Tips To Help GitHub Admins Prepare A Company For SOC 2 And ISO 27001 Audits

Source code protection is highly important nowadays, and when your data is well protected according to the best standards, it becomes an absolute must.

Who doesn’t want to be treated as a safe, trustworthy, and reliable business? It’s hard to find anybody in the IT or cybersecurity area who would say that they don’t. That is the reason why everybody who works with data wants to obtain SOC 2 and ISO/IEC 27001 compliance. 

SOC 2 Compliance: Whats and Whys

When a company is SOC 2 compliant, it guarantees that it maintains a high level of information security and meets all the necessary criteria the Audit demands, such as Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy. 

  • Under security, we understand that the company protects all the information and the system itself from unauthorized access, using IT security infrastructures such as two-factor authentication, firewalls, backup, or any other way to keep the data safe. 
  • Availability explains that the company maintains the software, infrastructure, and information and controls the operation, monitoring, and maintenance so that the company is sustainable from any potential external threats. 
  • According to processing integrity, the company proves that all the functions work correctly and accurately without any error, delay, omission, or unauthorized manipulations. 
  • Confidentiality ensures that all confidential company information, including business plans and intellectual property documents, is well-protected.
  • Under privacy, we see the ability of an organization to protect its crucial information. 

So, to sum up, we can say that SOC 2 is a set of regulations that identify the way the technology services store their customer’s data in the cloud. At the same time, it guarantees that those services use proper controls, mechanisms, and practices to secure their customers' data effectively. 

Being SOC 2 compliant means that your organization is regularly monitored for malicious and unrecognized activity, monitors users' access levels, and keeps the documentation of the system configuration changes. At the same time, the company has protocols of behavior for evaluating the threats and taking appropriate actions to protect the data from unauthorized access. 

ISO/IEC 27001 Audit: An Explanation

Another standard for data protection is ISO/IEC 27001. Basically, it states the same points that guarantee data security as SOC 2. It is an international standard that sets out the requirements to establish, implement, maintain, and constantly improve the information security management system to meet all the information security measures. 

Under the ISO/IEC 27001 Compliance, the management should systematically examine the company for information security risks, paying special attention to threats and vulnerabilities, create and implement sets of information security controls to address the mentioned risks, and, finally, stay up-to-date and ensure those information security controls meet the company’s information security needs. 

SOC 2 and ISO/IEC 27001: What’s the Difference?

Both these compliance standards are incredibly popular and have the same requirements for security measures. The only difference is the regions where they are popular. SOC 2 is recognized throughout the world but is more connected to North America. In the rest of the world, ISO/IEC 27001 is more popular. 

For both these certifications, you should suit the security framework, and the audit is provided by the external auditor. So, who conducts the audit? If we speak about ISO 27001, it is conducted by an ISO 2700-accredited certification body, and a licensed Certified Public Accountant audits SOC 2. That is the only difference. So, once you are compliant with one of the certifications, you must be sure to suit the other one as well. 

Tips for GitHub Admins To Become Compliant With SOC 2 and ISO/IEC 27001

Though they are two different compliances, they require the same standards of data security and, as a consequence, the same tips to pass GitHub SOC 2 and ISO/IEC 27001 Audit.   

1. Branch Protection Rule

It is possible to create a branch protection rule. Can it help? Definitely, as any branch protection rule disables force, it pushes to matching branches, and thus, it prevents the matching of the branches, and they can’t be deleted. So, they are very secure and uptime. Also, this rule can be applied not only to a specific branch but also to all branches or any branch that matches the name patterns you state using fnmatch syntax. 

2. Setup Dependabot

Dependabot is a security scanner that helps to manage your dependencies and searches for security issues in them. Due to the fact that it has automated security updates, it can help to pass the Audit. While it is OK for small companies, if we consider medium and big businesses, it is better to look for a more secure scanner solution for the CI/CD pipeline.  

3. Apply Different Access Levels

It may be one of the easiest tips; all you need to do is set up who is who among your developers. For example, you can set the most trustworthy developers as admins and the rest of your DevOps team as those with restricted possibilities to secure your data. So, let all the team have logical access: the more you trust them, the more access to the repository they have. 

4. Access Keys and Secrets

You can reduce the impact of breaches and protect the data by creating encrypted secrets. It’s possible for you to create these secrets — encrypted environment variables, in an organization, repository, or repository environment. You can use all those secrets in GitHub Actions. Then, it’s better to pull the encrypted secret as a variable from the settings page. As soon as you have deployed it, it’s worth not only locking and loading the variable in plain text from your repo but also injecting the secrets through AWS Secret Manager, Hashicorp Vault, or any other similar service. In this situation, you should be responsible for storage and key rotation. 

5. CircleCi or GitHub Actions

There are some additional tools to run the test phase, such as CircleCi and GitHub Actions. With their use, you can run multiple tests that are necessary for your organization. 

6. Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as code may be one of the best options the DevOps teams can deploy. It permits managing infrastructure with code rather than manually doing this process. Using this method, you can create configuration files that contain your infrastructure specifications. It, in turn, helps you edit and distribute configurations more easily. If you choose to codify and document your configuration specifications, IaC allows the configuration management to avoid such configuration changes as ad-hoc and undocumented ones. 

7. Multi-Factor Authentication 

Nowadays, it is a very popular way to secure your data with MFA. Once you settle on a two-factor or multi-factor authentication to access your repository, it will increase your real security a lot. How does it really work? MFA suggests that a person can access the repo only after he fulfills all the levels of authentication. For example, if somebody wants to log into your repository, he knows the password, so the first stage is over, but here comes the next step when the system needs another piece of evidence (there can be multiple numbers of them, say three or even five). If any of the stages is incomplete, that bad actor can’t get into your account. 

8. Source Code Backup for SOC 2 and ISO/IEC 27001 Compliance

Source code is a critical asset of every business. By backing up its source code, the company ensures that it can guarantee fast restoration of its services so that the data stays available and recoverable in any event of failure. Let’s not forget that availability is one of the main requirements of SOC 2 and ISO/IEC 27001 Audit. 

For example, when a company has a GitHub backup under the 3-2-1 backup rule, even if one of the copies fails to run, the company’s security team has a few other copies for its peace of mind, whether it’s in local storage on the company premises, or cloud - any of AWS, Wasabi, Google Cloud Storage, GitProtect Storage, Azure Blob Storage, BlackBlaze B2, etc. 


Preparing the company for SOC 2 or ISO 27001 audits can be a daunting task, but with the right strategies and tips, it becomes a manageable endeavor. By implementing robust and comprehensive security measures, establishing clear policies and procedures, fostering a culture of compliance, and leveraging automation tools, it’s possible to effectively ensure that your organization meets the stringent requirements of these industry standards.

With careful planning, attention to detail, and ongoing commitment to security best practices, companies can not only pass these audits with flying colors but also enhance their overall cybersecurity posture and build trust with customers and stakeholders alike.

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