Vendor Risk Assessment for ISO 27001 Requirements

ISO/IEC 27001:2013 (ISO 27001) is one of the most popular international standards for managing information security. It helps organizations improve the information security of all IT systems and data processes, including those required in third-party vendor relationships.

It was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which are based in Switzerland. In the US, SOC 2 Type II (SOC 2) is somewhat equivalent to ISO 27001. 

Both standards aim to ensure certified organizations have a mature Information Security Management System (ISMS) in place that can adequately protect the data they handle. And just like SOC 2, ISO 27001 can be integrated into a vendor risk management (VRM) program.

However, many organizations struggle with identifying which security controls apply to vendor management and how to successfully map them to a VRM framework.

In this blog, we take a look at the ISO controls that apply to vendor risk management and how the BitSight VRM automation solution can help you ensure those controls.

Meeting ISO 27001 Vendor Risk Management Requirements

ISO 27001 uses a risk management approach to systematically secure sensitive data across IT systems, people, and processes. This includes the third-party supply chain, as no enterprise dependent on service providers is immune to a data breach at the vendor’s end.

Cyberattacks and data breaches involving vendors continue to be in limelight, coupled by a rising cost of regulatory pressure, breach penalties, and recovery measures.

But third-party vendors are a key component in today’s global business environment. Several industries like healthcare, retail, manufacturing, utilities, and financial organizations rely on IT service providers to make their infrastructure functional. Insecure vendor connections could grant attackers access to an organization’s network.

Vendor risk management (VRM) is the quintessential countermeasure, allowing organizations to identify, analyze, and control risks presented by its vendors. This is achieved by an end-to-end risk assessment and continuous monitoring workflow that includes collecting critical third-party information to assess their security posture; understanding what systems or information they have access to and the risk they pose to the organization; ensuring they comply with internal and external regulations; and monitoring any changes in their security procedures over time.

ISO 27001 requirements applicable to TPRM are related to:

  • Documenting an information security policy for vendor relationships
  • Overseeing information security in vendor relationships
  • Addressing security issues in vendor agreements
  • Ensuring the right to audit
  • Devising conflict resolution processes
  • Enforcing contractual security requirements
  • Monitoring and reviewing third-party services
  • Auditing fourth-party risk

How can BitSight facilitate compliance?

BitSight VRM allows organizations to build custom questionnaires to develop risk assessments that are most relevant to the unique risk profiles of each asset or risk domain. This ensures you’re addressing the specific information security obligations each third-party vendor has agreed to, and can be extended to fourth-parties as well.

Vendor risk assessment results can be used to categorize vendors based on the levels of risk they pose to specific domains. This allows teams to efficiently distribute remediation efforts, focusing on vulnerabilities in the most critical assets.

Through the use of custom labels, BitSight VRM helps organizations easily understand which requirements apply to each vendor, mapping their risk profiles against popular frameworks including ISO 27001 and GDPR.

With a built-in remediation workflow and communication features, you can raise findings and track the progress of each remediation request.

With a single-pane-of-glass vendor risk dashboard and automated vendor scoring, you can instantly identify declining security postures and significantly reduce the potential of third party data breaches. Custom notifications allow you to automate risk auditing by setting alerts for discovered risks of a particular severity.

The BitSight VRM solution facilitates tracking the regulatory requirements of each third-party vendor through industry-standard vendor risk assessments and/or custom questionnaires. This supports a repeatable and scalable audit workflow to protect your supply chain in line with ISO 27001 requirements.

Reliance on vendors is only going to increase due to the evolving nature of our digital economy. But this also means an increasingly unavoidable scenario of risk exposure. Only diligently executed vendor risk management programs will protect organizations from third-party cybersecurity risks.