Modern organizations are highly interconnected, relying on a complex web of strategic partners, solution providers, and vendors to compete in today’s global economy.
But each relationship an organization establishes with a third party that involves access to IT networks or private data has the potential to result in a costly, reputation-damaging data breach. In fact a survey conducted in 2018 by PwC revealed that the number of data breaches attributed to third parties has increased by 22 percent since 2015.
To protect themselves against third-party risks, increasingly more organizations across all industries are using vendor risk assessment questionnaires (also known as vendor risk management questionnaires or third-party risk assessment questionnaires) to identify potential weaknesses among third-party vendors and partners.
What Are Vendor Risk Assessment Questionnaires?
Vendor risk assessment questionnaires are a method for evaluating the information security readiness of a third party, typically a service provider. They reflect the fact that organizations of all sizes are increasingly sharing sensitive data with vendors whose ability to keep it secure directly impacts their compliance with industry regulations and data protection and privacy laws.
The length and scope of vendor risk assessment questionnaires vary greatly, and no two questionnaires are exactly the same. That’s because organizations tailor them to their particular industry based on industry-standard security assessment methodologies such as CIS Critical Security Controls (CIS First 5 / CIS Top 20), NIST (800–171), or Standardized Information Gathering Questionnaire (SIG / SIG-Lite).
Here are some questions a vendor risk assessment questionary may contain:
- Do you collect, store, or transmit personally identifiable information (PII)?
- Who in your organization is responsible for cybersecurity?
- Do you monitor all devices connected to systems, software, and networks?
- Do you encrypt data-at-rest and in-transit?
- Is IT and cybersecurity outsourced or handled internally?
- Do you perform ongoing DDoS monitoring?
- Can you describe in detail relevant cybersecurity infrastructure?
- Do you continuously monitor your controls to prevent cyber-attacks?
- Do you have a password policy? If so, describe it.
- Which digital assets and networks of ours does your company access?
- Do you require annual workforce security training?
Some vendor risk assessment questionnaires contain hundreds of similar questions, and answering them with a simple “yes/no” response is not always enough.
Why Are Vendor Risk Assessment Questionnaires Worth the Effort?
In the information security chain, data is only as secure as the weakest link. Organizations can spend millions trying to improve their security posture, but all their money is as good as wasted if they share their data with a vendor that doesn’t take security seriously or doesn’t have the capability to implement and maintain sufficient security systems and measures.
Vendor risk assessment questionnaires help create what can be described as a network of trust by weeding out third parties that don’t follow appropriate information security practices, ensuring that all data in this network is safe.
The main problem with vendor risk assessment questionnaires is that filling them out can be an excruciatingly labor-intensive process, and not all vendors employ a security analyst or someone else who is competent to answer hundreds of security-related questions.
Removing the Burden of Vendor Risk Assessment Questionnaires
The good news is that the receivers of vendor risk assessment questionnaires can easily remove the burden they cause by partnering with a managed services provider (MSP) like TechGen.
A capable MSP can not only quickly and accurately fill out all vendor risk assessment questionnaires but also continuously monitor the vendor’s security posture and proactively suggest improvements to keep even the most recent and dangerous threats at bay.
If you’re losing the ability to focus on your core business because you’re forced to spend your time completing questionnaires for other organizations, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us manage, complete, and review vendor risk assessment questionnaires on your behalf.