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Security Ratings Latest 2022

What are Security Ratings?

Security ratings or cybersecurity ratings are a data-driven, objective, and dynamic measurement of an organization’s security posture. They are created by a trusted, independent security rating platform making them valuable as an objective indicator of an organization’s cybersecurity performance.

Just as credit ratings and FICO scores aim to provide a quantitative measure of credit risk, security ratings aim to provide a quantitative measure of cyber risk.

The higher the security rating, the better the organization’s security posture.

Thousands of organizations like yours use security ratings as a tool to understand and mitigate a variety of critical, interconnected internal and external security risks.

What are The Common Use Cases For Security Ratings?

These ratings are used to assess the cybersecurity of external organizations like vendors, investment targets, or insurance applications, as well as assessing internal risk and to improve communication around cybersecurity performance.

Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM)

The original use of security ratings was to help third-party risk management teams to manage cybersecurity risk, including:

1-Understanding third-party risk and fourth-party risk (vendor risk) posed by supply chain, third-party vendor, and business partner relationships.

2-Cyber insurance underwriting, pricing and risk management by allowing insurers to gain visibility into the security program of those they insure to better assess and price their insurance policies.

3-Investment in or acquisition of a company by providing organizations with an independent assessment of an investment or M&A target’s information security controls.

4-Enabling governments to better understand and manage theirs and their vendors’ cybersecurity performance, a key component of FISMA compliance.

Security ratings have been widely adopted because they supplement and can sometimes replace time-consuming vendor risk assessment techniques like questionnaires, on-site visits, and penetration tests. Most importantly, they are always up-to-date.

By giving cybersecurity teams the ability to instantly identify security issues, they can understand which vendors to focus on first. This greatly reduces the operational burden on TPRM teams during vendor selection, due diligence, onboarding, and monitoring. Additionally, they can be shared with vendors to improve remediation efforts.

Cybersecurity Performance Management

Security is becoming a critical competitive issue, alongside classic differentiators like price and performance. Businesses increasingly need to demonstrate robust cybersecurity practices when winning and retaining business.

Security ratings are increasingly used for internal security performance management, including:

1-Continual assessment of internal cybersecurity posture, providing CISOs with a simple, understandable rating that can be presented to key stakeholders including C-Suite and board members.

2-Benchmarking and comparison to industry peers, competitors, sectors, and vendors. This can assist with decision-making and provide context about what security controls or mitigations your organization needs to invest in.

3-Providing assurance to customers, insurers, regulators and other stakeholders that your organization cares about preventing security issues like data breaches, malware, and ransomware.

Before security ratings, security performance indicators were hard to quantify. Generally relying on specific technical metrics like the number of ports closed and software patches applied.

Today, security and risk leaders have an objective, independent, and broadly adopted key performance indicator that is easy to understand for non-technical stakeholders. This allows them to continuously assess their security posture, set goals, track progress, and report meaningful information to other executives and the Board.

By diving into the individual risk vectors that make up a security rating, you can determine (in near real-time) which areas are exposing your organization to the greatest amount of risk.

Additionally, security ratings are useful for benchmarking. By comparing your organization’s security rating to its past performance, as well as your competitors, you can accurately gauge whether or not your team’s efforts are paying off.

How are Security Ratings Calculated?

Security ratings don’t rely on traditional risk assessment techniques like penetration testing, security questionnaires, or on-site visits. Instead, security ratings are derived from objective, externally verifiable information and are calculated by a trusted, independent organization.

UpGuard is one of the most popular and trusted security ratings platforms. We generated our ratings through proprietary algorithms that take in and analyze trusted commercial and open-source data sets to non-intrusively collect data that can quantitatively evaluate cybersecurity risk.

With UpGuard, an organization’s security rating can range from 0 to 950 and is comprised of a weighted average of the risk rating of all externally facing assets, such as web applications, IP addresses, and marketing sites.

The lower the rating, the more severe the risks they are exposed to. Inversely, the higher the rating, the better their security practices and the less successful cyber attacks will be.

To keep our security ratings up-to-date, we recalculate sores whenever a website is scanned or a security questionnaire is submitted. In general, this means an organization’s security rating will be updated multiple times a day, as most websites are scanned daily.

This enables continuous monitoring of vendors beyond the initial assessment process.

We base our ratings on the analysis of 70+ vectors including:

Susceptibility to man-in-the-middle attacks
Insecure SSL/TLS certificates
SPF, DKIM and DMARC settings
HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)
Email spoofing and phishing risk
Malware susceptibility
Network security
Unnecessary open administration, database, app, email and file sharing ports
Exposure to known data breaches and data leaks
Vulnerable software
HTTP accessibility
Secure cookie configuration
Results of intelligent security questionnaires

If you are a prospective customer of other security rating services, like SecurityScoreCard or BitSight Technologies, see our guide on SecurityScorecard security ratings vs BitSight security ratings here.

Uses of Security Ratings

How Can Security Ratings Help Identify, Manage and Reduce Risk?

It’s difficult to identify, manage, and reduce cybersecurity risk. Like many organizations, you may not know the actual security performance of your organization and its critical third parties.

Digitization has increased the speed of commerce, the scope of customers, the understanding of consumer habits, and the efficiency of operations across the board. But it has also increased the risk surface of the business, creating new dangers, and obstacles.

This risk is compounded by the interrelations of digital businesses that handle your sensitive data and technological infrastructure, as each third-party is a potential attack vector for your organization.

A wormable vulnerability in one of your vendors, suppliers or business partners could result in a data breach in your own organization. The technical nature of this risk makes it inaccessible to those without advanced skills and knowledge, leaving organizations without visibility into an extremely valuable and critical part of their business.

This is where security ratings can help. Security ratings provide a continuous and up-to-date assessment of your potential attack surface without the need to have deep technical expertise.

They provide a daily measurement of an organization’s security performance calculated by a similar approach used by credit ratings to calculate financial risk.

This allows you to monitor and benchmark your internal security performance over time, strengthen your vendor risk management program, and reduce risk.

How Can Security Ratings Be Used For Vendor Risk Management?

Assessing the security of every third-party can be immensely time-consuming and out of reach for many organizations that rely on traditional methods.

Sending out Excel-based security questionnaires to understand a vendor’s security posture requires a lot of tracking and follow-up. Moreover, these questionnaires are subjective and often times rendered inaccurate over time as new security issues emerge.

Other processes like on-site visits and penetration testing are too resource-intensive and cost-prohibitive to run at scale.

Security ratings complement these traditional risk management methods by providing continuous, objective, and actionable data. UpGuard Vendor Risk enables organizations to continuously monitor and rate your vendors’ security performance and automate the security questionnaire process.

This allows you to efficiently scale your third-party risk management program without scaling headcount by:

1-Automating the process to gain an understanding of your vendor’s security posture, it’s as simple as searching for your vendor on the UpGuard platform

2-Benchmarking vendors against their industry, making it easy to see which vendors are failing behind and represent a significant risk

3-Requesting remediation from third-parties or by setting minimum security ratings requirements in contracts

4-Automatically rating your vendors’ security against 50+ criteria on a daily basis

5-Using your security questionnaire library to save your team from having to create questionnaires that map to regulations and industry standards like ISO 27001, CPS 234, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, California Consumer Privacy Act, and the Modern Slavery Act.

How Can Security Ratings Be Used to Monitor Internal Security Performance?

Security ratings can help security and risk leaders to:

Understand the impact of their investments in cybersecurity controls or technology
Align investments and actions to those that will mitigate the most critical risks
Efficiently and dynamically allocate your limit resources on critical areas
Facilitate data-driven, risk-based conversations about cybersecurity with key nontechnical stakeholders such as Board members, Vice Presidents, regulators, investors, and key business partners.
Benchmark internal security performance against industry peers

Why are Security Ratings Important?

According to Gartner, cybersecurity ratings will become as important as credit ratings when assessing the risk of existing and new business relationships…these services will become a precondition for business relationships and part of the standard of due care for providers and procurers of services.

Additionally, the services will have expanded their scope to assess other areas, such as cyber insurance, due diligence for M&A and even as a raw metric for internal security programs.

The growing importance of security ratings is largely due to the introduction of general data protection laws like FIPA, CCPA, PIPEDA, the SHIELD Act, LGPD and GDPR, as well as industry-focused mandated vendor risk management programs driven by the introduction of CPS 234, 23 NYCRR 500, FISMA and GLBA.

Security ratings fill a large gap left by traditional risk assessment techniques, like penetration testing or on-site visits.

This is why many organizations have turned to security ratings for assessing themselves and their third-parties.

Traditional methods of third-party assessment are immensely time-consuming. Sending questionnaires to every third-party to understand their security posture requires a lot of tracking and frankly, isn’t always accurate.

The truth is that questionnaires, much like penetration testing, are subjective and point-in-time assessments that become inaccurate over time as new security issues emerge.

Security ratings complement these traditional risk management methods by providing a continuous, objective and up-to-date assessment of security postures, enabling you to understand what cyber threats your organization faces and how to mitigate them.

Additionally, many security leaders find security ratings invaluable for reporting cybersecurity results to their Board of Directors, C-Suite and even shareholders. Pair this with the addition of industry benchmarking and competitor ratings and organizations now have the context they need to inform assess their and their vendors’ cybersecurity programs.

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