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Security Compliance Questionnaire

The Limits Of A Security Compliance Questionnaire

Ensuring that vendors comply with security standards is an essential component of managing risk. As your third-party network grows, the risk posed by vendors increases as well. To avoid a data breach originating within a vendor’s IT environment, you must be vigilant about ensuring that vendors are contractually obligated to comply with specific cybersecurity frameworks – and to notify you when they experience a security incident.

Security compliance questionnaires are the standard tool for monitoring compliance. While the information in a questionnaire is valuable, the scope of questionnaires is limited. Questionnaires are inherently subjective, as they are completed by vendors themselves. Additionally, because questionnaires are completed only annually or periodically, they can’t provide assurance between each security risk assessment that vendors are in compliance.

BitSight Third-Party Risk Management provides continuous monitoring tools that let you track vendor compliance year-round. With BitSight, you can ensure that a vendor’s security posture conforms with the way they’ve reported it in their security compliance questionnaire – and take steps to remediate any discrepancies.

Augmenting Your Security Compliance Questionnaire

While security compliance questionnaires are a significant cyber security assessment tool, they are just one part of a comprehensive approach to managing third-party risk. Consider adding these six steps in addition to your vendor compliance checklist to improve the way you identify, monitor, and mitigate risk.

  • Focus on your most critical vendors. By tiering your vendors according to their importance to your organization and the type of data they have access to, you can more easily prioritize your compliance efforts and add specific language to your contract to enforce compliance standards.
  • Pay attention to lower-tier vendors. While lower-tier vendors pose less risk, they nevertheless can create security issues if they fail to comply with security standards. Finding a simple way – like security ratings – to continuously track their security performance at a high-level is essential.
  • Track your vendors’ security measures. A security compliance questionnaire is a good first step, but you’ll need more in-depth and consistent information to ensure your vendors have implemented the controls and policies that ensure compliance.
  • Monitor vendors continuously. By continuously examining the security posture of each vendor, you can better determine whether their stated level of compliance is reflected in their actual behavior.
  • Examine aggregate risk levels. By tracking how all your vendors are doing in specific areas of compliance, you can get a better idea about the kinds of standards you should set for all your partners.
  • Use common language and clear metrics to unite your security teams. Ensuring compliance and managing third-party risk requires multiple teams from different departments to work together. By adopting a common language around security compliance and using a clear set of metrics, you can better ensure that teams across your enterprise are on the same page.

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BitSight For Third-Party Risk Management

As the provider of the world’s leading security ratings platform, BitSight provides enables maintaining compliance with BitSight for Third-Party Risk Management. This solution immediately exposes risk in your supply chain – including noncompliance with security standards you’re monitoring – and enables you to better focus your resources on achieving measurable cyber risk reduction where you need to for maintaining compliance.

BitSight provides clear visibility into your vendors’ security posture and level of compliance. In addition to an overall security rating, BitSight provides data that correlates to potential security incidents and enables you to drill down into details of compliance and performance on specific risk vectors.

With BitSight, you can:

  • Tier vendors by their level of criticality and access to sensitive company data, enabling you to prioritize compliance and remediation efforts on the vendors that could cause the most damage through noncompliance.
  • Monitor the security and compliance performance of all vendors – including lower tier vendors – with BitSight Third-Party Risk Management package offerings, that include a mixture of risk monitoring licenses for vendor’s depending on their tier.
  • Augment your security compliance questionnaire with objective information that lets you verify the answers to questionnaires provided by vendors.
  • Continuously monitor the security posture of every vendor as well as your entire vendor portfolio.
  • Use BitSight Security Ratings as a common set of metrics around which you can unite disparate teams to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals.

BitSight Security Ratings

BitSight Security Ratings are the foundation on which BitSight for Third-Party Risk Management and other BitSight solutions are built. BitSight Security Ratings provide a quantitative measurement of the security performance of an organization and its vendors. Unlike periodic compliance questionnaires or cyber security vulnerability assessments that are conducted annually, BitSight Security Ratings are generated daily to provide a tool for continuously monitoring security performance and compliance.

BitSight Security Ratings are an outside-in measurement of security posture. That is, they are based on externally available data and don’t require information from the rated entity. Ratings are based on the ability of an organization to protect itself from cyber security threats and vulnerabilities in a wide variety of risk vectors. The higher the rating, the better the organization is at implementing good security practices.

BitSight ratings range from 250 to 900 and are based on four categories of security data: evidence of compromised systems, security diligence, user behavior, and publicly disclosed data breaches. BitSight is the only security rating service whose ratings have been independently verified to correlate to breach. For example, organizations with a BitSight rating of 500 or less are almost 5 times more likely to experience a breach than organizations with ratings of 700 or above.

Why Customers Rely On BitSight

BitSight is trusted by some of the world’s largest organizations to provide a clear picture of their security posture. Founded in 2011, BitSight has pioneered the security ratings industry and is the most widely adopted security rating platform in the world. BitSight’s 2,100 customers include 25% of the Fortune 500 companies, 20% of the world’s countries, 7 of the top 10 cyber insurers, and 4 of the top 5 investment banks.

BitSight’s success is based in part on the expansive visibility it offers into the security posture of organizations and their vendors. BitSight’s proprietary method of collecting data from 120+ sources provides customers with unprecedented visibility into key risk factors, many of which are completely unique to BitSight. BitSight owns the largest botnet sinkholing infrastructure, delivering greater visibility into compromised systems – a risk that has been highly correlated to data breaches. BitSight also offers the ability to view cyber security risk assessment reports with 12+ months of historical data, helping companies to identify trends and providing more insight into risks and vulnerabilities.

FAQs: What Is A Security Compliance Questionnaire?

A security compliance questionnaire is a document that organizations use to determine whether its vendors are complying with certain security standards. Security compliance questionnaires are typically administered annually or periodically and are completed by vendors themselves. While security compliance questionnaires provide valuable data on the internal security controls of a vendor, they aren’t able to provide year-round monitoring of a vendor’s security posture, or alert security teams when changes happen within their network. Consequently, many organizations seek tools like BitSight Security Ratings that can offer continuous monitoring of vendors’ security performance and compliance, and provide automated alerts when risks are present.

Third-party risk management is the task of identifying risks to an organization from within its ecosystem of third-party vendors. Third-party risk managers are responsible for monitoring vendor organizations, identifying risks they may pose to the organization, and working with vendors to remediate that risk.

Security ratings are a data-driven, dynamic measurement of an organization’s cybersecurity performance. Ratings are based on objective and verifiable information and provide an independent assessment of an organization’s security posture. Typically issued daily, security ratings enable security leaders to track the cybersecurity performance of their organization and vendors on an ongoing basis.

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