5 Cybersecurity KPIs for Board of Directors

  • By: Adam Wire
  • March 28, 2023
Cyber Security Blog
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Cyber Security Blog

As more boards adopt digital board management processes, board cybersecurity risks associated with piecemeal digital adoption leave them more vulnerable to serious cyberthreats.

Nearly every organization relies heavily on technology in the 21st century, which makes increasing your cybersecurity measures to mitigate cyber risks more important than ever. Your board of directors plays a crucial role in selecting and implementing specific information security measures, as well as considering KPIs to evaluate whether the measures are succeeding.

Read on for an overview of the importance of adequate cybersecurity within your organization, how an effective board of directors and board portal platform can contribute to cybersecurity strength, and some of the most important KPIs to consider when determining which measures are performing well and which are most in need of improvement. 

Board of Directors’ Role in Cybersecurity

Your board of directors plays a crucial role in implementing cybersecurity procedures to protect your organization’s data and identifying benchmarks that provide evidence surrounding whether these strategies are working effectively. These key performance indicators, or KPIs, are important tools in helping your directors identify potential risks and understand how well your cybersecurity system is equipped to respond to them. These decisions provide the first line of defense against a wide range of potential threats to your organization. 

Cybersecurity KPIs for Your Board of Directors

Here are 5 of the most significant KPIs for your board of directors to consider when determining metrics that indicate an adequate level of protection for your organization. 

1. Detected Intrusion Attempts 

Having a strong cybersecurity infrastructure that is capable of responding to threats quickly and effectively can play an even more important role in protecting your organization than keeping intrusion attempts from occurring at all. 

Gathering data surrounding the total number of intrusion attempts your organization receives during a particular month, quarter, or year, and tracking these results over time, gives you a clear indication of how well your cybersecurity system is blocking them. It also lets you know if your cybersecurity program improvements move the needle on reducing threats. 

2. Patch Response Time 

Cyberattacks often happen very quickly, which means that every second is crucial when it comes to identifying and responding to intrusion attempts. Although security patches do not necessarily provide a permanent resolution, applying them as quickly as possible plays a vital role in minimizing the damage that your organization or customers may experience if a data breach, DDoS attack, phishing, or another type of cyberattack does successfully penetrate your cybersecurity system. 

Patch response time is graded on an A-F scale. Frequently evaluate the grades your patching cadences receive to determine how likely your system is to be effective if a cyberattack occurs, and identify areas that are most in need of improvement. 

3. User Access Levels 

Not every member of your organization should have access to all of your organization’s data, and it is often not even necessary for your entire board of directors to have full access to all your programs, passwords, customer information, and other sensitive data. Carefully consider who needs to have access to certain types of information to effectively manage their responsibilities, and secure your user access levels by limiting individuals to only the necessary access they need to perform their duties.

4. Backup Cadence 

Even the strongest cybersecurity program can be breached. Having an adequate backup system in place before you need it, and continuously evaluating its effectiveness, is an important step in reducing the level of damage your organization is likely to sustain if you do experience an intrusion. 

Although the goal is that your backup cadence will not need to be used as frequently as other aspects of your cybersecurity system, defining goals for its strength and being just as diligent about evaluating them on a regular basis can go a long way toward protecting your organization if your primary system fails. 

5. Vendor Security Rating 

Any vendor or other third party your organization works with has the potential to inadvertently or intentionally become a cybersecurity threat. Your board of directors must carefully evaluate each program you are considering using or company you might want to work with to determine whether they take adequate cybersecurity measures to protect their partners. 

To improve your third-party risk management (TPRM) decisions, determine minimum vendor security ratings that partner vendors must meet before your organization will work with them.

Establishing Cybersecurity Metrics

Effective cybersecurity metrics must be based on solid data. Evaluating information you have surrounding current threats and responses, and assessing how these details can help you make improvements, makes your overall cybersecurity program more successful. 

Board members need access to the right information to fulfill their roles, but not all board members need the same level of access.

Board members in many industries, for example, complete an annual questionnaire disclosing any personal conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest might limit a member’s access to information on certain topics.

Assign appropriate positions to board members to give them access to what they need to succeed — no more and no less.

Improve Board Effectiveness With OnBoard

A quality board management software program can be a helpful tool for keeping track of your KPIs and other data related to your cybersecurity measures in one place, as well as organizing nearly every other aspect of boardwork, including planning effective board of directors meetings and running your organization. 

OnBoard’s purpose-built board portal features range from agenda creation and meeting analytics to secure messaging and risk and compliance tools, and our enterprise-grade security architecture adds another layer of protection to your overall cybersecurity infrastructure. 

If you want to compare board security features of different platforms to find the right one for your organization, check out our free Board Management Software Buyer’s Guide

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What Are the Steps for Presenting Cybersecurity to Your Board?

    Presenting cybersecurity measures in a way that resonates with your board is not always easy, but it is an important step in making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to protecting your organization. Some of the most important steps for doing this include: 

    • Clearly identify potential risks your organization faces
    • Suggest specific strategies for fixing those vulnerabilities
    • Identify standards, or KPIs, that can let you know if measures are performing well 
    • Establish a culture of cybersecurity within your organization

  • What Questions Should a Board Ask About Cybersecurity?

    Knowing what topics your board of directors should be discussing is a crucial step in addressing the right issues and avoiding gaps in your cybersecurity coverage. Some of the most important questions your board should ask when planning and evaluating your cybersecurity measures include:

    • What are this organization's most important or sensitive assets? 
    • What steps are we currently taking to protect them? 
    • What aspects of our cybersecurity program are working well, and which ones are most in need of improvement? 
    • How do we know if a data breach, intrusion, or other cybersecurity problem has occurred? 
    • What will our board do, both immediately and over time, to solve the problem if a cybersecurity issue does occur? 

About The Author

Adam Wire
Adam Wire
Adam Wire is a Content Marketing Manager at OnBoard who joined the company in 2021. A Ball State University graduate, Adam worked in various content marketing roles at Angi, USA Football, and Adult & Child Health following a 12-year career in newspapers. His favorite part of the job is problem-solving and helping teammates achieve their goals. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two dogs. He’s an avid sports fan and foodie who also enjoys lawn and yard work and running.