SOC 2 Compliance: Building Trust and Confidence With Customers

SOC 2 compliance cover image

SOC 2 compliance isn’t just about checking a box — it can be a competitive advantage for your business.

This article will teach you how SOC 2 compliance can provide a roadmap for improving your security posture and demonstrating your commitment to protecting customer information.

If you do it right, you can win over clients and gain access to new markets.

Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

  1. What is SOC 2 compliance?
  2. Why is SOC 2 compliance so important?
  3. Does SOC 2 apply to your organization?
  4. SOC 2 compliance checklist
  5. Key takeaways
  6. How can a GRC platform help?

What is SOC 2 Compliance?

The Services Organization Control 2 (SOC 2) Program was first launched in 2010 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Moreover, this group of controls defines criteria for managing customer data based on five “trust service principles”:

SOC 2 is a voluntary compliance that enables organizations to demonstrate to their stakeholders, including customers, regulators, and business partners, their commitment to ensuring the safety and security of customer data.

In today’s interconnected world, many systems rely on other platforms to function correctly. This means that when buyers purchase a system, they need to make sure that it’s a safe environment for their information.

Why is SOC 2 Compliance so important?

The SOC 2 program shifts the auditing responsibility to system owners or vendors. Therefore, it works by having independent third parties conduct annual assessments, providing vendors with a detailed report on how their system operates and safeguarding information.

Nowadays, considering the complexity and increasing requirements of any vendor management program, having a SOC 2 report is a must as it:

  • Creates more efficiency in the sales pipeline: SOC 2 report can be shared with clients and prospects that require third-party revision of security controls

  • Opens new market opportunities (revenue): Large organizations would only use software that can provide SOC 2 reports

  • Streamlines third-party risk assessments: You can share the report with clients as a preliminary security assessment. Learn more about third-party vendor risk assessments here.

  • Defines a standardized framework for security controls and establishes trust: SOC 2 uses industry-recognized frameworks.
  • Offers evidence that an organization is implementing the security controls they need and that those controls are working correctly to protect sensitive data: The report described how the organization manages security and the maturity level of the controls

These controls, as defined by the AICPA, are divided into five trust service criteria:

  1. Security
  2. Availability
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Integrity
  5. Privacy

Out of the previous list, security is the only required criteria; all others are optional and can be seen as extensions to the mandatory set of requirements.

Does SOC 2 Apply to Your Organization?

If your organization manages data as part of one or more information systems, SOC 2 applies to you.

Applicability must also be evaluated based on the service criteria. Assessing operational processes and policies is performed based on the following requirements:

  1. Security: The security principle refers to the protection of system resources against unauthorized access. The requirements go from access control policies and enforcement of firewall use, and expand to complex monitoring controls, such as intrusion detection systems.

  2. Availability: This principle refers to the accessibility of the system and resiliency, often stipulated contractually by Service Level Agreements (SLA), Recovery Point Objective (RPO), and Recovery Time Objective (RPO).

  3. Processing integrity: Data processing must be complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized. This principle reviews all technical processes and tools that validate the data delivery flow.

  4. Confidentiality: Based on contractual and legal requirements, data (in general) is considered confidential, and its access, handling, and disclosure must be restricted to authorized people (employees, business partners, subprocessors, etc.). A good example of technical controls under the confidentiality principle is encryption. Encrypting data in transit and at rest is a relevant safeguard in processing data.

  5. Privacy: This set of controls aligns with the privacy principles used as a basis for modern privacy regulations (including GDPR). Furthermore, it addresses the complete Personal identifiable information (PII) flow, from collection to deletions, and all its nuances, including the purposes for using data, retention, and disclosure PII.

SOC 2 Compliance Checklist

If you are contemplating having a SOC 2 report in the near future, you first must understand one or two things regarding the timeline.

A SOC 2 Type 2 audit captures how a company operates throughout a period of time: no less than 6 months and no more than 18. In general, the market requires SOC 2 Type 2 reports for a 12-month period.

SOC 2 Type 1 reports assess the design of security processes at a specific point in time and look a lot like an ISO 27001 audit. Type 1 reports can be a great starting point if your goal is no transition to Type 2 reports later on. If you are not sure about SOC 2 Type 1 or Type 2 reports, read this article to learn everything you need to know.

As part of the SOC 2 implementation process, the first steps should be:

  • Scope: Defining the boundaries of your SOC program is critical to understanding which teams/departments and processes you must cover.

  • Choose the trust service criteria if you are extending the security controls to any of the other four areas.

  • Gap Assessment: Based on the service criteria, conducting a gap assessment is the only way to have visibility of existing weaknesses and processes that might need improvement.

  • Select your SOC auditor: This might sound obvious, but you might allow extra time to choose the auditing organization carefully. Also, you must evaluate synergy and budget.

  • Mature your processes: Keep in mind that mature processes will give enough evidence of effectiveness. Also, spending time with leaders to mature the processes and ensure the entire team knows what to do is the key to success.

If you have all of the above done, just smile and kick off your SOC 2 audit.

Key Takeaways

If your organization manages data as part of one or more information systems, SOC 2 applies to you.

  1. SOC 2 Compliance is important because it transfers the auditing responsibility to system owners (vendors), and it opens up new market opportunities and streamlines third-party risk assessments.
  2. Being SOC 2 compliant helps you streamline third-party risk assessments, open up new market opportunities, and provide evidence that your organization is implementing the necessary security controls to protect sensitive data.
  3. The five trust service criteria are Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Integrity, and Privacy.
  4. The implementation process for SOC 2 Compliance should start with defining the program’s scope, choosing the trust service criteria, conducting a gap assessment, selecting the SOC auditor, and maturing your processes.

How Can a GRC Platform Help?

StandardFusion’s GRC tool streamlines the management of SOC 2 requirements. Additionally, our simplified and interconnected platform accelerates SOC 2 implementation and supports program maintenance, including audits.

Looking for a better way?

With built-in SOC2 controls, policy management, visual reports and structured workflows, StandardFusion turns SOC2 compliance into a walk in the park. Our customers have never felt better prepared for their audits than they do now!

What can you do with our GRC tool?

You can create and control historical revisions of your policies and procedures, create a list of controls, and use those records to satisfy auditing requirements. Moreover, StandardFusion’s Audit feature will allow you to perform gap assessments and generate reports for optimized visibility of your security framework.

Take the first step towards improving your security posture and gaining a competitive advantage for your business today. Book a free consultation with StandardFusion and start your journey to becoming SOC 2 compliant.