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February 2005

Security: Measuring Up

Here's a formula most security pros will recognize: Risk = Threat x Vulnerability x Expected Loss It's useful for expressing the necessity and purpose of security. It's also equally difficult to quantify with meaningful numbers. How do you numerically express a threat? What is the cost of a vulnerability? How do you calculate expected loss? And, when you multiply these three variables, how do you denote risk in a way that can be translated into an action item? Security metrics--the measure of security policies, processes and products--is the much-sought-after solution to this conundrum. Security managers look for a magic formula that calculates risk and effectiveness in reducing risk, but the reality is that security metrics aren't that simple. Measuring security is about using common sense. Managers need to determine what to measure, organize the variables in a way that makes them manageable and meaningful, and build repeatable formulas that show the snapshot status of security and how it changes over time. We'll define some of...

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Features in this issue

  • Security: Measuring Up

    by  Pete Lindstrom

    Metrics are the key to measuring security. Learn how to gather data and calculate the answers you need.

  • On the Job

    12 lessons they don't teach you in security school about being a CISO.

Columns in this issue