SOC

Do you want to find out how effective your cybersecurity practices are?

SOC for Cybersecurity stands for System and Organization Controls. SOC is an assessment of an organization's cybersecurity risk management program. SOC assesses the following:

  • It reveals more about your cybersecurity controls and programs.
  • It identifies the effectiveness of security protocols and controls in place.
  • It helps you create a more resilient cybersecurity risk management program.

We are going to get deep into the topic, so get a drink and keep reading.

What is SOC for Cybersecurity?

SOC for Cybersecurity is an assessment and reporting framework for cybersecurity risk management programs. It was created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to evaluate the cybersecurity controls and checks put in place by an organization.

The SOC stands for System and Organization Controls and refers to the examination.

According to AICPA, the assessment framework is:

  • Flexible

  • Market-driven

  • Voluntary

CPAs are in charge of carrying out SOC for Cybersecurity and presenting a report of findings. One key aspect of SOC is its common language that helps even non-technical people easily understand the report.

What is the purpose of SOC for Cybersecurity?

SOC for Cybersecurity can help determine the effectiveness of cybersecurity and risk management programs. You can discover flaws and gaps in your program that give you areas of improvement. The report of the CPA will give you the clues to take action.

By implementing changes, you can strengthen your risk management program for more protection. Your digital assets will become resilient to cyber threats and attacks while your organization turns proactive.

The purpose of SOC for Cybersecurity can be summed up as:

  • Facilitates decision-making by senior management in the area of cybersecurity

  • Helps organizations understand and communicate the effectiveness of their cybersecurity practices

  • Allows CPAs to become aware of an organization's cybersecurity risk management's performance

What are the Elements of SOC for Cybersecurity?

SOC for Cybersecurity is a reporting framework. It generally consists of three parts drafted by practicing CPAs and active management. They are as follows:

1. Description of Cybersecurity Risk Management Program

The management must prepare a description of their cybersecurity risk management program. The description covers a few vital aspects like:

  • How the organization identifies its digital assets

  • Ways an organization protects assets from cybersecurity threats

  • Security processes and policies implemented to counter cybercrime

The description also allows users to understand the findings of the SOC examination.

2. Assertion by the Management

The AICPA provides a range of criteria to help organizations evaluate their cybersecurity risk management programs' effectiveness. These criteria assess if the controls put in place are working to protect the information investments.

This part of the report is prepared by the management and throws light on:

  •  Whether the management prepared the description matching the description criteria

  • If the security controls put in place are adequate to check cybersecurity risks and attacks

3. CPA's Report

The last part of the SOC report is for the CPA to provide their opinions. He or she will say:

  • Whether the management's description complies with the description criteria

  • If security controls implemented by the management is working effectively

The management can use the findings to eliminate flaws and close the gaps in cybersecurity risk management programs. As a result, the entity is now more resilient to cybersecurity threats and crime.

Who Uses SOC for Cybersecurity?

SOC for Cybersecurity is a reporting framework that uses common language for ease of implementation. As a result, any organization can use the framework to determine if their IT investments are secure. However, the SOC examination is voluntary and entirely depends on the management's will if they want it.

Leading businesses and enterprises conduct SOC for Cybersecurity to improve protection. Organizations can safeguard their information investments better against the latest threats like malware or viruses. Regular SOCs can help create a more resilient cybersecurity risk management program and avoid attacks and financial losses.

Additionally, programs like SOC help businesses gain a competitive edge. They can appear more professional and trustworthy to win consumers' trust.

Every organization should evaluate its security protocols and processes to prevent cybercrime from time to time. You may not conduct a professional SOC, but individual efforts are needed for small or micro businesses.

Is SOC for Cybersecurity the Same as SOC 2 Report?

The SOC 2 report treads on similar lines of SOC for Cybersecurity. However, there are key differences that make the two non-interchangeable. Here's a look at the crucial differences:

Purpose

SOC for Cybersecurity is a general report that anyone participating in an organization's cybersecurity decision-making can use. On the contrary, SOC 2 is solely used by service organizations.

Additionally, SOC 2 reports are used to validate products that deal with customer information. The SOC 2 report can help service organizations win customer trust.

Moreover, SOC 2 throws light on only internal controls implemented by an organization to protect information.

Audience

SOC 2 is a more restrictive report when it comes to the audience. It is meant for people with technical awareness and an understanding of the controls. Any person reading the report should be familiar with the nuances of information security.

Scope

SOC for Cybersecurity covers the internal controls and processes of an organization. SOC 2 also does the same but leaves room open for incorporating third-parties.

Service organizations often rely on third-parties to serve their customers. For example, a flight booking app needs to integrate with third-party payment gateways to facilitate payments and refunds.

A SOC 2 report will include such third-parties, but the same is not true for SOC for Cybersecurity.

Types of Reports

SOC 2 comes with two reports:

Type 1: Presents whether the description of risk management controls is at par with the description criteria. The report is prepared for a specific timeline.

Type 2: Includes the auditor's observations after testing the effectiveness of the security protocols. Additionally, it provides assurance on the controls described in the Type 1 report.

As you can see, the differences show the two reports are not the same, and they cannot be interchanged. So, you will need a SOC for Cybersecurity to assess the cybersecurity controls, policies, and processes in place.

Additionally, you can go for a SOC 2 report if you are in service to validate your product. However, none of the examinations are mandatory but used as best practices.

What is AICPA SOC?

System and Organization Controls (SOC) is a range of services and audits offered by the AICPA. All of them deal with system-level controls used by an organization to combat information threats.

SOC for Cybersecurity is one of the services under the overall umbrella of SOC. Additionally, you have other services like:

SOC for Service Organizations

It is a report focusing solely on the internal controls of an organization that deal with information. CPAs provide three SOC for service organization reports:

  • SOC 1: ICFR

  • SOC 2: Trust Services Criteria

  • SOC 3: Trust Services Criteria for General Use Report

SOC for Supply Chain

This report focuses on the control around the distribution of goods. As a result, it serves to improve cybersecurity risk management programs for supply chains.

How Long does SOC for Cybersecurity Take?

SOC is a time-consuming process. CPAs need to go over all technologies, controls, and processes. The more the processes, the more time it will take to complete the SOC.

Generally, CPAs need ten to twelve weeks to draft a SOC report.

SOC for Cybersecurity is a framework to report on the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk management programs. Any organization can perform a SOC for discovering gaps in its cybersecurity efforts. It is done by a CPA over many weeks.

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