Vendor Risk Management in Higher Education

As a higher education institution, you work with third-party vendors, some of which might introduce security risks. Assessing these vendors and their security practices is critical to protect sensitive student and employee data, but it can also be time-consuming and taxing on your information security team.

A few years ago, The Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Tool (HECVAT) was developed by a few CISOs at higher education campuses. The HECVAT was designed to ease the burden on university security teams by helping them assess cloud vendors. Built to combine security best practices and vendor assessment requirements, the HECVAT creates a streamlined approach for higher education institutions to follow when assessing vendors.

Adopting the HECVAT or HECVAT Lite framework is the first step in building a vendor risk management (VRM) system for your institution. The second step is finding a vendor risk assessment platform that works in sync with HECVAT and provides HECVAT and other vendor assessment frameworks out of the box in a highly customizable solution.

Building a HECVAT-based VRM Process
To enable your institution to have a world-class VRM process based on HECVAT, consider the following features necessary when evaluating vendor risk assessment platforms. You need a platform that:

  • can empower multiple groups of stakeholders (e.g. assessment initiators, subject matter experts, approvers and your security team)
  • can mold to your workflow since every organization is unique and has individual needs and workflow processes
  • can formalize the frequency of vendor assessments with the option to automate annual assessments, which removes the need to redo the work every year
  • is automated with customizable scoping, workflows and institution-specific scoring to make your process efficient and save you money.

Automate Your HECVAT-based Vendor Risk Assessment Program
ProcessBolt enables your organization to evaluate vendor risk using HECVAT or any other framework, including access to critical information, policy requirements, security requirements and prospective operational impacts (business continuity, reputation, revenue, regulatory). Our state-of-the-art assessment designer tool allows you to formulate a world-class vendor assessment framework based on your needs and your organizational context. The platform gives you the flexibility to use your existing assessment framework or utilize an industry-standard framework. In addition, our experienced services team can help you develop an effective policy and procedure framework that assists in compliance with applicable regulations.

Our solution can help you:

  • develop an effective policy and process framework
  • build an efficient and context-aware vendor assessment program
  • create a centralized repository of vendor profiles and their compliance results
  • visualize quantitative and customizable risk scoring
  • manage a remediation workflow, which helps you complete the vendor assessment lifecycle.

Benefits of an Automated Approach
Companies that use an automated platform to conduct third-party security risk assessments can realize numerous benefits. While there is always a cost involved in automated platforms, these costs can easily be offset by the labor hours saved by your security team. The following benefits are typical of customers that adopt the ProcessBolt vendor risk management platform:

    • Reduced time spent processing security questionnaires. If your security team spends hours or days each week processing questionnaires, automating this process can save valuable time and payroll expenses. With ProcessBolt, your security questionnaires are stored in the platform and delivered to your vendors. Once the questionnaires are completed by the vendors and sent back to ProcessBolt, our system classifies the vendor based on your scoring methodology, not ours. Each questionnaire is processed according to the same guidelines, so you know the classification is accurate.
    • Eliminate human error. Using automation, ProcessBolt eliminates human errors, such as scoring calculations, which can lead to the wrong vendor classification or the wrong remediation plan. By removing the human element, accuracy and peace of mind are increased.
    • See your overall security landscape at a glance. As security risk assessments are received and processed, your vendors will be automatically classified according to your internal thresholds and added to the ProcessBolt dashboard. Here you can easily see your company’s security landscape and determine your overall level of third-party risk.
    • Easily pinpoint your most risky vendors. As vendors move through the automated process, those that are classified as high or critical risk will rise to the top so you can take action immediately, either through remediation or removal.
  • Workflow keeps it all on schedule. If you’re tired of sending email reminders to your vendors to complete security questionnaires, ProcessBolt’s automated workflow is the solution. The system automatically sends reminder emails according to your timeline and notifies you every step of the way when a task is completed.

To learn more about how we help other higher education institutions, contact us.