NormShield vs. RiskRecon Comparison

Last updated by Abi Tyas Tunggal on May 14, 2020

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NormShield and RiskRecon are two popular security ratings services (SRS). Security ratings services focus on the analysis of publicly accessible, external data sources to perform vendor assessments, security benchmarking, and risk analysis.

Security ratings provide a data-driven, instantaneous, and always up-to-date measurement of an organization's external security posture. You can read our complete guide on security ratings here

Most security ratings providers use similar resources and techniques to collect data, but different approaches to analyze and evaluate that data, and how it determines a company's security posture. This means that the predictive capacity of each service can vary. 

For reference, common data sources include the Internet, hacker sites, social media, Internet-wide scanners, reputation services, dark web, and sinkholes. 

Security ratings are becoming increasingly popular, as they can help prevent data breaches and other cyber attacks. Data breaches, according to a recent study by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, have an average cost of nearly $4 million globally

This is why vendor risk management has become a top priority for CISOs, senior management, and frequently the Board. In addition, to financial costs, regulatory and reputational costs are on the rise too.  

Governments have brought in new laws and regulations that promote or require the establishment of third-party cyber risk management programs to identify, assess, and mitigate risks created by vendors, fourth-parties, and customers. 

While the United States does not have a nation-wide equivalent to GDPR, California has CCPA, Florida has FIPA, and New York has the SHIELD Act to protect the personally identifiable information of its constituents.

Outside of the United States, Brazil has introduced a very similar law to GDPR called LGPD

Alongside the protection of PII and PHI, these laws introduce mandatory data breach notification requirements, significantly increasing the impact of inadequate vendor and cybersecurity risk management practices

The job of a security professional encompasses much more than improving security postures and writing information security policies. One of the most sought after skills is the ability from cybersecurity risk assessments and vendor questionnaires into terms that non-technical stakeholders can understand.

And that's what many third-party risk management tools claim to do. The issue is not all security ratings platforms are equal in terms of capabilities, usability, community, pricing, releases, integrations, customers, or predictive threat intelligence capabilities. 

We hope this post gives you the context you need to make an informed decision about NormShield vs. RiskRecon, so you can decide on which tool is right for you.  

Table of contents

NormShield overview

NormShield is a cyber risk rating platform that uses open-source threat intelligence and non-intrusive scanning to provide information about your vendor risk at scale. 

It collects data from a wide range of places without touching any sensitive data, leveraging advances in data science and machine learning to provide high frequency and precise real-time risk assessments.

Like other security ratings providers, its data collection provides continuous risk monitoring of third-parties.

NormShield UI

The NormShield UI. Source: normshield.com

RiskRecon overview

RiskRecon is a Salt Lake City-based company with a presence in Boston, MA, and representatives globally. Kelly White founded RiskRecon in 2015 to make it easy to gain deep, contextualized insights into the cybersecurity risk performance of all third-parties by using continuous monitoring and machine learning to monitor 11 security domains and 41 security criteria. 

RiskRecon was recently acquired by MasterCard.

Riskrecon UI

Riskrecon UI. Source: riskrecon.com

UpGuard overview

UpGuard was founded by Mike Baukes and Alan Sharp-Paul, two technologists from Australia's largest banks. Using their first-hand experience, they built a platform to fill a need in the DevOps market. Namely the reduction of incidents through proactive documentation and configuration management for on-premise and cloud security.  

UpGuard Core uses patented data visualization and risk analysis to help teams discover and manage their internal risk exposure regardless of whether the assets are hosted in data centers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud Platform, cloud services, or on-premise devices.

We then used 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 will enable you to immediately assess your own organization's external security posture while continuously monitoring for data leaks and exposed credentials. 

The New York Times, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Forbes, and TechCrunch feature our data breach and security research.

UpGuard UI

NormShield vs. RiskRecon vs. UpGuard in-depth comparison

Learn about how NormShield, RiskRecon, and UpGuard compare across ten categories:

  1. Capabilities
  2. Usability and the learning curve
  3. Community support
  4. Release rate
  5. Pricing and support
  6. API and extensibility
  7. Third-party integrations
  8. Customers
  9. Predictive capabilities
  10. Security rating

1. Capabilities

NormShield's Cyber Risk Scorecard is based on the analysis of externally observable data that does not require permission to acquire. This enables you to measure the external risk level of a company. The analysis is then prioritized and generated into an actionable, letter-grade, and color-coded report.

Like NormShield, RiskRecon provides security ratings that aggregate different risks into a single risk rating that allows for immediate and easy comparison of organizations, third-party vendors, business units, and service providers.

UpGuard also provides security ratings. The difference is we also use risk assessments to provide a holistic view of an organization's security risk. While it can be hard to get time-poor vendors to complete a questionnaire, they provide valuable information that security ratings alone cannot. 

With that said, questionnaires alone can be subjective and become inaccurate over time as new security issues emerge. That's why UpGuard uses security ratings and risk assessments.

Together, risk assessments and security ratings offer 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.

And Forrester expects cybersecurity ratings to become a de facto standard in the boardroom by 2025. Investors and traditional debt ratings agencies will include cybersecurity as a risk factor for rating the ability to repay company debt (influenced in part by the cybersecurity ratings market). 

Read our full guide on security ratings to understand all their use cases

  • NormShield: Provides a risk rating from A to F, like a report card.
  • RiskRecon: RiskRecon distills its assessment criteria into a single score from 0-10.
  • UpGuard: Provides a FICO-like 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

While most security ratings providers use similar resources and techniques to collect data, they rely on different risk assessment methodologies to assess the potential risks found. This means that they can assess the same IT vendor and produce similar but varying results. 

NormShield bases its Cyber Risk ratings on ten risk categories and 250+ control items. It gathers data through open-source intelligence tools and techniques hackers use like data collectors, crawlers, honeypot, as well as continuous scanning of databases, reputation sites, cyber events, hacker shares, and public vulnerability databases like CVE.

RiskRecon relies on misconfiguration scanning. Misconfiguration scanning means they look at an organization's Internet footprint to determine how it compares to best practices and what security gaps could lead to successful cyberattacks on an organization's confidentiality, integrity, or availability.  

At UpGuard, we agree that the standardization of security assessment practices is a good thing and we do it too. It helps remove bias, saves money, and increases trust across the supply chain. 

But we take it one step further than NormShield and RiskRecon by making it easy for our customers to publish completed security assessments, supporting documentation, and their security rating to the UpGuard Security Profile.  

Additionally, we also provide real-time critical risk monitoring capabilities, data leak detection, leaked credential detection, integrated vendor processes, and accessibility to provide businesses with a complete solution.

  • NormShield: Based on ten risk categories and 250+ control items 
  • RiskRecon: Assesses an organization against 11 security domains and 41 security criteria.
  • 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 network 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). We give each identified issue a risk prioritization category, so you know what represents the highest risk. 

Scope

As you know, even small vendors can lead to large data breaches, e.g., the HVAC vendor that eventually led to Target's exposure of credit card and personal data on more than 110 million consumers. See our post on the biggest data breaches for more information.

The bad news is not every solution is able to provide the same level of coverage. If your organization employs small vendors make sure the solution you pick can monitor them. 

As you know, any vendor that handles sensitive data is a potential risk that you must monitor continuously.

  • NormShield: Unknown
  • RiskRecon: Unknown 
  • UpGuard: 2,000,000 organizations scanned daily, and customers can automatically add new vendors.
  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Capabilities 4/5 4/5 5/5

2. Usability and the learning curve

A product's learning curve has a huge role to play in deciding on which tool. The more usable a product is and the better its design, the faster you and your team can get up to speed and start using the tool to its full potential. 

NormShield, RiskRecon, and UpGuard offer their services via SaaS and are accessible from web-based platforms that can help you find, assess, and monitor vendors.   

  • NormShield: Interface that grades risk categories from A to F.
  • RiskRecon: Provides risk prioritization based on your configured policy.
  • 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, we provide remediation and protection suggestions. 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.
  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Usability and the learning curve 4/5 4/5 5/5

3. Community support

NormShield, RiskRecon, and UpGuard have all invested in their communities, making it easy to find information to learn more about what their offering can do for them. 

Additionally, each company has its own blog that is a useful source of information for cybersecurity awareness training, vendor risk management best practices, and product information. 

With that said, UpGuard also has a breaches blog where they show how their technology has found some of the world's largest data breaches

  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Community support 3/5 3/5 5/5

4. Release rate

Information security is always adapting to keep up with changes to the information and technology it protects. CVE adds new vulnerabilities daily, attackers find new ways to exploit programming errors, and security controls become invalid regularly. 

Whatever tool you decide on, make sure you can rely on them to incorporate these changes quickly.

UpGuard has adopted DevOps principles internally to develop, test, and release software continuously, ensuring fast, consistent, and safe releases. In the words of one of our customers on Gartner, "Upguard is constantly rolling out new useful features and are very receptive to customer input. Their flexibility gives them a definite edge in this market because they are willing to improve."

  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Release rate 3/5 3/5 4/5

5. Pricing and support

Security ratings services can be expensive. 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 for one-off reports for a fixed price. 

RiskRecon is more expensive than UpGuard, and we were not able to find any information about NormShield's pricing. High costs can price out small to medium-size businesses and relegate large companies to managing only their most at-risk vendors.

  • NormShield: Public pricing information is not available.
  • RiskRecon: Public pricing information is not available. Pricing is reported to start at $10,000 and increases based on the number of vendors monitored.
  • UpGuardUpGuard has a transparent pricing model for UpGuard Vendor Risk and UpGuard BreachSight, which you can view here. UpGuard 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 sales@upguard.com.
  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Pricing and support 1/5 1/5 5/5

6. API and extensibility

While NormShield, RiskRecon, and UpGuard have their 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. You can read UpGuard's API documentation here.

  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
API and extensibility 4/5 4/5 4/5

7. Third-party integrations

While APIs are great for technical staff, not all vendor risk teams have access to developers. In this situation, standard third-party integrations are an essential part of decision-making.  

  • NormShield: Integrates with Supply Wisdom and VendorInsight.
  • RiskRecon: Offers integrations with GRC platforms such as RSA Archer, Sigma Ratings, Whistic, and more.
  • UpGuard: Integrates with GRC platforms, ticketing systems like ServiceNow, and more.
  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Third-party integrations 4/5 4/5 5/5

8. Customers

The best proof comes from each solution's customers. NormShield, RiskRecon, and UpGuard all have impressive customer lists, but RiskRecon and UpGuard have more distinguished customers. 

  • NormShield: Customers include Polk & Wardwell, LLP, a Fortune 500 retailer, and an OTC financial institution.
  • RiskRecon: Customers include Informatica, Tufts Health Plan, University of San Francisco, and Sentara.
  • 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 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."
  • "Upguard has a fantastic and dedicated customer service team. They actively engage customers and listen to what we need. I have also been very impressed with their development team's ability to adjust to our needs and requirements."
  • "Rolling out Upguard was very easy and the support team have been exemplary helping with questions and platform updates to suit our unique needs."
  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Customers 4/5 5/5 5/5

9. Predictive capabilities

The most important thing for any security tools is how well it can prevent incidents from happening, particularly data breaches and data leaks.

This is where NormShield, RiskRecon, and UpGuard differ. 

  • NormShield: Performs non-intrusive checks including passive DNS, attack surface detection, passive vulnerability scanning, DNS health, SSL/TLS strength, and email security, as well as asset reputation, credential compromises, hacktivist shares, social media monitoring, dark web search, cloud delivery network security, fraudulent apps, and DDoS detection. They do not, however, provide real transparency into the efficacy of these checks.
  • RiskRecon: focuses on third-party assessment across 11 security domains and 41 security criteria.  
  • 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. It 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.
  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Predictive capabilities 4/5 4/5 5/5

10. Security rating

Finally, let's take a look at how NormShield, RiskRecon, and UpGuard compare when assessed by UpGuard's platform on May 05, 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 openness 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. You can also 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 reflect our understanding of how to mitigate cybersecurity risk. When this happens, we provide reasonable notice and explanation to our customers about the impact on their security rating.
  • Independence: No commercial agreement or lack thereof, gives an organization the ability to improve its security rating without enhancing their security posture.
  • Confidentiality: Any information disclosed to UpGuard during 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 79 points.

  • NormShield: 801/950 or A letter grade
  • RiskRecon: 840/950 or A letter grade
  • UpGuard: 919/950 or A letter grade
  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Security rating NormShield Security Rating 801/950 RiskRecon Security Rating 840/950 UpGuard Security Rating 919/950
  4/5 4/5 5/5

Scoreboard and summary

  NormShield RiskRecon UpGuard
Capabilities 4/5 4/5 5/5
Usability and the learning curve 4/5 4/5 5/5
Community support 3/5 3/5 5/5
Release rate 3/5 3/5 4/5
Pricing and support 1/5 1/5 5/5
API and extensibility 4/5 4/5 4/5
Third-party integrations 4/5 4/5 4/5
Customers 4/5 5/5 5/5
Predictive capabilities 4/5 4/5 5/5
Security rating 4/5 4/5 5/5
Total 3.5 3.6 4.7

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the simplest way to decide between NormShield, RiskRecon, and Upguard is to use each service before deciding. 

That's why you can book a free tailored 7-day trial on UpGuard's platform here. Before your 7-day trial begins, we’ll provide you 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 third-party vendors
  • Detect and remediate any leaked credentials and data exposures
  • Instantly assess your external security posture

You'll get access to UpGuard Vendor Risk and UpGuard BreachSight for those seven days.

At UpGuard, we believe security ratings are important, but so are point-in-time assessments, neither is a complete solution when used by alone. 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 assessments 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, UpGuard Core, allowing organizations to 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 outsiders see your organization's security posture. 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 cyber threat.

Other third-party risk management platform comparisons

If you'd like to compare other third-party risk management software, see our other comparison posts:


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