Security Ratings To Boost Your Security Program

By Phoebe Fasulo

Posted on May 16, 2018

How Cyber Risk Ratings Enable CISOs to Talk Security

Forrester's new report “The Expanding Role of Security Ratings” offers companies concrete recommendations to help create meaningful programs that protect not only their data but that of their customers.

In this new report, Forrester reports, “New cyber risk ratings and increased senior executive scrutiny require you to prove your security practices are solid. Often, this means tightening your practices with third parties or suffer their fate if they fail.” Rather than viewing cyber risk rating and senior executive scrutiny as separate entities, CISOs need to enable one to engage the other.

Senior executives often feel disengaged from cybersecurity management. As more CISOs embrace the value of translating information awareness in business terms, security ratings can help navigate the skills divide. Information systems terms like controls and proxy distance CISOs and senior executives. However, cybersecurity ratings provide a common ground for the two professionals to help them protect their cyber ecosystem as a team.

SecurityScorecard's security ratings provide grades from A through F. These grades translate into how well the organization secures its information. Moreover, organizations can use cyber risk ratings to monitor how anyone in their ecosystem maintains their cybersecurity posture. s regulatory requirements increasingly place monitoring and oversight requirements on companies, the ability to translate information risks becomes more critical.

What the Forrester Report Says About Cyber Risk Ratings

Forrester highlights the importance of:

  • Understanding vendors’ underlying data collection and scoring techniques
  • Their ability to predict the third parties that put your business at risk
  • Security Ratings and their effect on improved relations with your insurers, customers, and investors

As bad actors continue to become more and more sophisticated in their approach to attack vectors, organizations need a diligent, comprehensive, and ongoing strategy to reduce the risk of cybersecurity attacks. In the very near future, consumers and businesses alike may universally want to know a business's security profile before engaging data.

How SecurityScorecard Helps Predict Third-Party Risk

Vendor risk management policies and procedures begin and end with risk. Organizations hire IT vendors as a way to transfer those risks they cannot manage on their own. However, organizations struggle when proving that a vendor's risk tolerance aligns with theirs. Thus, finding ways to establish metric-based baselines matters.

Cyber risk ratings offer mathematically defined criteria to help set risk tolerance baselines. Rather than merely reviewing controls, organizations can review cyber risk ratings to determine control effectiveness.

SecurityScorecard's predictive intelligence reviews ten critical security risk factors to establish a comprehensive view of a vendor's security posture. SecurityScorecard's proprietary data engine "Threat Market" collects publicly available data and assesses potential vendor risks from vnetwork security to patching cadence to leaked credentials.

SecurityScorecard empowers organizations to establish reasoned, metric-based risk tolerances for their vendor managers.

How SecurityScorecard Enables Vendor Monitoring

Organizations struggle to gain insight into IT vendor security landscapes.

SOC reports provide point-in-time assurance based on vendors responding to a series of questions. Moreover, since vendors give the answers, the monitoring organization must trust that the vendor provided an honest, current and objective answer.

Verifying vendor SOC reports requires an independent review of the third-party's controls. Engaging independent penetration testers or making site reviews costs time and money. These responses are also limited to a single point-in-time.

Active vendor monitoring requires continuous insight into a vendor's overall security stance. With cyber risk ratings, organizations see a vendor's current risk rating as well as its change in risk rating score over time. For example, a vendor whose score fluctuates may have a problematic patching cadence. Vendors lacking a process to update systems and software against known vulnerabilities place their customers at risk. Conversely, a cyber risk rating may indicate a single drop over an extended period. This analysis suggests that a vendor discovered a vulnerability and established an effective mitigation response.

Any organization engaging a vendor follows the motto, "trust but verify." SecurityScorecard's cyber risk ratings ease the verification process.

How SecurityScorecard Improves Business Relationships

Just as organizations need to vet their vendors, so too are they vetted by their customers, investors, and insurers.

Customers want to not only trust their vendors but need to verify them. Profitable businesses, therefore, monitor their risks to prove to potential customers that they can protect shared data. An organization providing documentation of its digital footprint engenders greater trust.

Moreover, companies need to provide financial reports to their investors. UOrganizations must report information about breaches or vulnerabilities that risk data. Organizations need to see into their entire portfolio to prove their financial and data security soundness. Cyber risk ratings provide data to support corporate reporting.

Cyber risks continue to evolve and intensify. As such, more organizations are investing in cyber insurance to protect against legal liabilities arising out of the inevitable data breach. Cyber insurance actuaries need data to assign an organization's premium. If a broker or insurance company cannot adequately assess an organization's cyber risk, the premium will be higher than is necessary to account for the unknowns. Cyber risk ratings may allow organizations to work with insurers and brokers to determine a premium that appropriately matches the company's risk profile.

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