One of COVID-19’s direct impacts on businesses has been the acceleration toward cloud solutions. Cloud computing and data storage have skyrocketed — in fact, cloud spending increased 37% during the first months of the pandemic. In turn, this means more companies now need to focus on their cloud security practices, especially concerning regulatory compliance requirements. For example, service organizations need to comply with the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) SOC guidelines and SOC cloud security requirements.
Depending on your industry, SOC 1, 2, or 3 compliance may be a legal requirement. Alternatively, it might be expected by your current and potential clients. Let’s take a look at what it comprises.
Your Guide to SOC 2 Cloud Security
Your clients, internal team, and all other stakeholders in your company have a right to protect sensitive information. To ensure their data is secure, you’ll need to become SOC certified. More specifically, you’ll need to implement an active approach to SOC 2 cloud security optimization.
This blog will break down everything you need to know about cloud SOC 2 security in two steps:
- Understanding the specific requirements of the SOC approach to overall cybersecurity
- Understanding the general elements and considerations of cloud security more broadly
We’ll then synthesize these two areas and explain how you can optimize your cloud security per SOC specifications with the help of an IT service provider.
SOC Security Framework and Approach
SOC 2 is one of three primary SOC frameworks. The first, SOC 1, is officially titled “Report on Controls at a Service Organization Relevant to User Entities’ Internal Control over Financial Reporting (ICFR).” It measures internal practices relative to AICPA’s AT-C Section 320.
The full title of SOC 2 is “Report on Controls at a Service Organization Relevant to Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality or Privacy.” The principles are based on the Trust Services Criteria or TSC (detailed below). It informs industry stakeholders of a company’s practices relative to these principles.
Finally, SOC 3 is known as “Trust Services Criteria for General Use Report.” It covers the same general topic areas as SOC 2 but simplifies the report for public accessibility.
Trust Services Criteria for SOC 2 and SOC 3
The Trust Services Criteria, formerly known as Trust Service Principles (TSP), define specific characteristics that a user should expect for their data when working with a service organization. These include:
- Security – Information should only be accessed by users authorized to view or use it.
- Availability – Information needs to be available to those who have a right to access it.
- Processing Integrity – Technology used to process information should have no flaws.
- Confidentiality – Information defined as confidential must be safeguarded.
- Privacy – Personal identifiers in stored information cannot be accessed inappropriately.
While these criteria do not apply to SOC 1, they are the basis of both SOC 2 and SOC 3. An external auditor must show proof that some combination of these principles is upheld, although organizations don’t need to dedicate resources to all five simultaneously.
SOC Reporting: Type 1 and Type 2 Reports
Just as there are multiple kinds of SOC for different audiences and purposes, there are also two distinct reporting levels. The more robust and widely applicable of these is SOC Type 2 reporting, which offers a long-term look at your security practices’ efficacy over a duration (such as nine months, a year, or more). These reports show that you can uphold the TSC on a given day, and they show your long-term, continuous commitment to cybersecurity.
In some cases, companies are unable to commit to such a long-term solution. Other times, they don’t need or want the full report. In these situations, SOC Type 1 reporting offers a quick and simple view of your security practices at a single point in time. While this reporting is less comprehensive than SOC type 2 reporting, it’s cheaper and faster.
Cloud Security Approaches and Practices
Cloud computing and storage open up new possibilities for access and mobility irrespective of a business’ location or employees’ proximity. However, the cloud also opens up a bevy of new vulnerabilities and points of attack for hackers. As a business, you need to account for networks and infrastructure you may have no control over. Three primary cloud security approaches include the following:
- Preventive – Controls that seek to stop attacks from happening by proactively blocking or disincentivizing them — the latter is also often referred to as a deterrent approach.
- Detective – Controls that monitor for attacks when they happen and seek to catch them as soon as possible to impede their progress and minimize the damage they inflict.
- Corrective – Controls that come into effect during and after an attack to reduce their harm and recover resources while preventing corollary or future episodes.
One of the most effective ways to combine these practices is the innovative concept of “Zero Trust,” where companies build a robust Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA). Let’s discuss.
Understanding the “Zero Trust” Approach
The cloud makes it easier for any individual to access information, including information they are not authorized to access. One significant way it does this is by facilitating identity fraud and misuses of anonymity. Without proximity-based authentication techniques, like restricted entry into your office, it’s actually more difficult to tell if the person logging into your systems is who they say they are.
Given these circumstances, many believe that the best approach to security is forgoing inherent trust and requiring increased levels of authentication for every party, regardless of how much access ease and privilege they would prefer. This means re-authenticating frequently and at different access points, even if a user is already logged into one or more systems. Additionally, you can implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) through a second device or other means.
Benefits of Managed Cloud Security Services
RSI Security offers a robust suite of cloud security services that bundles together all of the practices and approaches detailed above. We also provide a dedicated compliance advisory for SOC 2 and any other frameworks you need to follow. Our cloud package includes:
- Internal and external monitoring as part of overall threat and vulnerability management
- Powerful threat intelligence informed by penetration testing and root cause analysis
- Patch management across all web applications and cloud platforms (AWS, etc.)
- Highly customizable identity and access management across all personnel
With these practices and the guidance of our expert in-house team, RSI Security can help you turn the cloud from a significant risk vector to a source of cybersecurity.
Optimizing Cloud Security for SOC 2
Ultimately, the best approach to ensuring cloud servers and computing is up to SOC standards starts with a focus on compliance and the implementation of TSC across all your infrastructure.
RSI Security offers a suite of SOC 2 compliance and reporting services that can help companies of all sizes optimize their cloud for SOC and greater security more generally. Our talented team will work with your internal staff and other stakeholders to establish practices up to TSC standards, then generate a type 1 or type 2 report when you’re ready.
While we understand the importance of compliance here at RSI Security, we also know that it’s not the end of cybersecurity; it’s just the beginning. Whether your company needs help with SOC cloud security or other cybersecurity architecture needs, contact RSI Security today.