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How to Conduct a Vendor Security Review

A vendor security review is a critical process for organizations, evaluating the security posture of their vendors and ways to identify security risks.

May 8, 2023

In business, a vendor is a person or company that sells goods or services to another company or individual. The term commonly refers to suppliers or providers of products or services and can be applied to a wide range of industries and businesses. Businesses often call them suppliers, especially in the UK and Europe. 

A vendor security review is an essential process that helps organizations evaluate their vendors' security posture and determine if they meet the necessary security and compliance requirements. 

Why You Should Have a Vendor Security Review

A hacker could gain entry to your systems if they've hacked one of your vendor’s systems and found the credentials they use to enter your network. They might also be able to extract sensitive financial information, such as your bank account details. 

Even if a vendor has been vetted in the past, you need to vet them again to make sure they still meet your current business or compliance requirements. Vendors also change their business profiles over time. In some sectors, regulatory compliance requirements change from time to time. 

Here are some reasons why having a vendor security review is essential: 

Risk Mitigation

Vendors often have access to your sensitive data, systems, and networks. A security review can help you identify potential security risks associated with vendors and their services and help you take the necessary steps to mitigate those risks. 


Regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS require that your vendors comply with specific security standards, which is especially important in closely regulated business areas such as pharmaceuticals. 


A data breach or security incident involving a vendor can harm your organization's reputation, even if only by association. A vendor security review can help you identify potential security gaps and ensure that the vendor has adequate security measures to prevent such incidents. 

Contractual Obligations

Contracts with vendors, such as long-term trading arrangements, often contain clauses that require a vendor to maintain a certain level of security. A vendor security review can ensure that the vendor meets them and reduce the risk of financial or other penalties. 

Due Diligence

A vendor security review is part of a due diligence process that you should perform to ensure that you're working with reliable and trustworthy vendors. It can help verify the vendor's credentials, reputation, and overall security posture. Due diligence might be necessary in some situations, such as during a purchase or sale of the business. 

In summary, a vendor security review is essential for organizations to protect their data, systems, and reputation and ensure that their vendors meet required security standards and compliance requirements. 

"It can help verify the vendor's credentials, reputation, and overall security posture."

How to Perform a Vendor Security Review

Having established that a vendor security review is an essential and regular business process, the question is how to carry one out. Here are a few suggestions: 

Set Up Your Team

The vendor security review will be a multidisciplinary exercise. Despite it being primarily focused on IT matters, other areas will also come under scrutiny. HR assesses staff, the finance department looks at the security around financial transactions, and specialists like engineers and security personnel look at infrastructure and physical security. 

A senior executive should lead the team and draw members from all across the business. It must meet regularly and have reliable communications within the team and with external stakeholders. 

Review Team Communications

As indicated above, effective communication within the team and with external stakeholders is essential. You can accomplish this in many ways, but dispersed teams need regular contact. Today, many businesses rely on tools like Slack to manage communication around vendor security reviews.

Wrangle is an application that works in your Slack channels and helps with a vendor security review by allowing requesters to use tickets or workflows to automate the process. Requests can be assigned to agents, given priorities, and audited for compliance. 

"Effective communication within the team and with external stakeholders is essential."

Define Your Requirements

As with any business process, the team should start by identifying the objectives of the security review. The next step is to prepare a list of the security requirements for all vendors. 

Some business areas, such as pharmaceuticals, have specific requirements about the raw material supply, manufacture, storage, and issue of product. As a result, individual vendor lists can be supplemented by requirements specific to that vendor. 

Create Vendor Profiles

Create a vendor portfolio for all vendors. It will hold a list of vendor information, including company and key individual contact details. It should also list what the vendor can access: the systems, data, and facilities. In many cases, you can take the basic information from the procurement system. Note that this is not a static document. It needs regular updating to reflect changes in the vendor. 

Develop a Vendor Security Profile

A vendor security profile lists the vendor’s security controls, policies, procedures, and current compliance. Information is drawn from internal knowledge and from the vendor itself. You can also use the GDPR or an industry-specific compliance framework to measure compliance. 

A site visit could shorten the review and provide valuable background information. 

Carrying Out the Review

There are many areas of interest and activities that you should carry out during the review. 

Security Controls

Measure the vendor’s security controls in areas such as access control, encryption, and network security against your prepared list. A framework like ISO 27001 can be a helpful guide. You should also ask for evidence that the controls are effective, such as output from a vulnerability scan. 

Security Policies and Procedures

Review the vendor's policies and procedures against your list. This area covers incident response, data backup and retention policies, and business continuity plans. 


Some business areas have specific compliance requirements, such as those set out in the GDPR and other relevant laws and regulations. Evaluate the vendor’s compliance. 

Other Evidence

Ask for copies of third-party assessments of their security systems, such as a SOC2 report or output from other independent security reviews. 

On-Site Visits

If you have doubts or questions post-review debriefing, visit the vendor. 

The Output of the Review

The report's output is a document setting out the review results for each requirement. Where a vendor does not meet a requirement, it should also recommend methods of remedying the matter. 

If remedial actions are needed, they are usually discussed with the vendor at a post-review meeting. The meeting can be in person or, if more convenient, over a video link. 

One Point to Remember

Vendor security reviews are not a one-off exercise. Businesses, their operating environments, and regulations change. There can also be changes to laws, regulations, and compliance frameworks. It's essential to continuously monitor the vendor's security posture to ensure they maintain the required level of security, which can include regular assessments, audits, or security reviews. 

Managing Vendor Security Reviews with Wrangle

Wrangle is an ideal solution for managing the complex processes associated with a vendor security review. As more companies move their internal communication to Slack channels, Wrangle has emerged as the best tool for building automated workflows and tickets that simplify security reviews. Instead of decentralized email communication, your entire security review can be managed inside your Slack workspace.

Wrangle customers use tickets and workflows to streamline security reviews and speed up processes by helping teams:

  • Build automated workflows that guide stakeholders through the vendor security review process
  • Create transparency by posting automatic updates at every stage of the review 
  • Remind stakeholders when tasks related to the security review are overdue 
  • Log each step of the vendor security review process so that there is a permanent record
  • Provide detailed reporting that helps teams measure how quickly they responded to a vendor security review
  • Identify any bottlenecks so that teams can continuously improve their vendor security review process

You can try Wrangle for free. The first step is to add it to your Slack workspace, but the best way to experience Wrangle is to request a demo from one of our experienced solution architects. 

Final Thoughts

In summary, a vendor security review is a critical process that helps organizations evaluate the security posture of their vendors. By following these steps, organizations can identify any security risks and work with vendors to mitigate them, ultimately reducing the risk of a security breach. 

Iain Robertson wrote this post. Iain operates as a freelance IT specialist through his own company after leaving formal employment in 1997. He provides onsite and remote global interim, contract, and temporary support as a senior executive in general and ICT management. He usually operates as an ICT project manager or ICT leader in the Tertiary Education sector. He has recently semi-retired as an ICT Director and part-time ICT lecturer at an Ethiopian University.

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