How Whistic is Different Than a GRC Tool

February 21, 2018

In the world of InfoSec and IT, the number of tools and resources available to help organizations prevent breaches and internal and external security issues is growing — and for good reason. Thanks to the rising number of security breaches, more and more organizations are adopting resources that help them identify potential red flags in third party vendors and take action to mitigate internal risks.

According to the IDC, organizations are expected to spend $101.6B on cybersecurity software, services, and hardware by 2020. The report goes on to state that spend equates to a 38% increase from the $73.7B spent on cybersecurity in 2016.

With such a large market, it can be confusing for InfoSec and IT teams to identify just the right solution for their cybersecurity needs. One potential area of confusion lies in the differences between a platform like Whistic, which is a vendor security assessment platform, and a GRC tool, which is most commonly used for internal IT governance, risk, and compliance.

Below, we’ll break down the differences between these two types of solutions and explain how Whistic’s platform is differentiated from a GRC tool in the following three ways:

  • Depth of product functionality
  • Time to fully implement the solution
  • User experience

What is a GRC Tool?

Before we can dive deeper on the differences, we need to first start by unpacking what a GRC tool is and what it’s used for. explains GRC as a structured approach to aligning IT with business objectives while effectively managing risk and meeting compliance requirements. It’s three components — IT governance, risk, and compliance — are described by Joanna Grama, director of cybersecurity and IT GRC programs for EDUCAUSE, as (quoted from Joanna):

  • Governance: Ensuring that organizational activities, like managing IT operations, are aligned in a way that supports the organization’s business goals.
  • Risk: Making sure that any risk (or opportunity) associated with organizational activities is identified and addressed in a way that supports the organization’s business goals. In the IT context, this means having a comprehensive IT risk management process that rolls into an organization’s enterprise risk management function.
  • Compliance: Making sure that organizational activities are operated in a way that meets the laws and regulations impacting those systems. In the IT context, this means making sure that IT systems, and the data contained in those systems, are used and secured properly.

Simply stated, GRC is an internal framework of controls that ensure each area (governance, risk, and compliance) is working as intended and isn’t leaving the business open to unnecessary risk. Therefore, a GRC tool or a set of tools can help organizations and security teams accomplish the above internal objectives.

Exploring the Differences Between Whistic and a GRC Tool

Now that we’ve explored what a GRC program and supporting tools include, let’s take a look at how Whistic’s vendor risk management platform is differentiated and why it focuses on third party security management versus internal activities.

  • Depth of Product Functionality Resulting from Vendor Security Expertise

With GRC-focused tools, vendor risk management is just one of many different “modules” offered. While a GRC tool is beneficial for internal risk and compliance use, its focus is not on evaluating external vendors. When a solution does 8–10 different tasks, it simply cannot be the world leader in all of those things. As a result, users are forced to sacrifice functionality and experience on each of those modules in exchange for having those modules together in one tool.

Think of this as expanding horizontally. As it pertains to the vendor risk assessment portion of a GRC tool, it can create an experience that doesn’t provide the level or depth of functionality that is often required. At Whistic, we have chosen to expand vertically — providing significantly more depth within the arena of vendor security assessments.

  • Time to Fully Implement

In addition, many of these tools are true platforms that are 100% configurable and customizable. While that may seem like a benefit during the sales process, getting the platform to perform as it’s needed can often take months or even years — requiring extensive time, effort and cost from the adopting company.

When we talk with customers, it is this implementation experience that is the most prominent difference between the GRC tools they’ve used and Whistic. They describe Whistic as “easy to use”, “intuitive”, “simple” and “ready out of the box.” This often differs from what they’ve experienced with a GRC tool in the past.

  • User Experience as a Top Priority

While there are many tools available to support an organization’s internal GRC framework, most companies are using several tools, spreadsheets or patched together features in order to cover all aspects of vendor security. Whistic’s platform streamlines the entire end-to-end vendor security management process into a single, streamline experience. From the procurement and purchasing aspects of vendor intake all the way to ongoing reassessment, Whistic was designed with this complete experience in mind.

In the same way that a restaurant might choose to focus on serving Italian cuisine although it might have the capability to cook Mexican and American food, Whistic has chosen to develop a speciality. This allows Whistic to exert more effort on the specific challenges associated with vendor risk assessments and the specific needs associated with that, in order to be a best-in-class solution to this specific use case.

Whistic or a GRC?

So you may be thinking at this point that your decision-making process related to Vendor Risk Management is going to be: Whistic vs. a GRC tool. You might be surprised to learn that most of your peers don’t think of the world in this way. While they may end up making a decision between adding the Vendor Risk Management module of a GRC or going with Whistic, more and more companies are seeing the need for Whistic in addition to a GRC — or they may see Whistic as the first step in maturing their security organization to the point where they eventually are ready for a GRC tool.

With flexible API integrations and a rapidly evolving ecosystem of partners, Whistic is making it easier for organizations to choose the tools that best meet their needs and that deliver the most value for the specific challenge they are solving.

So as you are looking for a tool to build out your vendor security program in 2018 — make sure you choose the right tool for the challenge you’re solving for today. It takes a lot of extra effort to drive a nail with a swiss-army knife, even though it can address a number of other pains. What you may want to do is find yourself a hammer for now and figure out how to use the swiss-army knife in the future.

Ready to Learn More?

Check out our resources below for more third party vendor best practices and insights on how your organization can effectively respond to security assessments.


Why Third Party Security is Critically Important

Request a Live Demo with a Whistic Product Specialist

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