Security & Trust Ratings Proliferate: Is That a …May 22, 2020
Rating systems to help businesses make decisions are everywhere — credit scores determine whether a person can get a loan and at what interest rate, scores on standardized exams can determine what college a student can attend, and a variety of consumer scores can determine a product’s success or failure.
The information security world is rapidly gaining its own sets of scoring systems. Last week, NortonLifeLock announced a research project that will score whether Twitter accounts are likely to belong to a human or a bot. Security awareness companies such as KnowBe4 and Infosec assign workers grades for how well they perform on phishing simulations and the risk that they may pose to their employer. And companies such as BitSight and SecurityScorecard rate companies using external indicators of security and potential breaches.
Businesses will increasingly look to scores to evaluate the risk of partnering with another firm or even employing a worker. A business’s cyber-insurance security score could determine its cyber-insurance premium or whether a larger client will work with the firm, says Stephen Boyer, CEO at BitSight, a security ratings firm.
“A lot of our customers will not engage with a vendor below a certain threshold because they have a certain risk tolerance,” he says. “Business decisions are absolutely being made on this.”
As companies search for ways to limit breach risk, security scores that combine many factors and sources into a single score — or set of scores — are increasingly becoming common, not just as a way to track internal security, but as a way to quantify the risk to which third parties may expose a business and to rate the trustworthiness of information found online. Security and trust ratings promise to give people and companies an easy way to quickly gauge the risk or efficacy of just about anything, from products to people and from services to information.
Last week, for example, two researchers from cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock released a tool called BotSight (not to be confused with BitSight) that rates Twitter accounts on whether they are likely to belong to an actual human or are run by an automated program, or bot. A great deal of research went into the best ways to boil down more than 20 different indicators into a single score, says Petros Efstathopoulos, global head of the NortonLifeLock Research Group (NRG).
“We often need to simplify complex data or information, in order to make it accessible to consumers and help them make the right decisions — this is a challenging task,” he says. “Simplified metrics and ratings are possible, but one needs to exercise extreme caution in crafting them, so as to avoid misleading and oversimplified statements that will harm — rather than improve — one’s overall security posture.”
Of course, boiling…