Security teams depend on the SOC 2 compliance standard because it’s comprehensive. At present, SOC 2 covers multiple domains of information security, including access control, data assets, change control, activity around those assets, backup, and a business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

Successfully achieving SOC 2 compliance ensures that a software product demonstrates applicable principles such as security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data from the development phase all the way through to deployment and functioning. These are all performance characteristics that compliment and synergize with data security posture management, leading to a virtuous cycle of security hygiene.

Of course, SOC 2’s exhaustive nature can also become one of the biggest challenges for companies seeking out certification; they need to report on all criteria and then connect the dots between them to demonstrate a complete view of their compliance controls in place and in working order, making SOC 2 certification reasonably difficult to achieve. One of the critical and difficult domains in security compliance to implement, maintain complete visibility and periodically revalidate is access control. Organizations struggle to stay on top of identity and access management (IAM) under the best of circumstances; gathering all the necessary data to satisfy the many checks and analyses of SOC auditors can require a time-intensive and complex process. Any permissions issue or least privilege violation can stand in the way of SOC 2 certification, and that’s just in the IAM realm.

Then there’s data security, which requires deep data visibility and visualization techniques. Although many organizations have access to their own cybersecurity teams and stacks of cybersecurity tools, developing a true understanding of company data presents a great challenge. That’s why CISOs need to build data-centric strategies both to achieve continuous compliance and to push the entire cybersecurity industry forward in 2022 and beyond.

The importance of data security posture management

The data-centric strategies that will support organizations on their journeys to SOC 2 certification or any equivalent certification must integrate Data Security Posture Management (DSPM). Traditionally, many cybersecurity products on the market have been focused on protecting the network, hosts, and applications. When organizations started moving to the cloud, Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) became the industry’s sole focus. Since then, rapid cloud computing adoption and the growth of SaaS applications have extended the boundaries of data. In the last 15-20 years, the volume, velocity, value, and volatility of data have exploded. In turn, the threats leveraged against that data have also increased dramatically.

After surveying organizations all over the world, Gartner identified DSPM as one of the important security domains that will play a vital role in improving overall cybersecurity strategies. Over the next three to five years, cybersecurity professionals will need to continue shifting their focus toward DSPM and developing strategies that reflect deepening maturity around data security. The organizations that succeed will add value across their entire enterprises, drive ROI, and stay ahead of their competitors.

SOC 2 compliance and DSPM go hand-in-hand

For cybersecurity software providers, achieving SOC 2 certification does more than just ensure the organization follows strict security guidelines and best practices from development to deployment: it also shows that they practice what they preach. Frameworks like SOC 2, CIS and ISO are a good way to assess which organizations sit at the industry’s cutting edge, and which can develop and maintain a keen understanding of their data security.

I predict that in the near future, IPS/IDS for data protection and data intrusion prevention will emerge as critical data-centric security tools in support of the DSPM domain. Organizations that win with DSPM will relate data security and data flow activities from multiple angles, including compliance, cybersecurity, regulations, business enablement, and threat factors. In that vein, we can expect that data visualization across multiple clouds will emerge as the next big cybersecurity milestone. Ultimately, better data governance, visualization and protection capabilities along with senior management buy-in will empower organizations to more effectively satisfy third-party audits and achieve information security certifications such as SOC 2 straight out-of-the-gate.

Gopi Ramamoorthy, senior director of security and GRC Engineering, Symmetry Systems