8 Best Practices for Answering Security Questionnaires

BLOG 3 MIN May 11, 2021
8 Best Practices for Answering Security Questionnaires

According to a recent study by Deloitte, 70% of companies rate their dependency on vendors as moderate to high; and since 2016half of the respondents experienced a breach as a result of insecure vendor relationships. As third parties gain more access to sensitive client dataorganizations need to prioritize holistic data gathering and the instillment of security practices across the vendor ecosystem.

The best way for an organization to achieve a holistic understanding of its vendor ecosystem is to gather information from its vendors and organize it in one central location. As a vendor, this means you will (and likely already have) receive dozens of security questionnaires.  

Interested in automatically responding to security questionnaires? Use the free tool today!

Why are security questionnaires important?  

Security questionnaires are lists of questions sent from clients to vendors to assess the security and privacy measures they have in place. Questionnaires streamline the process of data gathering and allow customers to make sure that the various parts of their vendor ecosystem comply with industry-relevant regulatory frameworks. 

As an enterprise requesting information from your vendors, it’s important that the information you gather is concise, clear, and accurate. Conversely, as a vendor, it’s important that you’re able to provide streamlined and accurate data when requested to do so. Both are equally important steps to help an organization achieve a holistic view of its vendor ecosystem and understand its security gaps in the supply chain. 

Now, let’s look at some of the best practices for completing a vendor security questionnaire. 

8 Best Practices for Answering Security Questionnaires  

  1. Understand the “what,” “why,” and “when” of the questionnaire. What questionnaire are you filling out? What is it trying to understand about your company? When is the questionnaire due? Why does compliance with the topic in question matter in this business relationship? All of these questions are important to ask yourself to provide the most streamlined and accurate version of your data to the requestor.  
  2. Only answer what the questionnaire asks. Don’toverwhelm your customer with information they don’t need to know. If they need more technical information, they’ll ask for it. Overwhelming them can compromise the clarity of the data youre providing and the overall effectiveness of the data gathering.  
  3. Keep an archive of past questionnaires and practice version control with them. How have you answered questionnaires in the past, and do you have any updates to previously outlined policies? 

Tip: streamlining your answer process can be made easier by using a questionnaire response automation (QRA) tool.  

  1. Have your compliance documentation at the ready. Does your organization comply with a specific regulation or procedure like SOC2NISTISO 27001, or CIS? Have the appropriate documentation to show at your disposal when you’re answering questions.  
  2. Develop unique answer varieties based on the type of questionnaire you’re answering. Make sure that you’re answering questions and providing data in the lens of the questionnaire that you’re answering. The more questionnaire-specific the answers are, the more clarity the information can provide. 
  3. Be proactive in the questionnaire process. Reach out to your customer and understand their security needs before you begin answering the questionnaire. We know that questionnaires are purpose-built to help requestors gain a more holistic view of their vendor ecosystem, but there might be more to the story. As a vendor, the goal of filling out a questionnaire is to work with your client to provide a secure experience for everyone that interacts with them.  
  4. Have a streamlined intake process. It’s no secret that answering questionnaires can be timeconsuming. Having a process in place will reduce the stress of completing long questionnaires or managing multiple questionnaires at one time. Does your organization have a method in place for ingesting a questionnaire?
  5. Have points of contact for each area of the questionnaire. To accurately provide information on a questionnaire, it’s crucial to have contact information for subject matter experts. When necessary, ask them questions and look over your work to ensure that your customer receives the most accurate information. 

OneTrust Vendorpedia offers an easy-to-use solution built to meet automation needs in the questionnaire response process. Request a demo today.  

Further reading on security questionnaire best practices: 

Learn more about OneTrust’s QRA tool: OneTrust launches Vendorpedia Questionnaire Response Automation to Answer Security and Privacy Questionnaires Automatically using Artificial Intelligence 

Watch Vendorpedia’s webinar on security questionnaires: Expert Panel: How Do You Answer Security Questionnaires? 

Next steps on security questionnaire best practices 

Sign up for a demo: Watch the Vendorpedia Questionnaire Response Automation (QRA) Demo Video 

Try the ToolFree Questionnaire Response Automation Tool 

Follow OneTrust on LinkedInTwitter, or YouTube for the latest on security questionnaires. 

Onetrust All Rights Reserved