Outsourcing, digitization, and globalization are three of the largest trends in the last 30 years. They've brought new products and services, increased specialization, lower costs, and improved access.
But they've also introduced significant cyber risk. Particularly the risk of data breaches and data leaks. For perspective, a recent study by the Ponemon Institute put the average cost of a data breach at $3.92 million.
The unfortunate truth is third-parties cause a lot of data breaches. That's why cybersecurity and vendor risk management are a top priority for CISOs and senior management alike, even at the Board level.
Governments around the world are enacting laws and regulations to promote and often require third-party cyber risk management programs to identify, assess, mitigate and oversee risks created by vendors, fourth-parties, and customers.
While third-party risk management is business-as-usual for financial services, healthcare, energy, military, and government organizations, the introduction of general data protection laws with extraterritorial application means what were once loosely regulated industries must now develop vendor risk management practices.
In addition, the introduction of mandatory data breach notification requirements means the reputational impact of inadequate vendor and cybersecurity risk management practices is greater.
Today, security teams are expected to be able to translate technical details like security postures, cybersecurity risk assessments, vendor questionnaires, and information security policies into terms their most important non-technical stakeholders can understand, e.g. Board members and regulators.
The good news is there are third-party risk management tools that can help you do exactly that. The issue is it's hard to decide on which ones to assess, let alone what criteria to assess them against.
That's why we wrote this post to provide you with a clear comparison between BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard, so you can make an informed decision and choose the tool that is right for you.
Table of contents
- BitSight Technologies overview
- Whistic overview
- UpGuard overview
- BitSight vs. Whistic vs. UpGuard in-depth comparison
- Scoreboard and summary
- Other third-party risk management platform comparisons
BitSight Technologies overview
BitSight Technologies is a Cambridge-based company that aims to quantify the external cybersecurity posture of organizations using publicly accessible data. Its FICO-like BitSight security rating is used by underwriters for pricing cyber insurance, 3rd party research for third-party risk teams, and due diligence research for private equity and M&A activities, and more.
Additionally, security ratings can be used for security performance management and the assessment of third and fourth-party risk.
BitSight UI. Source: bitsight.com
Whistic is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and aims to help companies hold each other accountable for protecting their shared data. Whistic's CEO is Nick Sorensen.
Whistic helps its customers conduct and respond to security reviews.
Their platform has tools to help you onboard, assess, and track vendors, allowing you to compare third-parties against a set of predefined criteria based on vendor questionnaires, documentation, and metadata.
Vendors can assess themselves against one of the top vendor questionnaires and publish it to their profile, along with supporting documentation including audits and certifications.
Whistic UI. Source: whistic.com
UpGuard was founded in 2012 in Sydney, Australia by technologists from Australia's largest banks. Using their first-hand experience, they built a platform to fill an important need in the DevOps market, reducing the risk of incidents through proactive documentation and configuration management.
With proprietary, patented data visualization and risk analysis algorithms, UpGuard gave Operations and Security teams the ability to discover and understand their risk exposure within data centers and cloud services to reduce cybersecurity risk.
We then took this expertise and applied it to external security performance assessment. UpGuard Vendor Risk allows you to instantly assess the external security performance of any organization and produce a security rating from 0 to 950.
Additionally, UpGuard BreachSight allows you to instantly assess your own organization's external security posture while continuously monitoring for data leaks and exposed credentials.
BitSight vs. Whistic vs. UpGuard in-depth comparison
Learn about how BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard compare across ten categories including capabilities, usability, community support, release rate, API and extensibility, third-party integrations, customers, predictive capabilities, and security ratings.
BitSight provides security ratings that aggregate different risks into a single score that allows for immediate and easy comparison of different organizations, third-party vendors, and service providers.
Whistic relies on point-in-time risk assessment to determine enterprise risk and primarily focuses on the results of standardized questionnaires.
UpGuard uses risk assessments and security ratings to provide a holistic overview of an organization's security risk. As you likely know, it can be hard to get a time-poor vendor to complete a questionnaire, and when they do, the results are subjective and are rendered inaccurate over time as new security issues emerge.
They do, however, provide valuable information that security ratings cannot generally provide, that is, internal security issues and controls.
Additionally, security ratings provide a data-driven, instantaneous, and always up-to-date measurement of an organization's external security posture. Together, they provide an excellent overview of an organization's internal and external security performance.
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.
- BitSight: a FICO-like rating between 250-900.
- Whistic: Relies on standardized security questionnaires.
- UpGuard: Provides a score between 0 and 950 along with the following letter grades, A: 801-950, B: 601-800, C: 401-600, D: 201-400, F: 0-200. You can request your free security rating by clicking here.
Risk assessment methodology
Each service relies on a different risk assessment methodology to assess the potential risk of an IT vendor. BitSight relies on IP reputation which attempts to attribute malware traffic based on IP addresses. We've outlined in detail why we believe IP attribution isn't a complete solution for your third-party risk program.
Whistic is focused on conducting and responding to security reviews. This is designed to remove inefficiencies in third-party risk management programs for organizations and their vendors alike, rather than completing the same questionnaire over and over, they can choose to publish it to their security profile.
The standardization of security assessment practices against recognized security frameworks, and making attestations easily shareable helps all business save time, resources, and increases trust in the supply chain.
That's why, like Whistic, UpGuard has introduced security profiles to help our customers save time and money by publishing completed security questionnaires and supporting documentation to their secure, UpGuard security profile.
Additionally, UpGuard uses security ratings to provide real-time critical risk monitoring capabilities, integrated vendor processes, and accessibility to provide businesses with a complete solution.
- BitSight: Relies primarily on IP reputation.
- Whistic: Relies on point-in-time risk assessments that can become outdated until the next assessment process.
- UpGuard: Augments point-in-time risk assessments with security ratings to ensure information is always up-to-date. Our security ratings algorithm runs hundreds of individual checks including email security and email spoofing risks (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC), website security (SSL, HSTS, header exposure), phishing and malware risk, explicit checks for 200 services across thousands of ports (mail, app, user auth, file sharing, voice, administration, database, unidentified, and open ports), domain hijacking risk (DNSSEC and domain registry issues), reputational risks (CEO rating and employee rating), credential management (exposure to known data breaches and data leaks detected by our data leak detection engine). Each identified issue is given a risk prioritization category so you know what represents the highest risk.
BitSight has over 100,000 supported organizations and Whistic relies on manual point-in-time risk assessment, so they may not cover small or specialist service providers.
Not every solution provides the same level of coverage. If your organization employs small specialist vendors they may not be covered by a solution. As you know, any vendor that handles sensitive data is a potential risk that should be continuously monitored and accounted for.
- BitSight: 170,000 supported organizations
- Whistic: Unknown
- UpGuard: 2,000,000 organizations scanned daily and new vendors can be automatically added by customers.
2. Usability and learning curve
The usability and design of a product play a large part in how quickly you can get up to speed and start getting your money's worth.
BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard offer their services via SaaS and are accessible from web-based platforms that can help you find, assess, and monitor vendors.
- BitSight: Provides high-level summation of vendor risk allowing easy comparison of vendors.
- Whistic: Risks detailed on each point-in-time vendor assessment, which means new risks are only detected during the next assessment process. Remediation requests are not available. Their risk assessments are aligned to the VSA questionnaire, CAIQ, SIG, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, CIS Security Controls, and Privacy Shield Framework.
- UpGuard: High-level summation of risk with the ability to drill down into precise technical details. Each risk is prioritized based on extensive research conducted by our in-house security team, and where possible remediation and protection suggestions are provided. Additionally, we have a library of pre-built questionnaires that can be sent and managed with the UpGuard platform including a pandemic (e.g. COVID-19), ISO 27001, PCI DSS, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, CCPA, and Modern Slavery questionnaires. Read our full guide on the top security questionnaires here.
|Usability and learning curve||4/5||4/5||5/5|
3. Community support
BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard all invest in their community and try to make it as easy as possible for customers and prospects to get up to speed, reduce operational overhead, and decide on the right product for them.
Each company has its own blog that is a useful source of information for cybersecurity awareness training, as well as vendor risk management best practices.
- BitSight: Company and product blog.
- Whistic: Company and product blog.
- UpGuard: The UpGuard cybersecurity and risk management blog is updated four times a week and our breach research blog has uncovered and secured some of the largest data breaches.
4. Release rate
Information security needs to constantly adapt and change to keep up with changes with the information and technology it is designed to protect. This means vendor risk management best practices are constantly changing too.
You need to be able to rely on your security tooling, and that means they need to be able to incorporate changes quickly.
UpGuard has adopted DevOps principles internally to develop, test, and release software on a continuous basis, ensuring fast, consistent, and safe releases that are thoroughly tested.
5. Pricing and support
Software can be expensive, especially third-party risk management software. The industry often uses opaque pricing policies designed to take power away from the purchaser. Vendor risk solutions are typically priced on a per vendor, per year basis except in some cases where reports can be generated for a fixed price.
BitSight and Whistic are more expensive than UpGuard. Their high prices can price out small to medium-size businesses and relegate large organizations to managing only their most at-risk vendors.
- BitSight: Public pricing information is not available. Pricing is reported to start at $20,000 plus $2,000-$2,500 per vendor per year.
- Whistic: Reported to start at $25,000 and is based on the number of vendors managed in the platform or the number of security questionnaires to which you're responding.
- UpGuard: UpGuard has a transparent pricing model for UpGuard Vendor Risk and UpGuard BreachSight, which you can view here. Vendor Risk pricing starts at $179 for a one-time report on a vendor or $29 per month per vendor billed annually. UpGuard BreachSight pricing starts at $299 per month billed annually. If you have any questions, please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Pricing and support||1/5||1/5||5/5|
6. API and extensibility
While BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard have their own platforms, customers may want to access the resources on a different platform or consolidate reporting into a centralized dashboard.
The good news is all services offer standard APIs to pull data.
|API and extensibility||4/5||4/5||4/5|
7. Third-party integrations
APIs are useful for technical staff, but not all vendor risk management teams have access to developers. This is why standard third-party integrations are an important part of decision-making.
- BitSight: Offers integrations with RSA Archer GRC, CyberGRX, OneTrust Vendorpedia, ProcessUnity, MetricStream, and more.
- Whistic: Integrates with RiskRecon, Active Directory, Okta, and onelogin.
- UpGuard: Integrates with GRC platforms, ticketing systems like ServiceNow, and more.
The best proof comes from each solution's customers. BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard all have impressive customer lists, none more distinguished than the other.
- BitSight: Customers include The University of North Florida, Snam, EPAM, and PROSA.
- Whistic: Customers include Betterment, Invision, Airbnb, Zynga, and Robinhood.
- UpGuard: Customers include NASA, the New York Stock Exchange (ICE), Morningstar, Akamai, Bill.com, IAG, and ADP. Read our customer case studies here and our Gartner reviews here.
Here's what a few UpGuard customers had to say about their experience. You can read more on Gartner reviews.
- "UpGuard has given us a view of our vendor security posture. The ability to launch a questionnaire or ask for a plan of remediation for items that show as vulnerable is also a great added value and a time saver. UpGuard is also very customer focused. They respond quickly to issues and to questions and welcome any input that could improve the product. Overall it is one of the best value add tools we have."
- "The simplicity of the product is fantastic. My team and I were able to be up and running in minutes. We monitor risks on over 25 vendors in near real-time and use these statistics to report to the C suite and Board of Directors. Upguard has become part of the critical cybersecurity metrics that we monitor and report upon."
- "The ease of use and simplicity of the product is excellent. We were able to be up and running with 50 vendors within minutes not hours. The reporting is used for monthly statistics and is reported to our Senior Management. Upguard has become an integral part of our critical cybersecurity metrics that we monitor and report upon."
9. Predictive capabilities
The main reason we all invest in security tools is to prevent incidents from happening in the first place.
This makes a solution's ability to prevent data breaches and other cyber attacks the most important thing.
This is where BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard truly differ.
- BitSight: The IP reputation methodology helps catch active malware installations, but that’s only one possible way a data breach can occur.
- Whistic: Relies on risk assessments which can quickly become out of date as new zero-day exploits are discovered and new IT infrastructure is used. The truth is that questionnaires, much like penetration testing, can be subjective and become inaccurate over time as new security issues emerge. Additionally, Whistic provides no controls for capturing data loss incidents.
- UpGuard: As UpGuard checks for misconfigurations across your Internet footprint, many important breach vectors are covered, including phishing, ransomware susceptibility (like WannaCry), man-in-the-middle attacks, DNSSEC, vulnerabilities, email spoofing, domain hijacking, and DNS issues. For example, we were able to detect data exposed in a GitHub repository by an AWS engineer in 30 minutes. We reported it to AWS and the repo was secured the same day. This repo contained personal identity documents and system credentials including passwords, AWS key pairs, and private keys. We're able to do this because we actively discover exposed datasets on the open and deep web, scouring open S3 buckets, public Github repos, and unsecured RSync and FTP servers. Our data leak discovery engine continuously searches for keyword lists provided by our customers and is continually refined by our team of analysts, using the expertise and techniques gleaned from years of breach research. The UpGuard methodology is continuously refined based on the actual data breaches we have discovered and reported to the world in the New York Times, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Forbes, and TechCrunch.
10. Security rating
Finally, let's take a look at how Bitsight, Whistic, and UpGuard compare when assessed by UpGuard's platform on April 6, 2020. It's important to note that UpGuard adheres to the Principles of Fair and Accurate Security Ratings:
- Transparency: UpGuard believes in providing full and timely transparency not only to our customers but to any organization that wants to understand their security posture, which is why you can request your free security rating here and you can book a free trial of our platform here.
- Dispute, Correction, and Appeal: UpGuard is committed to working with customers, vendors and any organization that believes their score is not accurate or outdated.
- Accuracy and Validation: UpGuard's security ratings are empirical, data-driven and based on independently verifiable and accessible information.
- Model Governance: While the datasets and methodologies used to calculate our security ratings can change from time to time to better reflect our understanding of how to mitigate cybersecurity risk, we provide reasonable notice and explanation to our customers about how their security rating may be impacted.
- Independence: No commercial agreement or lack thereof, gives an organization the ability to improve its security rating without improving their security posture.
- Confidentiality: Any information disclosed to UpGuard during the course of a challenged rating or dispute is appropriately protected. Nor do we provide third-parties with sensitive or confidential information on rated organizations that could lead to system compromise.
Although all platforms have a good security rating, UpGuard leads the pack by 80 points.
- BitSight: 706/950 or B letter grade
- Whistic: 839/950 or A letter grade
- UpGuard: 919/950 or A letter grade
Scoreboard and summary
|Usability and learning curve||4/5||4/5||5/5|
|Pricing and support||1/5||1/5||5/5|
|API and extensibility||4/5||4/5||4/5|
At the end of the day, the easiest way to decide between BitSight, Whistic, and UpGuard is to use each before deciding. That's why you can book a free tailored 7-day trial on UpGuard's platform here. You'll get access to UpGuard Vendor Risk and UpGuard BreachSight for those seven days.
At UpGuard, we believe security ratings are important, as are point-in-time assessments but neither of them is a complete solution when used by themselves. That's why UpGuard uses both, examining an organization's Internet footprint across all vectors by which data exposure and service outage can occur, and sending security questionnaires.
Our vendor questionnaire library can help you go beyond security ratings and to the assessment of internal security controls that aren't as easily determined. UpGuard is also the only company to offer a complete 360-degree view of third-party cyber risk exposure and an internal cyber risk management solution, Core, allowing organizations to completely manage primary risk as well.
UpGuard's easy to use platform is a complete security platform that gives you great insight into your security posture and your vendors', as well as how your organization's security posture is perceived from the outside. Giving you and your business partners a clear understanding of how and where to improve your cybersecurity and information security to prevent cyber attacks and reduce cybersecurity threats.
Try UpGuard for free for 7 days by clicking here. Before your 7-day trial begins, we'll provide you and your team with a free, personalized 45-minute onboarding call with one of our cybersecurity experts. They’ll help you get the most out of the UpGuard platform by showing you how to:
- Continuously monitor your 3rd party vendors
- Detect and remediate any leaked credentials and data exposures
- Instantly assess your external security posture
Other third-party risk management platform comparisons
If you'd like to compare other third-party risk management software, see our other comparison posts:
- BitSight vs. SecurityScorecard
- SecurityScorecard vs. RiskRecon
- BitSight vs. RiskRecon
- RiskRecon vs. UpGuard
- CyberGRX vs. UpGuard
- BitSight vs. CyberGRX
- SecurityScorecard vs. CyberGRX
- CyberGRX vs. RiskRecon
- Whistic vs. UpGuard
- BitSight vs. UpGuard
- SecurityScorecard vs. Whistic
- CyberGRX vs. Whistic
- RiskRecon vs. Whistic
- BitSight vs. Prevalent
- SecurityScorecard vs. Prevalent
- Prevalent vs. RiskRecon
- Prevalent vs. CyberGRX
- Prevalent vs. Whistic
- Prevalent vs. UpGuard
- NormShield vs. SecurityScorecard
- RiskIQ vs. UpGuard
- RiskIQ vs. BitSight
- RiskIQ vs. SecurityScorecard
- NormShield vs. UpGuard
- NormShield vs. BitSight
- NormShield vs. RiskRecon
- SecurityScorecard vs. UpGuard
- Prevalent vs. NormShield