Why Cyber Risk Aggregation is Important to Your Organization’s Security

A single unauthorized device being used on your network. An unsanctioned application someone’s accessing from their non-secure home PC. A small vendor with a seemingly insignificant vulnerability. 

All of these are seemingly small things that, taken together, can culminate in substantial risk to your organization.

This is called cyber risk aggregation--the combined effect of many smaller possible vulnerabilities or weak spots spread throughout your ecosystem--and it can add up to enormous problems for your company. Think of it this way: the more cybersecurity holes you have, the more chances a bad actor has to infiltrate your network. Or, liken it to a retaining wall built to hold back a flood; the more cracks in the wall, the less effective it will be. Eventually, it may even completely collapse.

The growing need for managing cyber risk aggregation 

Keeping this from happening requires a holistic approach to monitoring cyber risk. You need complete visibility into all potential vulnerabilities to gather an accurate representation of your risk profile.

This is especially important given rapidly expanding digital ecosystems and the emergence of remote working environments. With organizations using an average of 80 software applications, there’s a lot of potential for vulnerabilities to seep into your company. Then there are the personal devices and applications being used by remote workers, who, in trying to remain as productive as possible, may be unwittingly introducing vulnerabilities through use of shadow IT

Yet gaining the necessary visibility into the entirety of your digital ecosystem can prove challenging, especially when third-party vendors are involved. Even if you’re able to secure your digital assets in the cloud and across geographical boundaries, you may not have insight into the security postures of your vendors. This can lead to catastrophic results, as evidenced by the SolarWinds hack.

How to protect against cyber risk aggregation

Fortunately, there are methods you can take to monitor risk across your entire ecosystem--both inside and outside your immediate organization.

For example, BitSight Attack Surface Analytics provides an external view of risk throughout your entire digital footprint, including across remote networks and in cloud environments. Through a centralized dashboard, you can immediately discover and respond to previously unknown or hidden digital assets and quickly segment applications and devices as necessary, preventing or mitigating intrusions before they do damage. And, you can assess cyber risk based on those assets, determine where the highest risk exists, and prioritize your efforts to focus on the most vulnerable points. 

You can protect your organization from within and without by complementing BitSight Attack Surface Analytics with BitSight Third-party Risk Management. The latter technology exposes vulnerabilities and cyber risk throughout your supply chain. It gives you insight into cybersecurity issues that could impact your vendors--and, as a result, your own organization.

Cyber risk aggregation’s impact on cybersecurity insurance

Taking an holistic approach to cyber risk aggregation won’t just protect your organization from potential harm; it could have a positive impact on your ability to receive cybersecurity insurance.

Insurance underwriters tend to look for aggregate risk before authorizing coverage for their clients. Increasingly, many are applying the same approach to cybersecurity insurance. As this article explains, many underwriters are exploring how to map aggregation so they can get a complete and honest picture of a company’s propensity for risk, as well as get to the bottom of who might be at fault should a breach occur. 

If you’re a carrier that wants to better understand and measure cyber risk, there’s BitSight for Insurance. This solution can help you underwrite, price, control losses, and manage your cybersecurity insurance portfolios. It uses BitSight Security Ratings to give you an accurate representation of a company’s aggregated cyber risk, including the risk posed by third parties.

There’s no such thing as a small vulnerability

The term “little things add up” may be a cliche, but it’s true, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity. Every seemingly small imperfection in your cybersecurity wall is a potential entry point that can lead to big problems for your organization. The best way to prevent that from happening is to make sure you see all of those imperfections clearly, no matter where they may be hiding.