The system and organization controls (SOC) compliance frameworks set out the standards of a secure information architecture. By design, the framework leaves a high degree of flexibility to allow businesses to make their own decisions regarding how they ensure the security and privacy of their information assets. This is because every service provider has different needs and systems in place.
Because of this degree of flexibility, it’s up to individual auditing firms (those accredited by the CPA) to decide whether or not to mandate certain measures, such as vulnerability scanning and penetration testing. Because of the proactive nature of continuous vulnerability scanning, we consider it vital for determining and maintaining a high level of cybersecurity maturity, and here’s why:
What is vulnerability scanning?
Continuous vulnerability scanning is a proactive measure that focuses on preventing security breaches before they can become a threat. After all, critical network vulnerabilities can result in serious problems ranging from data breaches and compliance failures.
The first step towards implementing vulnerability scanning is building an entire and up to date inventory of all systems connected to your network. This includes physical endpoints, such as laptops, servers, and desktops, and software-based resources like virtual machines and cloud apps and storage. The inventory should also cover networking hardware and systems, such as routers, switches, and firewalls.
The vulnerability scanner will then identify and monitor every system, such as which operating system it's running, which ports are open, and which user accounts are accessing it. Being an event-based measure, vulnerability scanners attempt to log into systems using default or other credentials to provide maximum visibility into your network and security posture. Finally, the system will then check every item in the inventory against databases of known vulnerabilities. With the assistance of a managed services provider, this process will be augmented by expert manual review, as well as cutting-edge solutions like AI and machine learning.
Here are five ways continuous vulnerability scanning can help you achieve SOC 2 compliance:
Ways vulnerability scanning helps you achieve SOC 2 data security
#1. Reduce the cost burden on your business
The costs of a serious data breach can easily run into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. On top of that, there are the indirect costs to consider too, which are often difficult to quantify, such as reputational damage. Even if sensitive client data doesn’t end up exposed during a security incident, the costs of remediation incurred by factors like extended downtime are far higher than the proactive measures needed to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place. As such, vulnerability scanning reduces unexpected costs by reducing risk.
#2. Keep one step ahead of cyberthreats
Cyberattackers are using an increasingly wide and sophisticated range of tools and tactics to penetrate business networks, which is why you always need to stay one step ahead. Often, this means using similar tactics to those cybercriminals use. For example, attackers often use readily available port scanners to detect open and unprotected entryways into your network. Vulnerability scanning works in much the same way, giving you a chance to close the gaps before attackers can exploit them.
#3. Get an outside perspective on your security
Although it’s important not to underestimate the prevalence of insider threat, most attacks are perpetrated from the outside. That’s why it’s so important to have a fresh, external perspective on the state of your security. After all, it’s a lot easier to miss something important when you’re relying solely on in-house resources. External vulnerability scanning and penetration testing works like a simulated attack in many ways. It’s part of a rapidly growing area known as white-hat hacking.
#4. Maintain compliance and security at scale
You can’t protect what you don’t know about, just as you can’t expect to achieve compliance when you don’t have complete visibility into your network architecture. Many businesses aren’t even sure where all their assets lie, nor which controls are in place to protect them. Given the rapid proliferation and diversity of digital systems, it’s not easy too. In fact, achieving a decent level of security maturity becomes exponentially harder at scale. Vulnerability scanning helps not only achieve SOC 2 compliance, but also prepare for other audits and certifications.
#5. Enable a cycle of continuous improvement
As technology continues to evolve, so do the tactics cybercriminals use to exploit it. What may have worked perfectly yesterday might not be so effective tomorrow. That’s why businesses must think along the lines of continuous improvement and adaptation. Continuous vulnerability scanning and regular, quarterly reviews and audits help you keep apace with changes. This also gives you the opportunity to patch newly discovered vulnerabilities and innovate quickly without adding unnecessary risk to your operations.
Charles IT provides external vulnerability scanning services to help you identify possible issues and meet the demands of compliance at scale. Contact us today to find out more!