PRAGMATIC Security Metrics : Applying Metametrics to Information Security book cover
1st Edition

PRAGMATIC Security Metrics
Applying Metametrics to Information Security

ISBN 9781439881521
Published January 8, 2013 by Auerbach Publications
512 Pages 63 B/W Illustrations

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

Other books on information security metrics discuss number theory and statistics in academic terms. Light on mathematics and heavy on utility, PRAGMATIC Security Metrics: Applying Metametrics to Information Security breaks the mold. This is the ultimate how-to-do-it guide for security metrics.

Packed with time-saving tips, the book offers easy-to-follow guidance for those struggling with security metrics. Step by step, it clearly explains how to specify, develop, use, and maintain an information security measurement system (a comprehensive suite of metrics) to help:

  • Security professionals systematically improve information security, demonstrate the value they are adding, and gain management support for the things that need to be done
  • Management address previously unsolvable problems rationally, making critical decisions such as resource allocation and prioritization of security relative to other business activities
  • Stakeholders, both within and outside the organization, be assured that information security is being competently managed

The PRAGMATIC approach lets you hone in on your problem areas and identify the few metrics that will generate real business value. The book:

  • Helps you figure out exactly what needs to be measured, how to measure it, and most importantly, why it needs to be measured
  • Scores and ranks more than 150 candidate security metrics to demonstrate the value of the PRAGMATIC method
  • Highlights security metrics that are widely used and recommended, yet turn out to be rather poor in practice
  • Describes innovative and flexible measurement approaches such as capability maturity metrics with continuous scales
  • Explains how to minimize both measurement and security risks using complementary metrics for greater assurance in critical areas such as governance and compliance

In addition to its obvious utility in the information security realm, the PRAGMATIC approach, introduced for the first time in this book, has broader application across diverse fields of management including finance, human resources, engineering, and production—in fact any area that suffers a surplus of data but a deficit of useful information.

Visit Security Metametrics. Security Metametrics supports the global community of professionals adopting the innovative techniques laid out in PRAGMATIC Security Metrics. If you, too, are struggling to make much sense of security metrics, or searching for better metrics to manage and improve information security, Security Metametrics is the place.

Table of Contents

Why Have We Written This Book?
What’s Different about This Metrics Book?
Who Are We Writing This For?
Who Are We?
     Krag Brotby
     Gary Hinson
What We’ll Be Talking About
Defining Our Terminology
What We Expect of You, the Reader

Why Measure Information Security?
To Answer Awkward Management Questions
To Improve Information Security, Systematically
For Strategic, Tactical, and Operational Reasons
For Compliance and Assurance Purposes
To Fill the Vacuum Caused by Our Inability to Measure Security
To Support the Information Security Manager
For Profit!
For Various Other Reasons

The Art and Science of Security Metrics
Metrology, the Science of Measurement
Governance and Management Metrics
Information Security Metrics
Financial Metrics (for Information Security)
(Information Security) Risk Management Metrics
     Software Quality (and Security) Metrics
     Information Security Metrics Reference Sources
     Douglas Hubbard "How to Measure Anything" (Hubbard 2010)
     Andrew Jaquith: Security Metrics (Jaquith 2007)
      NIST SP 800-55: Performance Measurement Guide for Information Security (NIST 2008)
     Debra Herrmann: Complete Guide to Security and Privacy Metrics (Herrmann 2007)
     Krag Brotby: Information Security Management Metrics (Brotby 2009a)
     Lance Hayden: IT Security Metrics (Hayden 2010)
     Caroline Wong "Security Metrics: A Beginner’s Guide" (Wong 2012)
     ISO/IEC 27004: Information Security Management–Measurement (ISO/IEC 27004 2009) 3.7.9 CIS Security Metrics (CIS 2010)
Specifying Metrics
Metrics Catalogs and a Serious Warning About SMD
Other (Information Security) Metrics Resources

Audiences for Security Metrics
Metrics Audiences Within the Organization
     Senior Management
     Middle and Junior Management
     Security Operations
     Others with Interest in Information Security
Metrics Audiences From Without the Organization

Finding Candidate Metrics
Preexisting/Current Information Security Metrics
Other Corporate Metrics
Metrics Used in Other Fields and Organizations
Information Security Metrics Reference Sources
Other Sources of Inspiration for Security Metrics
     Security Surveys
     Vendor Reports and White Papers
     Security Software
Roll-Your-Own Metrics
Metrics Supply and Demand

Metametrics and the PRAGMATIC Approach
Selecting Information Security Metrics
6.3.1 P = Predictive
6.3.2 R = Relevant
6.3.3 A = Actionable
6.3.4 G = Genuine
6.3.5 M = Meaningful
6.3.6 A = Accurate
6.3.7 T = Timely
6.3.8 I = Independent
6.3.9 C = Cost
Scoring Information Security Metrics against the PRAGMATIC Criteria
Other Uses for PRAGMATIC Metametrics
Classifying Information Security Metrics
6.6.1 Strategic/Managerial/Operational (SMO)Metrics Classification
6.6.2 Risk/Control Metrics Classification
6.6.3 Input–Process–Output (Outcome) Metrics Classification
6.6.4 Effectiveness and Efficiency Metrics Classification
6.6.5 Maturity Metrics Classification
6.6.6 Directness Metrics Classification
6.6.7 Robustness Metrics Classification
6.6.8 Readiness Metrics Classification
6.6.9 Policy/Practice Metrics Classification

150+ Example Security Metrics
Information Security Risk Management Example Metrics
Information Security Policy Example Metrics
Security Governance, Management, and Organization Example Metrics
     Information Security Financial Management Metrics
     Information Security Control-Related Metrics
     Metrics for Business Alignment and Relevance of Controls
     Control Monitoring and Testing Metrics
     Financial Information Security Metrics
Information Asset Management Example Metrics
Human Resources Security Example Metrics
Physical Security Examples
IT Security Metric Examples
Access Control Example Metrics
Software Security Example Metrics
Incident Management Example Metrics
Business Continuity Management Examples
Compliance and Assurance Metrics Examples

Designing PRAGMATIC Security Measurement System
Brief History of Information Security Metrics
Taking Systems Approach to Metrics
Information Security Measurement System Lifecycle

Advanced Information Security Metrics
High-Reliability Metrics
Indicators and Proxies
Key Indicators
     Key Goal Indicators (KGIs)
     Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
     Key Risk Indicators (KRIs)
     Critical Success Factors (CSFs)
Targets, Hurdles, Yardsticks, Goals, Objectives, Benchmarks, and Triggers

Downsides of Metrics
Numbers Don’t Always Tell the Whole Story
Scoring Political Points through Metrics
Implausible Deniability
Metrics Gaps
On Being Good Enough
What Not to Measure

Using PRAGMATIC Metrics in Practice
Gathering Raw Data
     Automated Data Sources
     Observations, Surveys, and Interviews
     Online or In-Person Surveys
     Scoring Scales
     Audits, Reviews, and Studies
Data Analysis and Statistics
Data Presentation
     General Considerations
     Analytical Tools and Techniques
     Reporting Tools and Techniques
     Presentational Tools and Techniques
     Graphs, Figures, Diagrams, and Illustrations
     Drawing Attention to Specific Issues
Using, Reacting to, and Responding to Metrics
     Periodic versus Event-Driven Reporting

Case Study
The Context: Acme Enterprises, Inc.
Information Security Metrics for C-Suite
     Information Security Metrics for the CEO
     Information Security Metrics for the CIO
     Information Security Metrics for the CISO
     Information Security Metrics for the CFO
     Information Security Metrics for the VP of Production
     Information Security Metrics for the VP of Marketing
Information Security Metrics for Management and Operations
Information Security Metrics for External Stakeholders
Acme’s Information Security Measurement System

Take-Home Lessons from This Book
     On Pragmatism and Being PRAGMATIC
     On Giving You the Confidence and Skills to Have a Go
     On Improving the Quality of Your Management Information through Metametrics
     On Improving Metrics of All Sorts
Your Chance to Advance the Profession and the Practice of Metrics
An Action Plan to Take Away

Appendix A: PRAGMATIC Criteria
Appendix B: Business Model of Information Security (BMIS)
Appendix C: Capability Maturity Model (CMM)
     Level 1–Initial
     Level 2–Repeatable
     Level 3–Defined
     Level 4–Managed
     Level 5–Optimizing
Appendix D: Example Opinion Survey Form
     Security Awareness Survey on Malware
Appendix E: SABSA Security Attributes Table
Appendix F: Prototype Metrics Catalog
Appendix G: Effect of Weighting the PRAGMATIC Criteria
Appendix H: ISO27k Maturity Scale Metrics
Appendix I: Sample Management Survey
Appendix J: Observer Bias
Appendix K: Observer Calibration
Appendix L: Bibliography

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Krag Brotby has 30 years of experience in the area of enterprise computer security architecture, governance, risk, and metrics and is a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified in the Governance of Enterprise Information Technology qualifications. Krag is a CISM trainer and has developed a number of related courses in governance, metrics, governance‐risk‐compliance (GRC), and risk and trained thousands on five continents during the past decade.

Krag’s experience includes intensive involvement in current and emerging security architectures, IT and information security metrics, and governance. He holds a foundation patent for digital rights management and has published a variety of technical and IT security-related articles and books. Brotby has served as principal author and editor of the Certified Information Security Manager Review Manual (ISACA 2012) since 2005, and is the researcher and author of the widely circulated Information Security Governance: Guidance for Boards of Directors and Executive Management (ITGI 2006), and Information Security Governance: Guidance for Information Security Managers (ITGI 2008a) as well as a new approach to Information Security Management Metrics (Brotby 2009a) and Information Security Governance; A Practical Development and Implementation Approach (Brotby 2009b).

Krag has served on ISACA’s Security Practice Development Committee. He was appointed to the Test Enhancement Committee, responsible for testing development, and to the committee developing a systems approach to information security called the Business Model for Information Security (BMIS). He received the 2009 ISACA John W. Lainhart IV Common Body of Knowledge Award for noteworthy contributions to the information security body of knowledge for the benefit of the global information security community.

Krag is a member of the California High Tech Task Force Steering Committee, an advisory board for law enforcement. He is a frequent workshop presenter and speaker at conferences globally and lectures on information security governance; metrics; information security management; and GRC and CISM preparation throughout Oceania, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. As a practitioner in the security industry for three decades, Krag was the principal Xerox BASIA enterprise security architect and managed the proof-of-concept project, pilot, and global PKI implementation plan. He was a principal architect of the SWIFT Next Gen PKI security architecture; served as technical director at RAND Corporation for the cyber assurance initiative; as chief security strategist, was the PKI architect for TransactPlus, a J.P. Morgan spinoff; and developed policies and standards for a number of organizations, including the Australian Post Office and several U.S. banks.

Recent consulting engagements include security governance projects for the Australia Post, New Zealand Inland Revenue, and Singapore Infocom Development Agency. Clients have included Microsoft, Unisys, AT&T, BP Alyeska, Countrywide Financial, Informix, Visa, VeriSign, Digital Signature Trust, Zantaz, Bank Al-Bilad, J.P. Morgan Chase, KeyBank, Certicom, and Paycom, among others. He has served on the board of advisors for Signet Assurance and has been involved in significant trade secret theft cases in the Silicon Valley.

Gary Hinson—Despite his largely technical background, Dr. Gary Hinson, PhD, MBA, CISSP, has an abiding interest in human factors—the people side as opposed to the purely technical aspects of information security and governance. Gary’s professional career stretches back to the mid-1980s as both a practitioner and manager in the fields of IT system and network administration, information security, and IT auditing. He has worked for some well-known multinationals in the pharmaceuticals/life sciences, utilities, IT, engineering, defense, and financial services industries, mostly in the United Kingdom and Europe. He emigrated to New Zealand in 2005 and now lives on a "lifestyle block" surrounded by more sheep than people.

In the course of his work, Gary has developed or picked up and used a variety of information security metrics. Admittedly, they didn’t all work out, but such is the nature of this developing field (Hinson 2006). In relation to programs to implement information security management systems, for example, Gary had some success using conventional project management metrics to guide the implementation activities and discuss progress with senior managers. However, management seemed curiously disinterested in measuring the business benefits achieved by their security investments despite Gary having laid out the basis for measurement in the original business cases. And so started his search for a better way.

Since 2000, Gary has been consulting in information security, originally for a specialist security consultancy in London and then for IsecT Ltd., his own firm. Gary designed, developed, and, in 2003, launched NoticeBored (, an innovative information security awareness subscription service. NoticeBored has kept him busy ever since, researching and writing awareness materials for subscribers covering a different information security topic each month. One of the regular monthly awareness deliverables from NoticeBored is a management-level awareness briefing proposing and discussing potential metrics associated with each month’s information security topic—for example, a suite of metrics concerning the management of incidents was delivered with a host of other awareness materials about incident management.

Gary has been a passionate fan of the ISO/IEC 27000-series "ISO27k" information security management standards since shortly before BS 7799 was first released nearly two decades ago. He contributes to the continued development of ISO27k through New Zealand’s membership of SC27, the ISO/IEC committee responsible for them, although he arrived in NZ too late to influence ISO/IEC 27004:2009 on information security measurements, unfortunately (we have more to say on ’27004 below!). To find out what ISO27k can do for your organization, visit to explore the standards, find out about new developments, and join ISO27k Forum, the email reflector for a global user group.

Before all that, Gary was a scientist researching bacterial genetics at the universities of York and Leicester in the United Kingdom. He has long since lost touch with the cut and thrust of gene cloning, DNA fingerprinting, and all that, but despite recently discovering his creative streak through NoticeBored, the rational scientist and metrician still lurks deep within him. So seven years of university study was not a total waste after all.


Like all books on metrics, PRAGMATIC Security Metrics: Applying Metametrics to Information Security makes the statement that "you can't manage what you can't measure".  The authors claim that other books on information security metrics discuss number theory and statistics in academic terms. This title promises to be light on mathematics and heavy on utility and is meant as a how-to-do-it guide for security metrics.

As to the title, PRAGMATIC is an acronym for the basis of the method of the book, in using metrics that are predictive, relevant, actionable, genuine, meaningful, timely, independent and cost. After reading the first chapter, PRAGMATIC Security Metrics: Applying Metametrics to Information Security looks like it may live up to its promise of being able to use metrics not only to track and report performance but to identify problem areas and opportunities, and drive information security improvements. If so, this could be the metrics book a lot of information security professionals have been waiting for.
—Ben Rothke, CISSP, CISM, Information Security Manager, Wyndham Worldwide; and author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know, writing on the RSA Conference Blog,