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A Few Good Metrics

A Few Good Metrics

Mention metrics to a CIO or infosecurity executive and immediately their thoughts may well turn to sigmas, standard deviations and, probably, probability. To many, metrics equals statistics.

SIDEBAR: A Good Metric Must:

  • 1. BE CONSISTENTLY MEASURED. The criteria must be objective and repeatable.
  • 2. BE CHEAP TO GATHER. Using automated tools (such as scanning software or password crackers) helps.
  • 3. CONTAIN UNITS OF MEASURE. Time, dollars or some numerical scale should be included - not just, say, "green", "yellow" or "red" risks.
  • 4. BE EXPRESSED AS A NUMBER. Give the results as a percentage, ratio or some other kind of actual measurement. Don't give subjective opinions such as "low risk" or "high priority."

Source: Andrew Jaquith

SIDEBAR: A Good Visualization of Metrics Will:

  • 1. NOT BE OVERSIMPLIFIED. Executives can handle complex data if it's presented clearly.
  • 2. AT THE SAME TIME, NOT BE ORNATE. Gratuitous pictures, 3-D bars, florid design and noise around the data diminish effectiveness.
  • 3. USE A CONSISTENT SCALE. Switching scales within a single graphic presentation makes it confusing or suggests you're trying to bend the facts.
  • 4. INCLUDE A COMPARISON TO A BENCHMARK, WHERE APPLICABLE. "You are here" or "The industry is here" is often a simple but informative comparative element to add.

Source: Andrew Jaquith

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