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BitSight Security Ratings Blog

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Vendor Risk Management

In today’s business landscape, it’s critical to manage the risk that your vendors, or third parties, can pose to your business — and it’s not always the easiest task. It requires that organizations not only have the ability to continuously monitor and identify new risk, but also the ability to work with their vendors to fix security issues quickly. Getting to risk reduction rapidly means that both organizations are communicating effectively, using data and evidence rather than conjecture to make progress.

By understanding the scope of your vendor’s ecosystem (how many vendors your organization does business with, and what information they have access to), you can better shape your vendor risk management (VRM) program and strategy.

However, it’s no longer enough to just have insight into your vendor ecosystem — what about when you’re managing vendors in a hands-on way? You must be able to have honest, data-driven conversations with the vendors that are handling your most sensitive data.

Within the BitSight Security Ratings platform, there are several features that allow users to make their vendor risk management process more collaborative. These features allow businesses to reduce risk quickly and efficiently, have focused and evidence-based conversations with third parties, and track and report follow-up.

Enable Vendor Access

BitSight customers are increasingly enabling vendors with access to the portal — allowing them to investigate their rating and details behind it, free of charge. With full access to their BitSight rating, vendors are empowered to identify vulnerabilities and remediate immediate risks. To date, nearly half of companies invited to the platform have increased their rating by an average of 37 points, allowing customers to get to risk reduction more quickly and drive security improvements in their business ecosystem.

This functionality is the primary way that BitSight users can collaborate with their third parties; with the vendor access dashboard, users can gain insight into the vendors they’ve invited and receive greater clarity around issues they are investigating that may pose a risk to their security posture.

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Vendor Action Plan

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The Vendor Action Plan allows BitSight users to view their portfolio companies at a high level and see what actions they may need to take based on their vendors’ security postures. If a vendor is showing an extremely low rating, this is obviously a direct concern to that organization’s network security. Users can choose to view vendors based on their status of “Monitor,” “Review,” or “Escalate,” which they can designate to each company based on their criticality. This function allows businesses to make actionable decisions about vendors that are classified as a higher risk.

“BitSight allows us to have that security conversation with our vendors,” says Chris Porter, CISO at Fannie Mae. “We make sure they know that they are a part of our ecosystem and that we will help them along in whatever way we can.

Supporting Rapid Response to Vendor Issues with Alerting Capabilities

BitSight’s alerting functionalities allow users to be more proactive in their vendor outreach. When a vendor’s rating drops below a certain threshold (set by users themselves), they will receive a notification. This facilitates outreach that puts more emphasis on collaboration and is less heavy-handed — organizations are reaching out to the vendors to inquire about the health of their network and can point to recent changes in BitSight’s data to focus the conversation. This capability allows you and your vendors to react quickly and responsively — a key part of creating a strong VRM program.

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Remediation Strategy Tool

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When trying to improve your organization’s security posture sometimes it’s difficult to prioritize what to fix first. Particularly within large organizations, it can be difficult to comprehensively understand which areas will give you the most bang for your buck. And, how do you help your vendors prioritize their efforts?

BitSight’s Remediation Strategy Tool provides actionable and specific recommendations about how you or your vendors can strengthen network security. By providing targeted, continuously updated focus areas for users to examine, they can create a strategy to improve their security posture and begin implementing it quickly and efficiently.

When it comes to vendor risk management, it’s important to collaborate rather than taking a more heavy-handed approach. Organizations don’t just benefit themselves when they help a third party remediate risks and improve security posture — these changes benefit the broader business ecosystem as shared third parties make security improvements.

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