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TISAX vs. ISO 27001: A comparison for the automotive industry

Louis Strauss |

May 7, 2024
TISAX vs. ISO 27001: A comparison for the automotive industry


Information security is paramount in today's digital landscape, particularly for industries like automotive, where sensitive data and complex, global supply chains are prevalent. Two significant frameworks that address these concerns are TISAX and ISO 27001. Let's dive into what they offer, how they differ, and why both are important for automotive suppliers.

Understanding TISAX and ISO 27001

TISAX (Trusted Information Security Assessment Exchange)

TISAX, developed by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), is an assessment and exchange mechanism for information security within the automotive sector. It was created in response to the industry's unique challenges. The TISAX framework is built upon the foundational principles of ISO 27001 but extends them to cover industry-specific needs.

TISAX emphasizes a standardized approach to ensure that all companies within the automotive supply chain adhere to a consistent level of information security. This helps major automakers and their suppliers manage and exchange sensitive information securely and efficiently, fostering a culture of trust and collaboration within the industry.

ISO 27001 (International Organization for Standardization 27001)

ISO 27001 is a globally recognized standard for information security management systems (ISMS). It provides a systematic framework for managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. This standard is applicable across all sectors and industries, providing a holistic approach to managing information security risks, including third-party management.

ISO 27001's framework is designed to be flexible and adaptable, accommodating organizations of all sizes and complexities. It covers aspects like risk assessment, incident management, third-party management, and continual improvement, ensuring that organizations can safeguard their information assets and respond effectively to evolving security threats.

Scope and applicability


TISAX is specifically tailored for the automotive sector. It addresses the unique information security challenges faced by automotive companies, such as threats to connected vehicles, prototype protection, data privacy and supply chain vulnerabilities. The scope of TISAX extends to all companies and suppliers within the automotive supply chain, from manufacturers to service providers, ensuring that they comply with industry-specific security protocols.

TISAX is particularly useful for companies seeking to do business with major automakers, as it serves as a benchmark for information security. The framework promotes a high level of trust and transparency within the supply chain, which is crucial for maintaining business relationships in the automotive industry.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001, on the other hand, is applicable to organizations of any size or industry. It offers a generic framework for managing information security risks, making it versatile across diverse organizational contexts. The standard provides a comprehensive approach to information security management, focusing on confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets.

ISO 27001 is well-suited for organizations that want to establish, implement, and maintain an effective ISMS. It is particularly beneficial for organizations that need to demonstrate their commitment to information security to stakeholders, customers, and partners, enhancing their credibility and competitive edge.

Framework and requirements


TISAX's framework is based on ISO 27001 principles but incorporates additional automotive-specific requirements to meet the industry's unique security needs. The TISAX assessment criteria align with ISO 27001 while offering further guidance and controls tailored to the automotive sector, such as prototype protection, data privacy, and supplier management.

One key difference is that TISAX emphasizes a standardized assessment model specifically designed for automotive companies, ensuring that all parties are evaluated against the same criteria and promoting consistency in information security practices. TISAX also includes a maturity level concept, with levels ranging from 0 (incomplete) to 5 (optimized). Each required measure should ideally meet at least maturity level 3 (defined), indicating that the process is formally documented and implemented. The framework includes various assessment levels, depending on the sensitivity of the information being protected.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001 adheres to the Annex SL framework, which provides a unified structure for various ISO management systems standards. It encompasses a comprehensive set of requirements covering all aspects of information security, including risk assessment, security controls, incident response, and continuous improvement.

ISO 27001 provides a structured approach to information security management, ensuring that organizations can effectively protect their information assets. The standard emphasizes a risk-based approach, allowing organizations to identify and address their unique security risks in a systematic and prioritized manner, making the standard adaptable to the organization's context.

Assessment and certification


TISAX is not a certification standard but a framework for conducting information security assessments within the automotive industry. Companies undergo TISAX assessments to demonstrate compliance with automotive-specific security protocols and requirements, building trust and transparency in the supply chain. The assessment process involves different levels, known as Assessment Levels:

  1. Level 1 - Self-assessment.
  2. Level 2 - Document review combined with a remote audit.
  3. Level 3 - Document review along with an on-site audit.

Each Assessment Level has specific criteria and compliance procedures. Organizations must meet these requirements to pass the assessment, which helps ensure consistent security practices across the automotive supply chain.

ISO 27001

Organizations seeking ISO 27001 certification undergo audits by accredited certification bodies. The certification process involves a thorough evaluation of the organization's ISMS to ensure it meets the standard's requirements. This includes reviewing policies, procedures, and controls and conducting on-site audits.

The ISO 27001 certification process typically involves two stages of audits. In the Stage 1 audit, the auditors review the organization's ISMS documentation and assess its readiness for the Stage 2 audit. The Stage 2 audit involves a detailed evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of the ISMS, including interviews and evidence gathering.

Maintaining ISO 27001 compliance requires ongoing commitment. Organizations must undergo regular surveillance audits, typically annually, and a recertification audit every three years. These audits ensure that the ISMS remains effective and continues to improve, addressing any evolving risks or changes in the organization.

Information sharing and trust building


TISAX facilitates standardized information security assessments and information sharing among automotive companies. This promotes transparency and trust within the automotive supply chain, enabling efficient exchange of assessment results. The framework reduces redundancy, as companies can share their assessment results with multiple partners, ensuring consistent evaluation across the industry.

TISAX fosters a culture of trust and collaboration, which is crucial for maintaining strong business relationships within the automotive industry. It also helps organizations demonstrate their commitment to information security, which is particularly important when handling sensitive or confidential information.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001 certification demonstrates an organization's commitment to information security, bolstering trust among stakeholders, customers, and partners across various industries. It provides assurance that information assets are adequately protected and managed according to internationally recognized standards.

The ISO 27001 framework encourages continuous improvement, ensuring that organizations stay up-to-date with evolving security threats and best practices. This proactive approach to information security management enhances trust and credibility, as organizations can demonstrate their ability to safeguard sensitive information effectively.

Which one do I choose?

In the automotive industry, TISAX is often the minimum requirement for projects involving sensitive data, as demanded by major automakers like VW and BMW. However, some companies also expect ISO 27001 certification from their suppliers. While ISO 27001 is a generic standard applicable across industries, TISAX caters specifically to the automotive sector.

We recommend both certifications for automotive suppliers. ISO 27001 serves as the foundation for a company's information security, while a TISAX assessment ensures compliance with automotive-specific requirements. Automotive suppliers don't necessarily need ISO 27001 certification to operate within the industry supply chain, but having both certifications ensures a robust information security posture and meets the expectations of various stakeholders.

Both TISAX and ISO 27001 offer valuable frameworks for managing information security, and together, they provide a comprehensive approach that addresses both general and industry-specific needs.

TISAX compliance with 6clicks

TISAX transcends traditional IT security standards by fostering an environment of trust and secure information exchange among automotive industry players. By adhering to TISAX, companies not only bolster their security posture but also significantly contribute to the industry’s overall resilience against digital threats. As technology continues to evolve, the role of TISAX will undoubtedly expand, becoming integral to the industry’s future sustainability and security.

6clicks Hub & Spoke for the automotive industry

6clicks' powerful AI capability and unique Hub & Spoke deployment model are designed to support businesses in the automotive industry looking to build resilient cyber Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) programs across distributed sites, business units and jurisdictions. Benefits include:

  • Standardized security complianceIT risk, and operational practices, including incident management, across sites, business units and jurisdictions for effective governance.
  • Centralized visibility and bottom-up reporting while preserving data segregation, user access control and autonomy.
  • Centralized supply chain management for complete oversight and transparency.
  • A single source of truth and streamlined distribution for frameworks, regulations, and best-practice content, including audit and assessment templates, control sets and policies, and risk and issue libraries.

If you'd like to learn more about how 6clicks can help you move beyond tick-box compliance and build a mature information security management system (ISMS), streamlining multi-framework security compliance with the most in-demand frameworks, like TISAX, ISO 27001, and NIST CSF, and implementing scalable and effective risk management practices, then please reach out to use below.

Frequently asked questions

What is TISAX and why is it important for automotive suppliers?

TISAX (Trusted Information Security Assessment Exchange) is a cybersecurity framework specifically designed for the automotive industry. It was developed by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) to standardize information security assessments for automotive suppliers and service providers. TISAX compliance is often required by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to ensure that their suppliers meet specific cybersecurity requirements. This framework is crucial for building trust and ensuring the secure exchange of sensitive information within the automotive supply chain.

How does ISO 27001 differ from TISAX, and which one should automotive suppliers choose?

While both TISAX and ISO 27001 are focused on information security, they have different scopes and applicability. ISO 27001 is a globally recognized standard for information security management applicable to all industries, while TISAX is specifically tailored to the automotive sector and includes industry-specific requirements. Many automotive companies recommend or require both certifications, with ISO 27001 serving as a foundation for information security and TISAX addressing specific needs in the automotive industry. It's often beneficial for automotive suppliers to pursue both certifications for a robust security posture.

What are the key benefits of TISAX certification for automotive suppliers?

TISAX certification offers several benefits to automotive suppliers, including:

  1. Fast-tracking procurement processes: TISAX-certified suppliers can bypass many third-party information security reviews and expedite their procurement process with OEMs.
  2. Reducing duplicate assessments: Certification helps suppliers avoid redundant audits, saving time and resources.
  3. Building customer and partner confidence: The certification ensures that suppliers have a mature security program, improving trust.
  4. Facilitating information security exchange: TISAX facilitates secure sharing of information between manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers, enhancing trust and transparency in the automotive supply chain​

Louis Strauss

Written by Louis Strauss

Louis is the Co-founder and Chief Product Marketing Officer (CPMO) at 6clicks, where he spearheads collaboration among product, marketing, engineering, and sales teams. With a deep-seated passion for innovation, Louis drives the development of elegant AI-powered solutions tailored to address the intricate challenges CISOs, InfoSec teams, and GRC professionals face. Beyond cyber GRC, Louis enjoys reading and spending time with his friends and family.