Imagine you’re applying for a loan. One of the important criteria required to obtain approval is the credit score. The higher the credit score, the higher your chances for getting a loan.

Similarly, imagine you’re selling a product on a website. Potential buyers judge the quality of your product based on the reviews or ratings it has received from other customers. The higher the ratings, the higher the chances people will buy your products or services.

What if these rating systems didn’t exist? The very thought of not having them is unsettling. This type of appraisal process applies to a business’s IT operations as well. Having no proper ratings to assess the risk of an organization’s IT stack can be disastrous.

As organizations focus more on scalability of operations by adopting cloud computing, they often fail to quantify the risk involved in the process, and the capacity of their IT architecture to handle these threats.

Cyber risk scores help assess the risk appetite of organizations, based on which informed decisions can be made. Organizations should frequently evaluate their security posture and rate critical assets based on the risk involved. Assets with higher risk scores should be monitored closely to avoid potential threats.

Once all the assets have been individually rated, based on the organization’s security posture, the cyber risk score can be determined.

The need to benchmark security posture  

Every organization will have to share data and collaborate with different organizations at some point, for business reasons. While evaluating different opportunities, cyber risk is one of the last metrics considered. However, this shouldn’t be the case considering the increase in the number of third-party attacks happening these days.

Risk scores also help an organization make critical decisions while engaging in an operational agreement with another organization. For instance, to meet supply chain requirements, organization A, a large enterprise, enters into a strategic partnership with organization B, a logistics firm.

While A has a strong cybersecurity posture, B is a smaller firm that doesn’t have a proper security strategy. Now, with this alliance, A has put itself in a position where an attacker can capitalize on the vulnerabilities that exists in B’s network to gain access to its larger network.

This is where a cyber risk score becomes important. If B had a cyber risk score in place, A could have evaluated the extent to which it can defend against an unprecedented attack that resulted from the collaboration. A cyber risk score is a crucial criteria for determining whether to proceed with an operating agreement or not.

Recent security incidents, such as the Saudi Aramco breach that happened last year and the Toyota breach that happened this year, signify the importance of establishing a cyber risk score to evaluate the security position of organizations.

Sources that can contribute to a cyber risk score

Discovering the IT assets that contribute to the risk score is vital to risk scoring. Although every asset within the organization’s network perimeter contributes a certain amount of risk, the following are some of the important data sources that can have a major impact on the risk score.

  1. Cloud: Cloud computing certainly revolutionized the way organizations work. The scalability and resource sharing capabilities of the cloud have impressed organizations. However, the cloud brings with it a humongous amount of cyber risk considering the complexity of configuring and utilizing cloud capabilities.

  1. Devices within the network: Though most organizations provide the required IT assets, certain organizations encourage users to bring their own devices. This certainly increases the amount of risk involved. Further, most employees often ignore the security updates that pop up even in the systems provided by the organizations.

  1. Third-parties: Outsourcing has become the go-to option for organizations handling peripheral business activities such as logistics, and data storage. While organizations often bolster their network security, they fail to evaluate the security posture of organizations they partner with. Third-party risks have drastically increased in recent times.

  1. Servers: Servers often fall prey to both internal and external cyberattacks. Server monitoring must be the priority of organizations while evaluating risk scores.

Moving forward

The IT industry has time and again proven the need to establish a cyber risk score. With cyberattacks evolving day by day, and with the number of new attack techniques adopted to exploit networks, organizations must ensure that they assess their security posture regularly and rate the vulnerabilities that exist within their network. In the long run, this will help them and other organizations that aim to establish relationships; it ensures that the risk involved is well within their risk appetite.

Raghav Iyer
Sr. Product Marketing Specialist