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  • Donald E. Hester

Measuring Security Performance: The Hard and Soft Truths You Need to Know

Security performance is a critical aspect of any organization's operation, and it is essential to measure it accurately to identify any vulnerabilities and mitigate potential risks. However, measuring security performance can be tricky, and it's essential to understand the difference between hard and soft measurements to achieve an accurate understanding of an organization's security posture.

So, what is the difference between hard and soft measurements of security performance? Simply put, hard measurements are those that can be quantified easily, while soft measurements are those that are challenging to quantify.


Examples of hard measurements include the number of security breaches, the amount spent on security, or the number of unauthorized accesses to the system. These measurements are tangible and objective, making them easy to analyze and compare over time. Hard measurements can provide an accurate picture of an organization's security performance and can be used to determine if the security measures in place are effective or not.


On the other hand, soft measurements are subjective and open to interpretation. Examples of soft measurements include employee morale, user satisfaction, and the perception of security among customers or partners. While these measurements are essential, they are not easily quantifiable, and their interpretation can vary significantly based on who is doing the analysis.


For instance, a security team may believe that the organization's security posture has improved because employees have reported feeling more secure, while the management team may not place much weight on such a subjective measurement. Soft measurements require a high degree of expertise and experience to analyze, and it's essential to have a solid understanding of the context and nuances to interpret them accurately.


So, which type of measurement is better for measuring security performance? The answer is both. Hard measurements provide a quantitative view of security performance, while soft measurements provide a qualitative view. Both types of measurements are essential for a comprehensive understanding of an organization's security posture.


In conclusion, measuring security performance is essential, and it's crucial to understand the difference between hard and soft measurements. Hard measurements provide a quantitative view, while soft measurements provide a qualitative view. Organizations should use both types of measurements to gain a comprehensive understanding of their security posture, identify vulnerabilities, and mitigate potential risks.

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