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Are Phishing Simulations Required for SOC 2 or ISO 27001?

February 9, 2023

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In case you're not familiar, which would be strange if you’re reading this blog, SOC 2 is an independent audit that assesses an organization's information security controls. The purpose of the audit is to provide assurance that the company has appropriate measures in place to protect sensitive data and customer information. SOC 2 has exploded in popularity due to more and more companies requiring it from their vendors.

There are a lot of standards in SOC 2 that companies need to address to be certified. One crystal clear standard is that companies must conduct annual security awareness training for their employees. In addition and often alongside security awareness training, companies often conduct phishing campaigns or phishing simulations.

Now, when it comes to phishing simulations, they are a great way to test an organization's defense against phishing attacks. For those who don't know, phishing is a type of social engineering cyber attack that aims to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

So, do you have to do phishing simulations for SOC 2 audits? Well, the short answer is no, there is no specific requirement in the SOC 2 standards that mandates phishing simulations. However, conducting phishing simulations can demonstrate that an organization is taking proactive steps to secure its systems and data. It can also help to identify areas where the organization's security awareness program may need improvement.

Many organizations choose to include phishing simulations as part of their overall security awareness program, and this can be beneficial in the context of a SOC 2 audit. By conducting phishing simulations, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to security and provide objective evidence of the effectiveness of their security awareness program. For example, if employees consistently fail phishing simulations, this may indicate a need for additional training or improved processes.

Conducting phishing simulations can also demonstrate the organization's ability to detect and respond to phishing attacks. For example, if an organization has a process in place for reporting phishing attempts, and employees are able to quickly identify and report phishing emails, this can demonstrate the effectiveness of the organization's security awareness program.

Additionally, phishing simulations can help organizations identify and address vulnerabilities in their email systems and communications procedures. For example, if employees consistently fall for phishing simulations that mimic common types of phishing attacks, this may indicate a need for improved email filters or other technical controls.

While phishing simulations are not required for SOC 2 audits, they can provide valuable information about the effectiveness of an organization's security awareness program and its ability to detect and respond to phishing attacks. Conducting phishing simulations can also demonstrate an organization's commitment to security and provide objective evidence of its security posture. So, while they may not be required, they're definitely worth considering.

And, if you’re considering phishing simulation, check out Haekka Phishing. Our phishing templates are more realistic than others are the market and more varied as we use ChatGPT to generate some of our phishing templates. Additionally, phishing training and kudos are done instantly via Slack, driving higher engagement and building a security mindset.

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