January 3, 2018
14 minute read
Information technology has changed the way people do business. For better, it has brought speed, scale, and functionality to all aspects of commerce and communication. For worse, it has brought the risks of data exposure, breach, and outage. The damage that can be done to a business through its technology is known as cyber risk, and with the increasing consequences of such incidents, managing cyber risk, especially among third parties, is fast becoming a critical aspect of any organization. The specialized nature of cyber risk requires the translation of technical details into business terms. Security ratings and cyber risk assessments serve this purpose, much like a credit score does for assessing the risk of a loan. But the methodologies employed by solutions in this space vary greatly, as do their results.
BitSight and SecurityScorecard focus on external cyber risk management. UpGuard handles internal risk with our behind-the-firewall Core product, and external risk with the cloud-hosted CyberRisk. In this comparison, we’ll look at what matters in a solution and see how BitSight, SecurityScorecard and UpGuard stack up for managing internet-facing primary risk and third party vendors.
Cambridge-based BitSight offers a platform for quantifying the external cybersecurity posture of organizations using publicly accessible data. The resulting FICO-like cybersecurity ratings can then be used in various use cases: shaping/pricing cyber risk insurance policies, due diligence research for private equity and M&A activities, and more.
The BitSight UI. Source: bitsighttech.com.
Additionally, the BitSight Discover solution identifies and monitors third/fourth parties to highlight security risks and single points of failure in an organization’s supply chain.
Like BitSight, NYC-based SecurityScorecard uses data gleaned from traffic to/from an organization as well as other publicly accessible data to build security ratings for evaluating vendors and partners, pricing cyber risk insurance policies, among other use cases. The platform also monitors so-called "hacker chatter", social networks, and public data breach feeds for indicators of compromise. Additionally, the company offers its ThreatMarket database on a standalone basis and its Malware Grader tool for free.
The SecurityScorecard UI. Source: securityscorecard.com.
UpGuard was founded in 2012 by technologists from some of Australia’s largest banks. Using their first-hand experience, they built a platform to fill an important need in the nascent DevOps market: reducing the risk of incidents through proactive documentation and testing of desired system state. With proprietary, patented data visualization and risk analysis algorithms, UpGuard gave Operations and Security departments the ability to discover and understand their digital surfaces within the data center and the cloud. Now, those capabilities have been turned outward to the public internet to capture the digital surfaces beyond the boundaries of the enterprise. UpGuard is headquartered in Mountain View, California with offices in Sydney, Australia.
All three solutions provide security ratings, aggregated summaries of risk for immediate understanding and comparison. Each scoring methodology provides a standardized way to look at organizations in the context of cyber risk.
The way these security ratings are derived differ among the solutions to some degree. IP reputation relies on attributing malware traffic to an organization based on IP address. Scanning for misconfigurations means looking at an organization’s actual internet footprint and determining how it compares to best practices and what vulnerabilities that lead to data breaches are exposed.
Not every solution supports every vendor. Many organizations employ small specialists vendors that are not covered by solutions with a narrow scope of focus. Every vendor that handles data is a potential point of breach and should be covered for the risk they bring to the company.
Minimizing the amount of overhead in acquiring and using a new solution is key to making that solution deliver on its capabilities. All three solutions are cloud-based services with minimal installation criteria. Similarly, all three use web interfaces to navigate graphical representations of cyber risk.
Making information publicly available to help customers and prospects reduces administrative overhead and provides users with resources for troubleshooting and decision making. How each company ties into the community speaks to its mission and focus.
Technology is always changing. The rate at which a company updates their software determines how agile it is in response to customer requests and new features, as well as how consistently it is being patched and hardened. The full release histories for these products are not publicly available. However, like most new software, the releases are relatively fast and regular.
UpGuard has always adopted DevOps principles internally to develop, test, and release software, ensuring fast and consistent releases that have been tested for quality.
Vendor risk solutions are typically priced per vendor per year, except in some cases where one-off reports are generated for a set price. Some of the more expensive solutions price out small and medium businesses, while relegating even large companies to managing only their top few vendors. All three provide professional services to assist with setup and maintenance.
|Pricing and Support|
Accessing the information in a cyber risk product outside of its graphical interface is important for integrated business strategies and consolidating data to a preferred system. All three solutions offer standard APIs to pull data into other enterprise applications.
|API and Extensibility|
While the API is useful for building custom integrations, standard integrations can cut the overhead of tying the vendor risk product to the rest of the data center.
|Third Party Integrations|
Sometimes the proof is in the pudding, but all three companies have impressive client lists, with none more distinguished than the other.
|Companies That Use It|
The whole point of managing vendor risk is to head off incidents down the road. This makes the ability of the solution to predict data breaches and other incidents a key consideration. What differentiates predictive capability is how well the methodology that determines the security ratings applies to actual breach vectors.
For an example of vendor risk scoring, let’s take a look at all three companies through UpGuard’s CSTAR security rating and see how they compare as of January 2nd, 2018.
|Pricing and Support|
|API and Extensibility|
|3rd Party Integrations|
|Companies that Use It|
Deciding which solution best suits your needs depends on the objectives of your cyber risk initiative. IP reputation can sometimes detect malware signals that are attributed to the address space owned by a company, but UpGuard’s cyber resilience strategy looks at each company’s internet footprint and examines all of the vectors by which data exposure and service outage occur, including misconfigurations, a leading cause of successful attacks, and one undetected by IP reputation tactics. With vendor questionnaire integration, only UpGuard manages the entire third party cyber risk process, end-to-end. UpGuard is also the only company to offer an internal cyber risk management solution, Core, allowing organizations to completely manage primary risk as well.