In today’s interconnected business environment, supplier relationships play a critical role in ensuring the smooth functioning of any organization.
However, these relationships also come with inherent risks, particularly when it comes to information security.
Cyberattacks and data breaches are becoming increasingly common, and organizations must take proactive steps to protect themselves from these threats.
One way to do this is by addressing security within supplier agreements.
A.15.1.2 of the ISO 27001 standard provides guidance on addressing security within supplier agreements.
This section outlines the key elements that should be covered in formal contracts or agreements with suppliers to ensure effective security and compliance management. In this article, we will provide a checklist of these elements to help organizations effectively manage their supplier relationships.
Relationship management including information risk and security management, coordination, reporting, metrics, etc.
- Are there formal contracts or agreements in place with suppliers?
- Does the agreement cover information risk and security management?
- Are there clear roles and responsibilities defined for both parties?
- Are there agreed-upon metrics for measuring and reporting on performance?
Comprehensive and binding non-disclosure agreement or clauses
- Does the agreement include a comprehensive and binding non-disclosure agreement or clauses?
- Is the scope of the non-disclosure agreement or clauses clearly defined?
- Does the agreement specify the consequences of a breach of the non-disclosure agreement or clauses?
Description of information that will be handled, methods of accessing the information
- Is there a clear description of the information that will be handled by the supplier?
- Are there clear guidelines on how the supplier can access the information?
- Is access to the information limited to authorized personnel only?
Information classification scheme that must be followed
- Is there an information classification scheme in place?
- Does the supplier understand the classification scheme?
- Are there clear guidelines on how the classification scheme should be applied?
Applicable policy, legal, and regulatory compliance requirements, plus any obligation to implement specific controls (e.g. access controls, performance reviews, monitoring, reporting, auditing)
- Does the supplier understand the applicable policy, legal, and regulatory compliance requirements?
- Are there clear guidelines on how to implement specific controls?
- Are there regular performance reviews, monitoring, reporting, and auditing of the supplier’s compliance with these requirements?
Prompt information security incident notification/escalation and collaboration during incident management and resolution
- Is there a clear process for incident notification and escalation?
- Are both parties aware of the process?
- Is there a process for collaboration during incident management and resolution?
Business continuity aspects such as no-fault resolution, best endeavors, alternative sources, escrow
- Does the agreement include provisions for business continuity?
- Is there a process for no-fault resolution?
- Are there alternative sources in place in case of disruption?
- Is there an escrow arrangement in place for critical data or systems?
Sub-contracting and constraints on relationships with other suppliers, customers, partners, and competitors
- Are there clear guidelines on sub-contracting?
- Is the supplier required to notify the organization of any sub-contracting arrangements?
- Are there constraints on the supplier’s relationships with other suppliers, customers, partners, and competitors?
Personnel and HR aspects, e.g., handling performance issues or trust concerns, no poaching our best people!
- Are there guidelines in place for handling performance issues or trust concerns?
- Is there a process for resolving any HR-related disputes?
- Are there provisions in place to prevent the poaching of key personnel?
The above sample checklists outline key considerations for ensuring effective supplier management with regards to information risk and security.
It is important to have clear contracts and agreements in place, with defined roles and responsibilities, metrics for measuring and reporting on performance, and a comprehensive and binding non-disclosure agreement.
It is also necessary to have clear guidelines on information handling, access, classification, and compliance requirements. In addition, a clear incident management process, provisions for business continuity, constraints on sub-contracting, and HR-related considerations should also be included in supplier management practices.
Adhering to these checklists can help organizations ensure that their suppliers are effectively managing information risk and security, and minimize the risk of breaches or incidents.