Security compliance Designing security programs Security compliance Designing security programs TISAX

Everything you need to know about TISAX levels

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Cars are smarter and more reliant on technology than ever before. Connected and autonomous vehicles are becoming increasingly common, which means the number of potential entry points for cybercriminals is only growing. That means cybersecurity has never been more critical than it currently is in the automotive space. 

To meet this growing challenge, the German Association of the Automotive Industry created the Trusted Information Security Assessment Exchange (TISAX), a system that standardizes the evaluation and certification of cybersecurity measures for automotive suppliers. TISAX is mandatory for any vendor working with a German automotive company and is quickly becoming recognized as the gold standard by car manufacturers in the United States as well.

So, you think a TISAX label could be beneficial to your business or you already know you have to have one. The next step is to understand the TISAX levels and how to meet their various requirements.

What is TISAX?

TISAX is a standardized information security assessment framework specifically designed for the automotive industry. It was developed by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and is based on its Information Security Assessment (ISA) catalog. The ISA was derived from the ISO 27001 information security standard but includes additional areas specifically relevant to the automotive industry.

TISAX aims to establish a uniform security assessment for organizations within the automotive supply chain to ensure that they maintain appropriate information security measures based on the sensitivity of the information they handle.

TISAX levels explained

There are three TISAX assessment levels, each representing different degrees of information security requirements.

TISAX level 1: basic protection

This level is designed for organizations handling general business information. Level 1 assessments focus on basic information security management measures, such as password management, secure data storage, and access control. Organizations operating at this level must ensure a baseline level of security for handling non-sensitive information.

TISAX level 2: advanced protection

Level 2 is intended for organizations that handle sensitive information, which may include intellectual property, personal data, or other confidential information. The assessment at this level is more comprehensive, covering additional security controls like data classification, data protection, and data encryption. Organizations operating at this level must adhere to stricter security standards to safeguard sensitive information.

TISAX level 3: enhanced protection

Designed for organizations that handle particularly sensitive information, such as prototypes, advanced development projects, or highly confidential data, the level 3 assessment is even more rigorous. It focuses on advanced security measures, including strict access controls, enhanced monitoring, and detailed incident response procedures. Companies operating at this level must have robust information security measures in place to protect highly sensitive data.

The benefits of reaching various TISAX levels

Achieving an appropriate TISAX level offers several benefits to organizations within the automotive industry, including:

  • Enhanced trust and reputation: TISAX compliance demonstrates your organization's commitment to maintaining a robust information security posture, thereby building trust with partners, suppliers, and customers.
  • Competitive advantage: TISAX compliance can provide a competitive advantage, as it is often a mandatory requirement for working with leading automotive companies. Additionally, achieving a higher TISAX level can open up new business opportunities within the automotive industry. Companies handling more sensitive information may require partners and suppliers to have a higher TISAX level to ensure appropriate protection.
  • Streamlined assessment process: TISAX enables organizations to share assessment results with other companies in the automotive industry through a secure platform, reducing the overall cost and effort involved in demonstrating compliance to various partners.
  • Improved information security: Implementing the security controls required for TISAX compliance helps organizations identify and mitigate potential risks and vulnerabilities, leading to better protection of sensitive information and reduced chances of security incidents.
  • Regulatory compliance: Complying with TISAX requirements may also help organizations meet their obligations under various data protection regulations, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

How to achieve TISAX compliance at various levels

To achieve TISAX compliance at different levels, organizations need to implement appropriate information security measures and undergo a formal assessment by an accredited audit provider. 

Here are the general steps to achieve TISAX compliance. Keep in mind some of these steps will change slightly depending on the level of TISAX label you are seeking.

  • Understand TISAX requirements — Familiarize yourself with the VDA ISA catalog and determine which TISAX level (1, 2, or 3) is relevant for your organization based on the sensitivity of the information you handle.
  • Establish an information security management system (ISMS) — Develop a comprehensive ISMS in line with ISO 27001 standards. This should include defining the scope of your ISMS, creating a risk assessment process, and developing relevant policies, procedures, and guidelines. 
  • Implement security controls — Based on your TISAX level, implement the necessary security controls outlined in the VDA ISA catalog. These may include access control, data protection, data classification, incident-response procedures, and more. PRO TIP: Strike Graph makes it simple to design, operate, and measure your ISMS on one comprehensive platform, speeding your TISAX process.  
  • Train and educate employees — Ensure that employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities regarding information security. Conduct regular training sessions, workshops, and awareness campaigns to reinforce the importance of information security within the organization.
  • Conduct internal audits — Perform regular internal audits to assess the effectiveness of your information security measures and identify potential gaps.
  • Address identified gaps — Based on the internal audit results, address any identified gaps or weaknesses in your information security measures. Update your policies, procedures, and controls as necessary to ensure compliance with TISAX requirements.
  • Schedule a TISAX assessment — Contact an accredited TISAX audit provider to schedule your formal assessment. Provide the necessary documentation and evidence to demonstrate your organization's adherence to TISAX requirements.
  • Maintain and improve your ISMS — After achieving your TISAX label, continuously monitor, review, and improve your ISMS to ensure ongoing compliance with TISAX requirements and evolving industry best practices.

 Simplify TISAX compliance with Strike Graph

As with any security framework, there’s a lot of information to process and work to do. It may be daunting if you’re approaching TISAX for the first time, but it doesn’t have to be.

Strike Graph’s comprehensive compliance platform helps automotive companies and their vendors prepare for and achieve TISAX labels in simple, manageable steps. You design, operate and measure your security program all in one place — making TISAX compliance far quicker and cheaper than it has ever been with traditional approaches.

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