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What are Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) in Cybersecurity

Published on Aug 03 2023


Effective cybersecurity management requires regular performance evaluation, which is facilitated through metrics. Key risk indicators (KRIs) are particularly useful for identifying security weaknesses and assessing the overall security posture of an organization. 

By sounding the alarm and alerting security personnel to potential threats, KRIs can help prevent serious damage. Therefore, they are essential components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. This article presents key risk indicators for cybersecurity and provides examples to illustrate their importance. 

What are Cybersecurity Key Risk Indicators (KRIs)? 

Key risk indicators (KRIs) are quantifiable metrics that allow business and security decision-makers to track a company’s evolving risk landscape. By providing predictive insights and early warning signals, KRIs help companies identify risks, prevent disasters, and implement solutions promptly.  

KRIs are especially valuable in the realm of cybersecurity, where they can be used to compare the results of various detection systems. This information is essential for assessing the company’s exposure to cyberattacks. 

Benefits of Using Key Risk Indicators in Cybersecurity 

Here are some of the key benefits: 

  1. KRIs serve as an early warning system that enables businesses to take preventive or mitigating action against emerging cyber threats and limit potential damages. 
  2. KRIs provide a common language and framework for discussing cybersecurity risks and issues, improving communication and collaboration among different teams within a company, such as IT, security, and management. 
  3. KRIs provide data-driven insights enabling businesses to plan their cybersecurity strategies more effectively, allocate resources more efficiently, and proactively manage risks. 
  4. KRIs offer a transparent and measurable framework for tracking performance and identifying opportunities for improvement, helping hold individuals and teams accountable for their cybersecurity responsibilities. 

Types of Key Risk Indicators in Cybersecurity 

The optimal number of KRIs for a company can vary from one to another. We can categorize KRIs as quantitative, prioritizing hard data and evidence, or qualitative, aiding in tasks such as sensitivity analysis through precise forecasting of probable outcomes. To better manage different types of risks, we can break KRIs into three distinct groups: 

Technical KRIs 

The performance, network throughput, and device vulnerabilities that comprise a company’s cybersecurity are the primary focus of key technical risk indicators (KRIs). A few examples of technical KRIs in cybersecurity are as follows: 

  • Patch Management KRI enables organizations to assess the efficacy of their patch management strategy. 
  • Network Security KRI tracks the frequency of attempted intrusions, the depth of those intrusions, and the success rate of attacks. 
  • Vulnerability Management KRI measures how well the company’s vulnerability management process works, considering the number of vulnerabilities found, the amount of time it takes to fix them, and the efficiency of vulnerability scanning. 
  • Endpoint Security KRI measures the effectiveness of a company’s endpoint security controls, including the number of malware infections, compromised endpoints, and the efficiency of antivirus and other endpoint protection tools. 

Operational KRIs 

Operational KRIs provide insight into the efficiency and effectiveness of a company’s cybersecurity operations. These metrics help businesses identify and address potential issues before escalating into significant cyber incidents. 

A few examples of operational key risk indicators in cybersecurity are as follows: 

  • Incident Response Time KRI tracks the time it takes a company to identify and deal with a cybersecurity breach. 
  • Safety Education KRI assesses how well a company’s cybersecurity education campaigns work. 
  • Security Operations Center KRI evaluates the ability to detect and respond to cybersecurity incidents. 
  • Access Control Management KRI assesses how well a company controls network access. 

Strategic KRIs 

Strategic key risk indicators (KRIs) enable companies to track their advancement toward strategic objectives and detect potential risks that may hinder their success. A few examples of strategic key risk indicators in cybersecurity are as follows: 

  • Security Posture KRI measures the effectiveness of company’s cybersecurity controls, employee cybersecurity awareness, and the company’s ability to respond to cybersecurity incidents. 
  • Threat Intelligence KRI evaluates the company’s preparedness for new cyberattacks. 
  • Compliance KRI measures compliance with industry standards such as the GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS
  • Risk Management KRI measures a company’s ability to detect, evaluate, and eliminate cyber threats. 
  • Business Continuity KRI evaluates how well a company can keep running after a cyberattack or other types of disruption. 


Key risk indicators (KRIs) are essential to any cybersecurity risk management program and must be related to a key performance indicator (KPI). Key risk indicators are useful in locating and reducing potential cybersecurity threats. Companies can monitor their security posture and take preventative measures against cybersecurity incidents by monitoring these critical indicators. 

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