Cyber Security Assessment (4 Best Practices)

Cyber security assessments are a critical part of managing third-party risk. While vendors are essential to helping a business grow and remain competitive, they also introduce certain levels of unwanted cyber risk. Regular security risk assessments can help to identify risk within the supply chain, allowing organizations to work with vendors to remediate it – or to choose an alternate vendor relationship.

Bitsight for Third-Party Risk Management allows security teams to go beyond point-in-time assessments to expose cyber risk in the supply chain in near-real time, helping to focus resources to achieve significant and measurable cyber risk reduction. Providing automated tools that continuously measure and monitor the security performance of vendors, Bitsight helps optimize third-party risk management programs without overextending your resources.

These four best practices are designed to help streamline the cybersecurity risk assessment process and achieve better risk reduction with Bitsight and beyond:

1. Choose Industry-Standard Methodologies

Establishing a robust third-party risk management strategy begins with the selection of appropriate assessment methodologies. The utilization of established frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework or the SANS Top 20 Critical Security Controls provides a comprehensive roadmap. These methodologies amalgamate industry best practices, standards, and exemplify cybersecurity policies, thereby offering a structured approach for mitigating cyber risks within third-party networks.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework, for instance, operates as a blueprint encompassing five core functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. Its adaptable nature allows organizations to tailor its implementation according to their specific risk profiles and requirements. Similarly, the SANS Top 20 Critical Security Controls present a prioritized set of actions that reflect the evolving threat landscape, serving as a benchmark for evaluating and improving an organization's security posture.

Adopting such industry-standard methodologies not only facilitates a uniform understanding of cybersecurity risks but also streamlines assessment processes. It enables a standardized language across the organization, fostering clearer communication regarding potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risk mitigation strategies.

2. Customize Assessments

While standardized methodologies provide a strong foundation, tailoring assessments to individual vendors' risk profiles and roles within the ecosystem is crucial. Not all vendors pose the same level of risk to an organization. Some may handle more sensitive data or have deeper integrations, necessitating more frequent and thorough evaluations.

By categorizing vendors into tiers based on their risk level and criticality to business operations, a more nuanced and targeted approach to assessments emerges. High-risk vendors demand more intensive scrutiny, involving deeper penetration testing, on-site assessments, and stringent security checks. Conversely, low-risk vendors may undergo less frequent and less exhaustive assessments, optimizing resource allocation without compromising security.

Customizing assessments also involves considering the specific industry regulations and compliance requirements each vendor must adhere to, ensuring alignment with sector-specific standards and obligations.

3. Establish Risk Thresholds

Setting clear risk thresholds is fundamental in quantifying and managing third-party risk effectively. Defining these thresholds enables organizations to benchmark vendors' security performance against predefined acceptable risk levels. It provides a tangible yardstick for measuring compliance and identifying deviations that demand immediate attention.

By establishing tiered risk thresholds aligned with the categorization of vendors, the risk management team gains a structured approach to prioritize remediation efforts. Alerts can be triggered when a vendor breaches or approaches the defined risk threshold, prompting timely action and facilitating swift risk mitigation strategies.

The establishment of risk thresholds also facilitates ongoing improvements by fostering a culture of continuous evaluation and enhancement within the third-party risk management framework.

4. Implement Continuous Monitoring

Complementing periodic assessments with continuous monitoring mechanisms fortifies an organization's resilience against evolving cyber threats. Point-in-time assessments, while valuable, provide only a snapshot of the security posture at a specific moment.

Continuous monitoring solutions like security ratings or automated monitoring tools furnish near-real-time insights into vendors' security postures. They offer continuous visibility into risk factors, enabling prompt identification of anomalies or deviations from predefined risk thresholds. This proactive approach empowers organizations to swiftly address emerging risks and vulnerabilities before they escalate into significant security breaches.

Additionally, continuous monitoring augments the credibility of vendors' self-assessments by providing corroborative, ongoing evaluations, ensuring ongoing compliance and adherence to security standards. This proactive stance contributes to a more agile and adaptive third-party risk management strategy, capable of responding promptly to dynamic cyber threats.

Assessing Cyber Security Risk with Bitsight

As the world’s leading Security Ratings service for third-party cyber security assessment, Bitsight enables organizations to improve risk management throughout the vendor lifecycle. Bitsight Security Ratings are a proven assessment tool, delivering a dynamic measurement of each vendor’s security posture based on objective and verifiable data. By continuously monitoring and assessing each vendor’s security performance, Bitsight helps risk managers make more strategic decisions about selecting and onboarding new vendors and working with existing vendors to mitigate risk.

Bitsight Security Ratings work much like credit ratings – they’re an objective, externally verifiable evaluation of an organization’s performance. Unlike point-in-time cyber security assessments that identify risk once or twice per year, Bitsight continuously measures security performance based on evidence of compromised systems, user behavior, security diligence, and data breaches. The result is a data-driven cyber risk rating issued daily that delivers an accurate assessment of the risk each vendor carries.

Bitsight Attack Surface Analytics for Cyber Security Assessments

In addition to third-party risk management, Bitsight Security Ratings provide cybersecurity visibility into an organization’s own security performance and its attack surface. While Bitsight Security Ratings provide an overall view of security performance, Bitsight Attack Surface Analytics deliver granular detail about the risks hidden across digital assets in the cloud, diverse geographies, subsidiaries, and in the remote workforce. With Bitsight Attack Surface Analytics, security teams can quickly validate their organization’s digital footprint, assess security posture, and reduce risk in increasingly complex IT ecosystems.

Improve visibility

Bitsight automatically inventories all the assets in a digital ecosystem. Outlining the location of each asset by cloud provider, geography, and business unit as well as any cyber risks that are associated with it.

Uncover shadow IT

Bitsight helps teams discover hidden assets and cloud instances that fall outside the control of the IT department. By identifying cloud services, servers spun up in the cloud, and other unknown assets that are attributed to the organization, Bitsight helps security teams assess the risk of these assets and bring them into alignment with corporate policies.

Identify concentrated risk

With Bitsight’s ecosystem-wide view of digital assets, security teams can assess cyber risk based on individual assets and visualize areas of excessive risk to prioritize remediation.

Why choose Bitsight?

Founded in 2011, Bitsight has become the world’s leading security ratings platform, trusted by some of the largest organizations to provide a clearer picture of their security posture. Bitsight’s 2,100 customers monitor 540,000 organizations to collectively reduce cyber risk. Among those customers are 20% of the world’s countries, 25% of Fortune 500 companies, 4 of the top 5 investment banks, and 7 of the top 10 largest cyber insurers.

Bitsight has pioneered the security ratings industry, providing organizations with greater visibility into their security performance and the performance of their vendors. Bitsight’s proprietary method of data collection gathers information from 120+ sources to deliver unprecedented visibility into 23 key risk vectors – twice as many as other security rating organizations. Bitsight also offers the most accurate network assets map and owns the largest botnet sinkholing infrastructure to provide customers with greater visibility into compromised systems. Additionally, with the ability to view 12+ months of historical data, Bitsight customers can easily identify trends and gain greater insight into risk and vulnerabilities.

Get a personalized demo to find out how Bitsight can help you solve your most pressing security and risk challenges.