How CISOs Can Demonstrate the ROI of Their Cybersecurity Program

More and more, CISOs are turning to the quantification of cyber risks versus deployed controls to demonstrate the ROI of cybersecurity programs. The increase in cybersecurity spending bodes well for enterprises, although CISOs must improve their methods to engage with the rest of the board and unlock bigger budgets to aid their efforts.

As a CISO, you have a direct line to the enterprise’s decision-makers. These interactions often focus on operational security metrics and performance analysis of the tools instead of placing a tangible, monetary value on the benefits it brings to the organization. Establishing a concise, quantifiable measurement that your board members understand in financial terms will improve buy-in and assist with directing spending to areas where you can add the most value.

We all know the average cost of a breach continues to rise year on year. However, the average dwell time fell to 277 days in 2022 compared to 287 in 2021. This indicates an improvement in cybersecurity detection and breach containment strategies, but you’ll need to dig deeper into your security program to demonstrate the exact ROI of each control. To give your fellow executives the facts and figures they can understand, consider quantifying the risks of your cybersecurity program using the recommendations below.

Quantifying the ROI of Your Cybersecurity Program

Measuring and reporting on the ROI of your security program requires you to calculate the reduction in the likelihood of a breach in monetary terms. By taking this approach, you can collaborate effectively with your CFO and COO to communicate the real value of your current and future investments.

To make good cyber risk management possible, you need to move away from security reports that:

  • Doesn’t provide a complete picture of the risk landscape or likelihood of a breach
  • Has insufficient financial data regarding current investments in the program
  • Contains additional information that doesn’t provide actionable insights to decision-makers

Instead, CISOs should draft reports that will:

  • Allow the organization’s leaders to respond faster with better decisions
  • Justify the current cybersecurity budgets and demonstrate where additional value is available
  • Set out clear and concise use cases for expanding the budget with definitive dollar terms

Cyber Risk Quantification (CRQ) uses statistical models and real-time data to provide an accurate view of your cybersecurity program’s ROI. Although CRQ frameworks continue to evolve, the goal is to augment intuition and experience and develop new strategies, identify control gaps, and guide future cyber investments.

Developing an Enterprise CRQ Framework to Demonstrate Cybersecurity ROI

On the surface, calculating the risk reduction of a breach in monetary terms should provide adequate insight into your program’s ROI. Multiplying the likelihood of a breach as a percentage with the projected impact in dollar terms will demonstrate which controls have the most value in securing your perimeter.

The following four parameters should allow you to calculate the ROI of your cybersecurity program:

  • Breach likelihood – The measurement as a percentage of the established controls versus the latest vulnerabilities present in the IT landscape
  • Breach impact – The monetary cost of a breach when considering data classification, breach dwell time, and number of records exposed
  • Breach risk – The possible costs the organization will incur if the CISO doesn’t act to reduce the likelihood of a breach succeeding
  • Risk reduction – The ROI available by implementing controls that reduce the risk likelihood percentage against the breach impact

Yet, these measurements aren’t easy to discern when attack vectors keep evolving, and new vulnerabilities arise every day. Operational security controls often focus on a compliance-risk model to calculate the ROI of the program in the organization. This framework rarely demonstrates the true risk in an organization and instead focuses on limiting liability with regulatory requirements. A risk-based framework helps demonstrate the true monetary value of your cybersecurity program.

Adopting the FAIR™ Model to Demonstrate ROI for Cybersecurity and Operational Risk

Emerging as the premier Value at Risk (VaR) model for cybersecurity and operational risk is the Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR™) framework. As a standard quantitative risk analysis model, it provides organizations with a method to measure, manage, and communicate information security risks in definitive terms that the organization understands – namely costs.

FAIR™ is now the only international standard quantitative model for quantifying and managing cybersecurity risk.

The framework uses four stages to help CISOs demonstrate ROI in cybersecurity programs. These stages include:

  • Identify scenarios – Modeling threats (which can be anything from natural disasters to cyber breaches) to understand events in the context of the asset and organizational community in question
  • Calculate Loss Event Frequency (LEF) – Estimating the frequency of threats, the threat actor’s capabilities, an organization’s control strength, and the current exposure to vulnerabilities provides CISOs with a probable LEF value
  • Determine Probable Loss Magnitude (PLM) – Combining the estimated worst-case loss against the probable loss of a breach in financial terms helps the CISO to quantify the risk exposure of the organization
  • Derive and communicate risk – Finally, the measurements above will provide a clear dollar value of the operational risk to compare against your cybersecurity investments and demonstrate your ROI in an articulate, business-orientated language

Using the FAIR™ model, you can build a foundation for demonstrating the ROI of your cybersecurity program that ensures the risk to the organization is accurate, complete, and understood in financial terms.

Reduce Your Breach Likelihood with Secure Communications and Collaboration from Wickr

Improving the ROI of your cybersecurity program relies heavily on reducing the breach likelihood throughout your organization. Using End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) for all your communications and data exchanges will strengthen your security posture and reduce your threat landscape. Wickr provides you with the necessary communication and collaboration tools to ensure operational efficiency without compromising on your information security.

Improve the ROI of your cybersecurity program with E2EE communications from Wickr by contacting sales today.

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