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When Will You See the Benefit of an Audit?

Are you considering going through an information security audit for the first time? Are you contemplating a requirement for all of your vendors to undergo information security audits? Are you looking for an auditing firm who can help your organization utilize the benefits of auditing? Do you need help explaining the value of information security audits to executive management? Are you trying to cultivate a culture of compliance within your organization? We’re here to help.

What are the Advantages to Auditing?

Many people are intimidated by the requirements, price, and efforts of auditing, but we believe the benefits outweigh the cost. Yes, undergoing information security audits is a challenging and time-consuming process for most organizations, but our Information Security Specialists aim to educate clients on the value that attestations and compliance can bring to their business, which range from competitive advantages to reputational improvement. When your organization has completed an information security audit and gained compliance, the challenges you faced will be worth it.

However, getting executives on board with undergoing information security audits can be challenging, because many organizations are fearful of the process. We see many organizations get stuck in the checkbox mentality, where they view auditing as an item to be checked off a list rather than understanding the purpose and benefits. At KirkpatrickPrice, we want to be your audit partner, not just an item to check off on a list. We want to walk through this audit lifecycle with you, enhancing your business by placing security and compliance at the forefront of the current threat landscape.

Are you ready to get started on securing your business? Do you want to ensure your security posture is as strong as possible? Do you want to see how your mindset toward auditing can change over a three-year period?

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SOC for Cybersecurity FAQs

What is SOC for Cybersecurity?

Because most organizations conduct some portion of their business in cyberspace, they open themselves up to a new level of risk. Who they are, what they do, and what information they possess can make businesses targets for malicious attackers. Reputational damage, disruption of business operations, fines, litigation, and loss of business can all be consequences of a cybersecurity attack. It’s more important than ever to demonstrate the extent and effectiveness of your organization’s cybersecurity risk management program. Understanding this, the AICPA created SOC for Cybersecurity, a general use report that describes an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program and verifies the effectiveness of its controls. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about SOC for Cybersecurity.

What is SOC for Cybersecurity?

In April 2017, the AICPA announced a new cybersecurity risk management reporting framework, paired with a market-driven, voluntary SOC for Cybersecurity examination. Because this framework and examination are so new, many still have questions about what it is and if their organization could benefit from it.

What is the Purpose of a SOC for Cybersecurity Report?

A SOC for Cybersecurity report is a general use report that describes an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program and verifies the effectiveness of its controls, which can help stakeholders make informed decisions and can address vendor or supply chain risk management practices.

Who Needs a SOC for Cybersecurity Report?

Any organization who wishes to provide their board of directors, analysts, investors, business partners, industry regulators, or users with perspective and confidence in their cybersecurity risk management program.

How is a SOC for Cybersecurity Report Different than a SOC 1 and SOC 2 Report?

A SOC 1 engagement is an audit of the internal controls at a service organization that may be relevant to their client’s internal control over financial reporting. SOC 2 reports help service organizations cultivate confidence in their service delivery processes and controls, based on the Trust Services Criteria. A SOC for Cybersecurity report, though, fosters confidence in an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program.

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Making Sense of the Different Audit Frameworks

SSAE 16, SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI DSS, FISMA, ISO 27001. We’ve all heard of the Alphabet Soup, but what do they all really mean?

Which one is right for me? Which one should I pursue? Why would I get this audit over that audit? As auditors, these are the questions we are most frequently asked.

To help answer these questions and truly familiarize you with the different audit frameworks, we’ve broken down the Who’s, What’s, and Why’s for the most commonly reported on frameworks.

SSAE 16/SOC 1

Who asks for an SSAE 16? If you work with publicly traded companies, financial institutions, or state or local government, you will frequently be required to have an SSAE 16 (or SOC 1) audit performed by a third party. It is the most commonly used form of attestation for service providers in the US. So what is an SSAE 16? It’s an audit and report on internal controls (whether related to information security, financial, operational, or compliance controls) at a service provider that are relevant to their client’s data. The SSAE 16 audit takes a risk-based approach, with specified objectives that are created to address client risk, and controls, or activities, to accomplish each objective. A third-party auditor would be looking at your environment to make sure your objectives are appropriate, your controls are effectively designed, and that you are doing what you say you are doing. An SSAE 16 audit is as good as its scope.

SOC 2

Typically, the same clients who are asking you for an SSAE 16 will be the ones asking you for a SOC 2 audit. Whereas SOC 1 was designed to validate internal controls at a service provider that relate to client financial reporting and validate information security, SOC 2 was a framework specifically designed for companies delivering technology related services. The SOC 2 framework is finally gaining popularity. SOC 2 was specifically designed to report on one of five principles: Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Processing Integrity, and Privacy. The established criteria for each principle address the following questions: How are your policies and procedures relative to the standard documented? How do you communicate those to all interested parties? How do you monitor that those controls are being effectively performed?

HIPAA

If you are working for a healthcare provider or a Business Associate who services a healthcare provider, you are going to be asked for validation of your compliance with HIPAA laws. Any entity who handles Protected Health Information (PHI) will be responsible for compliance with HIPAA. Legislation requires appropriate Physical, Administrative, and Technical Safeguards to protect PHI. Much like the SSAE 16, HIPAA compliance is risk-based. You must begin by performing a Risk Assessment to determine what the appropriate physical, administrative, and technical safeguards are, implement those, and then perform regular monitoring to ensure the safeguards are still appropriate. There is no “hard list” of requirements for HIPAA, and there is no certification. A third-party audit would provide validation of your controls and their appropriateness and effectiveness.

PCI

The PCI Data Security Standard applies primarily to the payment card industry. If you store, transmit, or process cardholder data, you will be required to comply with PCI DSS. Additionally, if you have a client who is required to comply with PCI DSS, they are required to validate your compliance with the standard as well. PCI DSS is a very robust information security standard, and is also sometimes used as a best practice, even without handling credit card data. A PCI audit is an information security audit focused on the protection of credit card data. All PCI audits are performed by a PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). There are over 200 controls and 1,000 audit tests that make up the framework and process. There are six control objectives with 12 subject areas. When a third-party auditor performs a PCI audit, it results in a PCI Report on Compliance (ROC).

FISMA

FISMA Compliance is required of anyone working with the federal government, a federal contractor, or a sub-service provider of a federal contractor. FISMA is the law. NIST Special Publication 800-53 is the actual standard that lists the individual security controls required to comply with FISMA. A FISMA audit is a thorough assessment of your information security practices as it relates to NIST SP 800-53 requirements. It involves a detailed risk assessment, and a selection of comprehensive controls determined by whether you are a low, moderate, or high category. Out of the frameworks we’ve covered so far, FISMA is the most extensive.

ISO 27001-27002

If your customers are doing business globally, chances are you’ll be asked for an ISO 27001 audit. It is a very mature, holistic, information security standard that is widely recognized and highly revered on an international level. 27001 is the entire standard, and 27002 refers to just the controls. An ISO 27001 audit is a complete audit of your Information Security Management System (ISMS). This includes management system, risk management, internal audit, management review, continual improvement, and information security controls.

What is Meant by Audit Framework?

If you are unsure what is mean by an audit framework, please read over these Kirkpatrick Price resources:

Determining which audit framework is the best for your organization depends on a number of things; who your clients are, who your clients’ clients are, and what kind of information you process. For more information on a specific framework, or if you are interested in speaking with an Information Security Specialist for a consultation, contact us today.