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Meet the Vanta Security Team
As Vanta continues to grow and deliver new capabilities to our leading trust management platform, we’re excited to share more about our own Security, Enterprise Engineering, and Privacy, Risk, & Compliance teams — from the teams themselves.
In the coming months, we’ll introduce you to the teams that keep Vanta secure and compliant, and share tips and best practices for building and running security and compliance programs that meet the needs of your organization. Today, you’ll hear from Rob Picard, who leads the team, and Jess Chang, Staff Technical Program Manager on the Vanta Security team.
What does the Security team do at Vanta?
Security is at the heart of what we do—helping our customers improve their security and compliance posture starts with our own. Our team’s mission is to ensure that Vanta is a trusted and trustworthy steward of sensitive data.
Vanta’s Security team provides essential security operational services, partners in the software development process, sets policies and standards regarding enterprise-wide security requirements, writes and provides tooling, and offers advisory services to enable Vanta’s business to thrive while effectively managing risk.
That’s a long way of saying that we partner across the company to help keep Vanta trustworthy by ensuring we build software that’s secure by design, protect our customers and staff, and follow our own best practices when it comes to security.
How does the team work?
Every quarter as part of our planning process, the Security team updates our top five priorities and shares these across the company. Not only do these help inform prioritization of our own team’s resources and planning, but they also inform the work of our partner teams.
At Vanta, we set the tone internally that the Security team is here to help with any question a Vanta’n might have—and we mean it! We have clear ways for Vanta staff to reach out to our Security team, including:
- Internal Slack channel for general security questions, including ways to reach the on-call security engineer for more urgent needs and direct help
- Team email address, which allows for more private, direct conversations with the full Security team
- Ways to page the on-call security engineer 24/7/365
These channels to reach the team are shared upon onboarding with regular reminders to the company.
How is the team structured?
As part of the Engineering organization at Vanta, our Security team includes a small but mighty crew of generalists and security experts who wear a variety of hats—which is a key part of our team’s strategy at this stage in our development. We focus on five core areas:
Our security operations program is composed of three primary functions:
- Intrusion detection in the cloud, on endpoints, and in SaaS applications
- Threat hunting to improve our familiarity with our tools, keep up-to-date with broader trends in the industry, and improve our automated detection capabilities
- Incident response to quickly and effectively triage and remediate security incidents as they arise.
Our security engineering programs focus on product security, cloud security, vulnerability management, and penetration testing. We use a suite of security tools for static analysis, dynamic analysis, and attack surface and supply chain monitoring. In addition, we track and manage our vulnerabilities with a clear internal workflow that allows for visibility across different stages of the program. We also partner with Doyensec for regular penetration testing.
We want to be a key partner to all engineering teams at Vanta. We are regularly consulted for design documents, pull requests, architectural changes, and general product security questions.
Our enterprise security programs focus on securing how we work. We detect and triage phishing attacks, evaluate the security of prospective vendors using Vanta’s Vendor Risk Management product, manage corporate devices, and run our identity and access management (IAM) program.
We use Okta as our central identity provider and manage an internal ticketing system where employees can request time-bound elevated access with relevant justifications and approvals.
Our behavioral security programs focus on using behavioral science principles to make positive security and privacy behaviors as easy as possible to adopt—not only for our own staff, but also for Vanta’s 5,000+ customers.
Internally, we focus on product consulting to ensure Vanta promotes best security practices with each product interaction, and partner across the business on threat modeling to keep everyone’s mental model of the challenges we face as accurate as possible.
We also build and produce Vanta’s own library of security and privacy education videos to help our customers build a scalable and sustainable security culture—and one that’s accessible, fun, and memorable as well.
Our security governance program works closely with our internal Privacy, Risk, & Compliance team and our Legal team. Together, we establish policies and controls, monitor compliance with those controls, and prove our compliance to third-party auditors.
Our program is continuously monitored in Vanta, so we can trust that our governance framework is being followed rigorously. We formally maintain an internal library of security and privacy policies and procedures in Vanta with a defined review process to ensure we do what we say.
Where is the Security team based?
Vanta’s Security team embraces Vanta’s remote-first philosophy. As a fully remote team, we have a defined cadence of regular meetings that allow us to seamlessly collaborate with each other and partner teams. We also meet in person at least once a year, which helps us continue to build our team, spark creativity, and spend time together doing fun things.
Where can prospects and customers learn more about Vanta’s security program?
What excites you the most about Vanta’s product and mission?
Many things! Most importantly, while we’re here to help keep Vanta and our customers safe, we’re also internal customers of our own instance of Vanta.
This means we’re able to provide direct, tangible product feedback on Vanta itself toward our mission of securing the internet and protecting consumer data. This close relationship also gives us a chance to partner with our Product team by testing and providing feedback on early features in development—which also help improve our workflows as well.
Overall, we love partnering with our employees and customers, and look forward to continuing to help Vanta on our mission forward!
Any fun facts about the Vanta Security team?
- 100% of Security team members are parents.
- No two members of the team live within driving distance of one another unless you’re up for a long road trip—we’re fully distributed!
- We’re big fans of Ilma, Vanta’s mascot! Llamas have always played a special role in Vanta’s brand. Our team especially loves that Ilma is both a guard animal who protects livestock from harm and threats but is warm, approachable, and intelligent.
Join Vanta’s mission to secure the internet and protect consumer data—learn about our open roles!
Determine whether the GDPR applies to you and if so, if you are a processor or controller (or both)
Do you sell goods or service in the EU or UK?
Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?
Do you have employees in the EU or UK?
Do persons from the EU or UK visit your website?
Do you monitor the behavior of persons within the EU?
Create a Data Map by taking the following actions
Identify and document every system (i.e. database, application, or vendor) which stores or processes EU or UK based personally identifiable information (PII)
Document the retention periods for PII in each system
Determine whether you collect, store, or process “special categories” of data
Determine whether your Data Map meets the requirements for Records of Processing Activities (Art. 30)
Determine whether your Data Map includes the following information about processing activities carried out by vendors on your behalf
Determine your grounds for processing data
For each category of data and system/application have you determined the lawful basis for processing based on one of the following conditions?
Take inventory of current customer and vendor contracts to confirm new GDPR-required flow-down provisions are included
Review all customer contracts to determine that they have appropriate contract language (i.e. Data Protection Addendums with Standard Contractual Clauses)
Review all in-scope vendor contracts to determine that they have appropriate contract language (i.e. Data Protection Addendums with Standard Contractual Clauses)
Have you performed a risk assessment on vendors who are processing your PII?
Determine if you need to do a Data Protection Impact Assessment
Is your data processing taking into account the nature, scope, context, and purposes of the processing, likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons?
Review product and service design (including your website or app) to ensure privacy notice links, marketing consents, and other requirements are integrated
Does the notice to the data subject include the following items?
Does the notice also include the following items?
Do you have a mechanism for persons to change or withdraw consent?
Update internal privacy policies to comply with notification obligations
Update internal privacy notices for EU employees
Determine if you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer, and appoint one if needed
Have you determined whether or not you must designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO) based on one of the following conditions (Art. 37)?
If you export data from the EU, consider if you need a compliance mechanism to cover the data transfer, such as model clauses
If you transfer, store, or process data outside the EU or UK, have you identified your legal basis for the data transfer (note: most likely covered by the Standard Contractual Clauses)
Have you performed and documented a Transfer Impact Assessment (TIA)?
Confirm you are complying with other data subject rights (i.e. aside from notification)
Do you have a defined process for timely response to Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR) (i.e. requests for information, modification or deletion of PII)?
Are you able to provide the subject information in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language?
Do you have a process for correcting or deleting data when requested?
Do you have an internal policy regarding a Compelled Disclosure from Law Enforcement?
Determine if you need to appoint an EU-based representative, and appoint one if needed
Have you appointed an EU Representative or determined that an EU Representative is not needed based on one of the following conditions?
If operating in more than one EU state, identify a lead Data Protection Authority (DPA)
Do you operate in more than one EU state?
If so, have you designated the Supervisory Authority of the main establishment to act as your Lead Supervisory Authority?
Implement Employee Trainings to Demonstrate Compliance with GDPR Principles and Data Subject Rights
Have you provided appropriate Security Awareness and Privacy training to your staff?
Update internal procedures and policies to ensure you can comply with data breach response requirements
Have you created and implemented an Incident Response Plan which included procedures for reporting a breach to EU and UK Data Subjects as well as appropriate Data Authorities?
Do breach reporting policies comply with all prescribed timelines and include all recipients i.e. authorities, controllers, and data subjects?
Implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk
Have you implemented encryption of PII at rest and in transit?
Have you implemented pseudonymization?
Have you implemented appropriate physical security controls?
Have you implemented information security policies and procedures?
Can you access EU or UK PII data in the clear?
Do your technical and organizational measure ensure that, by default, only personal data which are necessary for each specific purpose of the processing are processed?
Develop a roadmap for successful implementation of an ISMS and ISO 27001 certification
Implement Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process to recognize challenges and identify gaps for remediation
Consider ISO 27001 certification costs relative to org size and number of employees
Clearly define scope of work to plan certification time to completion
Select an ISO 27001 auditor
Set the scope of your organization’s ISMS
Decide which business areas are covered by the ISMS and which are out of scope
Consider additional security controls for business processes that are required to pass ISMS-protected information across the trust boundary
Inform stakeholders regarding scope of the ISMS
Establish an ISMS governing body
Build a governance team with management oversight
Incorporate key members of top management, e.g. senior leadership and executive management with responsibility for strategy and resource allocation
Conduct an inventory of information assets
Consider all assets where information is stored, processed, and accessible
- Record information assets: data and people
- Record physical assets: laptops, servers, and physical building locations
- Record intangible assets: intellectual property, brand, and reputation
Assign to each asset a classification and owner responsible for ensuring the asset is appropriately inventoried, classified, protected, and handled
Execute a risk assessment
Establish and document a risk-management framework to ensure consistency
Identify scenarios in which information, systems, or services could be compromised
Determine likelihood or frequency with which these scenarios could occur
Evaluate potential impact of each scenario on confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information, systems, and services
Rank risk scenarios based on overall risk to the organization’s objectives
Develop a risk register
Record and manage your organization’s risks
Summarize each identified risk
Indicate the impact and likelihood of each risk
Document a risk treatment plan
Design a response for each risk (Risk Treatment)
Assign an accountable owner to each identified risk
Assign risk mitigation activity owners
Establish target dates for completion of risk treatment activities
Complete the Statement of Applicability worksheet
Review 114 controls of Annex A of ISO 27001 standard
Select controls to address identified risks
Complete the Statement of Applicability listing all Annex A controls, justifying inclusion or exclusion of each control in the ISMS implementation
Continuously assess and manage risk
Build a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving the ISMS
Include information or references to supporting documentation regarding:
- Information Security Objectives
- Leadership and Commitment
- Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities
- Approach to Assessing and Treating Risk
- Control of Documented Information
- Internal Audit
- Management Review
- Corrective Action and Continual Improvement
- Policy Violations
Assemble required documents and records
Review ISO 27001 Required Documents and Records list
Customize policy templates with organization-specific policies, process, and language
Establish employee training and awareness programs
Conduct regular trainings to ensure awareness of new policies and procedures
Define expectations for personnel regarding their role in ISMS maintenance
Train personnel on common threats facing your organization and how to respond
Establish disciplinary or sanctions policies or processes for personnel found out of compliance with information security requirements
Perform an internal audit
Allocate internal resources with necessary competencies who are independent of ISMS development and maintenance, or engage an independent third party
Verify conformance with requirements from Annex A deemed applicable in your ISMS's Statement of Applicability
Share internal audit results, including nonconformities, with the ISMS governing body and senior management
Address identified issues before proceeding with the external audit
Undergo external audit of ISMS to obtain ISO 27001 certification
Engage an independent ISO 27001 auditor
Conduct Stage 1 Audit consisting of an extensive documentation review; obtain feedback regarding readiness to move to Stage 2 Audit
Conduct Stage 2 Audit consisting of tests performed on the ISMS to ensure proper design, implementation, and ongoing functionality; evaluate fairness, suitability, and effective implementation and operation of controls
Address any nonconformities
Ensure that all requirements of the ISO 27001 standard are being addressed
Ensure org is following processes that it has specified and documented
Ensure org is upholding contractual requirements with third parties
Address specific nonconformities identified by the ISO 27001 auditor
Receive auditor’s formal validation following resolution of nonconformities
Conduct regular management reviews
Plan reviews at least once per year; consider a quarterly review cycle
Ensure the ISMS and its objectives continue to remain appropriate and effective
Ensure that senior management remains informed
Ensure adjustments to address risks or deficiencies can be promptly implemented
Calendar ISO 27001 audit schedule and surveillance audit schedules
Perform a full ISO 27001 audit once every three years
Prepare to perform surveillance audits in the second and third years of the Certification Cycle
Consider streamlining ISO 27001 certification with automation
Transform manual data collection and observation processes into automated and continuous system monitoring
Identify and close any gaps in ISMS implementation in a timely manner
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Determine which annual audits and assessments are required for your company
Perform a readiness assessment and evaluate your security against HIPAA requirements
Review the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights Audit Protocol
Conduct required HIPAA compliance audits and assessments
Perform and document ongoing technical and non-technical evaluations, internally or in partnership with a third-party security and compliance team like Vanta
Document your plans and put them into action
Document every step of building, implementing, and assessing your compliance program
Vanta’s automated compliance reporting can streamline planning and documentation
Appoint a security and compliance point person in your company
Designate an employee as your HIPAA Compliance Officer
Schedule annual HIPAA training for all employees
Distribute HIPAA policies and procedures and ensure staff read and attest to their review
Document employee trainings and other compliance activities
Thoroughly document employee training processes, activities, and attestations
Establish and communicate clear breach report processes
to all employees
Ensure that staff understand what constitutes a HIPAA breach, and how to report a breach
Implement systems to track security incidents, and to document and report all breaches
Institute an annual review process
Annually assess compliance activities against theHIPAA Rules and updates to HIPAA
Continuously assess and manage risk
Build a year-round risk management program and integrate continuous monitoring
Understand the ins and outs of HIPAA compliance— and the costs of noncompliance
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