Removable Media and Cloud Storage Policy

Removable media, cloud storage, and mobile devices can all be valuable tools for data management. But there are particular concerns associated with them as well.

For example, when it comes to managing BYOD devices, many organizations are unsure of where they stand. “Are we allowed to check the device for malicious software?”, “Can we implement a removal policy if an employee leaves the company?”.

Hopefully, the information in this article about Removable Media / Cloud Storage / BYOD Policy will help you decide how to handle these issues.

Removable edia

Removable media is a general term that refers to any data storage device that you can easily remove from a computer without switching it off, such as a CD, DVD, or USB drive. It can also include external hard drives and phone memory.

Since these devices allow information to be transferred outside the organization, this media is a liability to organizations. It may also introduce security threats such as data leaks or malware infection/spread if lost or stolen.

Suppose employees have unauthorized access to critical company information through their personal USB devices due to security breaches in the organization’s policies and efforts to protect company data. In that case, it could result in severe financial loss, such as hefty fines and legal action (i.e., class-action lawsuits). A removable media policy ensures compliance with various laws and regulations on the use of removable media devices.

Removable Media: What Can You Carry Outside of The Office?

In an example of a solid removable media policy, all removable media must be stored in a locked location if you are not at work. That includes but is not limited to external hard drives or USB sticks, phones, or any removable storage device.

An employee should not leave the business premises with any company-issued technology unless given written approval from a member of management. Employees found in possession of unauthorized storage media should be subject to immediate disciplinary action, which may result in termination.

If an employee possesses authorized removable media, it must have been issued through standard company procedures and remain in the employee’s custody at all times. Company property should not be taken home under any circumstances unless given written approval from a member of management.

Failure to follow this kind of policy may result in immediate termination.

Cloud Storage

First developed in the 1960s, cloud storage is a shared network of remote servers that a business or person can use to store and share data over the internet. With many companies, including Google Drive and Dropbox, offering free trial periods for users to test out cloud storage systems, it has quickly become a widely used method for sharing files between employees and clients.

A significant benefit of cloud storage systems is security. In general, data stored in cloud servers is more secure than being stored on computers, which are more exposed to hacking threats. Furthermore, some cloud storage programs can sync data across multiple devices while still encrypting all files sent through them. Even if a system were infiltrated by a hacker attempting to steal information, the stolen data would be unreadable due to being encrypted at rest.

Some industry experts believe that cloud storage will become one of the most popular methods for storing company data in the future. While there are still kinks that need to be worked out before it becomes widespread, the value of having virtually unlimited amounts of space for documents and easy access anywhere within reason makes this technology an appealing option for many businesses today. Due to its ever-increasing popularity, organizations should carefully consider their cloud storage policies for their business to ensure proper measures are taken when storing potentially sensitive information on third-party servers.

Cloud Storage Policy – 5 main aspects to consider

A cloud storage security policy is a set of rules designed to help protect sensitive data stored in the cloud. There are five key pieces that make up the necessary components of any effective cloud storage security policy:

1) Data encryption at rest;

2) Ability to encrypt data when in transit between an organization’s systems and the cloud;

3) Cloud access requires two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication;

4) Strong password policies for individual accounts on the platform being used;

5) Rules regarding who within an organization can have access to certain types of information.

Suppose a cloud storage security policy isn’t implemented correctly. In that case, it will place an organization’s sensitive data at risk causing the business to lose trust from its clients and customers as well as being held legally responsible for any breaches of privacy resulting from failing to secure their information adequately. That is why creating or updating an existing cloud storage security policy should always include all five components listed above.


BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a policy designed to allow employees to bring their own devices to work so that they can use the same technology at the office as they do at home. The acronym stands for ‘bring your own device’ and was first coined in 2007.

In effect, BYOD allows employees who don’t have access to an enterprise installation of a required software application at home to do so on their personally-owned computers, laptops, smartphones, or tablets. It often gives them unrestricted access to company resources, which can benefit companies as it means that employees are more equipped to complete their work and don’t have to tie up office devices.

On the other hand, there are some risks involved with allowing employees to use their own equipment in the workplace. For example, if they were allowed to download games or non-work-related applications during working hours, this would increase the amount of time taken away from work and, therefore, decrease overall productivity. Furthermore, data stored on these devices are not always owned by the user; instead, it may belong to the manufacturer, operating system creator, or internet service provider. As a result, if this data is breached, it could give hackers access to company information.

BYOD – How to Mitigate Risks?

Creating a BYOD policy may reduce the risks associated with allowing employees to use their own devices at work, but it isn’t always straightforward. For instance, simply introducing a policy isn’t enough; companies must also educate employees on what they can and cannot do with their devices. In order for a BYOD policy to be successful, both the company and employees must understand what it entails. You should establish a strict set of rules. Any types of files or apps which could affect productivity or result in a security breach should not be allowed on personally-owned devices during work hours. However, for casual use outside of office hours, this isn’t necessary. That means that both the company and the employee have responsibilities. Companies are required by law to make sure any technology used for business reasons meets minimum safety and security standards. Employees have to follow any rules outlined in the BYOD policy.

Workstation Security Policy

Workstation Security Policy

Nowadays, a workstation basically refers to a computer or laptop given to employees for work use. Usually, this means they will be accessing sensitive company information such as customer, vendor, and financial data. It is crucial to keep these devices secure so that data is not compromised.

As corporations embrace technology, they also need to be aware of their vulnerabilities. While information technology has brought many benefits around increased productivity and communication, it has been a double-edged sword in that cybercriminals have used this technology to launch attacks against companies. Most of these cybercriminals are interested in gaining access to data or creating havoc amongst employees. Once they have infiltrated the internal network, they can navigate it like a professional.

The security procedures for protecting workstations and other devices connected to the company’s internal network can be highly effective in blocking security threats. However, these measures also need to extend to the standard desktop or laptop that employees use each day at work. Workstation security has a strong stance in creating and enforcing policies that keep data secured when personnel work with sensitive information, such as audits.

Workstation Security Policy

Creating a workstation security policy is the first step in achieving more secure computing in the office environment. A workstation security policy states how the devices should be utilized while employees are working, specifically with company information. The goal of this policy would be to reduce any unnecessary risk by minimizing strictly enforced rules that allow for proper device functionality and prevent any data loss or exposure. For example, it would be best not to allow an employee to save any company data onto the workstation itself, but rather only require them to save all company information in a “secure” cloud storage system.

Before the workstation policy has been implemented, you should consider all of the benefits that could be lost if users cannot use their workstations as they please freely. That includes productivity decreases due to additional training or slower workflows. You should also consider the company’s current culture surrounding computer usage – do users feel they have a fair degree of privacy and freedom on their workstations, or do they think management is too restrictive?

The requirements for which users are allowed to use admin privileges may also affect policy implementation. Employees who perform critical functions with access to sensitive information should be given elevated privileges in their workstations. In contrast, employees who only require access to non-sensitive data do not need this privilege.

A policy for workstation security should also address consequences if there is a breach and what protocol will be followed when dealing with such events. You could implement policy enforcement by using a monitoring system to track all activities on the workstation. Finally, this policy could be adapted to fit each company’s needs best after analyzing specific systems for their flaws or vulnerabilities.

In order for this policy to be effective, all desktops and laptops used by employees should comply with the company’s security policy.

Best Practices for Creating A Workstation Security Policy

Creating a workstation security policy is essential for creating more secure computing environments for companies, small and large. It serves as the foundation for employees’ computing environment and helps protect vital data from compromise by cybercriminals who wish to steal it or cause havoc. A workstation security policy should be designed to protect a company’s interests while also limiting some of its employees’ abilities to circumvent this protection. Here are some best practices for making a solid workstation security policy for your organization.

Input from all departments.

It is crucial to consider the security and access needs of all employees in an organization when designing a workstation security policy. For example, the HR department may need special accommodations or permissions that are unnecessary for others.

Limit the installation of 3rd party programs.

Many programs used by end-users for processing or storing information on their computer may not be needed by the company. Organizations should therefore prevent them from being installed. That includes media players, instant messenger clients, P2P software, games, and other applications that may be installed onto a workstation to make the user’s experience more enjoyable but should not come at the cost of security.

Prevention from data leakage

It is essential to ensure that any files or folders containing sensitive information are kept out of plain sight from employees who may have malicious intentions. Restricting access to files and folders should be viewed as a security measure to keep information safe and limit the amount of data stored on a workstation.

Unused ports

Determine which network ports are necessary for an employee’s department before designing the policy to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing networks or other types of data that they are not authorized to access. That applies to both physical ports on the computer and virtual ports used through protocols such as RDP, VNC, or FTP.

USB storage

A workstation security policy should limit the use of USB storage devices via a restriction placed on drivers for these types of devices. It includes automated file transfer applications, such as P2P file-sharing software and digital media players.

Automated installation 

A workstation security policy should disable the capability of end-users from installing software onto their machines automatically or without authorization to protect the device from malicious programs and data. Installing software without permission can also cause additional security risks that should be closely monitored.

Automated software updates

This includes antivirus applications, OS updates, and other programs running on the workstation. It is crucial to set up automated updates for these types of programs to ensure that they are always kept up-to-date with the most recent patches and vulnerability information.

Password encryption

A workstation security policy should require end-users to set passwords that are encrypted using specific standards to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing the machine if it is lost or stolen. Password complexity should also be an essential factor when designing this portion of the workstation security policy.


Security is of the utmost importance to any company, but it’s especially important for those with workstations. It’s vital to make sure everyone who works at the office understands what they should do if their computer or laptop has been stolen, lost, or damaged. To prevent security incidents and ensure all data remains protected, you should create a workstation security policy and inform every employee about the rules and regulations surrounding these devices.

We hope this guide has been helpful, and best wishes with your new policy! If you have any questions regarding this policy or looking for any assistance with cybersecurity and compliance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us right away!

What is a Data Classification Policy?

Data Classification Policy

The concept of data classification has been around for several decades, and there are various classifications used in different sectors. Data classification is a process of collecting, storing, and handling data in order to minimize the risks associated with data breaches. Data classifications can be used as a security measure both internally and externally. Internally, companies employ different classification levels for information that needs more excellent protection, such as credit card numbers or personal identification details. Externally, governments provide varying degrees of security based on the sensitivity of the information, like classified government documents or social insurance numbers.

A data classification policy is a strategy for classifying a business’s stored information based on the level of its sensitivity, ensuring competent handling, and lowering corporate risks. A data classification policy establishes a framework of rules, processes, and procedures for each information class in order to keep it safe. This policy allows companies to identify and protect sensitive and confidential information. It also helps identify policies that are in place for protecting such data at rest and in transit. The process of classification can also help build a culture that encourages good behavior around data protection.

What are the benefits?

A data classification policy can help companies by:

  • Allowing for a standardized approach to protecting sensitive information.
  • Enabling the use of encryption and other security controls based on data sensitivity levels.
  • Providing an organized structure for identifying, classifying, storing, and securing sensitive information.
  • Reducing the risk of improper employee behavior.
  • Helping ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information.

What are the drawbacks?

  • The biggest problem with a data classification policy is that it can be challenging to enforce. Not every employee may understand what different levels mean or how they affect when and where data is accessed. Furthermore, some organizations do not fully understand which data classes are applicable to their data.
  • Data classification policies can also be expensive if they are not correctly implemented. It requires a lot of time and effort for the initial evaluation process, which is done by trained staff using specialized tools and techniques to map each sensitive piece of information. It also requires extensive training and awareness on how these policies affect employees’ work.

Classes of Data

Data Classification Policies are sets of standard guidelines that companies use to determine which types of information should be treated as Confidential, Sensitive, or Personal data. The most common types of data classifications that businesses use today include Public, Confidential, Sensitive, and Personal data.

Public information is any content that does not have privacy or confidentiality concerns. Public information does not contain any confidential or sensitive data. No laws prevent users from accessing public data or restricting companies from collecting, storing, and using it. Any information that is not classified as Public can be considered Confidential, Sensitive, or Personal.  

Confidential information is any content that is very private, sensitive, or secretive. That can include data that is financially valuable to users or the company itself. Companies must protect confidential data with heightened security measures due to the high risk to users or the company. Confidential information is any data that requires protection or privacy – such as email addresses, bank account numbers, and social security numbers. 

Sensitive Data is information about a person that may cause physical, mental, or legal harm if released without authorization. Sensitive information includes credit card numbers, government ID numbers, and medical records. Sensitive information includes content that is similar or related to confidential data but not as secure. That can include anything from health records and financial statements to student records and test scores. A data classification policy should protect sensitive information by increasing security measures to protect sensitive data such as credit card numbers and passwords. Sensitive information refers to content that could cause harm if publicly available – including protected health information (PHI) or personally identifiable information (PII).

Personal information is any information about an individual that can be used alone or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person. Personal information includes names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Data classification policies should ensure personal data is protected with the highest security measures since it presents a higher risk for identity theft and financial loss.

What Makes an Effective Data Classification Policy?

A classification policy comprises two basic components: the process for classifying information based on sensitivity levels and the security controls in place to help protect classified information.

An effective data classification policy involves a comprehensive and robust approach to protecting personal information. It also means that the company holds itself accountable for ongoing compliance with both privacy legislation and the requirements of other jurisdictions where it operates. It could mean that some data is automatically encrypted without any user intervention; it’s automatic and enforced at a system level, not just on an individual basis. 

We recommend that organizations consider using both a static and dynamic data classification approach. Static data classifications are based on the type of information itself, such as what types of consumer or business information are being collected. In contrast, dynamic classifications are determined by factors that change over time, such as the importance of data at a certain point in time. It makes for a more comprehensive and complete data classification strategy that considers the type of information being stored and its importance to both the organization and its stakeholders.

Data classification policies are most useful in organizations where sensitive data is frequently accessed, especially those that handle financial information, intellectual property, or customer records. They also benefit any organization which holds personal data. Data classification policies work best when businesses adopt them as part of their risk management practices.

Points to Consider Before Writing a Data Classification Policy

Consider the following factors when creating a data classification policy:

  • The sensitivity levels of different types of information need to be identified so they can be classified correctly. That includes both static and dynamic classifications.
  • Ensure you have adequate controls for protecting each level of information in place. These controls should depend on the sensitivity level of the data in question and could include encryption, user authentication, access controls, or segmentation of networked systems.
  • Roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined, so everyone involved understands their role in protecting personal information. That includes training employees on why data classification policies are in place and how they should follow them.
  • Tracking, auditing, and reviewing data classifications should be included as part of an organization’s continuous monitoring activities. That will help to ensure that the proper controls are in place to keep information secure and assess where vulnerabilities may exist.

Nowadays, organizations need to take data protection seriously, and creating a Data Classification Policy is one way of doing this. Still, it should be coordinated with a robust approach that includes static and dynamic classifications, user authentication, access controls, encryption, employee awareness training, and risk assessments that include tracking audit reviews to ensure compliance. If you’re looking for help creating a data classification strategy or any other cybersecurity and compliance solutions tailored to your needs, please feel free to contact us today!

Disaster Recovery Policy: What You Need to Know

Disaster Recovery Policy

Disaster Recovery policy is the set of rules and regulations that describes how business continuity can be implemented in case of a disaster, which interrupts the operation of an organization. It also describes procedures for maintaining vital records or critical data, like paper files.

Modern organizations use electronic data processing equipment, which is highly sensitive and critical to business operations (such as providing customer service). Therefore, the Disaster Recovery Policy must clearly state how these physical assets are to be secured so that business continuity is guaranteed.

For example, the Disaster Recovery Policy should clearly state that all electronic records belonging to the organization are mandatorily backed up daily, how they are stored, and who has access to them. The policy must also cover information about disaster recovery locations, where electronic data can be stored for a period when the primary data processing center is not fully operational.

As you can see, the Disaster Recovery Policy must provide information on appropriate types and levels of security, access to critical data, and network security. Top executives in charge of the organization’s well-being need to have the latest version of the Disaster Recovery Policy that includes all changes in technologies used by the organization and the DRP itself.

In addition, you should align the organization’s Disaster Recovery Policy with the business continuity plan. The alignment should clearly state what parts of the Disaster Recovery Policy must be included in Business Continuity Plan.

How to Create a Disaster Recovery Policy

  1. Form a Team.

The first step is to form a team that will make policy. This can be as simple as your management forming a group and getting together; internal or external resources are available to help develop this policy. If you have several business units, you may wish to do separate policies for each business unit. However, most corporate policies cover all business units under not only the same but similar guidelines. Hiring an outside consultant is highly recommended. They will have more experience creating this policy, and it is usually recommended by most third-party audits such as SOC 2.

  1. Inform the entire company of the effort.

Send out internal mail to all departments, post it on your intranet system, and in general, talk about it frequently. It is important because some internal employees may be reluctant to have their data stored offsite. After a lot of talks, they will become more comfortable with the idea.

  1. Survey your clients. 

Send out an email survey to a portion of your clients and ask them about their preferences, expectations, concerns, etc. You can get back handy information that will help you better develop this policy for use within your company.

  1. Review your internal policies and procedures.

Review existing policies such as the Disaster Recovery Plan or Service Level Agreements for any discrepancies and gaps. If you have procedures for handling a disaster, review them and make sure they align with the policy to be developed. If they are not consistent, revise them or replace existing ones.

  1. Identify primary business drivers and objectives.

Translate the industry standards into language that is relevant to your company. These are the rules by which you will need to abide while creating this policy. Therefore, the resulting policy should be designed with two goals in mind: first – to meet industry standards, and second – to best serve the company’s business needs.

  1. Determine acceptable failure points.

Define what your risks are as a company and how this policy would mitigate those risks. In other words, identify the most important things you need to do to keep your company running smoothly.

  1. Define priority order for systems.

This step is to ensure that all of the relevant systems got included in this policy. While many companies do not need an explicit list such as this, it is crucial to capture a list of “critical” items so that you can be sure to include everything.

  1. Determine recovery point objective and recovery time objective.

It is a simple calculation and is basically the amount of information you can afford to lose before the data becomes unusable or the amount of time you can wait for a failed system to recover.

  1. Document all requirements.

Itemize all of your high-level policies into detailed steps that you could use to deploy the systems. At this point, you could capture some details and document any question marks for future research.

  1. Define duration.

Calculate how long each item would take. For example, some things might take a few days, and others might take a few months. It is essential because you may want to prioritize some items over others.

  1. Create a communication plan.

Once you have everything down on paper, ensure that all of your stakeholders know what they need to do in case of an emergency and their role in helping to recover from it. Ensure you can communicate with everyone who needs to know about your DRP in times of need. It includes making sure that everyone’s contact information is readily available so that you could get a hold of them at any time.

  1. Create procedures for putting the policy into effect

In addition to this, you also need to ensure that people actually know how to put the policy into effect. For example, you may have to let your system administrators know which steps they should take if a given server fails.

  1. Test policies and procedures. 

After creating all of these documents and processes, make sure that everything works as expected by conducting an internal drill. It would ensure that your policy is sound and works well. It is also an excellent way to test various issues that might arise during recovery. After practicing your procedures, you will be aware of where exactly they need to be improved.

  1. Review and implement stated policies.

Once you finish your review, you’ll need to implement all of the changes into your DRP. It is crucial because it ensures that everyone is on the same page and that you can fulfill your policies in times of need.

  1. Tailor policies for SOC 2 Compliance.

Once you dealt with all previous steps, ensure that the policies would satisfy the requirements needed for SOC 2 compliance. It would ensure that they followed best practices and help you fulfill and comply with their guidelines.

  1. Put Policies and Procedures Into Production.

After the DRP is complete, you need to ensure that people actually follow it. It means that you have to regularly perform internal audits, spot-checks, and walkthroughs during regular business hours. You may also consider creating mock audit scenarios to simulate emergencies and test your business partners to see how they would respond.

  1. Review Policies in Production.

Once you have an excellent initial plan for DRP, you will need to review it regularly to ensure that everything is still working as expected. It will allow you to maintain compliance through ongoing verification and control, which is one of the critical components for SOC 2 Compliance.

  1. Maintain Policies and Procedures.

It would be best if you walked through each of the policies yearly. If you made any changes in the past that are no longer applicable, you should delete them. In addition to this, any new information or risks which you experienced should be added. You should also ensure that each of the procedures is up to date by reviewing them. After all, there might have been some changes in technology or even your business partners, making it necessary to update the documents. For example, if you’ve added a new server and want to ensure that your DRP has this reflected, you must update the documents.

  1. Actively manage DRP.

Analyze all of your business partners regularly or when anything changed. In addition to this, periodically perform audits to ensure that updates were implemented correctly and that you are staying compliant with the guidelines.

  1. Perform periodic organization reviews (every 14 months for SOC 2).

Once you have an active DRP, you need to ensure that it is up to date. To do this, periodically review your business partners and the DRP itself to make sure everything is still in line with industry standards, you are staying compliant at all times, and you are able to maintain statistical evidence for SOC 2 compliance.


Disaster recovery is a process that requires careful planning and execution. It’s essential to make sure you have the proper steps in place so your company can recover from any disaster efficiently, accurately, and securely – whether it be human error or natural disasters. If you’re looking for more information on how to create a comprehensive plan or want help getting started with developing one of your own, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to partner with you by providing expert guidance throughout the entire development process!

Vendor Risk Assessment

Vendor risk management is an essential aspect of business that can be overlooked. Every company has vendors. When there are vendors involved in a business, it can come with risks that may or may not be worth it to go ahead and work with these vendors. Conducting vendor risk assessments will help the business determine whether the potential benefits of working with this vendor outweigh the risks they might be taking on.

What is Vendor Risk Management?

The concept of Vendor Risk Management is to assess, manage and mitigate the risk that a vendor poses. It does this by evaluating its business practices by looking at its strengths and weaknesses to minimize any possible adverse effects on your company. This process should be done before entering into an agreement with them for the supply chain management.

The majority of companies have implemented a VRM program, and for a good reason. A vendor risk management program can reduce the impact of disruptive events on an organization’s operations by minimizing losses in revenue, reputation, or profits due to poor product quality or delivery failures. VRMs also allow organizations to better manage their supply chain risks through early identification of potential disruptions.

Companies can gain a massive range of benefits from implementing an effective vendor risk management program. It offers far more than just reducing the company’s overall risk exposure. For example, it also allows businesses to evaluate and onboard new vendors more efficiently to get the right tools into the right peoples’ hands as quickly as possible.

Additionally, a well-run VRM program can give organizations insight into how vendor relationships are going over time, whether they need to be terminated for specific reasons or if you should make other changes in the relationship. It can also help measure vendor performance, helping organizations to identify new risks as they arise and equip themselves with the resources necessary to manage them.

With an effective VRM program in place, companies can receive more favorable vendor pricing from suppliers and vendors; they can often negotiate better rates on products or services that might otherwise be out of their budget.

What is Vendor Risk Assessment?

The process of Vendor Risk Management begins with a risk assessment. Vendor Risk Assessment is an evaluation of the risk that a vendor poses to your organization. It’s most commonly done before a contract with a new vendor or partner begins but can also be performed periodically throughout the life of a relationship. Businesses typically assess their vendor’s strengths and weaknesses to minimize the risks that might come up while working with them. There are many reasons why you would want to consider conducting a risk assessment for your vendors:

  • You’re evaluating a new vendor or potential partner.
  • To evaluate a current vendor’s risk as they change their level of service, products, and/or prices. Or to monitor for fraudulent activity from the vendor on your network.
  • You’re evaluating existing vendors to determine if you need to implement stricter controls over what sensitive data is being shared with them.
  • You want to know if you’re taking on too much risk by sharing specific data with the vendor.
  • To evaluate how your current vendors handle customer information and what level of security they use for storage, retrieval, and transmission of this data.

By conducting these assessments periodically, it’s possible to take active measures against potential risks.

How to Conduct a Vendor Risk Assessment?

  • Organize your vendors. 

Catalog your vendors to keep ongoing records. Make sure you have all of them in one place, then go through each vendor to determine their risk level.

  • Determine the risks.

What is your involvement with this product or service? Are there any contacts that may present opportunities for fraud, abuse, misrepresentation of identity, theft, and other criminal activity? Assess each vendor against your established list of criteria, and monitor their behavior for possible changes in risk level.

  • Use a self-assessment questionnaire. 

Develop a questionnaire that addresses your specific needs. Use it to determine how easily a vendor could be compromised, so you know where they fit on your list—request documentation of your vendors’ standards in areas of concern to you.

  • Assess Each Product and Service.

Assessing both the company and the product will give you a complete picture of possible risks. It can help you determine if you want to do business with them.

  • Separate Vendors by Risk Level.

Rank your vendors based on their risk level. Start with the lowest and work up to the highest. Consider keeping a list of all these risks so you can track them over time.

  • Monitor Vendors for Reassessment.

Schedule regular times where you review your risk assessment for each vendor. Involve other people in the process if possible, and be sure to keep a record of these reassessments so you can see where improvements are needed over time.

The risk assessment process for vendors is as vital to your business’s success as the products and services you provide. Make sure you know where each vendor stands on their security, customer service level, and other areas of concern before agreeing to do business with them. The more data points you have about a potential partner, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Importance of SOC Compliance for Your Vendor Supply Chain

Importance of SOC Compliance

Understanding The Risk of Vendor Supply Chains

Vendor supply chains are risky because if a third party’s security or other vulnerabilities are exploited, it could impact your business. The goal of SOC is to reduce business risks and vulnerabilities while simultaneously enhancing organizational resilience. A vendor supply chain is a complex system with many stakeholders. Each stakeholder presents risks and vulnerabilities that can potentially impact the business. Understanding risk management for vendors is crucial to mitigating all of these risks while simultaneously enhancing organizational resilience.
A business’s supply chain risk goes beyond the product itself and includes any vulnerabilities that lead to a disruption or compromise. Vendors are no exception, as they too have vulnerabilities that can impact your company if exploited. That is why SOC compliance for vendor assessment should be an invaluable tool in understanding how these vendors operate while also providing insights into their security posture.

Why Do Your Vendors Need to Maintain SOC Compliance

Suppliers are a considerable risk for any company, given the regulatory environment and their access to sensitive and confidential data. Supply-chain security is becoming a significant concern for organizations of all sizes, as compliance fines from missteps in supply chains continue to rise. The tightening regulatory climate on privacy has heightened the interest in third parties that handle sensitive data. The focus of regulatory bodies is now moving beyond just companies directly operating sensitive data and extends to those with which they may have a contract. That is an extension of the data protection principle of “data controllership,” which states that organizations must ensure they do not outsource processing or hosting of personal data and instead carry out these processes within their walls.
Vendors need SOC compliance because it helps reduce business risks while also enhancing organizational resilience. To better understand what makes up good SOC compliance, let’s explore some key points:
– System inventory – Ensure systems are being inventoried by type, location, age, etc.; this will help you gauge whether patches/updates are current on all relevant devices;
– Vulnerability assessment – Ensure vulnerabilities are assessed for present or potential risk to the business; this should include documenting findings and assessing risks so that you can prioritize remediation efforts based on threat severity levels;
– Patch management – Update systems with available patches in a timely manner. That will help minimize your company’s exposure to cyberattacks by ensuring devices have all current updates installed, thereby decreasing their attack surface;
– Control system network access controls – Create policies and procedures for controlling who has access privileges at each level of the organization as well as what information they can view (i.e., user approval process);

The Benefits of Working with Vendors that Are SOC Compliant

The main benefit for your organization is knowing that all new vendors you bring in have the necessary capabilities and financial controls to pass an audit from a reputable audit firm.
When vendors are looking at your company as a potential client, they check what type of industry certifications you have, including a SOC 2 compliance report. Having the vendor involved with an outside auditor shows they are committed to providing quality service and validates their work.
There are also many other benefits of vendors that are SOC 2 compliant, and they vary from company to company. Some benefit areas include:
– Ability to rely on reports generated by a trusted party on an internal business process.
– Reduced overall risk due to compliance with industry standards and auditing requirements.
– Increased price attraction from buyers who know they can depend on the financials being correct.

Keeping your supply chain secure is a difficult task, but it’s also an important one. That’s why you need to make sure all of the vendors in your supply chain are SOC compliant. Vulnerabilities can be costly for businesses and consumers alike, so we must take every possible precaution against them.
To learn more about how our team at TrustNet can help you with these efforts, get in touch today! We look forward to answering any questions or concerns you may have on how best to protect yourself from cyberattacks within your own company, as well as those who work closely with you.

Information Security Policy

Information Security Policy

The information security policy is a document that describes how to secure data and assets. It explains what the organization needs to protect, who has access to it, and why they have been given this privilege. An effective one makes sure that everything aligns with compliance requirements. In addition, it leads employees by example on how important information security is for the business. The policy must be communicated to everyone, enforced, and updated as needed.

The information security policy must be written with a clear purpose. For example, it can define what data is sensitive and should not leave the office or who may access the company’s servers remotely. It ensures that everyone follows these rules by setting limitations to certain types of information sharing and enforcing actions for security breaches. The policy also serves as a roadmap for employees to follow and can be used as evidence in an audit.

The main goal of the information security policy is to protect assets and data. That means that it should prevent cyber attacks from happening. Still, if they do happen, then everything has been done in order for them not to have a significant impact on the company’s business activities. In addition, it should also prevent data leaks, train employees on how to act in case of cyber risk, and so on.

One of the primary purposes of a good information security policy is to avoid any confusion about what’s allowed and what isn’t in terms of using technology equipment by employees. In other words, it sets guidelines about when, where, why, and how IT infrastructure can be used (or not) at all times. There are no exceptions, which means that every person working for the organization needs to understand their daily responsibility for upholding this policy. It also serves as an essential reference point if there ever happens to be a data breach or unauthorized access from third parties so that immediate actions can be taken without having someone guess what to do next.

The information security policy is a vital part of any business’ cybersecurity. It explains in detail what needs to be done, how it should be done, and by whom. Its purpose is not only to ensure compliance with cyber laws but also to prevent data breaches that may cost millions of dollars for a company.

What is the Difference Between Information Security Policy and an Information Security Program?

As explained above, a good information security policy sets guidelines about what’s allowed and what isn’t in terms of using technology equipment by employees or third parties with access to your company data. That means that every person working for the organization needs to understand their responsibilities regarding upholding this policy daily. Hence, it has consequences if not followed accordingly. In other words, there are no exceptions which mean that everyone should be held accountable, from top executives down through middle management all the way to more junior staff members such as entry-level workers who might have limited IT experience but still need some guidance when it comes to writing reports or resolving specific issues.

The information security program expands on the policy by putting together goals, objectives, and ongoing tasks related to IT infrastructure management so that there are no gaps between one stage of development and another or in terms of how you manage your technology assets day-to-day. That is why it’s crucial for everyone working at a business to be aware of what kind of threats exist in today’s world, where systems can get hacked from anywhere around the globe without notice if not taken seriously enough. The more people know about this topic (and agree with its significance), the easier it becomes to enforce stricter policies that keep data out of harm’s way while maintaining operations as usual through effective backup solutions such as cloud storage services that help mitigate any potential risks.

To summarize, the main difference between information security policy and an information security program is that the former provides a set of guidelines for everyone to follow while the latter takes things further by putting together goals, objectives, ongoing tasks related to IT infrastructure management, so there are no gaps or miscommunication in terms of how you manage your technology assets day-to-day.

Best Practices for Creating an Information Security Policy.

There are several best practices that all organizations should follow when creating their information security policies, regardless of size or industry sector.

Start by understanding the basics of what’s required within this field of work. You must understand how an organization works, its business structure, and any pertinent data related to it, such as intellectual property (trade secrets), customer lists, or client databases. The more familiar you are with these things, the better prepared you will be when creating information security policies that deal with them specifically. That may seem like common sense but having some familiarity beforehand is key in getting yourself started on the right path – even if only at a basic level.

Next, you need to consider your specific business. There are many different types of companies, each with its own needs and concerns regarding information security policies. Suppose you have a retail store, for example. In that case, identity theft protection might be more relevant than physical damage prevention. In contrast, if the company deals in high-value goods like gold or diamonds, then the latter might be more suitable. It is up to you and your organization to consider the most critical data regarding information security policies to ensure your needs are met accordingly. That will typically come down to things like access control, physical protection (safes, etc.), the confidentiality of digital assets (email encryption, for example), and so on.

Finally, you need to ensure that your information security policies are compliant with any relevant legislation. In most countries, this will apply to data protection laws that govern how organizations must handle personal data about their clients or customers (also known as personally identifiable information). Suppose a company is found not being compliant. In that case, it can face heavy penalties and fines, so it’s essential to ensure that this is a key part of your information security policy.


The information security policy is a set of guidelines for all employees to follow. It deals with the protection of data, physical equipment, and facilities. The goal is to ensure that your company’s information is secure from any risks or problems that could arise in the future.

Information security policies are essential for any company – regardless of size, industry sector, or location. The more you know about your business and the data it handles, the better able you’ll be to create an information security policy that’s tailored specifically to your needs. Remember to make sure these policies comply with relevant legislation to avoid heavy penalties and fines if found not complying! Let us know if you need any help in creating an information security policy for your business. TrustNet provides a wide range of cybersecurity and compliance services across multiple industries in the US and worldwide. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us anytime if you need assistance!

SOC 1 Report

SOC 1 Report

Reports on Controls at a Service Organization Relevant to User Entities’ Internal Control Over Financial Reporting: SOC 1 engagements are performed under SSAE 16, Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization. SOC 1 reports are examination engagements undertaken by a service auditor to report on controls at an organization that provides services to user entities when those controls are likely relevant to the user entity’s internal control over financial reporting.
There are two types of SOC 1 Reports:

Type 1 – A report on management’s description of the service organization’s system and the suitability of the design of the controls to achieve the related control objectives included in the description as of a specified date.
Type 2 – A report on management’s description of the service organization’s system and the suitability of the design and operating effectiveness of the controls to achieve the related control objectives included in the report throughout a specified period.

Example: How SOC 1 Reports Are Utilized

A user organization engages a service provider to provide certain services that may impact the user organization’s financial statements. When the user organization’s financial statements are audited, their auditor needs information about internal control over financial reporting, including controls at the service provider that affect the user organization’s financial statements.

To obtain that information, the service provider engages a CPA (service auditor) to examine controls at the service provider, resulting in a report with detailed information about those controls. The service auditor’s report includes opinions on whether the description of the service provider’s system is presented relatively and whether management at the service provider that may affect user entities’ financial reporting are suitably designed. A Type 2 report also includes the service auditor’s opinion on whether the controls were operating effectively and describes tests of the controls performed by the service auditor to form that opinion and the results of those tests. The user organization’s financial statements auditor uses the service provider’s service auditor report to obtain information needed to audit the user organization’s financial statements.

SOC 2 Checklist

SOC 2 checklist

The SOC 2 compliance report is more than just a document that says your business is in good standing. It’s also proof of the security and reliability of your service, which you can use to market your company! This checklist will help you understand what the requirements are for getting a SOC 2 report.

What is SOC 2 Report

A SOC 2 report tells how a company or its vendors manage, protect and maintain your company’s sensitive data. It details what actions you can take to ensure the security of your confidential information and compliance with privacy laws and regulations implemented worldwide in the last few years. A SOC 2 report also informs about companies’ intentions, capabilities, controls, operations, and the effectiveness of their security programs.

This report can help you to protect your confidential information. It shows that you have a robust protection system in place, and it reassures your customers about their data. A SOC 2 report also helps you demonstrate compliance with privacy laws, which is good for business. It takes the burden of sorting out the information security from the IT department and investing in a software solution. SOC 2 report also provides you with proof that your privacy management process is handled by qualified personnel and not just an outsider who does not understand your business. It reassures your customers as they will know the measures you have taken comply with their needs.

SOC 2 Compliance Checklist

Your customer data and a company’s interests are in your company’s best interest. Ensure you keep them safe by reviewing this SOC 2 compliance checklist with your next audit.

Get Ready

– Conduct an initial risk assessment. It will help you understand the risks associated with your service’s use of PII or other confidential information that might need protection.

– Designate who is responsible for security (typically, a Chief Security Officer) to oversee the SOC compliance of your service.

– Identify gaps in security controls (i.e., vulnerabilities) so they can be addressed and remediated. A company should conduct regular vulnerability assessments as well as penetration tests to determine the security gaps and what measures need to be taken to close them. It will help you secure your data, prevent attacks and handle breaches swiftly.

– Understand how your data is stored or processed. You should be aware of what kind of data your organization process and store. You should also define the type of information on an easily understandable level.

– Determine who has access to confidential information. You need to know who can access your company’s data. A simple way is to implement passwords for everybody (e.g., administrative users, service providers, etc.). You can also create two-step authentication with a second layer of verification (password + token). That will decrease the number of people having full access to your data as this will become more complicated to access.

– How is your data protected? You need to know how you protect your confidential information and whether or not it is insufficiently secured. An excellent way to understand this is by performing regular audits of sensitive data, looking for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in its protection. The report from these tests can also be used as a base for your SOC 2 report.

– Perform a self-assessment for SOC compliance. It will help you to determine the extent of your service’s current or potential noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations, as well as any other risks that may have an impact on reliability and safety.

Determine Principles That Are Appropriate for Your Business

SOC 2 tests the risk controls associated with five principles as defined by the AICPA:

Security – Your organization must be able to detect any unauthorized access or modifications to your data. You must also have a process in place that immediately responds to any detected incidents. Your response will include containment, eradication, recovery, and reporting. The organization’s security policy could be a part of the overall plan or a separate document that includes methods for ensuring access to your systems is limited, protecting physical assets such as servers and computers from unauthorized access, etc.

Availability – Your organization must provide timely access to data and information with the proper levels of quality for internal and external customers. The plan should detail what needs to be done in case of a system failure or outage. Staff will need procedures on how to get things back up and running as quickly as possible without compromising security concerns.

Confidentiality – Your data must be kept private, and your organization should be able to detect unauthorized access. Your plan should detail who has access to what information and how that information is protected against non-standard means of accessing it.

Processing integrity – Employees will need training on how to use programs with proper security methods. The program may also include testing data entries for accuracy and procedural controls in place to ensure the integrity of the process.

Privacy – You must have a way to ensure that personal information is kept private and secure and detect when someone is attempting to access it in an unauthorized manner. Any security breaches should be addressed immediately, with your response including containment, eradication, and recovery plus reporting.
To comply with AICPA rules, you will need to implement only the Security criterion for a SOC 2 report as the other four are optional. You can select only those principles that are appropriate for your business.

Check the Overlap With Other Frameworks

Requirements between the standards are crosswalked. Controls of SOC 2 often overlap with other requirements of other industry standards. Combining a SOC 2 compliance assessment with various industry-specific cross-compliance frameworks can provide valuable information to organizations that want to understand their risks better, identify potential controls, and create a sense of comfort that your organization complies with other industry standards, including HITRUST, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS. You can also use existing controls to jumpstart your effort towards the next certification.

The SOC2 compliance report is more than just a document that says your business is in good standing. It’s also proof of the security and reliability of your service, which you can use to market your company! We hope this article has given you some ideas about planning ahead before going out on your own. In addition, if you’re looking for help with any other aspects of cybersecurity and compliance services we provide, contact us today!

SOC 2 vs SOC 3

SOC 2 vs SOC 3

A SOC audit is an objective assessment to determine if a service organization’s security controls operate effectively. In addition, the individual receives evidence that the service organization has continually provided adequate protection for client data and assets. A SOC certification can verify that requirements have been met based on standard criteria, such as how policies are established, how personnel is trained and monitored, how environment monitoring operates, and an overall risk assessment of different data processing systems.

What are SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports?

SOC compliance is a service mark of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and defines an independent report on controls at a company or organization. This examination includes internal controls (such as risk assessment, change management, operational effectiveness, and information security) over financial reporting provided by an independent assessor. It was created and developed in 2000 by the AICPA to ensure accountability for independently verified compliance with established control objectives.

SOC 2 is a set of requirements for any entity providing services to customers, including but not limited to cloud computing service providers. SOC 2 compliance concerns the service provider’s ability to commit and deliver on their stated controls, policies, and procedures over time. It covers all aspects of information security, including risk assessment, change management, operational effectiveness & information security. The standard allows the organization to conduct a gap analysis by comparing the statements made in the report with their internal controls.

A SOC 3 report is a third-party attestation engagement performed to express opinions about the security effectiveness of controls identified in published guidance within specified criteria. It must analyze the organization’s security processes and procedures, information systems and environments, and internal control relevant to securing those systems. It should also cover the privacy-related controls within the organization’s privacy policy and procedures.

In many ways, this mirrors the structure of a SOC 2 report, but the criteria for control selection and risk assessment and the evidence required to support an attestation are different. One of the main differences is that a SOC 3 report is much shorter and more general. A SOC 2 report is only available to the organization’s management, clients, other organizations, and individuals interested in it. The audit report also contains:
Opinions by the auditor.
A complete list of all systems and security controls from management.
Results from all tests done.

On the other hand, the findings of a SOC 3 audit can be made available to anyone without restrictions. In addition, the SOC 3 report describes a company’s background, its management, and the auditor’s opinion.

Both SOC 2 and SOC 3 are auditing standards that assess a service organization’s information security controls. Under the CSS’s auspices, this control-focused standard is developed to be used by third parties either as an evaluation method or as a basis for obtaining evidence that adequate security of cloud services has been achieved. This standard is used in three areas: guidance, monitoring, and assessment; all provide a proactive approach to improving data security. Once completed successfully, an individual can receive certification to show that their service organization adheres to best practice guidelines when processing and storing client data.

Which one to choose?

It is a complex question to answer and depends on the circumstances of each organization. There can be significant differences in what it takes to achieve each of these certifications. For example, an organization might have implemented security controls to achieve a SOC 2 certification. But as far as the information security program is concerned, those security controls (e.g., encryption) may not be relevant to meeting the requirements of a different standard such as SOC 3.

Each organization should assess their requirements and circumstances to decide if they should retain their SOC 2 and/or SOC 3 certification. In addition, regulatory and standards-based compliance requirements may have a more significant business impact than the certifications themselves.

The cost of completing both SOC 2 and SOC 3 audits can be prohibitive to many small organizations. However, an organization may want to hold onto both certifications if it achieves them because of the different nature of each certificate. For example, an organization might leverage that they are SOC 2 and SOC 3 certified when dealing with compliance-focused organizations such as a state or federal government agency.
The bottom line is this: while an organization needs to assess the benefits of both certifications, they should also consider what affects their business when deciding whether or not to retain them.