SOC for Cybersecurity- Everything You Should be knowing

Published on : 12 Jul 2022


SOC for cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has always been a major concern for most businesses. With the growing incidents of data breaches, it is now imperative for businesses to invest their resource in securing their IT infrastructure and data. Moreover, after the COVID-19 scenario, there was an unprecedented spike in the need for remote working. This totally hampered the security measures implemented by the organization’s IT and Cybersecurity teams. With growing cybercrimes in the digital world, people are more concerned about the security and privacy of their data with businesses. In fact, even in a B2B environment, customers are increasingly demanding high-level security and due diligence.

Businesses are now required to prove to their stakeholders the effective cybersecurity risk management practices that they follow and implement for their business. While there are various frameworks for cyber risk management yet there is no standardized reporting that allows companies to measure, evaluate and highlight the effectiveness of their risk management programs. So, addressing these issues, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) launched a new framework known as the “SOC for Cybersecurity”.

On 26th April 2017, the AICPA introduced the new SOC for Cybersecurity risk management reporting framework. This new framework is quite different from the SOC2 Attestation in terms of its purpose and requirement. However, SOC for Cybersecurity does overlap with SOC 2 reports in certain aspects. So, the organizations must know and understand the difference and also the purpose of implementing the framework. Explaining the new framework in detail and also highlighting the difference between SOC2 and SOC for Cybersecurity we have shared some information on the new framework.

What is SOC for Cybersecurity?

The SOC for Cybersecurity is an assessment that helps organizations verify the effectiveness of their Cybersecurity Risk Management program. The framework is designed to standardize the reporting on the effectiveness of the organization’s implemented Cyber Risk Management Controls. It is a new standard that guides organizations in terms of defining their cyber objectives and establishing a common reporting standard for assessing the effectiveness of cyber risk controls.

The framework provides facilitates systematic process, and structure and ensures transparency in the way the organization manages cybersecurity risks. The SOC for Cybersecurity can be appropriate for any business, non-profit organization, or rather for any type of organization looking to strengthen and improve its Cyber Risk Management Program. The SOC for Cybersecurity Attestation reflects the commitment of the organization towards implementing effective Cybersecurity Risk Management Controls in the prevailing threat landscape.

What is the Difference between SOC for Cyber Security and SOC2?

SOC for Cybersecurity and SOC2 Attestations are two different frameworks designed with different intents and objectives. However, there are certain overlaps as well between the two attestation and reporting standards. While SOC for Cybersecurity concerning Cyber Risk Management Controls is broader in coverage and directed at all stakeholders, SOC 2 is intended for the management of the organization. SOC2 Attestation is specific to the processes and controls for securing customer data based on the 5 Trust Services Criteria (Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy). So, explaining the differences between the two frameworks, here are the ways how these examination reports differ-

 SOC for CybersecuritySOC 1SOC 2SOC 3
What It CoversSOC for Cybersecurity describes and validates an organization’s enterprise-wide Cyber Risk Management program.SOC1 Attestation describes Security Controls at Service organizations relevant to User entities’ Internal Controls over Financial reporting.SOC2 Attestation describes the Security Controls at Service Organization over the internal controls based on the Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Privacy, and Processing Integrity of systems and information processing in the organization.SOC3 is the report that describes in short the
Auditor’s opinion, Management Assertion, and System description.
Report ComponentsA description of the entity’s Cyber Risk Management program. The report includes the auditor’s
opinion on the effectiveness of controls concerning the entity’s Cyber Risk Management
A description of the Service Organization’s System and Controls. The Type 1 report includes the Auditor’s Opinion on the fairness of the presentation of management’s description of the system and the suitability of the design of the controls on a specified date.

The Type 2 reports also include an opinion on the operating effectiveness of the controls, including detailed description of tests of controls performed by the service auditor, and results of those tests over a specified period of time.
A description of the Service Organization’s System and Controls over the internal controls based on the Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Privacy, and Processing Integrity.
The Type 1 report is on a service organization’s system and the suitability of the design of controls.

The Type 2 reports includes description and opinion on the operating effectiveness of the controls, with evaluation and evidence performed by the service auditor, and results of those tests over a period of 6 months
A description of the Service Organization’s System over the internal controls based on the Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Privacy and Processing Integrity. However the major difference between SOC2 and SOC3 report is that the later report is not as detailed as SOC2 and describes the details in brief.
Intended UsageSOC for Cybersecurity attestation report is meant for the management, board members, and other stakeholders including analysts, investors, clients, business partners etc.SOC 1 Report is meant for Service organization’s management, user entity’s management and financial auditors.Similar to SOC1 Report, the SOC2 Report is meant only for the management and stakeholders including appropriate business partners, customers, auditors and regulators.SOC3 is for general use and is meant for stakeholder including analysts, investors, clients, business partners etc.
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Benefits of SOC for Cybersecurity

The new SOC for Cyber Security Attestation by the AICPA is another critical aspect of the SOC Reporting framework that focuses on the risk management framework. The benefit of running a SOC for Cyber security attestation provides an immense amount of benefits that are listed below-

Validates Risk Management Program-

Generally, while most organizations look at SOC attestations for measuring the effectiveness of an organization’s security program, the risk inherited during the course of business acquisitions or third-party outsourcing gets neglected to a great extent. This is when and where a good risk management framework such as SOC for Cyber security guides organizations in implementing effective measures.  SOC for Cybersecurity is a framework that focuses on an organization-wide risk management program. So, this framework helps businesses validate their existing risk management program. This report works as a critical indicator to measure and validate the effectiveness of the organizations existing program and prove its business value.

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Builds Trust-

SOC for Cybersecurity Attestation reflects the organization’s commitment and efforts towards building a strong cyber risk management program. The attestation and report help in building trust among existing clients and prospects over the company’s secure working abilities. In fact, in most cases, organizations are expected to have such attestation for any future business collaborations. So, having SOC for Cybersecurity Attestation is definitely a plus point for organizations looking to build credibility and trust in the industry.

Prevents Disruption of Business Operations

Most businesses today either conduct business online or store or process sensitive data online. This in turn exposes the organization to several threats and cyber risks. Although organizations claim to be equipped to handle such situations and mitigate risk, in reality, the effectiveness of their risk management programs is far-fetched. This is when and where a cyber-risk management framework like SOC for Cybersecurity helps address these issues. It is a framework that guides organizations in implementing strong risk management measures that effectively help prevent any disruption of business operations.

Identify & Close Gaps

Identifying and closing gaps in systems, networks, applications, and business operations, in general, is crucial to addressing the evolving cyber risk. Also as mentioned earlier, it helps evaluate the existing risk management program and ensure its effectiveness. Further, having a third-party auditor to assess the organization’s controls, verifies and authenticates the effectiveness of the control implementation and risk management program. The assessment highlights the gaps in controls that could impact the security and business operations and lead to breaches, fraud, or other issues. So, this way the assessment can help organizations address them and mitigate any potential risk or threat through a risk management framework like SOC for Cybersecurity.

Conclusion

Now that we know the benefit that SOC for Cybersecurity attestation offers, we know how essential and crucial it is for businesses looking to strengthen their risk management program. Moreover, from the business and compliance perspective, there is definitely a market need for not just SOC1 SOC2 reports but also SOC for Cybersecurity as well, as each of them are intended for different audiences and different purposes.  Selecting a specific framework for attestation and report completely depends on the industry niche, business objective of the organizations, and most importantly the customer’s and key stakeholder’s demands. Based on the requirement organizations may perform SOC2 and SOC for Cybersecurity to get a broader perspective of their existing cyber security and risk management program. Further, both the attestation in its own individual way provides a broader level of assurance and confidence to customers and key stakeholders on the effectiveness of control and the organization’s ability to mitigate risk.

Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QPA, PCI QSA, PCI SSF ASSESSOR, CISSP, CISA, CRISC, 27001 LA) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.