What is Cybersecurity Maturity?

A mature cybersecurity program can identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover in a way that goes beyond cybersecurity compliance, but meets the unique data security risks posed to each organization based on their product or service, size, industry, and technology architecture.

Why is Cybersecurity Maturity Important?

A cybersecurity program that is lean and mature, we believe, is an organization’s strongest response to the increasing threats to their data security, customer privacy, as well as their reputation in the market and business value.

Whether an organization is facing ransomware or phishing attacks, nation-state attacks or risk increased by third party vendors, the costs of a data breach dictate that a competitive and growing organization have a robust, but efficient and adequately resourced, cybersecurity program.

How Mature is Your Cybersecurity Program?

Compliance assessments and audits are tools to discover fulfillment with regulatory frameworks and laws, however, they can also indicate the resiliency and strength of your cybersecurity processes, procedures, technology, and employee behavior. Below, we lay out the characteristics of a mature cybersecurity program and the factors that indicate a need for greater maturity.

Use the following cybersecurity characteristics and questions to uncover areas for review.


The Pathway to Cybersecurity Maturity

Low Maturity Organizations:
2-to 3-Year Journey

Characteristics of a Level One Maturity:

  • Unpredictable and ad hoc processes
  • Poor and inconsistent controls
  • Lack of operating or governance models
  • Low skill depth or undersized team
  • Minimal automation or tool implementation
  • Poor asset management
  • Minimal or absent measurement or monitoring

Maturity Indicators: Ready to move to the next level

  • Identified and prioritized cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities
  • Actionable plan to mature capabilities and close urgent security gaps
  • Outline future-state organization and governance model

This is the riskiest level as an organization is creating a new program, or ramping up an existing program, and beginning to realize that their cybersecurity program is reactive rather than proactive and standardized.

Here, the goal is to understand their unique risk profile, create a plan for building the program, and address gaps in capabilities. Many organizations use outsourced CISO support or cybersecurity oversight at this level.

Cyber Maturity Chart

Medium Maturity Organizations:
1-to 2-Year Journey

Characteristics of a Level Two or Three Maturity:

  • Many codified processes and policies
  • Inconsistent measurement and monitoring
  • Skill gaps across cyber domains
  • Lack of security operations capabilities
  • Sub-optimal threat and vulnerability management
  • Configuration management gaps
  • Compliance and audit issues or citations
  • Privacy-related test data management challenges

Maturity Indicators: Ready to move to the next level

  • Target-state capabilities implemented
  • Reduced costs and improved ROI for security operation assets
  • Metrics and monitoring reporting for leadership implemented
  • Cyber resources systematically deployed
  • Clear path toward target maturity level

At this level, the organization has an established program with a governance structure, policies, and procedures. However, their ability to detect threats and prevent breaches needs strengthened, as well as their ability to monitor and report on cybersecurity metrics.

Here, the goal is to build strength through performance indicators, achieve compliance, deploy resources strategically, and achieve greater efficiency. Many organizations use outsourced CISO support as they look to hire their first cyber leader or CISO.

Cyber Security Maturity Chart

Higher Maturity Organizations:
<1-Year Journey

Characteristics of a Level Three or Four Maturity:

  • Formalized policies, procedures, and processes
  • Risk measured and consistently monitored
  • Recurring risk and gap assessments and remediation
  • Seeking cyber outsourcing opportunities
  • Security operations integration with enterprise systems and capabilities
  • Focused on reducing cyber costs and ROI while maintaining mature risk posture

Maturity Indicators: Maintain High Maturity

  • Maintaining and improving positive compliance status
  • Improving ROI for security operations via outsourcing
  • Advanced metrics and monitoring capabilities realized
  • Risk analytics implemented and reported
  • Formal board-level reporting
  • Long-term managed security service provider (MSSP) relationship

At this level, the organization has established cyber leadership, governance and continual monitoring and response to recurring threats. The mature cybersecurity program wants to improve the efficiency and ROI from their cybersecurity program, as well as automate security operations and tasks.

They want to ensure that their digital products, services, and IT infrastructure has a level of security that enables them to become more competitive, reach new customers and new markets. Many organizations use outsourced project support or security operations so that their internal team can focus on strategic cyber initiatives.

Cyber Security Cyber Maturity Chart