Data is growing faster than it ever has before. But it is starting to become the biggest risk of every organization. The convenience and collaboration of using data stores in the cloud means that companies and hackers have more information and more access to it by design.
In fact, data breaches exposed more than four billion records in the opening half of this year. A report by Verizon further added that 52% of the breaches were a result of hacking, while 28% and 33% involved malware and social engineering, respectively.
For the past few years, information security is becoming a reason for concern for every business, especially those that outsource key operations to cloud-computing providers and third-party vendors. After all, mishandled information by network security providers and applications can leave organizations vulnerable attacks like malware installation, data theft, and extortion.
This is why opting for a comprehensive SOC 2 audit is essential in successfully warding off malicious intent and ensuring cybersecurity awareness and prevention within the organization. Moreover, opting for SOC 2 auditing will help trim down the occurrence in breached and hacked data from workplace sources like the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices.
What Is A SOC 2 Audit?
A SOC 2 audit is an auditing process that assures your service providers to handle your data securely to safeguard your organization’s interests and client’s privacy. It was developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and was solely based on five trust service principles such as processing integrity, security, confidentiality, privacy, and availability.
It is specifically built for service providers storing customer information in the cloud as well. While it is often referred to as a technical audit, SOC 2 goes beyond a typical inspection as it requires companies to establish strict information procedures and securities.
This ensures that the information security measures of every organization are in line with the distinct parameters of modern cloud requirements. Doing so helps build trust with end-users and customers about the secure nature and operation of your cloud infrastructure.
To put it into perspective, service organizations like RSI Security must choose which of the five trust service categories are needed to reduce the fundamental risks to the system or service they provide. In most cases, a SOC 2 certification is issued by experienced third-party auditors from reputable service providers.
They evaluate the extent to which a vendor complies with one or more principles based on the processes and systems in place. These trust principles are broken down as follows:
The security principle is designed to protect the system resources against unauthorized access by requiring organizations to set up secure access controls. These access controls work conjointly to get rid of theft, potential system abuse, misuse of the software, improper alteration, unauthorized removal of data and disclosure of confidential information.
Usually, security is the primary criteria that apply to all engagements. It is where the rest trust services principles are based on. In most cases, the security principle must be included in a non-privacy Soc 2 engagement.
These controls may include IT security tools like two-factor authentication, intrusion detection, network, and web application firewalls. This ensures the prevention of system damage that comprises the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of information or systems.
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The availability principle ensures that the system you provide your clients is accessible for operations and used as agreed on the service-level agreement. The minimum acceptable performance level for system availability is typically set by both parties prior to an agreement.
Although this principle does not address the functionality and usability of the system, it does involve security-related factors that may impact availability. Among the critical factors in this context include security incident handling, site failover, and network performance and availability.
More often than not, the availability principle is utilized by companies that provide data center, hosting, or colocation services to their clients. This ensures 24/7 access to information and prevents downtime which could prove detrimental to the success of the business operation.
3. Processing Integrity
The processing integrity principle sees to it that the systems and information are available for operation and utilize to meet the objectives of the entity. With processing integrity, organizations can make sure that the services provided to their clients are completed in an accurate and timely manner by the authorized personnel.
In short, processing integrity is the capacity to deliver the right data at the right time for the right price. However, this principle does not necessarily imply data integrity. Keeping track of data processing along with quality assurance methods help assure processing integrity.
The confidentiality principle is responsible that the information designated as confidential is protected to meet the objectives of the entity. Data is only considered confidential if its disclosure and access are limited to a specified set of people, departments, or organizations.
These may include data intended only for company employees, intellectual property, internal price lists, intellectual property and several kinds of sensitive financial information. The confidentiality principle also tackles the agreements that you have with your clients in particular to how you use their data, who has access to it and the necessary protection measures.
Organizations that deal with sensitive information like Protected Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) can greatly benefit from following this SOC 2 audit guide by RSI Security. Meeting this principle requirement usually necessitates the use of encryption, network and application firewalls, and rigorous access controls within the company’s data.
These security controls work together to ensure confidentiality during transmission and the processing or storing of information on the cloud and computer systems. Confidentiality also guarantees that your organization is adhering to your contractual obligations by providing proper protection to client information.
The privacy principle is built to address the gathering, usage, retention, disclosure, and transmission of personal information in the system. It ensures that the process is in conformity with the privacy notice of the organization and the criteria indicated in the Generally Accepted Privacy Principles (GAPP) of AICPA.
Unlike the first four principles, the privacy context stands on its own as it specifically evaluates the proper collection of data and the use of the personal information of consumers. Personal data like name, address, Social Security number, religion, sexuality, race, and health are considered sensitive and requires an added degree of protection.
Controls must be set to safeguard all PII from the dangers of hacking, breach, and unauthorized access. Privacy policies are documented formally as well to make it readily available to internal personnel, third-parties and data subjects who need them.
Security Practices Critical To Meeting SOC 2 Compliance
Dissimilar to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), each SOC 2 report is unique to each organization. They are in line with specific business practices and have their controls to meet one or more of the trust principles mentioned above.
Outlined below are four areas of security practices that every organization should meet to get a SOC 2 certification from RSI Security.
1. Tracking The Known And Unknown Threats
Gaining SOC 2 compliance indicates that you have incorporated a process and practice with necessary levels of oversight across every department of your organization. This requires the need to use unique processes for tracking authorized and unauthorized system configuration changes, unusual system activity and user access levels.
With cyberattacks occurring every 39 seconds, organizations must have the ability to keep track of not only the known but also unknown malicious activities. This can be done by establishing what normal activity looks like in your cloud environment so you can subsequently determine unusual actions.
This is essential in giving peace of mind to your customers as their confidential information is safe in your care regardless of any threat. With the establishment of constant security monitoring practices, businesses can determine potential threats from different sources so they are never left in the dark about what’s happening in their cloud infrastructure.
2. Setting Anomaly Alerts
Security incidents happen based on the reality of the modern threat landscape. This is why demonstrating sufficient alerting procedures in place is imperative in responding and taking corrective action if any unauthorized access occurs.
Nonetheless, every organization should be able to put up a method that triggers the alarms only when activity deviates from the norm that has been set for a specific environment. Usually, Soc 2 requires organizations to set up alerts in file transfer activities, privileged file systems, account or login access and medication or exposure of data configurations and controls.
3. Actionable Forensics
Actionable forensics ensures your clients that you are not only monitoring suspicious activities and getting real-time notifications but also have the ability to take corrective actions to prevent critical information.
They usually deal with determining the origins of the attack, the systems it impacted, and the nature of the impact. With actionable forensics, organizations can effectively determine threats, reduce damage and employ corrective measures to prevent similar events from recurring in the future.
4. Comprehensive Audit Trails
Audit trails are used to uncover insights that are needed to carry out security operations. They provide the required necessary cloud context providing organizations with all the information to make quick and educated decisions.
These audit trails also deliver deep insights into the unauthorized modifications of data and configurations, addition, modification, or removal of key system components and the range of the impact of attacks and the point of source.
How to Achieve SOC 2 Compliance?
While SOC 2 compliance is not a requirement for cloud computing vendors, they are mandatory for technology-based service organizations that store client information on the cloud. RSI Security undergoes regular audits to make sure that the requirements of the five trust principles are met to a tee.
The services provided by RSI Security go beyond what’s ordinary as it tackles denial-of-service attacks protection and web application security as well as content delivery through attack analytics and load balancing.
The most basic requirement of achieving SOC 2 compliance is developing security policies and procedures that are written out and adhered to by everyone. These procedures and policies will serve as guides for auditors who review them.
It is necessary that these policies should cover the aforementioned trust principles as well. Before a SOC 2 certification is granted, an auditor from RSI Security will perform a scoping and readiness assessment to determine the necessary scope for a specific audit.
This ensures that the IT teams are well-versed as to which elements of the control environment need remediation and attention before an official audit. Once pitfalls have been determined, RSI Security will initiate audit scoping, risk assessment, and control selection to remediate them for testing and reporting.
A SOC audit can only be performed by an independent accountancy organization or a Certified Public Accountant from RSI Security. Most of the time, these SOC auditors are regulated by the AICPA and must follow the specific professional standards set by the governing body.
They are also required to adhere to specific guidance related to planning, supervising and executing audit procedures. These auditors are also required to take part in a peer review to make sure that their audits are conducted based on accepted auditing standards.
The SOC 2 report structure consists of the opinion letter, management assertion, description of the system, description of tests of controls, results of testing and other relevant information. The reports usually cover a 12-month period but some service organizations may perform an audit depending on the ongoing concerns of the operational control environment.
In an increasingly privacy-focused and punitive business environment, protecting your organization and customers from cyber threats helps you make key strategic decisions and achieve a higher return on investments.
Manage risks and hire expert services at fewer costs by opting for the Soc 2 auditing services of RSI Security. Request a consultation today to know your options.