What is MTTK and Why is it Important to Cybersecurity?

There has been much talk recently about MTTK, but what is MTTK and why is it so important? This post explores the term and explains why MTTK is such an important concept in cybersecurity terms.

When your organization is attacked, how long does it take you to know that the attack is taking place? Of course, we’d all like to be able to answer “right away.” However, for many companies that isn’t the case. Examples of phishing attacks lodged against major brands who don’t discover that they are being phished until months later have become commonplace.

When a phishing attack happens, time is not on your side. The faster that you react to mitigate the attack and take down the phisher, the less damage that you incur as a result of the attack. Of course, you can’t react if you do not realize that the attack is happening. Therefore, it is critical in this era of cyber security, that we take every measure identify attacks when (or before) they happen.

What is MTTK?

Mean time to know (MTTK) is the average time that it takes for a company to discover that security has been compromised. According to a recent article published by Dark Reading, the term became popular after this year’s RSA conference, although the concept has been around for a while. The point is that that we need to know what’s happening in our environment and the sooner that we do know, the better we are able to prevent damage and lasting impact to our company. We can quantify this by measuring the average time between the initiation of an attack and the breach being discovered by the security team. The lower your MTTK, the more effective you are at identifying when your internal environment has been compromised.

Why is it important to lower your MTTK?

  • The longer it takes for you to realize that an attack is happening, the more successful the phishing attack. In the case of a phishing attack, there isn’t much time to react. Most of the damage is done within the first two hours of a phishing attack.
  • The more successful the phishing attack, the more damage to your brand. This can be the most costly consequence of a successful phishing attack. Losing customers’ trust can stop them from purchasing from doing business with your company for years, if they come back at all.
  • A high MTTK suggests that you don’t have a handle on what’s happening within your internal security environment.
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