UpGuard Blog

Inside the Security Ratings for the Riskiest Government Contractors

The government of the Unites States of America is perhaps the largest target on Earth for cyber attacks. The US has plenty of enemies, a track record of perpetrating cyber warfare and espionage (even upon its allies), numerous recent instances of susceptibility to such attacks, countless official documents attesting to its weakness against cyber attacks, and, of course, the US government leads the wealthiest nation with the most powerful military. These facts are not lost on the good people responsible for the well being of American citizens and people all over the world.

Filed under: CSTAR, cyber risk, data breach, security ratings

What are Security Ratings?

Security ratings are like credit ratings, but for the assessment of a company’s web-facing applications. Where a credit rating lets a company determine the risk of lending to a prospective debtor, a security rating lets it decide how risky it will be to deal with another in handling data. The comparison even flattens out when we remember one of the key principles ofcyber resilience: that cyber risk “is actually business risk, and always has been.”

Filed under: CSTAR, cyber risk, third-party vendor risk, security ratings

UpGuard CyberRisk and Fair and Accurate Security Ratings Principles

In June of 2017 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce posted the “Principles for Fair and Accurate Security Ratings,” a document supported by a number of organizations interested in the emerging market for measuring cyber risk. The principles provide a starting point for understanding the current state of security ratings and for establishing a shared baseline for assessing vendors in that market.

Filed under: CSTAR, cybersecurity, cyber resilience, security ratings, vendor risk, cyberrisk

Cyber Resilience Challenge: Coke vs Pepsi


Few corporate rivalries are as legendary as these two enterprise contenders; admittedly, there have been more than a fair share of comparisons pitting the pair against each other over the last century. So we're offering a twist to the traditional cola challenge: how do Pepsi and Coke stack up in terms of cyber resilience? Read more to find out. 

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cybersecurity

Cyber Resilience Showdown: AT&T vs Verizon

As the two leading mobile telecom providers in the U.S., AT&T and Verizon are perpetually at war on almost all fronts—pricing, quality of service, network coverage, and more. But with data breaches at an all time high, security fitness may soon become a critical factor for consumers evaluating wireless service providers. Let's find out how the two compare when it comes to measures of enterprise cyber resilience.

Filed under: CSTAR, cybersecurity

Which Fast Food Chain is Next in Line to Get Hacked?

Arby's announced last week that its recently disclosed data breach may impact 355,000 credit card holders that dined at its restaurants between October 2016 and January 2017. Are fast food vendors resilient enough to sustain future cyber attacks and—more importantly—protect consumers against online threats?

Filed under: CSTAR, cyber risk

How Cyber Resilient Are The Top Online Banks?

Booksellers and electronics retailers aren't the only brick-and-mortar businesses challenged by the rise of highly agile, online-only competitors—traditional retail banking institutions also face stiff competition from Internet-based consumer banking upstarts. But are these born-in-the-cloud banks and financial services offerings safer than their traditional counterparts? Let's take a look at the leading online banks to see if they're equipped to handle today's cyber threats.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

Are Leading IoT Vendors Putting Customers at Risk?

On October 21st, 2016, DNS provider DYN suffered from the largest DDoS attack in history, leaving much of the Internet inaccessible to Europe and North America. The unprecedented event saw cyber attackers orchestrating swathes of Mirai malware-infected IoT and connected devices to perform DNS lookup requests from tens of millions of IP addresses—impressive automated hacking, but hardly sophisticated: the malware gained privileged access by using public, default passwords. Are IoT companies doing enough to secure their "things" against nefarious actors?

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

How Secure Are the World's Leading Airlines?

With all the conveniences of modern air travel—mobile check-ins, e-gates, in-flight wifi, and more—it's easy to assume that the world's leading airlines have addressed the inherent cyber risks of digitization. But the safety of in-air passengers is just one aspect of airline customer security; are these companies doing their best to protect customers against online security compromises? Let's take a look at the world's leading airlines to find out. 

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

CES 2017 Highlights: Which Vendors Are Putting Consumers at Risk?

Every year, leading tech/gadget vendors descend upon the world's largest consumer electronics show in an exuberant display of product design wizardry, cutting edge innovation, and of course—a requisite dose of ridiculousness. This year's focus was on connected cars and VR, with IoT device and wearable tech manufacturers out in full force, per the usual. Let's see how good the best of CES 2017 are at protecting customers against cyber attacks.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

Top 11 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017

2016 was arguably the year when cybersecurity events entered into the global stream of consciousness, from the sabotage of national banks to the hacking of elections. And though we're barely into 2017, the breach announcements have already begun: on January 3rd, a data breach was discovered involving the sensitive data of health workers employed by the US military's Special Operations Command (SOCOM). An increase in government-related security incidents is one of our top predictions for 2017—here are 11 other cybersecurity predictions for the new year.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

How Resilient Are the World's Leading Online Learning Providers?

Last week, leading online education provider Lynda.com announced that its database of over 9.5 million accounts were compromised in a recent data breach. With the education space increasingly moving to the internet, are underlying technology providers doing their best to provide a safe learning environment to customers?  

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

How Secure Are the Leading Travel Aggregator Websites?

AAA predicts that a record number of Americans will be taking to the skies and roads this holiday season—103 million between Dec. 23-Jan. 2, a 1.5% increase over 2015. 57% of these travel reservations—that's 148 million travellers—booked online. Airfare/hotel/car rental comparison websites are an increasingly popular way to book travel these days, but how good are they at protecting their users' data? Let's take a look at the top 8 online travel aggregators' CSTAR ratings to find out.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

How Resilient Are The World's Leading Video Game Companies?

Once upon a time, video gaming was strictly an offline, console-based affair. Even PC-based titles were relegated to the safe confines of the player's local desktop machine. The arrival of affordable and ubiquitous high-speed internet transformed gaming into a highly interactive online activity; these days, the online component is an integral part of gameplay. But are gaming vendors doing enough to protect users against today's cyber threats?

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

How Safe Is Your Cyber Monday?

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is almost here, and with it, the frenzy of the holiday shopping season fast approaches. Whether you are camping out overnight for “Black Friday” bargains, or waiting for the online deals of “Cyber Monday,” the odds are you are more nervous than ever about the safety and security of your financial information against holiday scammers. At least, so indicate the results of UpGuard’s survey of over 1,200 respondents in November 2016. The survey finds that 95% of consumers are to some degree concerned about the security of their information online, and more than half would break with their favorite brands if they knew their information was at risk; full survey results can be viewed here.

Filed under: CSTAR, retail, cybersecurity, chrome extension

How Secure Are the World's Leading ERP Vendors?

Last week, leading global ERP vendor SAP was busier than usual in the patch department: it released a record amount of closed issues per month and addressed 48 vulnerabilities—one of them an authentication bypass vulnerability previously left unaddressed for 3 years. Given how mission-critical ERP systems are for centralizing business operations these days, is it safe to assume that ERP vendors are serious about their customers' security? Let's take a look at the leading solution providers in this category to find out.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

Paid-to-click Surveys: Your Opinions Don't Matter to Cyber Attackers

Does filling out an online survey in exchange for a few bucks sound too good be true? For ClixSense users, this is turning out to be the case: last week, the leading paid-to-click (PTC) survey firm admitted to a massive data breach involving virtually all of its users' accounts—roughly 6.6 million records in total. With so many giving in to the allure of easy money, PTC firms should be on top of securing privileged data of survey takers they're bankrolling. Let's find out how the top 5 compare when it comes to fulfilling this critical responsibility.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

Are Cloud Storage Providers Dropping the Box on Security?


Leading cloud storage provider Dropbox is arguably having its worst month since launching back in 2007—but with over half a billion users, it's somewhat surprising that serious issues have only begun to surface between the ubiquitous service and the people trusting it with their files. First, in a recent announcement reminiscent of LinkedIn's latest data breach fiasco, Dropbox announced several weeks ago that over 68 million emails and passwords were compromised in a previously disclosed 2012 data breach. And now, security experts are criticizing the company for misleading OS X users into granting admin password access and root privileges to their systems. What recourse do consumers have when cloud services providers "drop the box" on security, or even worse—when their actions directly jeopardize the users they're supposed to protect?

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

How Secure Is Electronic Voting in Today's Digital Landscapes?

As election year moves into the final stretch, news coverage wouldn't be complete without another mention of a politically motivated data breach or cybersecurity incident. Of course, several months ago the DNC's emails were compromised by hackers, resulting in the theft and exposure of 19,000 hacked emails and related documents. This pales in comparison, however, to the recent FBI announcement of data breaches involving both Illinois and Arizona's voter registration databases. If the controls critical to securing election systems continue to fail, how can participants in the democratic process be sure that their votes won't be hijacked?

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk

Why the Padlock Isn't Good Enough

When you use the internet, your computer has a conversation with a web server for every site you visit. Everything you submit in a form, any data you enter, becomes part of that conversation. The purpose of encryption is to ensure that nobody except you and the server you’re talking to can understand that conversation, because often sensitive information such as usernames and passwords, credit card data, and social security numbers are part of that conversation. Eavesdropping on these digital conversations and harvesting the personal information contained therein has become a profitable industry. But encryption isn’t an on/off switch. It requires careful configuration. In other words, the padlock isn’t always enough.

Filed under: CSTAR, ssl, cybersecurity, encryption

Why CEO Approval Ratings Matter for Risk Assessments

Our new digital reputation scan provides a fast and easy way to get a risk assessment for your (or any) business. We look at the same stuff that other external risk assessment tools do– SSL configurations, breach history, SPF records and other domain authenticity markers, blacklists and malware activity. We're happy to offer this service for free, because that information is public and we believe that it's what's inside that really matters. Most of the elements we include in our external assessment are not controversial, but one resulted in arguments lasting several days: the CEO approval rating.

In selecting which checks would go into our risk assessment, we here at UpGuard looked at similar site assessment tools and selected only the checks that we thought were relevant to our goal: risk assessment, which overlaps with, but isn't identical to, website best practices. Plus, there are already fine tools for performing those best practices functions, so why duplicate them? We also intentionally omitted checks we thought would not be significant for calculating the risk of data breach and the damage it would cause.

Filed under: CSTAR

How Secure are the Top Online News Sites?

If you regularly use a computer, chances are you spend at least part of your time reading internet news. If you have a subscription, you might even log in and enter your payment info. But how secure are news sites? Here at UpGuard, we took a look at six of the top news media sites on the internet to see how their security stacked up. Many big names had low scores, while a few did very well. What does this mean for the average online news reader?

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk, webscan

Cybersecurity is Not an Olympic Sport

Online business has made traveling for events like the Olympics easier and faster by putting everything from airlines to hotel rooms at the fingertips of anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. But transferring your personal and financial data across the internet is only as secure as the companies on the other end make it, and from site to site there can be a vast difference of risk. The differences don't necessarily come where you'd expect either, with many popular organizations having middling to low security practices. How can you know who to trust?

Filed under: Infographic, CSTAR, cybersecurity

Prime Day: How Amazon Handles Cybersecurity

Tuesday July 12th is online retail giant Amazon’s self-styled “Prime Day,” and the potential deals mean a surge in online shopping. Designing systems and applications to handle the amount of traffic a site like Amazon sees day to day, much less during promotions like Prime Day, can be difficult in and of itself. Throw in the complexity of cybersecurity and it becomes clear why so many online retailers have trouble keeping up. Amazon itself has relatively good security, but what exactly does that mean for customers? We’ll look at what measures Amazon has in place, what they mean, and a few simple steps to tighten security even further.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, webscan, cybersecurity

All Bets Are Off on Casinos and Cybersecurity

You've seen enough Hollywood blockbusters about casino heists to know that gambling institutions are constantly in the crosshairs of attackers—online and off. In the digital realm, however, better malware tools and access to deep funding make today's cyber criminals more than a bad movie, especially when lucrative payloads are for the taking.

Filed under: malware, CSTAR, vulnerabilities, data breach

Just How Risky is Crowdfunding?

There are really only a few ways to get funding: an individual such as a venture capitalist or billionaire, a partnership or strategic investment by a corporation or state agency and getting a large number of people to give you a very small amount of money. Crowdfunding websites claim to offer a platform for the latter, giving inventors, artists and small businesses a method by which to propel themselves on the merits (or popularity) of their ideas, without needing inside connections or extensive business acumen as the other methods usually require. But because all of the transactions involved in crowdfunding take place on the internet, cybersecurity should be a number one concern for both users and operators of these websites. We used our external risk grader to analyze 7 crowdfunding industry leaders and see how they compare to each other and other industries.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cybersecurity, crowdfunding

Is Symantec's Latest Failure the End of Enterprise Security?

Cybersecurity news items are usually one of two things: your "run-of-the-mill" data breach announcement or vulnerability alert, usually software-related. This week's Symantec fiasco falls into the latter bucket, but it isn't your average vulnerability alert. In fact, this is the one that most enterprise security professionals have been dreading and horrified to hear: that your security defenses are not only ineffective—they can be used against you by attackers.

Filed under: CSTAR, vulnerabilities, cybersecurity

Can Fast Food be Bad For Cybersecurity?

No, we aren't talking about your burger-inhaling operator passing out on the job, leaving your precious IT assets unattended. You've probably guessed that we're referring to the latest Wendy's data breach announcementon June 9th, the international fast food chain disclosed that its January 2016 security compromise was, in fact, a lot worse than originally stated—potentially eclipsing the Home Depot and Target data breaches. 

Filed under: malware, CSTAR, vulnerabilities, data breach

Buying a Computer Online Soon? Acer Data Breach Highlights Retail Danger

A few days ago, Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer disclosed that "a flaw" in their online store allowed hackers to retrieve almost 35,000 credit card numbers, including security codes, and other personal information. Most of the major personal computer retailers have online stores like Acer's, allowing people to buy directly from the manufacturer, rather than through a reseller like Amazon. But how secure are these digital outlet stores, and what are the chances that if you use them you'll end up like Acer's customers? We examined seven industry leaders with our external risk grader to see how they stacked up, and unfortunately, Acer wasn't alone in its security practices.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, IT security, data breach

How Secure Is Your Cell Phone Provider?

It’s 2016 and you have a cell phone. You also probably pay your cell phone bill online or through an app. Telecom companies handle the world’s communication and part of what that entails is securing that communication to guarantee privacy and integrity to their customers. Here at UpGuard, we scanned ten of the major telecom corporations with our external risk grader to see how their web and email security measured up. These are big money companies with many moving parts, but we’re focusing on the primary web presence a person would consider, for example www.att.com. Turns out there’s some good news and some bad news... depending on which carrier you use.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, webscan, telecom

Tax Day 2016: Auditing the IRS, E-file and Tax Software Websites

Are you filing your taxes online this year? As e-filing and internet connected tax software becomes more and more standard, the security of the sites accepting your sensitive information becomes more and more important. You've probably heard about some of the various data breaches facing the tax industry, including one of the IRS in May of 2015, potentially exposing hundreds of thousands of tax records. UpGuard's external risk grader measures the security of a company's internet presence. We ran ten tax-related websites through to see how they stacked up and the results are interesting. Perhaps most interesting of all, IRS.gov received a rare perfect score of 950 out of 950. Tax software websites such as TaxSlayer fared well too. But as we'll see, the external information is just the tip of the iceberg.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, vulnerabilities, webscan

Security Through Visibility

People commonly use the phrase “security through obscurity” to refer to the idea that if something is “hidden” or difficult to find, it becomes more secure by virtue of other people not knowing it’s even there to be exploited. But in reality, security through obscurity usually means that the only people who find obscure resources are the people looking to exploit them for a way in. This is why visibility, rather than obscurity, increases security. Our website risk grader provides people with an easy way to view a website's security rating by offering visibility into their internet-facing footprint. This also allows businesses to monitor their own improvement over time.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, visibility

The Healthcare Security Epidemic

Your medical records live in a database or file system on servers somewhere, on someone’s network, with someone’s security protecting them. A recent PBS article about cyber security in the healthcare industry reports that over 113 million medical records were compromised in 2015. Medical records, perhaps even more than financial data, are the epitome of sensitive, private data, yet the healthcare industry has reported breach after breach, with over a dozen separate breaches already logged in March of this year.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, data breaches, healthcare, webscan

Gambling with Security: Online Sports Betting, March Madness Edition


In the last few years, sports betting websites like DraftKings and FanDuel have exploded in popularity and controversy. Anyone who watched last year’s NFL season shouldn’t be surprised that those two sites alone spent over $200M on national television advertising in 2015, amounting to around 60,000 commercials. At the same time, betting sites have been in the news due to their questionable legality and the lawsuits being brought against them from various parties. With March Madness in full effect, people are turning to online gambling sites to place their bets. Aside from the increasing legal resistance these companies face, should users be concerned about the security of sharing their information with these sites? As it turns out, it depends on the site.

Filed under: security, CSTAR, cyber risk, webscan, ssl

Cybersecurity Incidents Cost Companies Hundreds of Billions in 2015


According to the recently released 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) digest, produced annually by Verizon to help educate the industry, companies spent hundreds of billions of dollars last year as a result of cybersecurity incidents.

Filed under: CSTAR, insurance, cyber risk, digital resilience

How CSTAR Works

With the rate of data breaches increasing along with the complexity of modern IT infrastructures, the cyber insurance industry has been experiencing significant growing pains. Cyber risk determination had historically been done with employee surveys or contextual information about industries at larger. Without reliable data on an organization’s actual working state, many insurers came to realize there was no way to formulate a fair and accurate cyber insurance policy, especially for more complex and ever-changing IT environments.

Filed under: security, cyber security, CSTAR, cyber risk

What's In the Website Risk Grader?

From day one at UpGuard, we have been all about visibility. Before you can automate, validate desired or detect unwanted changes, you must first know what your infrastructure looks like; you must have a starting spot. We take the same approach to assessing cyber risk.

Filed under: CSTAR, webscan

Understanding Risk in the 21st Century

For as much as "cyber risk" sounds like a 1990's board game involving robots, cyber risk is actually serious business—in fact, it is continually becoming more important as organizations old and new find themselves relying on a variety of connected technologies and services. And as we enter 2016, the risk of data breaches in particular threatens to hamper business innovation.

So what is cyber risk, and what can be done about it? 

Third party risk is your risk

Filed under: cyber security, CSTAR, cyber risk