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The ever growing number of security questionnaires and what you and your company can do to face it

Gaspard de Lacroix
February 26, 2024

What is a Security Questionnaire?

Security questionnaires are structured sets of questions and statements designed to evaluate an organization's security policies, procedures, and controls. They serve as a means for assessing the organization's adherence to security best practices (think of OWASP top 10), regulatory compliance (GDPR, HIPAA etc..), and industry standards (the likes of SOC-2 or ISO 27001). These questionnaires can be used in various contexts, such as third-party vendor assessments, internal audits, compliance checks, and security assessments.

Context - The ever increasing cyber threats and new regulations 

In the first quarter of 2023, six million data records were exposed worldwide through data breaches[1]. Alongside this surge in breaches, the escalating numbers of online and mobile interactions are creating millions of attack opportunities, many of which lead to data breaches that pose threats to both individuals and businesses. At the current rate of growth, McKinsey reports that damage from cyberattacks is projected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. [2] 

To combat this escalating threat, governments and regulators are taking action by introducing new regulations and compliance rules. They aim to bolster the cyber defenses of essential service operators and their third-party collaborators. One such organization, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States, emphasizes the intricate and interconnected relationships within the cyber supply chain. Consequently, the practice of cyber supply chain risk management (SCRM) has risen to prominence as a critical organizational function to assess technology suppliers and data sub-processors like your company might be. 

Why are companies sending security questionnaires?

Companies must proactively address security threats to prevent cyber attacks. According to the EY CEO Imperative Study 2021, 68% of CEOs are planning a major data and technology investment in the following 12 months[3]. More than a third (36%) say it is only a matter of time until they suffer a major breach that could have been avoided had there been more appropriate investment in cybersecurity defenses[4]. Consequently, businesses are compelled to undergo more protracted and intricate Vendor Security Assessments (VSAs) to ensure that vendors and suppliers meet stringent security criteria.

The different scenarios where you can face Security Questionnaires?

Security questionnaires are needed in a wide range of scenarios, such as:

  • Third-Party Vendor Assessments: Organizations often rely on third-party vendors for various services, including cloud hosting, software development, and data processing. Conducting security assessments through questionnaires helps ensure that these vendors meet the security requirements and standards set by the hiring organization.
  • Internal Audits: Companies perform internal security audits to assess their own security practices and identify vulnerabilities. Security questionnaires serve as a systematic way to evaluate their security controls and make improvements where necessary.
  • Compliance Checks: Many industries are subject to regulatory frameworks that require adherence to specific security standards. Security questionnaires help organizations demonstrate compliance with these regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS.
  • Security Assessments: Organizations may periodically assess their security posture to identify areas of weakness and strengthen their defenses against emerging threats. Security questionnaires facilitate this process by providing a structured framework for evaluation.
  • Requests for Proposals (RFPs): When organizations are in the process of procuring services or products that involve cybersecurity considerations, RFPs become essential. They help organizations outline their security requirements and evaluate potential vendors' capabilities.

The challenge posed by the explosion in volume of security questionnaires

The increasing number of security questionnaires sent to companies is a reflection of the escalating cybersecurity and compliance regulations, as well as external audits and third-party vendor assessments. Governments, regulators, and consumers are all demanding greater transparency and trustworthiness in the digital domain. Security questionnaires are therefore an essential tool for companies to build trust in an increasingly interconnected world. 

However, this rise in security requests is challenging for several reasons. Security questionnaires: 

  • Are a costly process due to the significant resources needed to respond to them internally (on top of a shortage of infosec professionals) ;
  • Are a time consuming and repetitive task which can cause employee turnover within security and GRC teams (imagine you ask your new security analyst to do this 100% of his time…) ; 
  • Can cause important delays in the sales cycle as the security and compliance department become the bottleneck of the sales cycle. It can take up to a month to complete it with all the different stakeholders.

What can you do to prepare your company to the increasing volume of security questionnaire?

Addressing scalability issues requires the use of innovative software solutions capable of automating tasks, effectively serving as a co-pilot to infosec, GRC professionals and Customer Trust teams, similar to how GitHub Copilot now helps developers achieve more with less. As your workload increases, maintaining consistency, precision, and control in the  responses you give to each assessment also becomes increasingly difficult and demanding. This is why security questionnaire automation is a solution to address this scalability issue.

To solve those challenges, Skypher has developed a ground-breaking software used by information security and customer trust teams around the world. We combine our own machine learning technology with the latest advancements in Generative AI and LLM to automate the response to security questionnaires and requests.

If you're interested in learning more about Skypher and how your team can respond 10x faster to security requests don’t hesitate to book a demo on our website. We’ll be in touch shortly!

Sources

[1] Any Pretosyan. (2023, June 27). Statista, Global number of breached data sets Q1 2020-Q1 2023. 

[2] Marc Sorel et al. (2022, October 27). McKinsey, New survey reveals $2 trillion market opportunity for cybersecurity technology and service providers

[3] EY CEO Imperative Study (2021)

[4] EY Global Information Security Survey (2021)

Gaspard de Lacroix
Gaspard is our CEO and co-founder. He used to fill out security reviews at his previous jobs in the Pre-Sales team of a B2B SaaS company in New York. He is leading our team sales and marketing efforts and always looking to share his experiences and help our customers.

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