Service organizations vary widely in nature, but all need to assure their clients’ trust. One significant hurdle to that effect is securing the networks upon which you and your customers rely. A SOC 2 audit, using the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA) Trust Services Criteria (TSC), goes a long way toward earning that trust. Implementing network security monitoring solutions and techniques help ensure a successful SOC 2 audit report and optimize your cyberdefenses more broadly.
SOC Monitoring And Network Security and Cyber Security Solutions
Most companies are not legally required to report SOC 2 compliance. Still, any service-oriented organization will benefit from the trust it can afford to current and future clients through a SOC audit. This is especially true for organizations (and clients) that depend on secure networks.
Three optimal approaches to network security monitoring geared toward SOC compliance are:
- Passive threat and vulnerability management – For security and processing integrity
- Active threat detection and response – Focused on network privacy and confidentiality
- Complex penetration testing – Assesses seamless network and data availability
As comprehensive cybersecurity requires a holistic approach with integrated measures, your company should also evaluate best practices independent of network monitoring and network monitoring independent of SOC 2 compliance.
Solution #1: Passive Network Threat and Vulnerability Management
The most fundamental approach to network security monitoring is implementing a program to identify internal vulnerabilities and external threats. With respect to networks, vulnerabilities may include any unstable network infrastructure, such as servers with limited visibility or other exploitable factors. Threats might include cybercriminals monitoring for entry points to your networks or internal actors (i.e., staff or third parties who already have access privileges).
A robust threat and vulnerability management program monitors for threats and vulnerabilities across all infrastructure, including networks. It analyzes relationships between these two factors to assign a risk level or rating. Then, it sets other programs (like incident response and patch deployment) in action to address them. Networks can be targeted independently or integrated into system-wide scans.
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SOC 2 Compliance Focus: Network Security and Processing Integrity
Concerning SOC 2 compliance, a passive threat and vulnerability management program for network monitoring is best suited for ensuring compliance with two of the five TSC principles:
- Security – General measures of companies’ ability to protect all data and systems from unauthorized or illegitimate access. Networks that come into contact with data must be protected according to a company’s defined business, mission, or other objectives.
- Processing Integrity – Specific measures for companies’ ability to ensure all systems and networks function completely, validly, accurately, timely, and with full authorization.
The first of these principles (or categories) is the most critical within the TSC framework. The criteria that apply to Security are Common Criteria that also apply across all other principles.
Solution #2: Network-focused Managed Detection and Response
For companies looking for a more active approach to network security monitoring, a targeted managed detection and response (MDR) program can provide optimal ROI. Similar to threat and vulnerability management, MDR regularly scans—hunts—for risks and risk factors across networks and other information systems. However, it acts upon identified risks immediately.
Also, like solution #1, MDR can focus on networks specifically or your entire organization.
Unlike threat and vulnerability management, MDR incorporates incident response and incident management. That includes complete resolution of identified risks before they can materialize into full-blown attacks or breaches. MDR also accounts for root cause analysis (RCA) into how risks appear on your network. And, it includes streamlined regulatory compliance, ensuring that no individual risk factor can jeopardize your current or future compliance or certification status.
SOC 2 Focus: Data Privacy and Confidentiality Across All Networks
An MDR program can facilitate all elements of SOC 2 compliance. However, it is particularly apt for two interlinked principles within the TSC framework that concerning data protection on networks:
- Confidentiality – Measures for how well a company protects any sensitive information that is designated as confidential—or carries any other protected status—irrespective of what kind of information it is. This includes but is not limited to personal information.
- Privacy – Measures for how well a company protects any personal and personally identifiable information (PII). Data covered under the Privacy principle may also fall under Confidentiality, but Privacy proper refers to the personal elements of this data.
These and other SOC 2 principles apply across all company systems, not just networks. However, applying an MDR program specifically to networks helps protect all data environment-wide.
Solution #3: Internal and External Network Penetration Testing
Companies seeking the most advanced, robust methods for network security monitoring, both for SOC 2 compliance and cyberdefense optimization, should consider penetration testing. The practice involves “ethical hacking” to simulate an attack and identify any exploitable weaknesses across all networks. There are two primary kinds of pen tests companies can run on networks:
- External pen tests – Begin from a point outside the company to identify ways in which hackers or cybercriminals would first gain access into networks and systems
- Internal pen tests – Begin from undisclosed locations within networks to assess how a hacker would behave once they have already gained illegitimate access to them
Companies may also run hybrid or combination pen tests to account for longer-term or more advanced threats, such as malware laying dormant within networks or creating new openings.
SOC 2 Focus: Network Availability and General Business Continuity
As with solution #2, penetration testing can optimize visibility over networks, making it ideal for all elements of SOC 2 compliance. However, it is uniquely applicable to one TSC principle that the other solutions above can fall short of addressing: Availability. This category of criteria is most focused on measuring the seamlessness of client-facing functionalities and information.
Penetration testing simulates an attack on your systems, with the primary focus of anticipating how a real attacker would operate and impede their progress at every step. But one additional benefit of this approach is the insights it can provide into business continuity. As the simulated attack progresses, your company can see first-hand if systems’ availability is compromised, which can inform backup or alternative methods for delivering the functionalities users expect.
Other Network Cyber Security Monitoring and SOC Solutions
When designing an impactful and efficient network security monitoring system, the approach to network scanning proper should not be your only consideration. Companies should also design and implement broader cybersecurity architecture that facilitates risk scanning across networks. One solution is to install robust firewall and web filtering configurations to reduce the likelihood of any malware entering into, being transmitted across, or otherwise existing on networks.
Similarly, with respect to SOC 2 compliance, companies should seek additional measures beyond network security monitoring. A full-service SOC 2 compliance advisory package should include preliminary and recurring readiness assessments, along with counsel about which SOC audits are most beneficial to your company (SOC 1, SOC 2, or SOC 3) and which Type of report (Type 1 or Type 2) is best. RSI Security helps companies with all elements of SOC compliance.
RSI Security: Professional Compliance and Cyberdefense
If your company provides software platforms or other critical services to businesses, you need to secure the networks on which those services depend. One of the best ways to do so is SOC 2 compliance. One of the best ways to ensure SOC 2 compliance, in turn, is through network security monitoring.
To create, execute, and maintain a compliance and general cyberdefense strategy that’s tailored to your company’s unique needs and means, contact RSI Security today!