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Risk Assessment Questionnaire

The Future Of The Risk Assessment Questionnaire

Risk assessment questionnaires have long been an important third-party cyber risk assessment tool. Designed to be completed by vendors themselves, questionnaires help risk managers identify potential vulnerabilities in the IT environments of vendors and partners that could result in a breach, as well as establish an understanding of the third party’s cybersecurity controls in place.

Questionnaires are typically completed yearly after onboarding. Consequently, they offer only a snapshot of a vendor’s cybersecurity posture. Yet, changes to a vendor’s security posture can happen at any time, so the risk posed by a single vendor is constantly shifting even if your assessment isn’t reporting it. Risk assessment questionnaires also rely on the vendor presenting accurate information on their performance, and not mis-representing their portfolio, whether purposefully or not. As organizations accelerate the pace of vendor onboarding, they require solutions that can verify the intelligence delivered by risk assessment questionnaires.

BitSight can help. With solutions that deliver daily, external updates on a vendor’s security performance, BitSight provides the tools for continuous monitoring that organizations need to bring vendors on board faster while achieving measurable risk reduction.

Improving The Risk Assessment Questionnaire

While risk assessment questionnaires may no longer provide the bulk of intelligence that fuels a third-party risk management program, they still offer significant value when they are well-structured.

Following several best practices for security risk assessments can help to ensure that your questionnaires remain a vital and effective part of your cyber security risk assessment checklist.

Customize your questionnaire

A one-size-fits-all approach to risk assessment questionnaires only makes your onboarding process more time-consuming and costly. Different vendors present different levels of risk. Questionnaires for service providers working with sensitive employee information should probably be much more robust than a risk assessment questionnaire for a food service provider, for example.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

There are many industry-standard security assessment methodologies you can use as the foundation for your questionnaires. The SANS Top 20 Critical Security Controls, the NIST Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, and the Shared Assessments organization offer three of the most comprehensive cybersecurity models and methods and are a great source of ideas for creating your own questionnaires.

Use security ratings to tier your vendors

Grouping your vendors into tiers based on criticality of risk can ensure you focus the most resources on vendors that represent the greatest risk to your network if they’re exposed. Tools such as BitSight Security Ratings can instantly identify which vendors pose a greater risk and need the most attention. Measuring vendor’s security rating against your own thresholds for acceptable risk can help to identify when vendors should be reassessed.

40 Questions You Should Have In Your Vendor Assessment

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BitSight For Third-Party Risk Management

BitSight for Third-Party Risk Management augments the insight provided by risk assessment questionnaires with automated tools that continuously measure and monitor the security performance of vendors. BitSight immediately identifies cyber risk within your supply chain and notifies vendor risk managers of new vulnerabilities to help focus resources and efforts to significantly reduce risk, instead of waiting for vendors to notify their network about a breach.

BitSight’s Third-Party Risk Management solution is built on BitSight’s industry-leading Security Ratings Service. BitSight Security Ratings provide a daily assessment of a vendor’s security performance. Rather than relying on a subjective risk assessment questionnaire, BitSight ratings are based on objective, verifiable information. BitSight continually scans massive amounts of information to produce ratings based on 120+ data points in areas such as compromised systems, security diligence, user behavior, and publicly disclosed data breaches. This data-driven approach results in a rating of 250 to 900 – the higher the rating, the more effective the vendor is at implementing good security practices.

By combining BitSight Security Ratings with your risk assessment questionnaires, you have access to all the data you need to effectively monitor risk within your third-party ecosystem.

How BitSight Complements Risk Assessment Questionnaires

Risk assessment questionnaires are one component of a robust, multifaceted third-party risk management program. BitSight’s suite of solutions complements questionnaires with comprehensive and objective tools for information technology risk assessment. BitSight enables you to:

  • Deliver end-to-end business enablement. With BitSight, your third-party risk management program can partner with the business to bring on vendors in a more timely way while clearly communicating risk through insightful cyber security risk assessment reports. With the ability to communicate technical details in easily understood terms, you can enable leaders throughout the organization to make more informed, outcomes-based decisions.
  • Mitigate cyber risk. BitSight’s cyber security risk assessment matrix provides a clear picture of third-party cyber risk in relation to your organization’s risk tolerance. With this information, you can prioritize resources to address areas of highest risk and adapt processes to improve operational efficiency.
  • Onboard vendors faster. Onboarding is the most high-pressure phase of the vendor lifecycle, as the potential for missing red flags or security issues can result in significant cost and damage to the organization. BitSight helps you reduce the time and cost of onboarding and lets you scale your program with workflow integrations, smart recommendations for tiering, and risk vector breakdowns that help to identify areas of known risk.

Why Choose BitSight?

BitSight transforms how companies manage information security risk. Founded in 2011, BitSight is the world’s leading Security Rating Service for third-party cyber risk assessment and security performance management. BitSight security ratings provide a dynamic measurement of the security posture of an organization and its vendors. With actionable security ratings, cyber risk metrics, and security benchmarks delivered through continuous monitoring, BitSight offers complete security visibility into how well an organization’s attack surface is protected against cyber threats.

With over 2,100+ customers worldwide, BitSight is the most widely used security ratings platform across all industries. BitSight is the choice of 25% of Fortune 500 companies, 20% of the world’s countries, and 4 of the top 5 investment banks.

FAQs: What Is A Risk Assessment Questionnaire?

A risk assessment questionnaire – also known as a third-party risk assessment questionnaire – is a tool that helps organizations identify potential vulnerabilities in the IT systems and practices of vendors and prospective vendors. Risk assessment questionnaires are completed by vendors themselves and provide a wealth of information that organizations can use to assess a vendor’s security posture.

Third-party risk is the potential threat to an organization posed by a vendor, a contractor, or other parties in the supply chain. Third-party cyber risk refers specifically to risks within a vendor’s IT environment or security practices that could result in a data breach.

A third-party risk management program is designed to analyze and control risks associated with outsourcing services and data to third-party vendors and service providers. Third-party risk management programs identify potential threats posed or created by vendors and prioritize resources to remediate the greatest areas of risk.

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