A challenge in measuring activity-based metrics is where and how you track them. While many tools are available to measure your progress, the most important factors are that the metrics are visualized in a tool you will frequently use, that they’re easy to manipulate, and that you can ingest all the relevant data you need frequently enough not to be stale.


Measuring Program Outcomes

Outcome metrics measure the results and impact of an Insider Risk Management program, focusing on the tangible results achieved. These metrics demonstrate the program’s effectiveness in mitigating Insider Risk and provide evidence of the program’s value to the organization. Examples of outcome metrics include:

  • Reduction in Insider Risk incidents over time
  • Decrease in policy violations
  • Increase in employee reporting of potential risks
  • Improvement in employee knowledge scores
  • Decrease in average time to detect and respond to incidents
  • Positive financial impact of mitigated Insider Risk incidents

These metrics showcase the program’s effectiveness in reducing risks, improving incident response capabilities, fostering a culture of security awareness, and protecting the organization’s reputation and assets.

One challenge in measuring program results is not having a baseline to compare. Always establish your organization’s starting point and measure progress over consistent periods, for example, quarterly and annually.


Communicating Program Effectiveness and Needs

Benchmarking an Insider Risk Management program helps track work efforts and enables strong communication of the program’s effectiveness and needs to senior leaders and the board. Metrics provide the necessary data and evidence to articulate the program’s impact and demonstrate a proactive risk management approach. By presenting activity metrics, program leaders can showcase the ongoing efforts and engagement within the program, demonstrate the need for additional resources for the team, and prove how the program is saving time and money. Paired with outcome metrics, a program manager can illustrate the tangible outcomes and improvements of the program.

Metrics can serve as powerful tools in managing and communicating the effectiveness of an Insider Risk Management program. However, they must include insightful analysis and strategic recommendations to facilitate informed decision-making, build confidence in the program, and enhance support from senior leadership and the board. Always start with a baseline, identify the critical activity-based recommendations, and develop a place to measure continuously. By combining Activity and Program Effectiveness, the organization can realistically assess their progress toward reducing risk.



About the Author

Wendy Overton is a cybersecurity advisor with a focus on designing and optimizing holistic and innovative security programs and sub-components.

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