Partner Perspectives

Vendor Security Alliance To Improve Cybersecurity Of Third-Party Providers

Member companies can use their VSA rating when offering their services, effectively skipping the process of verification done by prospective businesses.

Nine companies -- Airbnb, Atlassian, Docker, Dropbox, GoDaddy, Palantir, Square, Twitter, and Uber -- recently founded the Vendor Security Alliance, an independent, non-profit coalition that aims to help member companies evaluate and assess the security and privacy of third-party providers that they heavily rely on and with whom they entrust their users’ most important data. The companies also have taken it upon themselves to standardize and create a benchmark of acceptable cybersecurity practices with which vendors need to comply.

In a blog post, George Totev of Atlassian gives readers a bird’s eye view of how the alliance will perform its duties:

We believe trust begins with transparency and accountability, and having an independent entity [to] manage this process for all its members will provide an efficient, common, and credible way of evaluating the vendors we all use. [For example] each cloud company will be evaluated, audited, and scored based on a set of common criteria that measures cybersecurity risk, policies, procedures, privacy, vulnerability management, and data security.

Each year, the VSA will create and push out a security and compliance questionnaire that companies can use to assess vendor risks based on a set of predetermined criteria. (Note that only members of the VSA can go through an independent auditing of vendors.) Once scored, vendors can then use their VSA rating when offering their services, effectively skipping the process of verification done by prospective businesses.

The VSA made the first questionnaire available to the public on Oct. 1.

Ken Baylor, president of the VSA and head of compliance at Uber, explains why this alliance is an industry game changer:

Companies belonging to the VSA can draw on the collective expertise across the industry, gaining trust and verification of vendors’ security practices. The VSA will also enable companies to save time and money through the use of a standardized cybersecurity evaluation with real-time answers. The current way of evaluating cybersecurity risks and approving vendors can take several months -- the new VSA process cuts the process down to minutes.

It’s important to mention that the VSA is only one of several security groups that aim to address one part -- namely third-party security compliance and risks—of a complicated cybersecurity problem we all face.

In March 2009, eBay and ING announced the formation of the Cloud Security Alliance in order to promote best practices to assure secure cloud computing. Then in September of 2015, AirWatch formed the Mobile Security Alliance together with 10 other companies, aiming to mitigate the growing threat within the mobile threat landscape.

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Tara Seals, Managing Editor, News, Dark Reading
Jim Broome, President & CTO, DirectDefense
Nate Nelson, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading