The Importance Of Vulnerability Scanning For SOC 2 Audits
We’re proud to say that we’re now SOC 2 Type 2 certified – with a little help from our own vulnerability scanner. But what exactly is SOC 2, and what does Type 2 certification mean?
SOC 2 is a cyber security framework designed to ensure service providers securely manage their data to protect customers and clients. For security-conscious businesses – and security should be a priority for every business today – SOC 2 is essential when working with a SaaS provider.
As a SaaS business ourselves, we recognize the benefits and confidence SOC 2 gives customers. It gives us a competitive advantage. It helps us to continually improve our own security practices. It helps us to meet customer demand. Most importantly, it gives current and prospective customers peace of mind. They can be confident that we have rock solid information security practices in place to keep their data safe and secure.
As with our Type 1 report, we used the Drata compliance platform for our Type 2 audit. It's fully automated to simplify what can otherwise be a slow and painful manual process of creating and updating spreadsheets and taking endless screenshots. The SOC 2 auditor can simply log in and monitor the controls via a dashboard. It makes the whole SOC 2 audit process so much simpler and quicker.
Type 1 or 2?
A SOC 2 Type 1 report evaluates cybersecurity controls at a single point in time. The goal is to determine whether the internal controls put in place to safeguard customer data are sufficient and designed correctly. Do they fulfil the required criteria?
Our Type 2 report goes a step further, where the auditor reports on how effective those controls are over time (usually 3-12 months). What is their operating effectiveness? Do they work as intended?
These reports are intended to meet the needs of a broad range of users that need detailed information and assurance about the controls at a service organization relevant to “security, availability, and processing integrity of the systems the service organization uses to process users’ data and the confidentiality and privacy of the information processed by these systems”. These reports are important for:
- Oversight of the organization
- Supplier management
- Internal corporate governance
- Risk management processes
- Regulatory oversight
Not just for tech companies
If you think only tech companies like SaaS or cloud service providers need SOC 2 certification, think again. The main benefit of SOC 2 certification is that it shows that your organization maintains a high level of information security.
That’s why healthcare providers like hospitals or insurance companies may require a SOC 2 audit to ensure an additional level of scrutiny on their security systems. The same could be said for a financial services company or accountancies that handle payments and financial information. While they may meet industry requirements such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), they often opt to undergo SOC 2 for additional credibility or if clients insist on it.
The rigorous compliance requirements ensure that the sensitive information is being handled responsibly. Any organisation that implements the necessary controls are therefore less likely to suffer data breaches or violate users’ privacy. This protects them from the negative effects of data losses, such as regulatory action and reputational damage.
SOC 2-compliant organisations can use this to prove to customers that they’re committed to information security, which in turn can create new business opportunities, because the framework states that compliant organisations can only share data with other organisations that have passed the audit.
Simplify SOC 2 with Intruder
One control you need for your SOC 2 report is vulnerability management. And for that you can use a scanner like Intruder – because that’s exactly what we did, using our own tool alongside the Drata platform. Intruder is easy to buy and simple to use. Just sign up, pay by credit card, and you can tick the SOC 2 vulnerability management box in under 10 minutes.
Type 2 is essentially continuous, so you will need vulnerability management to stay certified too because as soon as you get your report, the new monitoring period starts so you can get certified again 12 months later. Drata recommends quarterly scans at the very least to remain compliant and stay certified.
Intruder is also a great tool to use on a day-to-day basis. Not only for its continuous monitoring to ensure your perimeters are secure, but for other scenarios that may require a SOC 2 report such as due diligence. If your business is trying to secure new investment, going through a merger, or being acquired by another business, due diligence will often include your security posture, how you handle data, and your exposure to risk and threats. Intruder makes it easy to prove you take your information security seriously.
Learn more about how Intruder can help with SOC 2 certification
- Raw CVE Coverage
- Risk Rating Coverage
- Remote Check Types
- Check Publication Lead Time
- Local/Authenticated vs Remote Check Prioritisation
- Software Vendor & Package Coverage
- Headline Vulnerabilities of 2021 Coverage
- Analysis Decisions
Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers, threat actors have to actively research type of vulnerability, location in vulnerable software and build an associated exploit.
Tenable release checks for 47.43% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 32.96%.
Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers and threat actors now have access to some of the information they were previously having to hunt themselves, speeding up potential exploit creation.
Tenable release checks for 17.12% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 17.69%.
The likelihood that exploitation in the wild is going to be happening is steadily increasing.
Tenable release checks for 10.9% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 20.69%.
We’re starting to lose some of the benefit of rapid, automated vulnerability detection.
Tenable release checks for 9.58% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 12.43%.
Any detection released a month after the details are publicly available is decreasing in value for me.
Tenable release checks for 14.97% of the CVEs they cover over a month after the CVE details have been published, and Greenbone release 16.23%.
With this information in mind, I wanted to check what is the delay for both Tenable and Greenbone to release a detection for their scanners. The following section will focus on vulnerabilities which:
- Have CVSSv2 rating of 10
- Are exploitable over the network
- Require no user interaction
These are the ones where an attacker can point their exploit code at your vulnerable system and gain unauthorised access.
We’ve seen previously that Tenable have remote checks for 643 critical vulnerabilities, and OpenVAS have remote checks for 450 critical vulnerabilities. Tenable release remote checks for critical vulnerabilities within 1 month of the details being made public 58.4% of the time, but Greenbone release their checks within 1 month 76.8% of the time. So, even though OpenVAS has fewer checks for those critical vulnerabilities, you are more likely to get them within 1 month of the details being made public. Let’s break that down further.
In Figure 10 we can see the absolute number of remote checks released on a given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability has been published. What you can immediately see is that both Tenable and OpenVAS release the majority of their checks on or before the CVE details are made public; Tenable have released checks for 247 CVEs, and OpenVAS have released checks for 144 CVEs. Then since 2010 Tenable have remote released checks for 147 critical CVEs and OpenVAS 79 critical CVEs on the same day as the vulnerability details were published. The number of vulnerabilities then drops off across the first week and drops further after 1 week, as we would hope for in an efficient time-to-release scenario.
While raw numbers are good, Tenable have a larger number of checks available so it could be unfair to go on raw numbers alone. It’s potentially more important to understand the likelihood that OpenVAS or Tenable will release a check of a vulnerability on any given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability is released. In Figure 11 we can see that Tenable release 61% their checks on or before the date that a CVE is published, and OpenVAS release a shade under 50% of their checks on or before the day that a CVE is published.
So, since 2010 Tenable has more frequently released their checks before or on the same day as the CVE details have been published for critical vulnerabilities. While Tenable is leading at this point, Greenbone’s community feed still gets a considerable percentage of their checks out on or before day 0.
I thought I’d go another step further and try and see if I could identify any trend in each organisations release delay, are they getting better year-on-year or are their releases getting later? In Figure 12 I’ve taken the mean delay for critical vulnerabilities per year and plotted them. The mean as a metric is particularly influenced by outliers in a data set, so I expected some wackiness and limited the mean to only checks released 180 days prior to a CVE being published and 31 days after a CVE being published. These seem to me like reasonable limits, as anything greater than 6 months prior to CVE details being released is potentially a quirk of the check details and anything after a 1-month delay is less important for us.
What can we take away from Figure 12?
- We can see that between 2011 and 2014 Greenbone’s release delay was better than that of Tenable, by between 5 and 10 days.
- In 2015 things reverse and for 3 years Tenable is considerably ahead of Greenbone by a matter of weeks.
- But, then in 2019 things get much closer and Greenbone seem to be releasing on average about a day earlier than Tenable.
- For both the trendline over an 11-year period is very close, with Tenable marginally beating Greenbone.
- We have yet to have any data for 2021 for OpenVAS checks for critical show-stopper CVEs.
With the larger number of checks, and still being able to release a greater percentage of their remote checks for critical vulnerabilities Tenable could win this category. However, the delay time from 2019 and 2020 going to OpenVAS, and the trend lines being so close, I am going to declare this one a tie. It’s a tie.
The takeaway from this is that both vendors are getting their checks out the majority of the time either before the CVE details are published or on the day the details are published. This is overwhelmingly positive for both scanning solutions. Over time both also appear to be releasing remote checks for critical vulnerabilities more quickly.