When it comes to improving your cybersecurity posture, few strategies have as much of an impact as your cyber risk remediation program. Efficient risk remediation ensures security risks and vulnerabilities are shut down faster, reducing the potential risks of data breaches and their financial impacts. The cornerstone of an efficient remediation program is cyber risk remediation software that automates manual processes to improve the efficacy of risk mitigation efforts.

If you’re in the market for an automated cyber risk remediation product, this post outlines the key features and capabilities to look for to maximize the ROI of your selected tool.

Learn how UpGuard streamlines Vendor Risk Management >

6 Key Features of Automated Cyber Risk Remediation Software

The following features characterize ideal cyber risk remediation software with an automation component. This high-level overview can be used as a quick qualification framework for shortlisting potential solution options.

  • A Component of a Broarder Cyber Risk Management Platform - To streamline cyber risk management, the remediation process needs to seamlessly communicate with associated processes of the risk management lifecycle. This is best achieved when all processes work together inside a single risk management solution.
  • Notifications - Notifications are the bedrock of automated cyber risk remediation processes. The ability to customize remediation process notifications will significantly elevate the efficiency of your remediation strategies and overall enterprise risk management program.
  • Cyber Risk Identification - A holistic approach to risk remediation is required to protect security postures from detrimental impacts. This is best achieved when a solution can identify the complete spectrum of cyber risks, IT risks, and regulatory compliance for popular stands like HIPAA and the GDPR.
  • Cyber Risk Impact Measurement - To support intelligent remediation decision-making and prioritization, an ideal solution should be determining the impact of detected risks on your organization’s risk posture - ideally for the complete scope of cyber risk exposures (see above point)
  • Continuous Risk Monitoring - For a risk remediation tool to remain effective, it should be capable of discovering emerging risks by continuously scanning internal attack surfaces and external attack surfaces (in support of Vendor Risk Management and Third-Party Risk Management programs).
  • Shallow Learning Curve - If designed from the perspective of a cyber risk analyst, the platform will automate manual tasks to alleviate common process frustrations, helping security teams quickly become expert users. Non-intuitive workflows, on the other hand, will increase operational risks, resulting in an investment that fails to meet the expedited cyber risk expectations of stakeholders

3-Step Guide: Selecting a Cyber Risk Remediation Product

The following guide contextualizes the above feature set within a remediation strategy prioritizing process automation. An ideal solution best aligns with all of the metrics in this framework.

Step 1: Evaluate How Well the Solution Integrates with Other Risk Management Processes

Risk remediation is not a stand-alone process. The strategy sits within broader risk management frameworks, like NIST CSF, or information security assessment frameworks, like ISO 27001. The problem of cyber risk remediation should be addressed holistically in the context of other processes mapping to risk remediation workflows, such as:

This strategy of solving cybersecurity problems from a holistic perspective expands upon the principle of Cyber Security Mesh Architecture (CSMA) - a cyber defense methodology by Gartner encouraging risk management tool interoperability so that all cybersecurity processes work together as one cohesive defense unit.

Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture - Source: Gartner
Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture - Source: Gartner

In a cyber risk management platform, each risk management stage, including remediation, is arranged for the most efficient data sharing, allowing threats to progress seamlessly through the entire risk management lifecycle. 

The sealing of these risk management workflows within a single platform removes that manual process often occurring at the interface of cybersecurity software integrations. 

To capitalize on risk management process interoperability, an ideal tool should extend its cyber risk remediation capabilities to the third-party attack surface to support specialized risk management programs like Vendor Risk Management (VRM).

A cyber risk remediation tool addressing internal and external cyber risks.

Implementing a cyber risk remediation solution as a feature within a broader risk management product will keep your digital footprint concise - a best practice of attack surface management.

See the top 10 attack surface management solution options >

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard’s cyber risk remediation tool is offered within a risk management platform addressing internal and third-party security risks. To support cyber process interoperability, UpGuard integrates remediation workflows with associated cyber risk management processes, including:

  • Risk assessments and Questionnaires - available as editable templates based on popular regulatory standards.
  • Real-time attack surface scanning - supporting continuously up-to-date dashboards and risk registers of cyber threats, including cloud-based security risks
  • Cyber risk scores - for tracking the impact of detected risks for efficient remediation planning.

Take a self-guided product tour of UpGuard’s Vendor Risk Management solution >

Step 2: Evaluate Remediation Workflows

Automation technology should streamline remediation workflows, helping security teams request and action remediation requests faster. Not only do clunky remediation workflows keep security risks exposed to potential exploitation attempts for longer, but because they divert attention away from other strategic cybersecurity initiatives, they negatively impact overall business operation efficiency.

The strength of a solution’s security risk remediation capabilities can be judged by how well the platform solves this problem for Vendor Risk Management use cases - arguably the most complex context for security risk remediation.

A cyber risk remediation platform with streamlined remediation workflows for Vendor Risk Management can be trusted to manage internal security risks efficiently.

Three primary pain points in vendor risk remediation workflows can benefit from automation technology. When assessing a potential remeidiation solution, evaluate its strength in these areas.

  • Sending remediation requests to vendors
  • Tracking vendor remediation requests
  • Tracking communications related to tasks impacting remediation completions

To illustrate how each of these frustrations can effectively be addressed in an ideal cybersecurity solution, the UpGuard platform will be used as an example.

1. Sending Remediation Requests to Vendors

A framework for efficient remediation requests is only applicable in the context of effective cyber risk identification - where effectiveness is determined by an ability to detect emerging security risks. SaaS cybersecurity solutions like UpGuard solve this prerequisite by combining point-in-time risk assessments with security ratings for continuous internal and third-party attack surface data collection and awareness.

Point-in-time assessments and security ratings provide real-time attack surface awareness.
Point-in-time assessments and security ratings provide real-time attack surface awareness.
A prerequisite to a streamlined remediation workflow is accurate and reliable security risk detection.

To reduce the chances of human error, the process of submitting remediation requests shouldn't be over-complicated. A single click is all that’s required. See the example below of a single-click remediation request for a WordPress AML-RPC API risk in a vendor’s risk profile on UpGuard.

Remediation requests on the upguard platform.

By coupling single-click remediation with automatic attack surface scanning, security teams see which combination of remeidation tasks will produce the most efficient remediation plan.

Multiple risk projecting security score impact on the upguard platform.
Multiple security risks being selected for remediation on the UpGuard platform.

2. Tracking Vendor Remediation Requests

After submitting a remediation request, users should continue to have visibility for its entire lifecycle. The single-click principle should also be applied in this area, allowing users to instantly see the status of all remediation requests impacting other important security initiatives such as GRC efforts.

Remediation status tracking on the UpGuard platform.
Remediation status tracking on the UpGuard platform.

This single plane-of-glass visibility also helps security teams track the remediations for risks impacting GRC efforts so that costly violations can be avoided.

When managed in spreadsheets, remediation status must be manually tracked and updated. But when managed in a platform like UpGuard, remediation status updates are automated, giving security teams more time for focused remediation management.

3. Tracking Communications Related to Tasks Impacting Remediation Completions

The efficiency of remediation workflows isn’t just a function of its internal processes. Other workflows within the cyber risk management lifecycle impact remediation timeframes, and without streamlining them, efficiency potentials will remain severely limited.

Remaining in the complex risk remediation context of Vendor Risk Management, a level above risk remediation is the cyber risk discovery phase in which security questionnaires play a significant role. Delayed questionnaire submissions compound downstream process disruptions - because vulnerabilities take longer to detect, they take longer to remediate, which impedes regulatory compliance and increases the risk of business contract violations.

A solution like UpGuard expedites vendor security questionnaire completions by addressing two primary pain points clogging workflow progression - inefficient questionnaire communications and time-consuming questionnaires.

Inefficient Questionnaire Communications

Vendors often require clarifications about specific questionnaire items. Without a streamlined correspondence workflow, these communications occur via email, where they get lost beneath an avalanche of new emails.

UpGuard solves this pain point with its in-line questionnaire feature that consolidates the complete history of conversations in one convenient location, helping security teams easily track clarification requests delaying questionnaire submissions. 

UpGuard's in-line questionnaire correspondence feature.
UpGuard's in-line questionnaire correspondence feature.

Watch this video to learn about UpGuard's other strategies for improving vendor relationships.

Time-Consuming Questionnaires.

Because of the deeper security posture insights they gather, security questionnaires are often lengthy and detailed, requiring a significant devotion of time to complete. When vendors receive the same types of questionnaires from multiple business partners, their already limited resources for questionnaire completions are further congested, resulting in poor response quality or delayed questionnaire submissions - both feeding increasing data breach potentials.

A solution like UpGuard significantly reduces questionnaire completion times by introducing automation technology into the response submission process. UpGuard’s feature, AIEnhance, leverages AI technology to help vendors complete questionnaires faster without compromising response quality.

AIEnhance by UpGuard is the first of its kind, transforming either a set of bullet points into complete sentences forming high-quality and comprehensive responses.

AIEnhance by UpGuard
AIEnhance by UpGuard

Another UpGuard feature that dramatically reduces questionnaire completion times is AI Autofill.

AI Autofill by UpGuard provides questionnaire response suggestions based on a vendor's historical questionnaire data - removing the time-consuming manual effort of meticulously copying and pasting questionnaire information from spreadsheets.

UpGuard's AI Autofill feature suggesting a response based on referenced source data.
UpGuard's AI Autofill feature suggesting a response based on referenced source data.
By addressing all of the main causes of delayed questionnaire submissions, vendor security risks can be detected quicker, resulting in more efficient remediation processes.

Watch this video for an overview of UpGuard's AI Autofill feature.

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Step 3: Evaluate Security Risk Prioritization Capabilities

A remediation program is efficient if security teams understand which risks they should focus on first. An ideal cyber risk remediation tool introduces automation technology into this area to predict the remediation impacts of selected risks on a company’s security posture.

This mechanism, which leverages security rating technology, indicates how an organization’s overall security rating will be impacted by selected remediation tasks, helping security teams focus remediation efforts in areas with the greatest positive impact.

UpGuard projects the impact of selected remediation tasks on an organization’s security rating.
UpGuard projects the impact of selected remediation tasks on an organization’s security rating.

A cyber risk prioritization strategy can also be directly applied to Vendor Risk Management to enhance downstream impacts on remediation efficiency. On the UpGuard platform, vendors are ranked into different criticality tiers to help security teams adjust their monitoring efforts towards the more critical regions of their third-party attack surface. 

UpGuard further improves this functionality with automation technology, automatically assigning vendors to a criticality tier based on their security questionnaire responses.

Vendor risk matrix on the UpGuard platform.
Vendor risk matrix on the UpGuard platform.

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