Getting Serious About Security: Crucial Questions to Ask Your Systems and Software Suppliers
Taking security for granted isn’t an option today. If your company or organization hasn’t done a basic security scan or a full-on penetration test, then here some things you should ask your vendors about regarding your security while using their services.
How Did You Develop Your Product?
There are two basic ways to develop a product. Either the company developed something out of a personal experience or they found a problem in the marketplace and devised a solution for it.
Ideally, you’ll want to do business with someone in the former category. Why? Because companies that develop out of personal or shared experiences tend to have a better grasp on the problem, solution, and implications of their solution.
Who Is Going To Help Set It Up?
You don’t want to set up a new application without support. First of all, if you do it incorrectly, you could create a security issue. Secondly, you don’t want a non-functioning app with no support. Your SaaS vendors should have a knowledge base that you can reference, but sometimes you need more.
Ask about options for assisted installation.
What’s The Most Complex Installation You’ve Done Thus Far?
Get a more comprehensive understanding about how the whole process works, and be wary of nonspecific or vague answers to your questions. Your vendor should be overflowing with details about the install process.
Also, you’ll want to know what type of experience the vendor has with complicated installs. Onboarding can take a few wrong turns even when the installation team is well-versed in your application and experienced with the installation process. Know how your vendor manages setbacks.
What Does My IT Team Need To Know?
Is there any part of the installation process you will have to perform yourself? What about penetration testing after the install. Companies, like Sec-Tec.co.uk, often recommend that you have testing done after any major change to your network or system. If your vendor doesn’t, ask why.
Are You 27001 Accredited?
The ISO 27001 certification signifies a company’s commitment to best practices in cloud security and data handling. If your vendor isn’t, ask why. Most reputable companies will seek out this accreditation so it’s unusual for a company to not bother with it.
Have You Done A Recent Penetration Test?
Has your vendor done a recent penetration test? If not, ask why. Most security firms recommend pen testing at least once per quarter. If you store financial or healthcare-related information, you may want to have it done more often.
What Are Your Current Security Practices?
This is a big one, and it’s easy to avoid giving you definitive answers on this one. That’s because many companies either don’t have robust security practices or they do but they live in a culture of secrecy.
Neither scenario is going to help you much. Given the choice, you want to be doing business with a company that’s transparent about its processes and security practices. For example, does the company have defined processes, and do they train their employees on them, and can you attend a security meeting (provided it does not disclose proprietary information about the company)?
The way your vendor answers these questions will tell you a lot about whether you should do business with them. If your vendor seems unsure of their security practices, they probably don’t have a formal protocol laid out.
If they can’t tell you about continuing education for employees, they haven’t done it or don’t do it often enough to warrant record-keeping. If the vendor won’t let you sit in on continuing education, it could be because the company has to keep some of its business practices secret, but it could also mean that either the security training isn’t very thorough or that they don’t do training.
Richard Baker is part of an IT team for a large corporate and enjoys taking the opportunity to share his industry knowledge and insights online. He is a frequent writer for a number of relevant websites.