SOC 2 vs Essential 8 Framework

Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by Arnav Sharma

SOC 2 and the Essential Eight are both frameworks aimed at enhancing cybersecurity, but they cater to different aspects of cyber security, compliance, and information security management. Here’s a detailed comparison incorporating the requested terms:

SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2) Framework

  1. Cybersecurity Focus: SOC 2 is a framework for managing and securing data, aimed at protecting the confidentiality and privacy of information stored and processed by service organizations.
  2. Audit and Compliance: Involves a rigorous audit by a certified public accountant (CPA) to assess compliance with the framework’s standards. The SOC 2 report provides detailed information on the security controls and measures implemented to protect systems and data.
  3. Maturity Level and Implementation: Organizations may vary in their maturity level when implementing SOC 2. It requires a strong security posture and adherence to industry standards.
  4. ISO 27001 and Cybersecurity Frameworks: Often compared to ISO 27001, another prominent information security management system standard, SOC 2 is more focused on service organizations and cloud security.
  5. Essential for Protecting Data: SOC 2 is essential for organizations that need to demonstrate they have effective security measures in place to protect their data, especially when handling sensitive customer information.
  6. Relation to Cybersecurity Frameworks and Standards: Part of a broader landscape of cybersecurity frameworks, SOC 2 complements standards like ISO 27001 and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework.

Essential Eight Maturity Model

  1. Cybersecurity Focus: The Essential Eight framework, developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre, focuses on strategies to mitigate cyber threats and enhance an organization’s security posture.
  2. Maturity Model: The Essential 8 maturity model assesses the organization’s capability to protect against cyber threats. It outlines progressive levels of maturity (from baseline to higher levels), guiding organizations to develop adequate security measures.
  3. Implementation and Compliance: Implementation of the Essential Eight is more about self-assessment and aligning with best practices. It doesn’t involve formal compliance audits but emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement in security standards.
  4. Information Security and Cyber Threats: Essential Eight provides a baseline of cyber threat protection, focusing on specific security controls like Microsoft Office macro settings and multi-factor authentication to guard against cyber attacks.
  5. Australian Signals Directorate and Cyber Security Centre: Developed by the Australian Signals Directorate and promoted by the Australian Cyber Security Centre, this framework is pivotal for organizations in Australia but is also gaining recognition globally.
  6. Integration with Other Security Frameworks: While it can stand alone, the Essential Eight framework often complements other security frameworks and standards, such as ISO 27001, NIST, and Cyber Essentials.

Similarities

  • Cybersecurity and Information Security Focus: Both SOC 2 and the Essential Eight are dedicated to improving cybersecurity and information security management.
  • Compliance and Best Practices: They guide organizations in complying with security standards and adopting industry best practices.
  • Mitigating Cyber Threats: Each framework aims to mitigate the risk of cyber attacks and protect data from cyber threats.
  • Adaptability to Different Maturity Levels: Both frameworks recognize the varying maturity levels of organizations in terms of cybersecurity capabilities.
  • Global Relevance: While originating from different countries (U.S. for SOC 2 and Australia for Essential Eight), both frameworks have global relevance and applicability.

Differences between SOC 2 and Essential Eight

SOC 2 vs Essential Eight

Differences between SOC 2 and Essential Eight

Aspect SOC 2 Essential Eight
Origin Developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).
Primary Focus Focuses on data management practices and principles. Focuses on specific cybersecurity strategies.
Geographic Relevance More prevalent in the United States. Originates from and is primarily recognized in Australia.
Target Audience Tailored for service organizations handling customer data. Applies broadly to various types of organizations, with a strong emphasis on government entities in Australia.
Assessment Involves a detailed external audit by a CPA or accounting firm. Based on self-assessment; no formal external audit.
Certification No formal certification, results in a detailed report. No certification process; serves as a guideline.
Implementation Customized based on five “trust service principles”. Consists of eight specific strategies for cybersecurity.

FAQ: 

Q: What is the Essential 8 in the context of cybersecurity?

The Essential 8 is a set of security standards and best practices within the cybersecurity framework that organizations implement to protect their systems from cyber threats. It is part of the overall security strategy that includes measures to protect data security, network security, and information security controls. This framework is designed by the National Cyber Security Centre to offer a structured and effective approach towards enhancing an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

Q: How does the Essential 8 Maturity Model contribute to an organization’s cybersecurity?

The Essential 8 Maturity Model is a cybersecurity framework that assists organizations in assessing and enhancing their security operations. It outlines different maturity levels, with each level building upon the capability from the previous maturity. Organizations can evaluate their current compliance and security practices against this model to identify areas for improvement, ensuring they are well-equipped to handle various security threats.

Q: Can you explain the focus of Maturity Level One in the Essential 8 Framework?

Maturity Level One in the Essential 8 Framework focuses on establishing fundamental controls related to security. The primary target of this maturity level is to protect against cyber attackers who are content to simply leverage commodity tradecraft that is widely available. This level is designed for organizations operating with a modest step-up in capability, aiming to exploit the opportunities provided by weaknesses in basic security measures.

Q: What challenges do organizations face when trying to reach a higher Essential 8 Maturity Level?

When aiming for a higher Essential 8 Maturity Level, organizations face the challenge of advancing their security measures beyond the basic protections. The focus of this maturity level is on guarding against malicious actors who are willing to invest more time in a target and are adaptive and much less reliant on public tools and techniques. This requires a significant step-up in security strategy, demanding more sophisticated and robust controls to handle advanced security threats.

Q: How does ISO 27001 relate to the Essential 8 and other cybersecurity frameworks?

ISO 27001 is an international standard that provides a framework for information security management. It complements the Essential 8 and other cybersecurity frameworks by offering a set of detailed guidelines and controls for establishing, implementing, and maintaining information security. While Essential 8 provides specific measures for protecting against cyber threats, ISO 27001 offers a broader framework for managing overall security information and compliance needs, making them both integral parts of a comprehensive security strategy.

Q: In what way do cyber essentials differ from the Essential Eight Framework?

Cyber Essentials and the Essential Eight Framework are two standards in cybersecurity, each with a distinct focus and approach. Cyber Essentials is a scheme backed by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, providing organizations with a clear statement of the basic controls they should implement to mitigate the risk from common internet-based threats. On the other hand, the Essential Eight Framework is a more comprehensive set of measures, providing a broader and more detailed strategy for protecting against a wider range of cyber threats and achieving higher levels of security maturity.

Q: What role do compliance professionals play in implementing the Essential 8 Maturity Model?

Compliance professionals are crucial in implementing the Essential 8 Maturity Model. They ensure that the organization’s cybersecurity measures align with the model’s requirements at each maturity level. This involves interpreting the standards, guiding the implementation of the necessary controls, and ensuring that the organization’s security practices meet the model’s compliance needs. Their role is vital in advancing the organization from one maturity level to the next, enhancing the overall security posture.

Q: How does the Essential 8 Maturity Model address the threat posed by more sophisticated cyber attackers?

The Essential 8 Maturity Model addresses the threat of sophisticated cyber attackers by progressing beyond basic security measures. As organizations move to higher maturity levels, they become more adaptive and much less reliant on public tools and techniques, focusing instead on exploiting the opportunities provided by weaknesses in their target’s cyber security posture. This progression signifies a proactive approach to handling evolving security threats.

Q: What is the significance of achieving a higher maturity level in the Essential 8 Framework for an organization?

Achieving a higher maturity level in the Essential 8 Framework signifies that an organization is not content to simply leverage commodity tradecraft that is widely available. Instead, it indicates a commitment to investing more time and resources in fortifying their defenses against more advanced cyber threats. Each maturity level represents a step-up in capability from the previous maturity, making the organization more resilient against targeted cyber attacks.

Q: How does the Essential 8 relate to ISO 27001 in terms of cybersecurity compliance?

The Essential 8 and ISO 27001 relate closely in terms of cybersecurity compliance. While the Essential 8 provides specific measures to protect systems from cyber threats, ISO 27001 offers a comprehensive set of standards for establishing a thorough information security management system. Both are integral to an effective cybersecurity strategy, with ISO 27001 enhancing the compliance aspect by offering a structured approach to managing information security controls related to security.

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