CAIQ vs. SIG: Top Questionnaires for Vendor Risk Assessment

caiq sig questionnaires

Risk assessments, security questionnaires, vendor due diligence, and RFPs are strategic initiatives for organizations managing risk across growing and interconnected supply chains. How is one questionnaire different from another, and how do you decide which ones to use? Today we compare CAIQ vs SIG, or SIG vs CAIQ if you like.

What is CAIQ?

CAIQ (Consensus Assessments Initiative Questionnaire) is a questionnaire that provides a set of Yes/No questions for cloud service providers, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, to determine if their cloud practices are reliably secure.

The CAIQ contains 261 questions. It was developed by the Cloud Security Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the use of best practices for providing security assurance within cloud computing. 

CAIQ provides an industry-accepted way to document what information security controls exist in cloud services, increasing security control transparency and assurance. It helps cloud customers to gauge the security posture of prospective cloud service vendors, as well as easily monitor their ongoing compliance with security standards.

Its latest versions have been combined with the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM), comprising a cybersecurity control framework for cloud computing. The Matrix is composed of 197 control objectives that are structured in 17 domains covering all key aspects of cloud technology. This makes it a de-facto standard for cloud security assurance and compliance.

CAIQ-Lite is a shorter and condensed version of CAIQ that allows cloud customers to more easily engage with their service providers, with only 71 questions still addressing all 16 of the CCM’s control domains. This is a great option for a fast-paced cloud provider environment that isn’t suited to a more thorough questionnaire like the CAIQ.

What is SIG?

SIG (Standardized Information Gathering) is a questionnaire that gathers information from a third-party vendor to determine how security risks are managed across 18 different risk domains. The questions are based on industry regulations guidelines and standards, including NIST, FFIEC, ISO, HIPAA, and PCI.

It was developed by Shared Assessments as a holistic tool for risk assessments of cybersecurity, IT, privacy, data security, and business resiliency.

There are two variants:

  • SIG Core, the full library of questions security teams can pick and choose from, including topics like GDPR and other specific compliance regulations. SIG contains over 1,200 questions.
  • SIG Lite, a simplified assessment for vendors with lower inherent risk, that focuses on the most high-level questions. SIG Lite contains just under 200 questions.

As more vendor security assessments are introduced, security and risk managers struggle to decide which vendor assessment frameworks to use, at which time, and for which third parties.

Why use CAIQ for vendor assessments vs. other questionnaires?

Using CAIQ is advised when evaluating cloud providers during the vendor risk assessment process, as it contains just under 300 questions about cloud operations and processes (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS).

Why use SIG for vendor assessments vs. other questionnaires?

Using SIG, especially SIG Lite, is advised when evaluating vendors who have less inherent risk. It takes the high-level concepts and questions from the larger SIG assessments, distilling them down to just under 200 questions. The SIG Core library is useful for more extensive assessments.

How Bitsight makes it easy to complete CAIQ and SIG questionnaires

Deciding which is the right assessment tool will depend on your organization’s vendor risk management program needs. Security questionnaires like SIG, CAIQ, CIS Controls, VSAQ, and NIST are continually updated and improved by groups of experts in cybersecurity, risk management, and compliance, reflecting new security and privacy challenges.

Bitsight Vendor Risk Management automates and streamlines vendor risk assessments, licensing the latest CAIQ and SIG versions as well as many other industry questionnaires, and makes them available to organizations and their third-party vendors. With Bitsight VRM your team can save countless hours developing a custom questionnaire based on the already-available SIG and CAIQ questionnaires to assess your vendors, or build one from scratch.

The tool helps you send questionnaires to vendors, improves your review process, and saves completed questionnaires to ensure they are always accessible.

Whether sending an assessment request to third-party vendors or responding to CAIQ and SIG as a vendor yourself, Bitsight allows your team to be proactive about security and risk mitigation.