Security Audit

A Comprehensive Guide to SOC 2 Penetration Testing

Updated on: April 29, 2022

A Comprehensive Guide to SOC 2 Penetration Testing

In today’s world, where data is the currency, it’s very important to keep it from hackers. This is where compliance standards come in. The data that belongs to the users, their financial information, social security numbers, and other sensitive information are all protected by compliance standards. 

The government sets the compliance standards, and the organizations that the government regulates are required to adhere to these standards. Further, these compliance standards define the security policies, rules and provide the guidelines, ensuring the user data is safe from hackers with proper security measures taken by organizations.

One such compliance is SOC 2 compliance. In this blog post, we will understand what SOC 2 compliance is and how SOC 2 penetration testing acts as an important complementary practice to becoming SOC 2 compliant.

What is SOC 2 Compliance?

Security should be always a top priority for all businesses. However, it becomes even more important when sensitive customer and business data is involved. While there are several security compliance standards and certifications, the most recognized is SOC 2 or Security and Compliance Controls for Cloud Service Providers.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) developed the SOC 2 standards. 

SOC 2 compliance involves adhering to a set of guidelines and controls designed to ensure that cloud providers properly protect the data they are entrusted with. It also helps customers determine whether a cloud provider meets their internal controls and can adequately protect the data they entrust to the provider.

A successful SOC 2 report is a critical requirement for businesses storing data on behalf of customers in the cloud. The SOC 2 provides a set of security controls that will protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your customer’s data when implemented and operating effectively. 

What is the difference between SOC 2 Type I and Type II?

There are multiple ways to secure your website from hackers. One of the most important steps of ensuring the security of your website is through the implementation of a Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 report. SOC 2 is a type of report that details how your website manages security, privacy, and availability.

Let’s understand two types of SOC 2 compliance SOC 2 reports.

SOC 2 Type I

SOC 2 Type I compliance is a standard that ensures that your IT infrastructure is reliable and safe enough to safeguard confidential information. This type of compliance is applicable to cloud service providers (CSPs). 

SOC 2 Type II

SOC 2 Type II compliance ensures the service providers have proper controls to ensure the security and privacy of customer data. It is also known as SSAE 16 or SAS 70.

S No.SOC2 Type ISOC2 Type II
1SOC2 Type I is usually done when organization is short on time and need to prove to customer that they are secure.SOC2 Type I is done when organization has enough time to get complete SOC2 report.
2SOC2 Type I costs comparatively less than SOC2 Type II.SOC2 Type II costs higher can SOC2 Type I compliance.
3Less security standards are required in SOC2 Type I compliance.Very detailed security standards are required in SOC2 Type II compliance.
4SOC2 Type I takes around 4 months to get completed.SOC2 Type II takes around 9-12 months to get completed.

It is one small security loophole v/s your entire website or web application

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5 Principles of SOC 2 Compliance

SOC 2 Compliance is not just an audit; it’s a commitment to your organization and your customers. SOC 2 Compliance is an independent audit that can be done on an annual basis. The SOC 2 framework is based on five principles. 

5 Principles of SOC2 Compliance
Image: 5 Principles of SOC 2 Compliance

The five trust principles are: 

1. Security

Protecting data from unauthorized access is an essential element of information security. The Security principle addresses this by requiring that only authorized individuals have access to data and that unauthorized individuals do not. This can be achieved by defining access control lists (ACLs) for every resource, including data, hardware, programs, and network servers. ACLs are like lists of people invited to a party, and they specify who can access each resource.

2. Availability

The principle states that the system must be operational for designated users within the agreed-upon non-availability continually. The system must be available for use as specified in the service level agreement (SLA). 

For example, if a customer requires that the system be available 99.5% of the time, but their SLA only requires the system to be available at least 99% of the time, then the customer’s requirement has not been met. The system must be available for use as specified in the service level agreement (SLA).

3. Processing Integrity

The processing integrity principle ensures that the system’s security controls are designed and implemented so that the system accurately provides and protects the data that it is processing. It is an integrity principle because it ensures that the processed data is protected from unauthorized access or manipulation.

4. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a key tenet of the security principles and framework. Confidentiality is defined as the property that data is accessible only to those persons or organizations that need to know. Confidentiality can be enforced through various means, including physical security, logical security, and operational security.

5. Privacy

The privacy principle covers the confidentiality of all information in the system, including personal information, and should be applied to all data at rest and in transit. This includes the assurance that access to these data is strictly controlled and that data is only disclosed to those with a need to know and then only for legitimate purposes. The privacy principle also covers the protection of personally identifiable information (PII) in accordance with applicable laws.

Is Penetration Testing mandatory to achieve SOC 2 compliance?

Achieving SOC 2 compliance is complex, and many companies find the process to be quite daunting. The audit scope is quite extensive, and it’s straightforward for something to go wrong. One of the biggest problems with SOC 2 compliance is that it’s not always entirely clear whether or not a particular practice is necessary or not. For instance, is penetration testing required to achieve SOC 2 compliance?

Penetration testing is not mandatory to achieve SOC 2 compliance. However, it is necessary to ensure that controls are in place to detect and prevent unauthorized access to systems, applications, and data. 

Although, performing penetration testing is not a mandatory task for SOC 2, penetration testing is an excellent way to see where a company is vulnerable and identify any weaknesses in its security. It can also help companies prioritize where they should focus their cybersecurity efforts. Penetration testing is not only an essential step in achieving SOC 2 compliance but also in achieving overall security. It is an integral part of a company’s risk management strategy.

Read: Why Is Penetration Testing So Important

How to design a Pentesting Framework for SOC 2 Compliance?

Though not made mandatory, penetration testing is mentioned explicitly in the SOC 2 Type II Points of Focus. Here are a few points that relate to penetration testing.

According to CC4.1 (Additional points to focus)

“Management uses a variety of different types of ongoing and separate evaluations, including penetration testing, independent certifications made against established specifications (for example, ISO certifications), and internal audit assessments.”

According to CC7.1

“The entity conducts vulnerability scans designed to identify potential vulnerabilities or misconfigurations on a periodic basis and after any significant change in the environment and takes action to remediate identified deficiencies on a timely basis.”

By reading both of them, we can clearly understand that penetration testing is not necessary to perform; but it’s essential to identify security risks and appropriately manage those risks.

SOC2 Penetration Testing Methodology
Image: SOC 2 Penetration Testing Methodology

How can Penetration Testing help in SOC 2 Compliance?

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of organizations undergoing compliance audits to demonstrate their adherence to the many laws, regulations, and standards that govern their industry. Part of these compliance audits is vulnerability scans and penetration tests.

  • Penetration Testing is a part of SOC 2 compliance. It is one of the most crucial checks which the SOC 2 compliance committee looks into. Penetration Testing is a part of a bigger testing process mostly done by the security engineers and the security teams.
  • Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning are two important checks for SOC 2 compliance. SOC 2 Compliance is a set of codes and standards designed to ensure that the Security and IT Controls of a company are in line with the security and privacy needs of the customers. 
  • SOC 2 compliance is important in the digital world, where privacy breaches are not unheard of. A SOC 2 Compliance report acts as proof for the customers that their data is safe with you. These reports also allow you to explain to the customers the steps you take to secure the data. 
  • Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning are two different checks that are part of the SOC 2 compliance process. Both these checks are performed to ensure that the security of your data is in line with the security that you are promising to your customers.

Some benefits of performing regular pentest are:

  1. Helps organizations understand and fix the security posture
  2. Ensuring that the data is protected from cyber-criminals
  3. Save the cost of data breach
  4. Prevent hackers from exploited security vulnerabilities

Also read: A Comprehensive Guide to Penetration Testing Compliance

How can Astra Pentest help you in SOC 2 Penetration Testing?

Security is an integral part of every organization. But it becomes extremely difficult to assess and identify potential security loopholes and vulnerabilities without an expert team. Having an independent security testing company is the best way to ensure that your business never comes under a cyber attack. This is where Astra comes in.

At Astra, we understand that compliance is an important step towards securing your company and your customers. With the help of Astra Pentest, you can easily achieve this. 

When it comes to SOC 2, Astra’s SOC 2 Penetration Testing Report can help you comply with the industry standard. Astra has the necessary expertise in performing SOC 2 Penetration Testing, which includes understanding and conforming to the security principles of the standard, as well as the testing process and the reporting. 

Why Choose Astra for SOC2 Penetration Testing?
Image: Why Choose Astra for SOC 2 Penetration Testing?

Conclusion

Security and compliance standards are a vital part of any company. After all, if you’re not secure, you can’t hope to comply with the rules, regulations, and policies of any industry you’re in. As part of the SOC 2 compliance standard, penetration testing can help to ensure that your company is doing everything it can to protect itself from cyberattacks. Penetration testing is just one part of the SOC 2 compliance standard. It’s not necessarily the most important part, but it’s still vital to your company’s overall security. Astra’s pentest suite is used by organizations worldwide to protect data and comply with industry standards. If you are looking for comprehensive pocket-friendly penetration testing solutions, feel free to get in touch with an Astra-naut.

Have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to talk to us anytime!

We are also available on weekends 😊

FAQs

1. What is the timeline for Soc 2 penetration testing?

It takes 4-10 days to complete SOC 2 penetration testing.

2. How much does penetration testing cost?

The cost of penetration testing for web apps is between $99 and &399 per month. The cost for cloud pentest and mobile pentest may vary based on the scope of the test. Check our pentest pricing.

3. Why choose Astra for SOC 2 Penetration Testing?

If you are looking for Pentest for SOC 2 compliance, Astra Security is the perfect pentest partner for you. The recently launched compliance reporting feature makes it easy for you to monitor and manage compliance.

4. Do I also get rescans after a vulnerability is fixed?

Yes, based on the plan you get 1-3 rescans. You can avail of these scans within 30 days of the initial pentest completion.

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Kanishk Tagade

Kanishk Tagade is a B2B SaaS marketer. He is also corporate contributor at many technology magazines. Editor-in-Chief at "QuickCyber.news", his work is published in more than 50+ news platforms. Also, he is a social micro-influencer for the latest cybersecurity, digital transformation, AI/ML and IoT products.
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