Generate summary with AI

Cyber attacks are constantly on the rise.

In 2023, there were 3,205 known data compromises in the US alone. This is an astonishing increase since 2022, in which just 1,802 data breaches were recorded.

For IT departments that are tackling the ongoing cyber threat, the ability to track and measure their cybersecurity strategy is crucial. That’s where vulnerability and patch management metrics come into play.

Patch management metrics provide a concrete assessment of the potential vulnerability of your systems and devices, making them an important tool to analyze and optimize your cybersecurity posture.

How exactly do they work? Let’s explore in this guide to patch management metrics, your cybersecurity weapon.

What are patch management metrics? Cracking the code

Before getting into the details of patch management metrics, let’s quickly review the basics of patching.

Patches are software updates specifically engineered to fix potential vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. As new cyber threats are emerging all the time, patching is an ongoing process, with new patches needing to be applied whenever a vulnerability in network infrastructure is identified.

The process of ongoing identification of network vulnerabilities, and the development and application of patches (‘fixes’), is called patch management. In larger organizations, managing  vulnerability patches across multiple networks and devices is a complex procedure. To effectively monitor patching performance, you need concrete and quantifiable ways to measure patch management and compare it with desired benchmarks and KPIs. This is what patch management metrics are all about.

Why patch management metrics matter

Patch management metrics are statistical data points used to quantify the success of an organization’s patches and patching strategy. They offer valuable insight into a range of related factors, including mean time to detect (MTTD), mean time to patch (MTTP), average time to remediation (MTTR), among others.

This data-driven approach to patching performance helps to methodically identify and mitigate security threats, and prevent the significant financial, legal, and reputational damage that data breaches cause to organizations every year. 

Besides the essential benefits to your cybersecurity posture, patch metrics also help to enhance inventory control and regulatory compliance, leading to significant improvements in operational integrity. 

Top 8 vulnerability and patch management metrics

Vulnerability and patch management metrics help you define the success of your cybersecurity efforts and investment. From mean detection time to total remediated risk, discover the KPIs that matter most for an efficient and secure IT environment.

MTTD (mean time to detect)

MTTD measures the average time it takes to detect a security incident or vulnerability within an organization’s IT environment. A low MTTD indicates that security incidents are promptly identified, allowing for rapid response and mitigation measures to be implemented. 

MTTP (mean time to patch)

MTTP represents the average duration required to implement protective measures once a security incident or vulnerability is detected. A shorter MTTP indicates that security teams can swiftly implement remediation actions, such as applying patches, updating configurations, or deploying security controls, thereby reducing the window of opportunity for potential attackers.

MTTR (mean time to remediate)

MTTR measures the average time taken to resolve and mitigate the impact of security incidents or vulnerabilities once they are detected. A shorter MTTR signifies that security teams are promptly addressing security incidents, minimizing downtime, and mitigating potential damage.

Average vulnerability age

The average vulnerability age measures the average duration that vulnerabilities exist within an IT environment before they are addressed. A longer average vulnerability age means that security issues are not resolved promptly, increasing the risk of cyber attacks.

Internal vs external exposure

Internal exposure measures the cyber risks from within an organization (people or systems), while external exposure is concerned with cyber risks that come from actors outside the organization or components in the IT environment that are exposed to external threats.

Comparing internal vs external exposure helps organizations understand where the network infrastructure is experiencing the most breaches and risk. This enables IT teams to prioritize their workloads and build a more focused and accurate cybersecurity strategy.

Rate of recurrence

Rate or recurrence provides an indication of vulnerabilities that re-occur after they have been resolved, either in the same or different asset. If vulnerabilities recur, this shows an inherent weakness in system configuration that must be repaired. Recurrence rate helps IT teams identify where their patch management or other cybersecurity measures are not effective enough, so you can take the necessary action to fortify your strategy.

Total risk remediated

Total risk remediated is an overall score indicating the robustness of your vulnerability and patch management strategy. If the score is becoming higher over time, this means that cybersecurity risks are being managed effectively. The total risk remediation metric can help you demonstrate the value of your organization’s cybersecurity investment, and positions IT teams to better negotiate for increased budget and resources.

Asset inventory/coverage

The asset inventory metric measures the number of assets that need to be patched in an IT environment. Tracking this metric over time indicates how the IT environment is changing, and how the ticketing system may need to adapt to deal with new assets, issues, and patches. 

Vulnerability metrics make regulatory compliance easier

Regulatory compliance adds another layer of complexity when managing vulnerabilities and patches. However, with automated patching and patch management metrics, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

The Atera platform, for instance, records all activities related to vulnerability scanning and patch management, providing a solid base of data to support patch management metric analysis.  With transparency of ongoing monitoring efforts, system remediation measures, and response times throughout various stages in the vulnerability lifecycle, your organization is far better positioned to meet cybersecurity regulations, making the regulatory compliance process more efficient.

Boost your patching process with patch management metrics and Atera

Choosing Atera’s patch management solution puts your cybersecurity efforts on the right footing. Atera provides businesses with an optimal balance between automation and user control, ensuring that vulnerabilities are expertly measured and managed, and systems stay secure, without overwhelming your team or slowing productivity.

Remember: robust a patch management solution isn’t just about plugging security holes as they appear; it’s about leveraging metrics that provide insights into patching performance so IT teams can continually improve and maximize the return on their cybersecurity efforts.

Looking for a partner to meet your patch management KPIs? Start a free trial with Atera today.

Was this helpful?

Related Articles

How to choose the right patch management solution

Read now

Why IT teams are choosing automated patch management

Read now

Crafting a Patch Management policy for robust security

Read now

Your guide to third-party patch management

Read now

The IT management platform that just works

Atera is the all-in-one platform built to remove blockers, streamline operations, and give you the tools to deliver results at any scale.