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Blog | 5-minute Read

Ditch data overload: Why clarity matters in cyber security reports

Andy Brown

Product Director

Published: 28 June 2024

Discover how effective cyber security reporting enhances decision-making and threat response. Learn about contextual insights, tailored reports, and the role of MSSPs in turning data into actionable intelligence.

Clear and actionable reporting is the lifeblood of effective cyber security strategies.

Often however, reporting can become a bombardment of data from multiple directions. Causing complexity and confusion when clarity is called for.

Effective cyber security decisions can only be made when analysts and board members can see the wood from the trees.

You see, it’s not just about the data itself.

It’s about what the data tells you.

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The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.

Carly Fiorina, former CEO and Chair of Hewlett-Packard

The danger of data overload

A common issue in cyber security reporting is the deluge of raw data with which teams must contend.

It’s not uncommon for a security operations centre (SOC) to be handling thousands of security alerts daily. Consider the number of logs and alerts produced by systems like Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), threat intelligence feeds, or endpoint protection.

It’s a daily deluge of data that can quickly overwhelm internal teams. Bombarded by alerts that make it hard to distinguish critical threats from false positives. Wasting time and resources that were already in scarce supply.

Furthermore, we often encounter teams who lack the in-house expertise and advanced security tools needed. A situation that makes it almost impossible to correlate data from multiple sources. Creating blind spots and fragmenting the view of the security landscape.

All of which leads to a mountain of metrics and data, that of themselves offer little to no value.

Context is king: Turning data into meaningful analysis

You see, the true value you get from the data you receive comes from the way it’s interpreted.

Data needs context to enable smarter decisions. It ensures your team isn’t just reacting to every alert but responding strategically. Evolving your security stance from firefighting to proactive risk management.

For instance, metrics like blocked phishing attempts or detected malware are useful indicators.

Without context, however, do you really know the full story?

  • How does that number compare to industry or historical averages?
  • What level of sophistication were the blocked attacks?
  • Does this number include false positives?
  • What impact on the business have they had? E.g., downtimes?

We know that cyber threats are persistent, permeable, and potent. So being able to differentiate between noise and genuine threats can be critical in both response speed and making the right calls at the right time.

And providing the right information to the right people in the organisation.

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Can your security partner cut through the noise?

This is the point at which working with the right security partner comes to the fore.

After all, a reputable managed security services partner (MSSP) should be able to provide the resources, technology, and know-how you might lack within your organisation.

But it’s what you do with these capabilities that counts.

When you have so much data flowing into the business, the right people, utilising the right technology, should be able cut through noise. Applying the all important context that turns raw data into narratives that enable better threat response, smarter decisions, and can demonstrate genuine value from your investments.

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Data are just summaries of thousands of stories – tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful.

Dan Heath, author

Turning noise into narrative

Anyone can offer a suite of reports and dashboards. The best MSSPs offer a blend of information, action, and advice that proactively keeps your organisation on the front foot.

Such as:

Advanced analytics and machine learning

An effective MSSP uses analytics and advanced technologies like generative AI  to efficiently identify potential threats from vast data, allowing them to focus on true threats and reduce false positives.

Customisation and relevance

Every organisation is different. A proficient MSSP tailors dashboards and reports to meet specific needs, ensuring data relevance tailored to different audiences.

Integration across platforms

A robust MSSP combines data from different sources and diverse parts of the digital estate. Providing a unified security standpoint, helping to correlate information and reduce complexity.

Expert interpretation and strategic advice

More than just data, top-tier MSSPs provide expert analysis and strategic insights, turning raw data into narratives that support smart decision-making and highlight emerging threats.

Continuous improvement and learning

Exceptional MSSPs continuously refine their reports based on feedback and evolving threats, keeping the information relevant and insightful, which helps organisations stay proactive against threats.

Stories to satisfy every stakeholder

Of course, within the organisation you’ll have different stakeholders with varying requirements and expectations from the reports they receive. Something MSSPs need to consider when running reports and delivering dashboards.

And herein lies a challenge.

Naturally, your technical teams would expect to see the detail. To lean into granular data, real-time alerts, comprehensive logs, and key metrics across the estate.

These are the reports that identify threats, enable swift responses, and demonstrate the actions taken to maintain a healthy security posture.

But for your C-level executives, the story needs a different tone.

Articulating risk to the C-suite

What’s going to really resonate with senior executives focused on strategy, finance, or commercial growth?

Report on the prevention of ‘zero-day exploits’ or ‘SQL injection attacks’ and you risk a polite nod or shrug of the shoulders.

But what if you highlight the business impacts, like exposing customer data or the risk of compliance penalties?

They’re more likely to sit up, take notice, and act.

Executives need strategic insights to understand the broader risks and its impact on business objectives.

Reports need simply presented executive summaries that highlight key performance indicators (KPIs), trends, and potential business impacts. It’s about presenting security posture in a way that matters to them.

Enabling data-driven decision-making and more strategic security investments.

Building investor confidence

Clear, transparent reporting can enhance investor confidence and attract future investment.

We all know how much cyber security can impact long-term reputation and financial health. For investors, security posture and cyber risk assessments are primary benchmarks in deciding where to put their money.

This is the value of accurate reporting that offers clarity on your compliance, incident response capabilities, and overall security posture. It’s a transparent demonstration of your due diligence and evidence on how serious you are about security.

Clear reporting that elevates security posture, reputation, and trust

We can’t overstate the importance of clear, contextual reporting in your cyber security strategy. Not only in providing an overview of your security posture but offering insight that actively enhances it.

Not to mention the way in which they offer clear evidence of your commitment to maintaining high security standards and protecting sensitive information. Integral to fostering trust and enhancing your reputation in the eyes of customers and investors alike.

Yes, of course, achieving this is a challenge. Especially when organisations increasingly rely on teams who are time, resource, and cash starved.

Which is where the help of a trusted security partner should pay dividends. Not just ‘stepping into the breach’ but offering the tech, analysis, and talent to actively prevent those breaches.

And providing your decision-makers with the clarity and insight they need to make the right choices for asset protection and growth.

Key takeaways

  • Effective cyber security reporting turns raw data into actionable insights by contextualising critical and non-critical threats.

  • Tailored reports address the unique needs of stakeholders, from IT staff to executives.

  • Partnering with skilled MSSPs enhances threat response and decision-making through expert data management.

  • Executive reports focus on business impacts and risks, emphasising key indicators and strategic insights.

  • Top MSSPs continually update their analytics and reports based on evolving threats to maintain relevance.

  • Transparent reporting boosts investor confidence and reputation by demonstrating a commitment to security.

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Andy Brown

Product Director

Former Head of Global Mobile Engineering at HSBC, Andy is incredibly enthusiastic about all of Kocho’s tech solutions – and the problems they can solve for our clients.

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