4 Ways An IT Security Assessment Prepares You For SOC 2 Compliance
No organization wants to do business with a high-risk vendor. In today’s increasingly complex cyberthreat landscape, companies routinely demand trust and transparency, so they can be confident handing over their sensitive data. This may involve asking for an SOC 2 audit report, which you will need to be able to secure and maintain more valuable contracts.
Meeting the demands of any compliance regulation begins with an evaluation of the current state of your cybersecurity maturity. Only after conducting a thorough IT security assessment can you identify what’s working and what isn’t. It can also help you prepare for achieving SOC 2 compliance.
What are the SOC 1 and SOC 2 Compliance
SOC 1 was developed by the American Institute of Public Accountants to report on the internal control over financial reporting. SOC 2 builds upon that original goal by covering five partially overlapping trust services principles: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. As such, the SOC 1 and SOC 2 report differences largely pertain to scope. While SOC 1 largely concerns financial institutions and departments, SOC 2 has become a practical necessity for almost all service-based organizations. Understanding the differences between SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports will help you determine the best place to start, and which measures you need to maintain going forward.
Related article: Know the Difference: SOC 1 vs SOC 2
Where to start with SOC 2 compliance
An IT security assessment evaluates your internal controls governing the services you provide to your clients, and the measures in place to protect client data. This is the common method and starting point for validating and demonstrating your commitment to customer privacy and security. Below are ways an IT security assessment helps you become more prepared for compliance regulations such as SOC 2.
#1. Identify opportunities for improvement
An IT security assessment will help you define the risks facing your business and identify any opportunities for improvement. For example, a gap analysis will evaluate your entire network, including both internal and external computing resources, to identify any ‘gaps’ in security. An assessment typically includes many components that cover not only technical measures, but also operational policies and employee security awareness.
It’s never too early to carry out an IT security assessment. Some companies don’t think about it until after they’ve suffered a data breach and the damage is done. A proactive approach is far better for preventing that from happening in the first place.
#2. Document your cybersecurity efforts
While protecting your and your clients’ data is obviously the main priority, it’s still important to be able to demonstrate your efforts to achieve a high standard of information security. After all, many prospective and existing clients will ask if you’ve received a SOC 2 audit and may even demand proof. In fact, marketing teams can even obtain a SOC 3 audit for general use that they can provide as proof of their efforts.
Many regulations also require companies to maintain proof of compliance in the form of up-to-date reports and audits, and SOC 2 is no exception. Having a robust security policy and recent IT assessment provides precisely that kind of evidence.
#3. Educate your employees in security
A lot of people still think of cybersecurity as a technical challenge and the sole domain of the IT department. Unfortunately, that’s just the kind of thinking that leaves employees susceptible to social engineering scams. Almost all successful data breaches include a human element, which is why you also need to think about how people and processes fit into your information security strategy.
By uncovering potential risks and other issues, an IT security assessment also serves as an educational experience. Given the key role SOC 2 compliance plays in vendor management and internal governance, educating your employees on its key principles will better prepare them for the risks they face.
#4. Reduce operational risk
Service-based companies face the constant threat of cyberattacks and data loss, among other issues. Unforeseen outages can lead to increased customer churn and reputational damage as well.
An IT assessment gives you the opportunity to compare your current situation against where you want to be. It serves as a starting point on a journey of continuous improvement, whereby you proactively and iteratively reduce risk and avoid missing out on new opportunities. SOC 2 compliance offers a way to document and demonstrate your efforts, while resting easy in the confidence of knowing that you’ve achieved a high standard of information security that your customers can trust.
Charles IT will put your current security system to the test to help you determine how close you are to achieving SOC 2 compliance. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!