System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC 2) is a security framework for companies handling customer data in the cloud. It was created in 2010 by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA). It is a voluntary compliance standard for service companies. SOC 2 is also a guide for auditors when checking the effectiveness of security in companies.
Why SOC 2 Compliance Is Important
It can be challenging and time-consuming for businesses to get SOC 2 compliance. But securing SOC 2 compliance demonstrates that data security is your priority.
It also shows you have the following:
- Robust data security controls in place
- Made every effort to protect sensitive information
- Credibility as a partner that customers and other businesses can trust
- Systems and services that are secure.
Determining The Right SOC 2 Report
Before preparing for an audit to achieve SOC2 compliance. You must determine which SOC 2 report will suit your business. There are two types of reports:
- A Type 1 report is for the design of controls in the company for a specific time.
- A Type 2 report covers the effectiveness and the design of the controls over a specified period.
Six Steps To Prepare For A SOC 2 Assessment
Once you have determined the right report for your business, you can prepare more detail for the SOC 2 assessment. Follow these six steps to help your business get ready for the evaluation:
Step 1 – Understand The SOC 2 Framework
Before preparing your business for the SOC 2 audit, you need to understand the requirements of the SOC 2 framework. Additionally, you need to know how these requirements apply to your organization.
The SOC 2 framework consists of five trust service principles. These five principles are security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. There are different criteria for each one of these principles.
Step 2 – Check Your Policies And Procedures
Now that you understand the five principles and have studied the criteria for each one. Your next step would be to check your policies and procedures. You also need to look at your infrastructure and systems. You need to see if they meet the SOC 2 standards.
One of the key ways to get SOC 2 compliance is to have documented policies and procedures. These can show how you manage and protect customer data. These policies should include the following areas:
- Access control
- Incident management
- Change management
- Other relevant areas
You also must ensure that all the employees follow the policies and procedures you have set out. Remember to provide new training if policies and procedures have changed.
Step 3 – Carry Out A Risk Assessment
Once you have set up the appropriate policies and procedures, you can conduct a risk assessment. It is a valuable tool to help you identify potential risks in your system and processes.
You can take the necessary steps to reduce these risks. Look at the types of data you collect and store. Also, check the processes and systems you use to manage and protect data. Then assess any potential risks with your systems and processes.
Step 4 – Put The Necessary Controls In Place
Now that you know the different risks that could affect your organization. You can install the required controls into your business to help you reduce these risks. There are several different controls that you can use.
For example, technical controls, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Also, administration controls, such as policies and training programs. These controls help employees understand why they must protect sensitive data.
Step 5 – Test That The Controls Work
Once you have established what controls you need and have them in place. You need to test the controls to see how they work in effect. It is also essential to test them over time to see if they are still effective when things change.
These tests involve carrying out regular penetration tests and vulnerability assessments. You can also conduct internal audits. It will help you check if your employees follow the policies and procedures.
Step 6 – Prepare For The Audit
You now know what risks your company could face. You have also developed and implemented the appropriate controls. You are now ready to prepare for the audit by collating all the necessary documentation.
The assessor will need to see your:
- Policies and procedures
- Risk assessment reports
- Testing results
Also, don’t forget to keep your employees up to date with the audit process and what it involves. Some employees may have to provide information to the auditor and must be ready to present this.
Finding The Right Assessor For A SOC 2 Assessment
Now that you have everything in place to start a SOC 2 audit. You must work with a reputable assessor to ensure everything is in order. Look for an accredited assessor who has a record of conducting successful assessments.
You could make things easier for yourself and automate the process for SOC 2 compliance. AICPA-certified security and compliance platforms can automate up to 90% of the work. You can get ready in weeks instead of months.
The SOC 2 Assessment
The assessor will check the infrastructure, systems, policies, and procedures. The assessor may interview employees and perform testing of the controls.
Obtaining The SOC 2 Report
Once the assessment is complete, the assessor will send a report to the company. The report will summarise the results of the evaluation. It will also provide any recommendations for improvement if these are necessary.
Dealing With Deficiencies
When an assessor finds deficiencies during an audit, the company has to rectify them. This action is necessary to meet the SOC 2 standards as soon as possible.
Maintaining SOC 2 Compliance
Now that you have SOC 2 compliance, you need to think about maintaining it. You’ve spent the time and effort achieving it, but SOC 2 compliance is an ongoing process. Your organization needs to review year after year.
When you update your policies and procedures, don’t forget to check your infrastructure and systems. Automating the process can reduce the work and help you follow SOC 2 standards.
The Power Of SOC 2 Compliance
Service organizations must show commitment to the security and privacy of customer data. Obtaining SOC 2 certification is a big, valuable step. It demonstrates compliance is a priority in your company.
SOC 2 compliance can be complex, but you can speed things up by automating the process. Automation can also help with continuous monitoring demands. So your business can always stay secure and compliant.