What Type of Compliance is Right for You? 10 Common Information Security Frameworks

by Hannah Grace Holladay / April 11th, 2023

We know that when it comes to threats you want to make sure that you’re ready. In order to do that, you need a quality cybersecurity and compliance audit report that gives you results you can trust.  

The problem is choosing the right framework for your business and unique data needs can be complicated.  There are so many frameworks and regulations to learn about and sift through to see what best applies to your business. You’re probably asking yourself: What do they all mean? Which framework or regulation does my organization need to comply with? Which one best suits my organization’s needs?  

In this post, you’ll learn about the most common information security frameworks, who they apply to, and how they can benefit your organization.

Commonly Used Frameworks

Deciding to undergo an information security audit can be daunting for the sole reason that there are so many frameworks and regulations to learn about. Let’s break down the most common frameworks and how they could benefit your organization.

SOC 1

A SOC 1 audit is an audit that is performed in accordance with the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 18 (SSAE 18). SOC 1 reports are designed to report on the controls at a service organization that could impact their clients’ financial statements. A SOC 1 audit is not a review of a service organization’s financial statements, but rather a review of internal controls over financial reporting.

SOC 2

As a service provider, how do you validate the security of your services? A SOC 2 audit evaluates internal controls, policies, and procedures as they relate to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of a system. These five established categories, known as the Trust Services Criteria, address the questions like: 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?

PCI DSS

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a robust information security standard that encourages and enhances cardholder data security by providing industry-recognized data security measures. In other words, a PCI audit is an information security audit focused on the protection of credit card data. All PCI audits must be performed by a PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and are designed to test whether an organization is compliant with the 12 technical and operational requirements established to protect cardholder data.

ISO 27001

Organizations across the globe can benefit from an ISO 27001 audit. It’s the gold standard for information security and can be used in any vertical approach. Its implementation is customized for each organization’s needs to treat their particular risks. Completing an ISO 27001 audit allows organizations to demonstrate to their business partners that a mature and risk-based information security program is in place.

HIPAA

All covered entities and business associates who process, store, or transmit protected health information (PHI) and electronic protected health information (ePHI) must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Covered entities and business associates are responsible for securing the PHI or ePHI that they hold. If you are a covered entity or a business associate, you must decide which HIPAA laws apply to you – Security, Privacy, or Breach Notification laws. 

GDPR

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is considered to be one of the most significant information security and privacy laws of our time. Born out of cybercrime threats, technology advances, and concerns about data misuse, GDPR requires all data controllers and data processors that handle the personal data of data subjects to implement a program that ensures the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability, and resilience of processing systems. The applicability of the law follows the data, rather than following a person or location, so organizations worldwide will be held accountable for complying with the law. 

FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that governs the access and privacy of educational information and records, such as grades, class lists, student course schedules, and student financial records. The educational records that an organization creates, receives, maintains, or transmits must be protected against reasonably anticipated threats, hazards, and impermissible uses and/or disclosures. FERPA compliance protects the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of educational records. 

FISMA

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a United States legislation, enacted as part of the Electronic Government Act of 2002. FISMA’s intent is to protect government information and assets from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of information and information systems. FISMA is the law; NIST Special Publication 800-53, Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, is the standard that contains the individual security controls FISMA requires organizations to comply with. FISMA compliance is required of anyone working with the federal government, a federal contractor, or a sub-service provider of a federal contractor. 

HITRUST

The HITRUST Common Security Framework, or CSF, is a certifiable framework that provides organizations with a comprehensive, flexible, and efficient approach to regulatory compliance and risk management. The framework was developed to provide a solution to increasing regulatory scrutiny, increasing risk and liability associated with data breaches, inconsistent implementation of minimum controls, and the rapidly changing business, technology, and regulatory environment. It is a framework that was built from what works within other standards and authoritative sources, like ISO 27001/27002, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and NIST 800-53, just to name a few. It was also built on risk management principles and aligns with existing, relative controls, and requirements. It’s scalable depending on organizational, system, and regulatory factors. 

SOC for Cybersecurity

A SOC for Cybersecurity examination is how a CPA firm can report on an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program and verify the effectiveness of internal controls to meet cybersecurity objectives, with the intention of giving stakeholders perspective and confidence in an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program. 

This examination is for 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. 

Partner with KirkpatrickPrice for Your Next Audit

We hope this post makes choosing the right audit framework a little less complicated so starting your audit is easier.  If you still need help figuring out which framework best applies to your organization, just give us a call!  

When you work with KirkpatrickPrice, you can stop feeling like you are going to miss something or be surprised when a client or attacker finds something that wasn’t in your report. You can stop feeling worried that you’re wasting your time using someone who’s not advanced enough to thoroughly test your environment. Instead, you’ll have a report that gets you ready for your next steps, allows you to say yes to client requests, and brings you the assurance you deserve. Cybersecurity and compliance will no longer be a mystery.