Successful service-based organizations understand the importance of focusing on their core competencies, one of which is the ability to protect customer data.
SOC 2 compliance covers five partially overlapping trust services principles that validate your efforts to keep client data safe from unauthorized access and other threats. These SOC 2 common criteria are security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
Achieving compliance is practically mandatory for today’s service-based organizations, such as cloud providers and other SaaS companies. It’s also a legal necessity for any organization that needs to be compliant with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). That said, there’s far more to compliance than red tape – it also helps establish a strong and trustworthy brand reputation, thus opening up further opportunities to procure and maintain lucrative client contracts.
Enrolling the help of a managed IT services provider can shift the burden from your in-house team. It’s the obvious starting point for many smaller organizations, all of which still need the same level of information security and privacy that was previously only available to far larger organizations.
What is SOC 2?
SOC 2 evaluates the state of your information systems over the five trust services. While an audit doesn’t give you a numerical rating, it does validate your efforts with an expert opinion and a detailed overview of areas where you can improve. Upon achieving compliance, you can also opt for a SOC 3 report, which is designed for general use. Service companies often use these as marketing collateral to demonstrate their commitment to security.
SOC 2 Type 1 vs SOC 2 Type 2
SOC 2 reports come in two forms – type 1 and type 2. A type-1 report evaluates the state of your information systems at a given point in time, while type-2 reports look at how they perform over a specific period – typically six to twelve months. A type-1 report is a natural starting point if you’re just getting started with SOC-2 compliance, while type-2 reports should be provided every six to twelve months thereafter.
How an MSP Can Help Your Business with SOC 2 Certification Requirements
#1. Free Up Time for Employees
Meeting and maintaining the demands of compliance can be hugely time-consuming, placing a substantial burden on your team. Smaller organizations rarely have the resources needed to achieve these goals either, and taking employees away from their regular jobs is rarely the best use of their time.
Enlisting a managed services provider can shift that burden, freeing up time for you and your employees to focus on their core job roles.
#2. Benefit From Outside Expertise
A SOC 2 audit is based on an expert view from someone with a comprehensive understanding of your industry and the technical and security challenges it faces. While no one knows your business better than you do, there are always going to be things you’ll miss if you’re restricting yourself to internal expertise.
Bringing outside expertise involves getting an external view of your security and compliance posture. This will likely uncover issues and opportunities for improvement you might not have known about before.
#3. Meet the Demands of Scale
In today’s service-based economy, scalability is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. With so many organizations now migrating to the cloud and using web-based apps and services, it’s likely only a matter of time before the demand outweighs your abilities to maintain the level of service your customers expect.
Managed services providers help small and growing organizations meet the demands of scale with flexible service models. This ensures you can always maintain a high standard when it comes to compliance and service availability.
#4. Reduce Operational Risk
Every business faces the constant threat of cyberattacks. The threat landscape is expanding and evolving all the time to such an extent that smaller organizations often have a hard time keeping up. This places them at greater risk, especially as they onboard more customers and expand their service portfolios.
A managed services provider should also provide ongoing compliance and security services, such as annual SOC 2 type-2 reports, which evaluate the performance of your information security controls over a given period (at least six months).
Why You Need to Focus on the Long Term
A SOC 2 type-1 audit evaluates the status of your information systems at a specific time, but it’s only the beginning. Maintaining compliance requires an ongoing commitment, which can be difficult to stick to if you’re only relying on in-house resources. Partnering with a managed services provider (who should themselves be SOC 2-compliant) will free up time for you to focus on strategic initiatives without having to worry about compliance and security.
Charles IT provides expert guidance and technical solutions to help you meet the demands of SOC 2 compliance. Get in touch today to schedule your first assessment!
Editors note: This blog was originally published on January 8th, 2021 and was updated December 7th, 2022 for accuracy.