Best Practices and Industry Standards | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack

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Cybersecurity is no longer a prerogative of the government agencies and secret spies from the movies. Essentially, every company that handles data in any form, needs to comply with certain standards in order to protect themselves and the entities that they contact, from the ever-growing cyber threat.

Furthermore, organizations that provide cybersecurity products and services, need to comply with certain industry standards to build their reputation and ensure high-level protection. In fact, the recent Varonis [1] report states that on average, every employee has access to 11 million files. If compliance standards aren’t met, the company is exposed to a high risk of a data breach.

So what are the industry-specific cybersecurity certifications that are the most demanded right now? Below, we’ve mentioned some must-haves, but the list goes on and on. It’s also worth mentioning that aside from the cyber certifications like CIS, ISO, SOC2, and NIST, the companies also need basic compliance with mandatory regulations like GDPR for data protection in the EU and PCI DSS for payment cards security worldwide.

Service Organization Control (SOC2) is a cybersecurity report framework that denotes guidelines for customers’ data management. Launched in 2011 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), this framework is based on Trust Services Criteria (TSC). There is only five of them to follow:

  • Security
  • Availability
  • Processing integrity
  • Confidentiality
  • Privacy

To confirm the quality of security processes, the companies that comply with the SOC2 standard, submit regular reports to their clients, partners, regulators, and suppliers. Each organization decides on its own particular form of a report. The main principle is that these reports should capture one or more of the trust criteria, describing how they handle the security of data. However, two major report types do apply: the Type I report that represents vendor’s systems and their designs in the light of the TSC, and the Type II report that casts the spotlight on operational effectiveness. It is possible to get the SOC2 certification through outside auditors. They want to assess the conformity of the company’s cybersecurity systems and processes to the abovementioned five TSCs.

Practise shows that compliance is best when working in the mix, like the specific cybersecurity certification plus mandatory compliance. For example, Sigma rules at SOC Prime’s Detection as Code platform include the latest detection content from over 300 researchers to more than 6,000 enterprises globally, completed the SOC2 Type II auditing procedure and is compliant with GDPR standards. Companies that use SOC Prime’s services can be sure that the privacy of their data satisfies the highest standards and that the platform’s security practices, policies, operations, and procedures meet the relevant standards for secure data management.

Furthermore, by leveraging SOC Prime’s fully anonymous translation engine Uncoder.IO, it is easy to instantly translate generic Sigma rules into a variety of SIEM and EDR/XDR formats and deploy them in the organization’s own environment without having to share the organization’s internal data with third-party service providers. Uncoder.IO is based on a community-verified project Sigmac and has an overall A+ rating according to Qualys SSL Labs.

The NIST Framework is originally developed for maintaining critical infrastructure’s cybersecurity to protect entities like power plants and communication lines. Yet, it’s a good framework for any organization out there since it gives quite a detailed and comprehensive structure for organizing a security operations center.

The guidelines document is written on 63 pages, which is much easier than NIST 800-53 for U.S. Federal Government agencies described on 453 pages. The basic concept of the regular 41-page NIST is easy to understand. However, it’s not that easy to implement and may require a lot of time and resources.

Essentially, to comply with this framework, an organization needs to maintain security standards according to the following levels:

  • identification
  • detection
  • protection
  • response
  • recovering

NIST provides instructions on how to identify assets that need cybersecurity protection, how to assess risks, and then come up with proper detection, response, and recovery strategies. It provides a set of highly precise instructions which might be a pain to execute but in the long run, they will certainly benefit a security posture.

ISO is probably the world’s most reputable set of standards that organizations strive to abide by. ISO 27001/27002 is responsible for cybersecurity controls. The framework assumes that a company creates a department called the Information Security Management System (ISMS). So for receiving the ISO 27001 certification, the organization has to maintain the operation of this department for 3 years according to the requirements, having an accurate vision on threats and vulnerabilities, and managing risks. After three annual checks by ISO auditors, the company may get its certificate. The difference between ISO27001 and ISO27002 is that the latter is a set of useful recommendations to meet the ISO27001 requirements. An organization can get only a certificate for ISO27001, not for ISO27002.

One of the mandatory requirements for receiving certification is conducting a business management method called the PDCA cycle.

There are four major steps that need to be taken according to this cycle:

  • Plan — create an ISMS and establish Informational Security (InfoSec) objectives, processes, policies, and procedures to manage the risks.
  • Do — implement the abovementioned InfoSec activities.
  • Check — monitor the performance, then review and analyze it.
  • Act — update and improve due to the results of the analysis.

ISO27001/27002 is a lot of work, probably that’s why it’s mostly adopted by governments and large multinational companies. To certify compliance with the standards, ISO hires third-party auditors. So the company usually contacts a dedicated professional from an audit firm as a consultant, auditor, and authority for approving certification.

Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a nonprofit organization that comprises a worldwide community of volunteer IT professionals. The CIS Critical Security Controls (CIS Controls) is a set of guidelines for mitigating the most widespread attack patterns. The latest publication, Vol. 8, is reviewed by experts from government, technology, and academia and is focused on the challenges of cloud computing, outsourcing, virtualization, and remote-work culture.

Another set of guidelines by CIS is called Benchmarks. It is based on the most popular compliance standards like NIST and HIPAA. What’s good about CIS is that they are ready to help companies from various industries to get started with cybersecurity compliance, even if these businesses are rather small and need to start from scratch. For example, the company might pursue the first level of Benchmarks which encompasses essential security configurations, or go for the second level where they can fine-tune their operation to comply with industry standards and get a chance of receiving certification.

Overall, cybersecurity certification is not an easy road to take but it increases the safety of the organization’s data in a structured and well-tried way. Compliance with the standards from this article is useful both for companies from various industries and for cybersecurity firms in the first place.


[1] https://www.varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics

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