Metrics for Reporting on Continuous Monitoring

Metrics for Reporting on Continuous Monitoring

No matter how far along you are in establishing continuous monitoring, you should be reporting on the performance of the InfoSec compliance program and events that impact the organization’s position on security, compliance, or risk. While metrics are typically the preferred method for capturing relative information in reports to stakeholders — not all metrics are created equal. 

AuditBoard’s new ebook, The InfoSec Survival Guide: Achieving Continuous Compliance, explores how metrics fit into a strong continuous monitoring program. Download the full guide here, and continue reading to learn about how to formulate metrics that will best serve your compliance program. 

Strong metrics should measure the performance of established measures (e.g., controls, baselines, SLAs) across tactical areas impacting the business, allowing you to escalate red flags or concerning trends to executive management. These consist of Key Risk Indicators (KRIs), Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and analysis. The design of your continuous monitoring program should support your level and frequency of reporting metrics. 

The following is a general overview of the metrics used in continuous monitoring reporting: 

  1. KRIs. COBIT 5 for Risk defines KRIs as metrics that show the enterprise is or has a high probability of being, subject to a risk that exceeds the defined risk appetite. Because KRIs are pre-event metrics, they provide InfoSec the opportunity to engage with process owners and stakeholders before something becomes an issue. KRIs to consider tracking include:
    • Number of critical systems or applications
    • Number of users with access to all records (in a critical system)
    • Number of competitor data breaches in the past year
    • Number of malicious firewall events month to month
    • Percent of third parties without a current security review
    • Percent of incomplete security awareness training (or past due)
    • Percent of systems without endpoint protection coverage
    • Percent of systems with past due security patches
  2. KPIs. Key performance indicators are metrics that provide executive management and sometimes the board with a snapshot of how your security program is functioning over time. Use KPIs to illustrate a story about your environment when updating management. KPIs to consider tracking include:
    • Compliance status by framework
    • Control effectiveness by process
    • Number of phishing emails reported, last campaign
    • Number of phishing failures per quarter
    • Percent of vulnerabilities remediated in/out of SLA
    • Percent of completed policy acknowledgments 
  3. Issues Management Effectiveness. KPIs specific to the performance of your issues management program are often what management is interested in most. Issue KPIs to consider tracking include:
    • Number of new high-risk InfoSec findings
    • Issues identified by root cause
    • Issues that are repeatedly identified 
    • Issues by department, owner, or system
    • The trend of past due action plans
    • Expiring risk acceptances

To learn more about creating a strong foundation for reporting on continuous monitoring, download the full ebook, The InfoSec Survival Guide: Achieving Continuous Compliance.


John Volles, CISA, is a Director of Information Security Compliance responsible for managing AuditBoard’s compliance, risk, and privacy obligations as well as helping customers understand AuditBoard’s security posture and position. John joined AuditBoard from EY, where he reviewed and implemented client compliance programs and supporting technologies. Connect with John on LinkedIn.