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How to Communicate VM Program Progress: Vulnerability Management Metrics

Every vulnerability management program should be able to track its progress over time. Companies need to document the status of their VM programs, so they can assess their overall value while focusing on eliminating as many potential threats as possible. Without insight into how these programs are performing, companies can leave themselves vulnerable to potential hacks that can disrupt their operations. Learn how to report on the progress of your VM program by choosing the right vulnerability management metrics.

Common VM Communication Issues

Vulnerability management is just as much about people as it is about technology. Your team needs to be able to quickly act on the information they receive about potential threats while sharing updates with the rest of the company. VM doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It should be integrated into every other aspect of the company, so this information gets where it needs to go.

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C-suite executives and corporate leaders need to understand the value of these programs; however, they may not be well versed in the latest technical terms. VM leaders should be able to demonstrate the value of their efforts using key performance indicators (KPIs). This helps leadership focus on the figures that matter most to the company.

Management and VM leaders need to share the same business goals to better align their efforts, such as reducing the number of potential threats, speeding up the average time it takes to remediate a threat, or better securing corporate data. Once the organization commits to a shared set of ideal security program metrics, every member of the team can help carry out this vision.

Far too many companies still rely on manual VM tracking and outdated technology like spreadsheets. The latest vulnerability scanner technology will automatically generate graphs and other visual components to help the team quickly disseminate this information throughout the organization. Leadership can quickly make sense of the team’s progress by comparing certain KPIs month over month.

Vulnerability prioritization software continues to evolve every year. Companies need to stay up to date with the latest trends and potential threats to safeguard their assets.

Highlighting Key Performance Indicators

Improving the communication process takes time, but it starts with choosing the correct KPIs for vulnerability management. Many automated VM programs generate large quantities of data that leave IT professionals drowning in a sea of numbers.

Choosing which key performance indicators to focus on isn’t always easy. It can be hard to convey the value of a hack that never occurred, considering a potential leak or outage can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

From a VM perspective, progress can mean several different things. It may be further defined as remediating the most critical vulnerabilities, reducing attack surface, mitigating environmental damage, and minimizing overall business risk. Progress usually means identifying the most dangerous threats and remediating them as quickly as possible, which reduces the company’s overall risk level.

It may be easy to focus on simple KPIs such as the number of vulnerabilities or threats remediated without tracking how these numbers have changed over time, but management should always be looking for ways to improve the VM process. Progress is often the most important KPI of all as it demonstrates change for the better. The company should work toward reducing its overall risk level year after year as the severity of these threats continues to evolve. This information can be used to shore up confidence among investors and business partners in an increasingly unpredictable world.

How to Track Progress

Companies should focus on the following when tracking the progress of their VM programs:

Set SMART Goals

IT leaders should first identify which assets are the most valuable to the company while setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (​SMART​) goals for protecting these assets.

Focus on the Right Metrics

The VM team should also be able to give context to the information they present by focusing on the metrics that matter most to the company. This information should be easily understood by everyone in the company. IT leaders should then replicate the process to highlight their progress over time.

In many cases, the security team might not be able to respond to every vulnerability with new threats being discovered. Listing every possible threat and outcome in the report can lead to communication overload. Instead, the team should aim to give leadership a general sense of where the organization stands in terms of security. IT leaders should also be able to demonstrate the impact a potential threat could have on the organization based on its CVSS score and the value of being able to prevent the threat.

Using the latest technology will only help speed up the vulnerability reporting process. Companies should set the right vulnerability management metrics to ensure they are focusing on the bigger picture.

Download the full How to Communicate VM Program Progress report by NopSec to learn learn how to effectively track the progress of the VM program (while saving both time and money), partner and align with the IT team on goals to push the program forward, and communicate results of the VM program to executives and board members.

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