RiskIQ vs. BitSight Comparison

Last updated by Abi Tyas Tunggal on May 7, 2020

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Cyber attacks, misconfiguration, data leaks, and data breaches are increasingly common. Each week the news is full of new exposures of protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII).

These security incidents are not only more common but also more costly. The average cost of a data breach is now nearly $4 million globally. For breaches involving third-parties, the cost increases to $4.29 million according to a recent report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute.

Every organization must invest in tools to prevent data breaches and reduce cybersecurity risk: particularly risks stemming from third and fourth-parties. 

Cyber risk management and vendor risk management are top priorities for senior management and increasingly, at the board level. 

Outside of financial costs, breaches impose significant regulatory and reputational costs due to new general data protection laws. As many of these laws have introduced or widened the scope of mandatory data breach notification laws.

In the United States, California has introduced CCPA, Florida has introduced FIPA, and New York has launched the SHIELD Act. Every state, territory, and country have turned their attention to protecting the PII and PHI of its citizens. 

The compounding factor is these laws have broadened the definition of sensitive data. What were once small security incidents are now reportable data branches, increasing the impact of inadequate digital risk management.

While it started with the European Union's GDPR in 2018, countries like Brazil are following suit with LGPD.

It's safe to say, security teams have more to worry about than ever before. The job is now not only about developing information security policies and improving security postures. Increasingly, you are expected to translate technical details into terms non-technical stakeholders understand. 

The good news is there are tools that can help, such as UpGuard, the issue is there are now so many tools that it's hard to decide on which one to pick.

We wrote this guide with all this in mind, to give you a clear comparison between RiskIQ, BitSight, and UpGuard, so you can make an informed decision and choose the tool that is right for you.  

Table of contents

RiskIQ overview

RiskIQ is a cybersecurity company based in San Francisco, California. RiskIQ provides cloud-based software as a service for organizations to manage their attack surface and detect phishing, fraud, malware, and other online security threats.

RiskIQ was founded in 2009 by Lou Manousos, Chris Kiernan, and David Pon.

PassiveTotal Dashboard User Interface

RiskIQ UI. Source: riskiq.com

BitSight 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 at insurance companies 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 Interface

BitSight UI. Source: bitsight.com

UpGuard overview

UpGuard was formed in 2012 in Sydney, Australia, by co-founders Mike Baukes and Alan Sharp-Paul, two technologists from Australia's largest banks. Using their first-hand experience, they built a platform to fill an essential need in the DevOps market. Namely reducing the risk of incidents through proactive documentation and configuration management for on-premise and cloud security.  

UpGuard's patented data visualization, and risk analysis platform helps teams discover and manage their risk exposure. Whether that be 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

RiskIQ vs. BitSight vs. UpGuard in-depth comparison

Learn about how RiskIQ, BitSight, 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

RiskIQ's platform provides insight and automation needed to map and monitor your organization's internet-exposed digital attack surface, understand and mitigate exposures, and expedite external threat investigation. 

RiskIQ's threat detection and asset management platform finds known assets like your corporate website, microsites, and any other public-facing internet assets, unknown assets like third-party JavaScript resources, and rogue or malicious assets like typosquatted domains and abandoned servers.

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.

Like RiskIQ, UpGuard's platform monitors your internet footprint to provide insights into your digital attack surface, vulnerabilities, and external security posture. The difference is that UpGuard can also monitor your third-parties' security posture providing you with a holistic view of your organization's security risk.

We then take this analysis and group it into an easily understandable security rating that allows anyone to understand the risk of a particular asset or vendor. For security operations and threat management teams, the security rating can break down into its underlying parts which can be used as part of remediation workflows.

In addition, UpGuard uses risk assessments and security questionnaires to provide context into the internal security controls of your organization and its vendors. These more manual solutions provide valuable information that can be missed by endpoint security or attack surface management solutions like RiskIQ.

For reference, security ratings provide a data-driven, instantaneous, and always up-to-date measurement of an organization's external security posture.

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

  • RiskIQ: Focuses on first-party attack surface management and does not provide a real solution for third-party risk management.
  • BitSight: a FICO-like rating between 250-900.
  • UpGuard: Provides a score between 0 and 950 for first, third, and fourth-parties 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 its own proprietary risk assessment methodology to assess the potential risk. 

While RiskIQ is useful for assessing your own attack surface and may be sufficient to complete other assessment techniques when evaluating first-party risk, it has real limitations when applied to improving your organization's complete security posture.

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.

At UpGuard, we believe an accurate and up to date inventory of you and your vendors' public-facing digital assets is a must for any cybersecurity program. It's no longer enough to only manage your own security posture. You need to know that your vendors are keeping the data you provide them safe too. 

That's why UpGuard takes a standardized approach to security assessment across first and third-party risks by using a combination of security ratings, self-assessments, and vendor assessments against recognized security frameworks. 

Additionally, we've introduced a secure way for organizations to make the results of these security assessments easily shareable to save time, resources, and to increase trust in the supply chain. 

The standardization of security assessment practices against recognized security frameworks, and making the results easily shareable helps all businesses save time, resources, and increases trust in the supply chain. 

With UpGuard, you and your vendors can publish your security rating, completed security assessments, and supporting documentation directly on the platform.

Additionally, UpGuard's platform provides real-time risk monitoring capabilities, integrated vendor processes, and data leak detection to provide businesses with a complete solution. 

  • RiskIQ: Primarily focuses on first-party attack surface management and first-party external threats like social media impersonation and phishing, which is only one of the many ways that an organization can suffer from a data breach, cyber-attack, or data leak.
  • BitSight: Relies primarily on IP reputation.
  • UpGuard: UpGuard assesses first, third, and fourth-parties and 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). We give each identified issue a risk prioritization category, so you know what to focus on first.


Your assets are only one of the ways that your organization can be exposed. As we saw with Target, even a non-technical vendor like an HVAC provider can lead to the exposure of more than 110 million consumers' credit card and personal data

RiskIQ only focuses on your public-facing digital assets and ignores the risks that vendors pose. 

Not every solution provides the same level of coverage. If your organization employs small specialist vendors, ensure the solution covers them. As you know, it is best practice to monitor any vendor that handles sensitive data continuously.

  • RiskIQ: Primarily focuses on first-party risk rather than taking a holistic view of cybersecurity. 
  • BitSight: 170,000 supported organizations
  • UpGuard: 2,000,000 organizations scanned daily, and customers can automatically add new domains or vendors.
  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Capabilities 3/5 3/5 5/5

2. Usability and the learning curve

The usability and learning curve of a product can play a large part in your decision. Not only can they help you get up to speed quicker, but they can also improve return on investment and general joy using the product. 

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

  • RiskIQ: Its threat intelligence tool maps internet-facing assets and provides insights and prioritized remediation recommendations based on asset criticality, context, and threat severity.
  • BitSight: Provides high-level summation of vendor risk allowing easy comparison of vendors.
  • 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.
  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Usability and the learning curve 4/5 4/5 5/5

3. Community support

RiskIQ and UpGuard all invest heavily in community support and try to make it as easy as possible for customers and prospects to get up to speed, reduce their operational overhead, and decide on which tool is right for them. 

Both have their own blog that is a useful source of information for cybersecurity awareness training and vendor risk management best practices. Only UpGuard has published robust data breach and data leak research.

  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Community support 3/5 3/5 5/5

4. Release rate

Information technology is in constant flux, so the information security controls designed to protect it need to adapt to keep up with it, and this is why vendor risk management best practices are always changing. 

New vulnerabilities are added to CVE every day, and attackers find new zero-day exploits that make traditional security controls invalid. 

CVE adds new vulnerabilities daily, attackers find new ways to exploit programming errors, and security controls become invalid regularly. 

Your security tools need to be able to incorporate further information for you to be able to rely on them.  

UpGuard has adopted DevOps principles internally to develop, test, and release software continuously, ensuring fast, consistent, and thoroughly tested releases.

  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Release rate 3/5 3/5 4/5

5. Pricing and support

Cybersecurity is an expensive industry. Vendors often use opaque pricing policies designed to take power away from the purchaser. 

With that said, most solutions are priced on a usage basis, either by company size, the number of assets monitored, or modules needed. 

RiskIQ does not provide any pricing information on their website and BitSight is more expensive than UpGuard. If you're a small company, you may not be able to afford what seems to be an enterprise pricing strategy. 

  • RiskIQ: Rumored to start at $35 per 1,000 analyzed pages per year or $150,000 per analyzed brand plus cumulative consumer downloads per year for mobile products.
  • BitSight: Public pricing information is not available. Pricing is reported to start at $20,000 plus $2,000-$2,500 per vendor per year.
  • UpGuardUpGuard 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 sales@upguard.com.
  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Pricing and support 1/5 1/5 5/5

6. API and extensibility

While RiskIQ, BitSight, and UpGuard have their platforms, you may want to access resources in a different platform or consolidate statistics into a proprietary centralized dashboard. 

In this situation, an API can help. The good news is each provides a standard API.

  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
API and extensibility 4/5 4/5 4/5

7. Third-party integrations

APIs are great if you have access to technical talent, but not all security and vendor risk management teams do. Without developers, you're more reliant on the company's partner ecosystem and third-party integrations. 

  • RiskIQ: Integrates with Cloudflare, Splunk, Crowdstrike, Qualys, Rapid7, ServiceNow, and more.
  • BitSight: Offers integrations with RSA Archer GRC, CyberGRX, OneTrust Vendorpedia, ProcessUnity, MetricStream, and more.
  • UpGuard: Integrates with GRC platforms, ticketing systems like ServiceNow, and more.
  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Third-party integrations 5/5 4/5 4/5

8. Customers

Often the proof comes from the customer. RiskIQ, BitSight, and UpGuard have impressive customer lists, and neither is more impressive than the other. 

  • RiskIQ: Customers include Amazon, Disney, Box, Facebook, McKesson, Toyota, United, Pepsi, Rackspace, DocuSign, and American Express.
  • BitSight: Customers include The University of North Florida, Snam, EPAM, and PROSA.
  • 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."
  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Customers 5/5 5/5 5/5

9. Predictive capabilities

The real reason we invest in security tools is to prevent cyber attacks from happening, which is why a solution's ability to predict and to avoid data breaches and cyber threats is the most important thing.

RiskIQ, BitSight, and UpGuard genuinely differ in predictive capabilities. 

  • RiskIQ: Relies on first-party attack surface management by monitoring your digital footprint (websites, domains, public-facing assets, as well as javascript resources, and typosquatted domains), as well as external threats like phishing, deep and dark web discussions, email spoofing, and other cyber threats
  • BitSight: The IP reputation methodology helps catch active malware installations, but that’s only one possible way a data breach can occur.
  • UpGuard: As UpGuard checks for misconfigurations across you and your vendors' Internet footprint, many important breach vectors are covered. Such as phishing, ransomware susceptibility (like WannaCry), man-in-the-middle attacks, DNSSEC, vulnerabilities, email spoofing, domain hijacking, network security, 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 repositories, and unsecured RSync and FTP servers. Our data leak discovery engine continuously searches for keyword lists provided by our customers. Additionally, 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.
  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Predictive capabilities 3/5 3/5 5/5

10. Security rating

Finally, let's take a look at how RiskIQ, BitSight, and UpGuard compare when assessed by UpGuard's platform on April 28, 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, IT 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: 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. When they do, 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 by 79 points.

  • RiskIQ: 752/950 or B letter grade
  • BitSight706/950 or B letter grade
  • UpGuard: 919/950 or A letter grade
  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Security rating RiskIQ Security Rating 752/950 BitSight Security Rating 706/950 UpGuard Security Rating 919/950
  3/5 3/5 5/5

Scoreboard and summary

  RiskIQ BitSight UpGuard
Capabilities 3/5 3/5 5/5
Usability and 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 5/5 4/5 4/5
Customers 5/5 5/5 5/5
Predictive capabilities 3/5 3/5 5/5
Security rating 3/5 3/5 5/5
Total 3.4 3.3 4.7


The easiest way to decide between RiskIQ, BitSight, and UpGuard is to use both 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, 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 attackers perceive your organization's security posture 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 seven 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:

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