For several years running, data breaches have consistently—and sometimes dramatically—increased in frequency and intensity, leaving companies stymied as to how to keep cybercriminals at bay.
In 2017 alone, we have already witnessed the unfolding of the Equifax data breach, which has compromised over 143 million consumer credit records.
Then there is the Yahoo data breach, which was originally reported in September of 2016, as having affected over 500 million customer files. It turns out that the breach was far more widespread, affecting all Yahoo customers, for a total that topples the 3 billion customer mark and certainly qualifies this event as “the biggest data breach ever.” So far, unfortunately.
There are other breaches that came from what seems as out-of-nowhere, such as the Arby’s breach that involved an installation of malicious software on the company’s point-of-sales systems. Hackers were able to collect data via this infiltration from October 26, 2016 through January 19, 2017, which proved ample time to collect massive amounts of customer data.
With so many additional breaches in all sectors—certainly including healthcare, financial and governmental—it has never been more important to find, adopt and implement tighter cybersecurity assessment measures to understand the risks and prevent or minimize the damage of data breaches.
The AICPA Has Developed a Strategic Solution for Business Owners with the Cybersecurity Risk Management Reporting Framework
Leave it to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to respond to the industry’s distress calls, demanding a workable solution to protect their customers’ data, as well as their brand.
The AICPA’s systematic framework is one component of the organization’s SOC for Cybersecurity examination, which was designed to help businesses manage the many and varied cybersecurity threats. The AICPA devised a set of effective processes and tight controls to help identify, respond and recovery from data security breaches.
The assessments, which are also sometimes referred to as examinations or reports, provide organizations with in-depth information to help understand current and potential security efforts, according to A-Lign.
The Key Criteria for the SOC for Cybersecurity Risk Management Framework
The AICPA created two distinct criteria for the SOC for Cybersecurity, which are:
- Descriptive Criteria
- Control Criteria
Descriptive criteria serve as basic narrative descriptions of an organization’s current risk management program in order to have a baseline reading of the effectiveness of the current controls within the program.
These criteria serve as an ideal baseline against which a company can compare their descriptive data to determine how far off the mark they are.
A few of the available pre-existing control criteria, or family of standards, available for use include:
- Trusted Services Criteria for Security, Availability and Confidentiality
- NIST Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Framework
- ISO 27001/27002
Regardless of the control criteria that an organization chooses, each family of controls provides a means of communicating relevant and useful information about the effectiveness of the business’s cybersecurity risk management program.
Armed with the information about the key criteria—particularly the control criteria—an expert CPA firm can step into any environment and make an assessment of the organization’s cybersecurity health and fitness in the face of the myriad online risks.
What Is the SOC for Cybersecurity Examination?
Performed by trusted CPAs, the SOC for Cybersecurity Examination, is an engagement that focuses on an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program.
This examination covers two areas:
- A description of the business’s cybersecurity risk program.
- The effectiveness of the controls that the organization uses to achieve cybersecurity objectives.
The three components covered by the SOC for Cybersecurity Examination report are:
- Management’s description of the organization’s cybersecurity risk management program
- Management’s assertion about the cybersecurity risk program
- Practitioner’s report
What Are the Benefits of the SOC for Cybersecurity Assessment?
The SOC for Cybersecurity Assessment offers many benefits that only begin with creating a common framework and language that can help you and your IT team instantly get on the same footing.
The System and Organization Controls (SOC) suite of reporting frameworks is a critical addition to your tool kit for a few additional reasons, which include:
- Verified Proof of Your Organization’s Diligent Cybersecurity Efforts.
- Edge Out the Competition.
- Discover and Correct Issues to Prevent Data Breaches.
- Help Your Customers Feel Safe.
The information discovered can help your senior management team, board of directors, investors, analysts and business partners better understand your IT team’s diligent efforts to maintain a safe computing environment. You can build trust with current customers and prospects who do not require any type of proof and if you do need to provide proof to stakeholders who require it, you are ready to provide it.
During meetings with prospects, you can take the lead over local competitors in your field by offering a SOC attestation. While a SOC for Cybersecurity is not mandatory, your prospects are likely to appreciate your above-and-beyond approach to business precautions in the digital age.
Avoiding data breaches is probably your number one goal as your organization’s IT leader, and the SOC for Cybersecurity assessment is a crucial way to help steer clear of any possible intrusions. Continually keeping your finger on the pulse of your cybersecurity helps alert you to issues much sooner.
Customers are becoming increasingly savvy about data breaches. It is tough to avoid these issues now that data breaches strike such familiar brands and industries that more and more people are potentially affected. Your customers can rest easier knowing you are taking non-mandatory, proactive steps to keep their data safe.
What Types of Businesses Should Use the SOC for Cybersecurity Assessment?
Although the damaging effects of a data breach may be different for a large corporation than for a small business owner, all companies that use the Internet are subject to the same risks and should prepare accordingly. A small business owner can suffer professional devastation as easily as a mammoth corporation if their losses are significant. And a marred brand hurts, regardless of the size of the company.
Our CPAs Can Help You Discover Additional Benefits of Performing the SOC for Cybersecurity Assessment
Our CPAs at I.S. Partners, LLC. understand that you want to understand the value of each new service you add to your organization’s roster. We would love to talk to you about all the ways this examination and attestation can benefit you and your customers, prospects and any other stakeholders. Call us at 215-631-3452 or request a quote today!