FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking in Washington, D.C. Today’s columnist, Tom Richards of GroupSense, writes that the FBI reported a 400% increase in ransomware attacks during the height of the pandemic. Richards argues that this rise has a dramatic impact on a company’s risk profile and one reason why security ratings scores are not always useful. FBI CreativeCommons CC PDM 1.0

Security ratings services have become a popular way for companies to assess their own cybersecurity posture, as well as that of their partners. And, while they are useful for establishing a data baseline of competence, they are often relied on as something more than that. For example, they’re used in boardrooms as “eye candy” to portray the state of company cyber-risk, with supply chain partners to manage third-party risk and, even more frightening, by insurance companies to create risk profiles for cyber-insurance policies.

Unfortunately, when companies use these ratings in this way it’s like saying “the weather will be beautiful today” just by looking at the outdoor temperature – an incomplete assessment that’s often dreadfully wrong. And in the end, what does your company’s “A-” or “B-” rating actually mean? Does it truly reflect the security of the company? Usually not. And, because of this, cyber insurance companies using these scores rely on an inaccurate assessment of target-company risk.

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