If you're a business owner providing third-party services, keeping your customers' sensitive information secure should be one of your top priorities. With the number of data breaches happening every day and the way some providers mishandle customer information, data security has never been more important. Establishing a high level of trust with your customers is a key factor to the success of your business, and getting a Service Organization Control 2 (SOC 2) report is a good way to do that.
What Is a SOC 2 Report?
Introduced in 2011, SOC 2 reports use the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) trust services principles to evaluate an organization's data systems. These principles are specifically designed for financial services organizations, web marketing companies, software developers and providers, and cloud service providers, as well as other companies that store and process their customers' sensitive information.
What Are the Five SOC 2 Trust Principles?
SOC 2 reports are not as rigid with their requirements like other standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. If you’re looking to pursue a SOC 2 audit, you need to determine which of the following five trust principles, as defined by the AICPA, apply to your organization:
Related article: 5 Ways an MSP Can Walk You Through Your SOC 2 Audit Process
Also called the "common criterion," security is the only trust principle that is mandatory for all service providers. It shows that your systems and data are both physically and logically protected from unauthorized access, including the unauthorized removal of data, misuse of software, and illegal alteration of customer information. The security trust principle requires providers to implement various cybersecurity measures such as multifactor authentication, intrusion detection, and firewalls to prevent data breaches.
As a service provider, you must ensure that the services you offer are readily available and meet the needs of your customers as stated in your service level agreement. This principle requires you to have disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place to ensure the availability of your services even after a disaster.
- Processing integrity
Processing integrity focuses on data accuracy and the completeness of your end-to-end processes to ensure your systems don't accidentally create false information or manipulate customer data. For example, inaccurate system processing of a customer's order could lead to shipping the wrong quantity or shipping delays.
This trust principle deals with how service providers store, share, and protect sensitive information such as protected health information and personally identifiable information.
Preventive measures such as data encryption and firewalls can ensure the confidentiality of sensitive data, especially during transit. Also, conducting regular checks and monitoring all activity around private information can prevent it from being released to the wrong parties.
Privacy addresses how you collect, use, keep, disclose, and dispose of a customer's personal information. It should comply with the rules set by the AICPA, which include:
- Customers must have the freedom to choose how their information is collected, how long it should be kept, and how and when it should be destroyed.
- You should only collect information relevant to the goals of your business.
- You should limit who can use and keep personal data.
- Customers are free to opt in or out of your services anytime they want to.
- In the event of a data breach, you should inform your customers immediately and tell them how the breach will be handled.
Complying with these trust principles will give you a better chance of passing your SOC 2 audit. If you're not sure which of the trust principles apply to your organization, you need the help of a managed IT services provider like Charles IT. Our IT experts will work with you to determine which of the five trust principles should be included in your SOC 2 report, and we'll even recommend SOC 2 auditors to perform the assessment. Call us today to get certified.