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What Are Security Ratings?

Bryana Dacri | April 18, 2018

Security ratings are valuable, objective indicators of an organization’s security performance, especially when you’re looking to mitigate third-party risk, assess the cybersecurity posture of a potential acquisition, or benchmark performance against industry peers and competitors. Thousands of organizations across the globe have turned to BitSight Security Ratings as a tool to better understand cyber risk in their business ecosystem.

What are Security Ratings?

Security ratings provide a comprehensive, outside-in view of a company’s overall cybersecurity posture. Similar to credit ratings, BitSight Security Ratings range from 250 to 900, with a higher rating equating to better overall security posture. Security ratings add a quantitative metric to the assessment process and give you a simple indicator of your organization’s security risk.

[Download our ebook to learn how to use security ratings to benchmark your cybersecurity posture against industry peers and competitors.]

BitSight’s objective, verifiable and actionable security ratings enable you to compare your organization to industry peers and competitors, evaluate current and potential vendors based on risk, and track security performance improvement over time.

Security Ratings are Based on a Large Pool of Data

Security ratings don’t rely on traditional techniques like penetration testing, questionnaires, or on-site visits. Instead, they often leverage externally observable data from sources across the world, then map this data to individual organizations. BitSight collects terabytes of information in categories including compromised systems, security diligence, user behavior, and data breaches. This data is weighted according to the risk it presents to organizations and used to calculate a rating.

Security Ratings Help Identify & Remediate Cyber Risk

IT security leaders are always trying to find better ways of identifying and understanding cyber risk. Having accurate metrics will provide greater clarity and accuracy to the process. Research shows that BitSight Security Ratings correlate to data breaches and provide insight into vulnerabilities facing your organization and your third parties. In fact, companies with a BitSight Security Rating of 500 or lower are nearly five times more likely to have a breach than those with a rating of 700 or higher.

When organizations use security ratings to make integral business decisions, it’s critical that the ratings themselves are accurate and trustworthy. BitSight performs intensive analysis on all data that goes into the BitSight Security Ratings platform in order to ensure that said data is trusted, tested, and actionable. Today, over 1,200 customers use BitSight Security Ratings to manage cyber risk in their business ecosystem.

Objective Third-Party Risk Assessments

Assessing the security of every vendor has been immensely time-consuming for many companies who rely on traditional methods. Sending questionnaires to each vendor inquiring into their security posture requires a lot of tracking and follow-up. Moreover, questionnaires are subjective and often times rendered inaccurate shortly after they are completed and new security issues emerge. Other processes like on-site visits and penetration tests are also resource-intensive and and cost prohibitive when done at scale. All of these gaps can lead to greater third party risk exposure. Is there a better approach?

Security ratings complement these more traditional methods by providing continuous, objective, and actionable data:

  • An objective, quantitative security rating (as opposed to qualitative questionnaires) makes it far easier to track a company’s performance over time. If their security posture weakens, you’ll be able to see the change in the rating.
  • Ratings make it easier to collaborate and develop remediation plans with vendors or set security performance standards in a contract.

See Where Your Organization Stands

Formal security benchmarking can help IT leaders better understand the maturity of their cybersecurity approach. It helps answer questions like:

  • How does our security posture compare to our peers?
  • How effective are our current security policies and procedures?

Questionnaires and existing tools for network security are unable to continuously compare security performance against industry averages and peers. This is where security ratings can help.

BitSight Security Ratings for Benchmarking provide continuous, data-driven measures of security performance. Organizations can measure the effectiveness of their information risk framework and compare their performance to industry peers and competitors. You can leverage these quantitative benchmarks to report security performance to the Board and senior leadership, justify additional resources, improve performance, and shift IT and security departments toward better alignment with business goals throughout your organization.

Knowing your organization’s security rating can enable you to make improvements and mitigate cyber risk by:

  • Continually assessing cyber risk and identifying any security issues as they arise.
  • Ensuring your company’s rating accurately reflects security performance and strengthens the reputation of your firm.
  • Offering a clear metric (i.e., a rating over 740) that can help focus your resources toward meeting this clearly outlined goal.

Want to know what your security rating is? Request your Security Ratings Snapshot to find out.


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