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Digital Security Standard Compliance: Is It Enough?

By Jolley | Hadaway | Friday, February 24, 2017 - Leave a Comment

While the credit card industry-backed program has good aspects, it should not replace the SOC-2.


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With the number of different security standards–and ways to test those standards–out there, it can be difficult to stay on top of just what is required, compliance wise, for a specific situation.

Case in point, we recently had a client with a vendor who only supplied a SOC-1 report. Because this vendor stored and accessed personal data belonging to the client, though, we’d have really liked to have seen a SOC-2 report, which is more thorough.

The vendor’s response was that they believed their SOC-1 report, along with their Payment Card Industry Digital Security Standard (DSS) compliance, would be enough to address any concerns. This brings us to the start of this article and the question is this enough? 

Without going into the specifics it’s impossible to say for sure, but in general we do not find standards like those from the Payment Card Industry (PCI) to be enough. The PCI standard is a set of rules intended to increase the security of cardholder information, and compliance testing does include some aspects not covered in a SOC such as penetration testing, but at the end of the day it is a much narrower look at an organization’s operations than we would like to see.

Of course, a lack of information does not necessarily mean a vendor is doing anything wrong, and in cases where only a SOC-1 is available supplemental information like DSS compliance can help us narrow down what we don’t know considerably–even if they don’t tell the whole story.

We believe the DSS is an “asset-based standard,” meaning that it is focused on one asset – credit card processing.  While have a PCI DSS certification proves you have secured your credit card processes, it proves nothing beyond that.

We also acknowledge the lamentations of vendor managers who decry the SOC-2 as having the same problem, and that’s why we produce regularly scheduled webinars surrounding the notion of, “how to review a SOC-1 or two.”  In fact, our most recent webinar can be viewed here.


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