For companies in the automotive industry, information security is a vital part of operations. 

Manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers need to be able to trust that their data and personal information are safe and secure. And becoming VDA® ISA compliant is a powerful way to build this trust.

However, implementing this framework into your information security process can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with the VDA® ISA standard. Fortunately, services such as ISMS Connect provide step-by-step guides on VDA® ISA implementation to help you reach compliance.

Let’s dive into our guide to VDA® ISA compliance and learn the basics.

What is VDA® ISA?

VDA® ISA is an information security standard developed by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA®). It’s a self-assessment that covers a range of important topics, including: 

  • Data protection
  • Risk management
  • Information security
  • Access control
  • Incident management

VDA® ISA is relevant for Compliance with TISAX®, as the ISO® 27001 based standard is the requirement for a TISAX® Certification.

The VDA® ISA exists to help automotive companies reach a baseline level of information security.  It provides a highly structured way for organizations to assess their security measures in relation to industry performance standards.

Importance of VDA® ISA

Foundation for TISAX®

Achieving VDA® ISA compliance is the foundation for a TISAX® certification. Complying with all requirements of VDA® ISA will allow a successful TISAX® certification.

Real Managed Security

The VDA® ISA standard allows you to build and implement effective security controls in your system to mitigate vulnerabilities and risks. It acts as a systematic guide for implementing a range of security best practices.

De Jure and De Facto Standards

VDA® ISA procedures are highly compatible with the internationally-recognized ISO® 27001 standard, so achieving VDA® ISA compliance means compliance with a range of similar frameworks globally. This can boost your business opportunities and help prepare you for ISO® 27001 certification.

Best Practices for VDA® ISA Compliance

Rely on Expert Guidance

If you’re unsure about how to implement VDA® ISA frameworks into your business, it helps to use a service like ISMS Connect. We offer automotive companies a wealth of resources designed to help you become compliant quickly.

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These include:

  • Documents: We offer templates and prefilled outlines for all the documents you need for VDA® ISA compliance.
  • Guides: We offer regularly updated, step-by-step guides covering every VDA® ISA requirement.
  • Unlimited Support: We provide you with unlimited access to expert consultants for VDA® ISA. Contact our team via Chat or video call to receive personalized, on-demand guidance.

Understand the Different Modules

The VDA® ISA catalog serves as the foundation for the TISAX® certification procedure and consists of three main modules:

Information Security

This module involves implementing the right security controls into your system when managing certain security risks along with other ISMS procedures. The information security module can be separated into the following sections:

  • ISMS implementation
  • Vendor risk management
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Security awareness training
  • Security controls

Prototype Protection

This module consists of protecting prototype or test vehicles (including during filming, photo shoots, or other events). Prototype vehicles refer to any machines that have yet to be released to the public. VDA® ISA requirements must be implemented during these activities.

The module can be broken down into these categories:

  • Protection of prototype vehicles, parts, and components
  • Handling of test vehicles and components
  • Protection of prototypes during events and film or photo shootings
  • Physical and environmental security
  • Organizational requirements

Data Protection

This final module involves processing and protecting data according to Article 28 of the GDPR (European General Data Protection Regulation). Data protection consists of the following areas:

  • Data protection implementation (in internal processes)
  • Documentation
  • Organizational measures

Determine the Definition of Each Maturity Level

The VDA® ISA questionnaire is scored based on an evaluation system consisting of six maturity levels (0-5). Depending on how well you’ve implemented each VDA® ISA requirement, you will be assigned a certain maturity level (for each requirement). You must achieve at least maturity level 3 to pass.

You should familiarize yourself with the evaluation system to better understand how to pass the assessment.Here are the different maturity levels for VDA® ISA:

  • 0 (Incomplete): The process has not been implemented, or the process has not been implemented in a way that satisfies the requirements.
  • 1 (Performed): The process has been implemented, but there is inadequate documentation and evidence.
  • 2 (Managed): The implemented process has successfully achieved the intended goals. Detailed documentation and concrete evidence of the implementation are readily accessible.
  • 3 (Established): A standard process has been followed and integrated into the information security system. Implementation and how it links to other processes have been well-documented. There’s evidence of the process being used consistently over a long period.
  • 4 (Predictable): An established process has been implemented, with its effectiveness being regularly monitored using key performance metrics. Limit values are put in place, which indicate when the process is not meeting satisfactory standards and must be adjusted.
  • 5 (Optimizing): A predictable process has been followed, with continuous monitoring and improvement as a main objective. Improvements are supported by dedicated resources.

Audit Objectives Depend on Confidentiality

Depending on the type of information you’re protecting, you may undergo a different level of assessment. For example, if you’re handling highly sensitive data, you’ll be assigned the top assessment level (3). Different levels involve different audit objectives and modules. You also need to consider the scope of your assessment.

Here are the three assessment levels:

  • Assessment Level 1 (AL 1): A self-assessment based on the VDA® ISA test questions without any need for external auditors or evidence submissions.
  • Assessment Level 2 (AL 2): A self-assessment based on VDA® ISA questions along with an official audit carried out by a VDA-approved auditor (done remotely except for prototype protection modules). You also need to undergo a plausibility check and have your evidence verified.
  • Assessment Level 3 (AL 3): A self-assessment based on the VDA® ISA questionnaire, plausibility checks, evidence verifications, and on-site audits performed by VDA-accredited auditors. 

Hiring an Information Security Officer

Hire an information security officer to help you design and implement security policies that protect your data against various threats. They also enforce ISMS policies and procedures to ensure vulnerabilities in your system are resolved efficiently.

Skills to look out for in an information security officer include:

  • Expert knowledge of ISMS and VDA® ISA
  • Great communication skills
  • Problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Knowledge of security best practices

Always be Updated with the Latest Version of VDA® ISA

Always stay up-to-date with the latest VDA® ISA requirements to ensure you continue achieving compliance.


Working with automotive manufacturers means handling a lot of sensitive data, so businesses may be reluctant to collaborate with you unless you achieve VDA® ISA compliance.

However, achieving compliance can be quite complicated, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Luckily, services like ISMS Connect provide comprehensive guides on VDA® ISA implementation along with access to expert consultants on demand.

Fast track compliance with ISMS Connect today.