SOC 2® compliance for Azure cloud infrastructure is critical for businesses that deal with sensitive customer data and must comply with regulatory requirements. SOC 2 is a data protection audit standard that looks at a company’s data protection policies. The aim of this article is to help companies using Azure to understand how they can leverage different tools available on the cloud platform to ensure SOC 2 compliance. 

What to Know About Preparing for a SOC 2 Audit on Azure 

The word audit is revered both in the accounting and security departments of an organization. To ensure a company is compliant with SOC 2 standards, an audit is usually conducted. Such an audit causes uneasiness among security professionals because the SOC 2 audit involves a lot of things, especially when using a cloud platform like Microsoft Azure. Hence, the need to adequately prepare for it. But how should companies prepare for the SOC 2 audit when using Azure? We have identified a few things you must know about preparing for the audit if you are using Azure services. 

  • Recognize the following SOC 2 requirements: Discover the five trust service criterion (security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy). 
  • Prepare for the audit by completing the following tasks: Develop an audit roadmap and involve all important stakeholders in the planning process. 
  • Ensure continuous compliance: Create processes for continued compliance and review of your Azure environment for any changes that may compromise SOC 2 compliance. 
  • Controls must be documented: All relevant controls and processes must be recorded; including policies, procedures, and technical controls 
  • Examine Azure services: Check to verify if the Azure services you utilize meet SOC 2 standards. 
  • Conduct a security audit: Conduct a thorough security assessment of your Azure infrastructure to identify any possible weaknesses or threats. 
  • Examine access and authorization: Make sure sensitive data access is properly regulated and authorized. 
  • Prepare for on-site audit: Have all necessary papers and personnel available for the on-site audit. 

What Companies Should Know About Maintaining SOC 2 Compliance for Azure Cloud Infrastructure 

Many cloud platforms, Microsoft Azure included, provide an architecture that eases compliance with different security standards like SOC2. However, it is the responsibility of companies to leverage the architecture to comply with security standards. So, how can companies using Azure cloud infrastructures maintain SOC 2 compliance? Below are a few approaches to ensuring SOC 2 compliance in Azure: 

  • Follow Microsoft’s security guidelines: Microsoft adheres to strict security requirements, and using Azure services that satisfy SOC 2 is crucial. For security and compliance, Azure Active Directory, Azure Key Vault, and Azure Monitor can be used. 
  • Set up access controls: Access to sensitive data should be restricted to those who require it, with a mechanism in place for granting, canceling, and monitoring access. This may be enforced using Azure role-based access restrictions and Azure AD. 
  • Encrypt sensitive data: To prevent unwanted access, encrypt all sensitive data at rest and in transit. Azure Key Vault is a tool for managing encryption keys and encrypting data in Azure services. 
  • Keep an eye on activity: Continuously monitor the Azure infrastructure for security events and respond accordingly. Azure Monitor may be used to configure alerts and notifications, as well as produce security-related data. 
  • Conduct frequent security audits: To discover any vulnerabilities in the Azure environment, regular security assessments and penetration testing should be undertaken. 

Related article: What You Need to Know about SOC 2 for Cloud Security. 

Best Azure Tools for SOC 2 Audit Prep and Compliance 

So far, it is clear that Azure has different tools that organizations can use to ensure SOC 2 compliance. We have reviewed the different tools and will be discussing the best while focusing on different areas: preparing for the audit, optimizing the audit process, and maintaining SOC 2 compliance. 

Preparing for SOC 2 Audit 

  1. Azure Active Directory (AAD): It is a cloud-based identity and access management service. Companies can apply it in managing their users’ access to cloud resources, enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA), and detecting possible security breaches in users’ activities. 

Azure Active Directory: ServiceNow Integration with Azure AD 

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  1. Azure Security Center: This is a unified security management platform, which delivers live security threat detection and best-practice suggestions. It works in tandem with other Azure services to create a holistic security solution. The tool provides assistance to enterprises in preparing for a SOC 2 assessment by ensuring that security best practices are followed. 

Azure Security Center: Introduction 

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 3. Azure Monitor: Log collection and analysis is an integral part of SOC 2 audit preparation. Companies can leverage Azure Monitor to gather and analyze logs to gain insight on Azure resources’ health and performance.  The application may be used to monitor resource activity, gather logs, and identify security events, assisting firms in preparing for a SOC 2 audit by providing the essential information to demonstrate compliance. 

What is Azure Monitor? 

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 4. Azure Policy: When using Azure services, this tool aids in the enforcement of compliance rules like SOC 2.  It helps in detecting misconfigurations and resources that are non-compliant. Also, it helps in the enforcing of best practices like the encryption of sensitive data. 

Azure Governance and the latest updates on Azure Policy | Azure Friday 

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 Optimizing Soc 2 Audit Process 

  1. Azure Automation: Azure Automation is an important tool for optimizing SOC 2 audit process. The tool allows organizations to automate repetitive processes. Using the tool to automate operations like monitoring, reporting, and compliance checks saves time, hence optimizing the SOC 2 audit process. Needless to mention that it also minimizes the effort needed to execute common routine tasks. 
  1. Azure Log Analytics: Azure Log Analytics is another important tool organizations use to optimize SOC 2 audit process. It can be used to collect, consolidate, analyze, and display log data from numerous sources. This tool may be used to identify possible security events and enhance overall security posture. Thus, it assists enterprises in maintaining SOC 2 compliance by providing the essential information to show compliance. 
  1. Azure DevOps: Your company can use Azure DevOps to automate processes and manage environment changes. Applying it in SOC 2 audit, it helps to streamline the process through automation of operations like documentation and change management. It also acts as a unified solution for tracking and managing changes. 

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Maintaining SOC 2 Compliance 

  1. Azure Information Protection (AIP): The AIP is a solution for categorizing, tagging, and securing sensitive data. This tool may be used to guarantee that sensitive data is appropriately safeguarded, assisting companies in maintaining SOC 2 compliance by satisfying the required procedures for sensitive data protection. 
  1. Azure Compliance Manager: As the name suggests, the Compliance Manager is a solution for tracking and evaluating compliance with various rules and standards. This tool may be used to track and analyze SOC 2 compliance, providing enterprises with the information they need to meet compliance. 
  1. Azure Key Vault: The Key Vault is Azure’s service offering for storing and managing sensitive data like passwords, tokens, and encryption keys, securely. The tool is SOC 2 compliant. Hence, companies use it to secure their sensitive information, thereby maintaining their compliance with SOC 2 standards. 

Related article: What’s the Difference between SOC 1 and SOC 2 Reports? 

Using Azure solutions for SOC 2 compliance may significantly assist enterprises by expediting the compliance process and ensuring that their data is safeguarded in accordance with the most recent security requirements. Organizations may limit the risk of data breaches, satisfy regulatory obligations, and maintain a competitive advantage in the market by employing Azure’s security capabilities and solutions. Whether your firm is just getting started with security controls or wants to upgrade its current ones, Azure can help you reach SOC 2 compliance and provide you with peace of mind that your data is safe. 

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