What is the Vendor Security Alliance Questionnaire?
The Vendor Security Alliance (VSA), a coalition of companies committed to improving Internet security, created the Vendor Security Alliance questionnaire to measure potential cybersecurity risks and evaluate potential vendors with a streamlined list of questions. Today, the VSA is a coalition of technology-enabled companies that are focused on decreasing vendor cybersecurity risk.
The VSA offers two free questionnaires that it updates annually to reflect changes in the cybersecurity threat landscape as well as changes in technology:
- VSA-Full: The classic VSA questionnaire focuses intensely on vendor cybersecurity. The VSA-Full cybersecurity questionnaire assesses a vendor’s data protection, access controls, cybersecurity policies, and cybersecurity standards. In addition to focusing on vendor cybersecurity, this VSA cybersecurity questionnaire provides an in-depth cybersecurity vendor assessment.
- VSA-Core: This cybersecurity questionnaire consists of the most critical questions regarding vendor cybersecurity and privacy. The privacy section covers the requirements of the U.S. privacy data breach notification regulation as well as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Organizations that have to deal with vendor cybersecurity and also have to comply with the U.S. privacy data breach notification, the CCPA, GDPR , and other data protection laws should consider using this cybersecurity questionnaire.
The VSA released the VSA-Core cybersecurity questionnaire in October 2019, in part to better align the balance between cybersecurity and privacy. The VSA created this streamlined cybersecurity questionnaire to reduce the number of cybersecurity questions organizations needed to assess vendors’ operational cybersecurity controls. The VSA-Core cybersecurity questionnaire also provides key questions to assess whether the vendors can protect data.
The new privacy and cybersecurity laws along with increasingly sophisticated hacking tools mean it’s critical that companies assess the cybersecurity and privacy protections of all their partners and third-party vendors.
The average cost of just one data breach is approximately $3.92 million, according to the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report. That’s why organizations have to focus on cybersecurity and preventing data breaches.
Organizations can use the VSA’s cybersecurity questionnaires for vetting vendors and ensuring the appropriate cybersecurity controls are in place to improve cybersecurity.
The VSA lets members use its network of third-party auditors to conduct risk-based cybersecurity assessments of their vendors. This allows companies to assess more vendors faster and less expensively than in the past. Although the VSA questionnaires were created for VSA members, non-members are also able to use the VSA questionnaires.
The VSA coalition of companies was formed to enable companies to streamline vendor cybersecurity processes and create a standardized cybersecurity compliance benchmark across industries. One of VSA’s main focuses is to create a proprietary process for screening potential vendors’ cybersecurity risks so they can reduce cybersecurity threats and mitigate those cybersecurity risks.
As such, the VSA questionnaires are easy to complete, straightforward, and clear about the input that’s required from both the vendor and the brand. Many organizations also use the VSA questionnaires as baselines when they initially establish their cybersecurity teams and/or data protection policies.
Vendor cybersecurity assessment questionnaires, including the VSA cybersecurity questionnaires, are one piece of vendor risk management. The VSA cybersecurity questionnaires and other such cybersecurity questionnaires help organizations verify that their service providers are following the appropriate information security practices and are also able to assist with incident response planning and disaster recovery.
Vendor risk assessment questionnaires, such as the VSA risk assessment questionnaires, help companies understand that no matter their industry, data protection is critical and cybersecurity questionnaires are the foundation of any third-party vendor risk management program. Many companies are also investing in third-party risk management automation so they’re better able to mitigate vendor cybersecurity risk.
Even if a company employs tight cybersecurity controls and a top-notch information security policy, vendor risk management must be the focus of its information security program. And this means the organization has to manage cybersecurity risk from onboarding through offboarding its vendors.
It’s difficult for a company to get a clear understanding of a vendor’s internal network cybersecurity, data security, and information security without asking the vendor for additional information.
A company can use the VSA cybersecurity questionnaires or other industry-standard cybersecurity questionnaires as starting points for building a robust vendor risk management program, and then adapt its vendor risk management program based on the needs of the organization.
The VSA makes its vendor cybersecurity questionnaires available to the public at no cost, allowing organizations to discover early on the vendors with weak cybersecurity practices. The VSA cybersecurity questionnaires streamline vendor cybersecurity compliance and enable cybersecurity teams to thoroughly assess their third-party vendors’ cybersecurity postures.