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Security Ratings

What Are Security Ratings?

Bryana Dacri | April 18, 2018

Security ratings are a data-driven, objective and dynamic measurement of an organization’s security performance. Thousands of organizations around the world use BitSight Security Ratings as a tool to mitigate third-party cyber risk, compare their cybersecurity posture to industry peers, assess the cybersecurity posture of a potential acquisition, and more. 

Read on to learn more about what security ratings are, how they are calculated, how they enable organizations to manage cyber risk in their own organization and understand the risk posed by  third-parties or a supply chain business relationship.

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.

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 your cybersecurity 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, security ratings are valuable, objective indicators of an organization's cybersecurity performance that is both material and validated. These ratings are derived from objective, verifiable information and are created by a trusted, independent organization.

BitSight leverages externally observable data from sources across the world, then maps this data to individual organizations. BitSight collects terabytes of information into four data categories including compromised systems, security diligence, user behavior, and public disclosures. This data is weighted according to the risk it presents to organizations and used to calculate a rating. For more details, read How BitSight Calculates Ratings.

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. 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 risk management methods by providing continuous, objective, and actionable data. BitSight Security Ratings for Vendor Risk Management enable organizations to continuously monitor and quantify the cyber risk of their third parties to efficiently scale their third-party risk management programs.

  • 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.

Compare Your Security to Industry Peers

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

  • How does our cybersecurity posture compare to our industry peers and competitors?
  • 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.security ratings cybersecurity benchmarking

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 get your security rating and see how your cybersecurity compares to industry peers? Request your Security Rating Snapshot report now. 

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