Penetration Testing For SOC 2: What Should It Include?

Penetration Testing for SOC 2: What Should It Include?

J
by Jen Smith — 8 months ago in Security 4 min. read
2129

When SOC 2 standards were created, it was a groundbreaking initiative to help organizations improve their IT security. Many companies are now SOC 2 compliant, but the SOC 2 standards can be vague and confusing. Penetration testing is a great way to help you ensure that your system adheres to all five principles listed by AICPA in SOC 2. We’ll cover an introduction of SOC 2, going into detail about its five principles, and then move on to how penetration testing will help you with your SOC 2 compliance. We’ll also leave you some tips on what your pen test should include.

SOC 2 Compliance

First, let’s talk about SOC compliances and what they are. SOC stands for Service Organization Control.

The SOC standards are created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and there are three main SOC control reports: SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3.

SOC 1 covers financial information

SOC 2 covers IT security and compliance, and

SOC 3 is the most recent report that covers both financial and IT security.

SOC 2 is the one that is most relevant to our discussion today, as it covers IT security and compliance. The SOC 2 compliance is a set of international standards that applies to organizations providing services such as cloud computing, data processing, or information security. Its main highlight is the five “trust principles” that it is based upon.

The 5 Trust Service Principles of SOC 2

  1. Security – Companies need to have strong security controls in place, including firewalls, CCTVs, log monitoring, intrusion detection, disaster recovery, and business continuity plans, as well as comprehensive policies on data protection and privacy.
  2. Availability – Companies should ensure that their customers always have access to the services they need and that all services function as expected.
  3. Processing Integrity – Companies must take measures to ensure that data is accurate and complete, and is not altered in any unauthorized way.
  4. Confidentiality – Companies need to protect their customer’s information by ensuring that it is only accessed by authorized personnel. This can be achieved by having authentication controls in place that limit users’ or employee access, including the use of passwords and lockout policies.
  5. Privacy – This one is here to ensure that customer information or any form of sensitive data is not mishandled or lost. Organizations must protect the privacy of individuals when handling their data.

Now that we have a better understanding of SOC compliance and the five principles it is based on, let’s see how penetration testing can help organizations achieve and maintain SOC compliance.

Also read: The Five Best Free Cattle Record Keeping Apps & Software For Farmers/Ranchers/Cattle Owners

How can Penetration Testing Help with SOC 2 Compliance?

As mentioned earlier, SOC 2 compliance covers IT security and penetration testing is one of the best ways to ensure your digital systems and network infrastructure is secure.

A penetration test will help you uncover vulnerabilities in your system and determine the level of risk associated with each one. Use this knowledge to develop a remediation strategy that will help prevent or eliminate these risks.

Furthermore, pen tests help organizations verify that their security controls are effectively put in place and functioning as they should. It also verifies that the organization’s current means of handling confidential data are adequate and in line with SOC 2 requirements.

Benefits of SOC 2 Penetration Testing:

Penetration testers or ethical hackers are highly qualified professionals who will carry out a comprehensive security assessment of all potential risks within your company system before you get SOC 2 audited.

Apart from aiding you in achieving and maintaining SOC 2 compliance, pen-testing offers many other benefits:

    • Helps you learn how well your security controls are implemented
    • Gives peace of mind to management by taking care of security fixes on time
    • Helps you identify risks in your system early on before any damage is done
    • Verify that your systems can meet, if not exceed, their intended purpose
    • Helps you verify that your security policies are adequate and SOC 2 compliant
    • Gives a clear picture of the company’s current security risks

What should a SOC 2 Pen Test Include?

SOC 2 compliance requires that companies have a set of controls to keep data secure, but it doesn’t tell us exactly what these controls are. This means SOC 2 audits can be challenging because there’s no specific guidance available for them.

To ensure that your SOC 2-based penetration test is thorough, you need to make sure that it includes the following:

  • Comprehensive vulnerability assessment of your web applications, network infrastructure, and servers
  • A thorough testing process that will include all potential attack vectors
  • Identification of sensitive data and its classification
  • Assessment of your company’s security posture
  • Review of your firewall configuration
  • Testing of your intrusion detection and prevention systems
  • Evaluation of physical security controls
  • Review of log management practices
  • A SOC 2-specific pen testing report that details all findings and provides remediation advice

A SOC 2 pen test is comprehensive and will typically be carried out by an independent third party or security consultancy company. The final SOC 2 report must contain all information required for SOC 2 certification.

Do make a note that as an organization seeking SOC 2 compliance, you should try to have annual penetration tests performed, so that any new vulnerabilities can be identified regularly and then take appropriate steps to resolve them at the earliest.



Summing It up…

SOC 2 compliance is an important step towards meeting the ever-growing demand for digital security. Penetration testing can help you achieve this by uncovering vulnerabilities in your system and also help you create a remediation plan. It offers many other benefits such as verifying the effectiveness of your security controls, taking care of security fixes on time, and more. SOC 2 pen testing should include comprehensive vulnerability assessment across all systems, data identification, and classification, review of security posture, etc. so that the desired compliance is achieved. Remember to be regular in your testing and audits.

Jen Smith

Jen Smith is Content Marketing Head at Astra Security. she loves to write about new technology and cyber security.

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