A cyber security questionnaire can be an arduous and intimidating process, leaving organizations with a sense of frustration. Unfortunately, with no industry-wide standards in place, companies are left to create their own questionnaires and assessment procedures. This results in each vendor having different questionnaires, with little consistency among them. Cyber security questionnaires can quickly become a headache for organizations attempting to manage vendors and align risk tolerances. It’s also chaotic for vendors who are inundated with questionnaires from each company they work with.
To ease the burden of first- and third-party security teams, it’s crucial to improve security questionnaires and establish consistency. Here are six ways to enhance questionnaire implementation and aid your vendor risk management processes:
Tips to Improve Your Cyber Security Questionnaire
1. Organize by control categories– Cyber security questionnaires should align with control frameworks, industry standards, regulations, and common evaluation areas.
2. Integrate standardized responses– Multiple-choice responses simplify scoring, highlight issues, streamline remediation, and prevent time-consuming free text answers that hinder vendor comparison.
3. Create flexible options- Although standardized responses create consistency, they may not accommodate all implemented security practices. Therefore, it is necessary to provide flexibility for elaboration or evidence. This can be achieved by offering options to note remediation plans or compensating controls, acknowledge risk, and upload evidence for review, as needed.”
4. Assign to multiple respondents– Subject matter experts must answer and review questionnaires for maximum accuracy. Assigning multiple respondents to attest to responses avoids the need for redoing the questionnaire, increases awareness of areas for improvement, and ensures accuracy.
5. Track improvements– Questionnaires can be a useful tool for demonstrating leadership areas in need of improvement, progress, and ROI. They also help establish a baseline for the current state of security posture. As remediations are implemented, improvements can be documented and tracked for comparison.
6. Replace Spreadsheets– Utilizing a third-party risk tool or streamlined dashboard eliminates the need to search through disorganized spreadsheets as vendor networks change or expand. These tools simplify the process of updating questionnaires with remediations and facilitate progress tracking.
By implementing these six strategies, you can enhance your cyber security questionnaires, establish consistency among vendors, and streamline your third-party risk management processes.