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Center for Internet Security Announces Public Release of Consensus Metrics for Information Security

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) today announced the public release of the industry’s first consensus metrics for information security. The metrics are user-originated, unambiguous definitions for security professionals to measure some of the most important aspects of the information security status of an enterprise. Used on a repeatable basis, organizations can trend the results of security processes and decisions to better evaluate the impact of their programs and adjust their efforts – a feedback loop that enables continuous improvement of outcomes from security investments. Widespread adoption of the consensus metrics can enable cross-organization benchmarking, creating a mechanism for enterprises to learn from one another and, ultimately, drive trends in security incidents downward.

The initial set of metrics is comprised of 20 definitions representing a balanced combination of processes and outcomes across six business functions: Incident Management, Vulnerability Management, Patch Management, Application Security, Configuration Management and Finance. The metric definitions can be downloaded free of charge at: http://www.cisecurity.org/metrics.

“This is a practical and immediately useful document which will enable the standardized establishment, tracking, and reporting of information security metrics throughout the industry. It kick-starts a move towards maturity in this area and lays the groundwork for benchmarking, which has been impossible to date. We look forward to future evolutions of this document, and observing and participating in the changes to strategy and tools design which will follow,” said Caroline Wong, Chief of Staff and Manager, Metrics, eBay.

Security professionals are under intense pressure to justify their program expenses. But the lack of widely accepted and unambiguous metrics for decision support causes organizations to struggle in making cost-effective security investment decisions. “Now that they are available, we recommend organizations start by picking a few outcome-based consensus security metrics that can be consistently measured with the same frequency and rigor as public financial results,” said Steven Piliero, Chief Security Officer, the Center for Internet Security.

“I have long believed that creating relevant metrics for information security effectiveness hinges on measuring IT operations effectiveness. This project is driven by the bold vision that by inventorying the state of IT practice, we will be able to show what practices prevent security breaches from occurring, and enable quick detection and recovery when they occur,” said Gene Kim, Chief Technology Officer, Tripwire, Inc.

Industry Adoption of the CIS Consensus Metrics

Widespread adoption of the CIS consensus metrics is expected among end users, security tool vendors and consultants, thereby evolving the consensus metric definitions into a user-originated, de facto standard and creating the foundation for a rich source of data, reports, tools and services.

Thousands of senior executives, boards of directors and IT security professionals will use the definitions to evaluate their security management programs and enable better business reporting and business partner auditing. Many will leverage this real-world experience to collaborate on the future development and enhancements to metrics as well as pool their buying power, requiring security software vendors and consultants to provide solutions based on metrics.

Security vendors, consultants, research firms and scientists will integrate the consensus metrics reporting capability into their solutions as a service to their customers and a competitive advantage in their markets. By offering automated reporting tools, strategic guidance and research, they can help enterprises use, evaluate and take action on the metrics results.

The CIS Consensus Process

The CIS metrics were developed through consensus among more than 120 security experts from commercial enterprises, government and academia. The process involved three phases: coming to agreement on a few key aspects of information security that are important to measure in all enterprises; agreeing on the best way to precisely define the means of measurement for each; and vetting the definitions among the CIS membership.

“Development of the metric definitions is a great example of a community consensus effort. Information security leaders in all sectors of business and government recognize the importance of accurately and consistently measuring and improving outcomes from security processes and practices,” said Bert Miuccio, Chief Executive Officer, the Center for Internet Security.

Moving forward, the CIS consensus group will expand on the initial set of metrics to include additional business functions such as Data and Information, Anti-malware Controls, Authentication and Authorization, Data and Network Security, Software Development Life-Cycle, Remediation Efforts and Third Party Risk Management. CIS will collaborate with organizations in education, government, and the finance and healthcare sectors that are also working to develop metrics for information security.

CIS Featured in Secure Americas 2009 Metrics Panel Session

CIS also announced today that its founding CEO, Clint Kreitner, will speak at the upcoming Secure Americas event on June 5th, 2009 in Washington, D.C. The panel session, titled “No CISO Should Be Without Strong Security Metrics,” is moderated by Bob West, CEO, Echelon One, and includes executives from Digital Stakeout and MITRE. For more information, visit http://www.isc2.org/EventDetails.aspx?id=3720.

About CIS

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit organization that helps enterprises reduce the risk of business and e-commerce disruptions resulting from inadequate technical security controls, and provides enterprises with resources for measuring information security status and making rational security investment decisions. CIS develops and distributes consensus-based benchmarks for secure configuration of operating systems, software applications and network devices. The consensus security configuration benchmarks are downloaded more than one million times a year, and are globally accepted as user-originated, de facto standards. CIS is also driving the industry’s first consensus metrics for information security. More than 150 leading corporations, government entities, universities and security organizations are CIS members. For more information, visit www.cisecurity.org.

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