How to Measure Cybersecurity Risk Across Your Digital Ecosystem

Cyber risk is everywhere. As organizations become increasingly interconnected — across business units, geographies, subsidiaries, remote offices, and third-party networks — the digital ecosystem is expanding rapidly. And this increased attack surface introduces a variety of new and evolving vulnerabilities.

With the cost and frequency of cyber attacks on the rise, it’s more important than ever for security leaders to be able to prove that the investments they’re making to reduce cybersecurity risk across their expanding digital ecosystems are actually paying off. Of course, in order to do so, they need to be able to assess and discuss risk in a language that makes sense to the business.

Let’s take a look at how this can be achieved.

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Define your strategy for quantifying and communicating risk

Your Security Operations Center (SOC) collects millions of data points each day — and it can be challenging to analyze alerts, pinpoint which issues are critical, and report on findings to senior leaders effectively. In order to take the alerts and convert them into actionable insights, you must assess the context and have direction on how to separate the signal from the noise.

By taking a risk-based approach to reporting, you can help your entire organization focus on the most significant issues without falling victim to alert fatigue and ignored warnings. This approach empowers you to deliver findings in context — covering anything from past performance to industry benchmarks — so you can help stakeholders understand the role a number plays in your organization’s overall risk landscape.

Here, it’s critical to have an easily understandable KPI through which to monitor, assess, and manage your organization’s security posture. Derived from objective, verifiable information, BitSight Security Ratings make it easier than ever to measure your security program performance over time and drive accountability for outcomes. Updated on a daily basis, security ratings provide real-time, data-driven insights into your security posture so you can rank areas of critical or disproportionate cybersecurity risk across your digital ecosystem. This context and visibility empowers you to prioritize limited resources to achieve the greatest performance impact.

Benchmark your program against peers for additional context

In today’s ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape, expectations and standards of care are constantly in flux. By assessing your cyber risk exposure and security program performance in the context of your peers and sector, you can make more informed decisions about where to focus your team’s cybersecurity risk reduction efforts.

For instance, with BitSight Peer Analytics, you can uncover gaps in your cybersecurity program based on a comparison of security ratings risk vectors within your peer group. With these competitive benchmarks in mind, you can create data-driven remediation plans that involve achievable security performance targets and paths to proactively mitigate risk. This insight into how your peers are prioritizing their cybersecurity efforts can help you to optimize your strategy to remain competitive in the market.

Monitor and assess third-party cybersecurity risk

According to a recent Opus and Ponemon study, 59% of companies have experienced a data breach caused by one of their vendors or third parties. And as the SolarWinds hack shapes up to be one of the most serious supply chain attacks in history, that number is likely to grow. Even with vigorous security controls in place, many organizations struggle with measuring and managing third-party cybersecurity risk.

A key challenge here is a lack of real-time insights. Even when you evaluate third-party risk using assessments and questionnaires, that input is subjective and hard to validate. These types of materials only provide a point-in-time snapshot into cyber risk, but the cybersecurity landscape is changing every day.

With security ratings, you can assess the real-time security posture of your third parties — throughout the vendor lifecycle. For instance, you can use this cybersecurity KPI to pre-screen new vendors before you onboard them. And once they’re part of your third-party network, you can continuously monitor their security postures to ensure they’re meeting agreed-upon risk thresholds.

Finding a common language for managing cybersecurity risk

In order to elevate cyber risk to business risk, you need to present cybersecurity data with the necessary context — in a common language that can be easily understood by the board and other stakeholders. Security ratings deliver that common language, making it easier than ever for you to achieve unprecedented context and visibility into the risks lurking across your expanded digital ecosystem. Armed with these data-driven insights, you can align as an organization on where to invest your limited budget, time, and resources to achieve the greatest security performance impact.

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