Posted on Jan 22, 2020
With the holidays in the rearview mirror, individuals aren’t the only ones looking to create New Year’s resolutions. However, as everyone knows, resolutions often go by the wayside within a few weeks. For 2020, your organization may choose to focus on a word that defines your cybersecurity posture. Whether you choose “maturity” or “continuous assurance” as your focus terms for the new year, enhancing your cybersecurity posture with cybersecurity scorecards in 2020 should be something incorporated into your IT portfolio.
Cybersecurity scorecards offer a 360-degree view of your information security control effectiveness by using publicly available information collected from the internet. After collecting the information, the platforms apply predictive algorithms to correlate data across your IT supply chain so that you can better understand both your IT control effectiveness and vendor risk.
Also called “security ratings,” the data collected acts as the cyber version of a credit score. Many organizations use cybersecurity scorecards to provide at-a-glance insight into their cybersecurity posture.
If 2019 gave us anything, it was the ability to predict 2020’s privacy and compliance ramp up. Problematically, all of the new regulations require companies to prove their cybersecurity posture with continuous monitoring and continuous assurance.
Many organizations still use point in time audits to prove their compliance. For example, publicly held companies often provide SOC reports that offer internal and external stakeholders insight into their controls’ effectiveness. Problematically, these reports only show the effectiveness during a specific time included in the audit scope. Since malicious actors never stop evolving their threat methodologies, these moment-in-time audits provide limited information.
Cybersecurity scorecards enable organizations to monitor control effectiveness in real-time. Because the platforms continuously scan the internet for potential control weaknesses, they update daily and/or weekly.
When they detect a weakness, the platform sends an alert to the organization’s cybersecurity team. Real-time monitoring and alerting means that organizations can remediate weaknesses before they lead to data breaches.
More importantly, organizations need to document their activities to prove their compliance posture. Cybersecurity ratings make documenting compliance activities easier because they update in response to remediation actions.
For example, an organization may have a low score for patching cadence, the term for applying security updates to software, networks, and systems. Once the organization remediates the problem by installing the update, the security rating will increase to reflect the action. The change in the security rating acts as documentation for the company’s cybersecurity activities meaning that the organization has continuous documentation to prove its robust compliance posture.
Initially, cybersecurity ratings platforms intended to help organizations view the risks that might come from third-party vendors or even further into their supply stream. While you can control your own IT environment, you lack the ability to maintain the same level of cybersecurity maturity across your ecosystem.
Digital transformation changed the way organizations work with their vendors. Your organization may adopt business enablements such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, but those vendors also adopt SaaS software. Then those vendors’ vendor adopt other third-party business partners. The list goes on from there.
With cybersecurity scorecards, you gain visibility into this interconnected supply stream. Security ratings platforms can incorporate over a million companies, which means that you’re going to be able to gain insight into not only your own vendors but also the third-parties they use.
Correlated risk identifies common attributes between companies in a portfolio and their relevance to breach risk. By combining a company’s risk with those in the portfolio, you gain insight into whether malicious actors can exploit a common vulnerability across that group of companies.
All vendor risk management programs start with service level agreements (SLAs). These contracts include the terms and conditions to which both parties agree. One way to hold vendors accountable for their cybersecurity posture is to align your contractual language to your security stance.
Organizations can leverage their cybersecurity scorecard rating factors to create clear contractual responsibilities. Organizations can require their vendors to maintain a certain security rating as part of the service level agreement and consider terminating the relationship if the score is too low.
In the same way that organizations can enhance their own security and compliance postures through continuous monitoring and assurance, they can also prove governance over their vendor risk program.
Cybersecurity ratings platforms alert organizations to potential control weaknesses throughout their supply stream. When a company receives an alert about a vendor control weakness, the responsible parties can contact the vendor and document their actions. When auditors review the vendor risk management program, they then have the documentation necessary for responding to questions about how well the organization manages its vendors’ cybersecurity.
The inability to effectively communicate is a primary problem that organizations face when trying to mature their cybersecurity programs. Security professionals need to know deeply technical information about risks and vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, line of business professionals, such as senior leadership or Boards of Directors, need to understand the way that risk can negatively impact the bottom line.
Cybersecurity scorecards enable these communications. Your cybersecurity ratings platform alerts provide your security professionals with the technical, actionable steps necessary to remediate a new risk. Simultaneously, the ratings also provide visualizations and/or high-level, easy-to-read scores that highlight areas of strength and weakness. By incorporating cybersecurity scorecards into your information security program, you can create more meaningful conversations around risk that enable better decision making.
Fundamentally, no cybersecurity program will be effective if end-users cannot understand the value of being cyber secure. Social engineering remains a primary threat vector for almost every organization. Workforce members don’t want to put your organization at risk, but many lack insight into how their activities impact your cyber risk.
Organizations can leverage cybersecurity scorecards to establish accountability across the organization. Sharing your scorecard internally with all stakeholders allows you to provide the same information to your workforce members that you share with the C suite and Board. For example, if your cybersecurity ratings platform that incorporates the risk factors leaked credentials and/or social engineering, then your workforce members can view the score. If they see a low score, then they have visibility into how their actions such as password hygiene or clicking on a phishing email negatively impact the organization. This visibility helps create a cyber aware culture.
From a business perspective, cybersecurity scorecards offer investors valuable documentation over a company’s ability to thrive. Data breaches increased 54% in 2019 and when caused by a third-party vendor, their cost increased by $370,000 for the same time period. These costs often lead to bankruptcy or financial weakness. In fact, Moody’s Investor Services explained that a lack of transparency in corporate cyber disclosures could undermine investor confidence.
Cybersecurity scorecards give investors confidence in an organization’s information security posture. Because cybersecurity scorecards are based on publicly available data, you can share the results with external stakeholders, such as investors, without giving away sensitive or proprietary company information.
Although mergers and acquisitions are related to investor confidence, they are also slightly different. With mergers and acquisitions, companies not only need financial viability assessment capabilities, but they also need to understand the potential risks associated with another company.
Many organizations maintain cloud-based services they no longer use. Cybersecurity scorecard platforms use IP addresses to monitor cyber risk which means that they can detect these types of risks. As part of engaging in the due diligence process, companies can use cybersecurity scorecards to gain visibility into cyber risk and make more informed decisions.
Companies recognize the importance of information security more today than they did in the past. SecurityScorecard’s security ratings platform ingests publicly available information from the internet across ten groups of risk factors, including IP reputation, DNS health, patching cadence, web application security, network security, endpoint security, leaked credential, hacker chatter, and social engineering.
We use an easy-to-read A-F rating system and update our scores in real-time so that your organization can establish a culture of security and compliance. Technology owners and line of business stakeholders can communicate better using the shared SecurityScorecard ratings language to make better-informed decisions.
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