If you're running a service organization that collects, stores, and shares sensitive customer information, you need to have a System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC 2) certificate. Being SOC 2 compliant will show your customers and prospects that your business has the appropriate cybersecurity measures in place to protect their private information.
Benefits of Being SOC 2 Compliant
Preparing for a SOC 2 assessment takes around 6–12 months and requires various changes to your current security policies. This may present some challenges, but having a positive SOC 2 report will offer the following benefits:
- Providing transparency and visibility to customers into your internal controls and operations
- Protecting your brand reputation by preventing data breaches
- Having a competitive edge against other providers who are not SOC 2 compliant
- Streamlining your cybersecurity controls and policies to prevent costly cyberattacks
SOC 2 Compliance Checklist
If you're looking to start your SOC 2 compliance journey, this checklist can help.
- Define your goals
Ask yourself what you need the SOC 2 report for. Is it because your customers require you to be SOC 2 certified? Is it part of your business strategy to gain an advantage over your competitors? Or are you doing it for compliance purposes? Having a goal can help align your focus and ensure that you can properly measure your compliance success.
- Determine the scope
A SOC 2 audit reviews your cybersecurity compliance based on five trust service criteria (TSC): security (mandatory), availability, process integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) requires all service organizations to comply with the security TSC, particularly because it prevents unauthorized access and removal of data, incorrect processing, and system failure. Complying with the remaining four criteria is optional and depends on the services you offer and your business goals. For instance, if you run an online store, you'll have to prioritize process integrity and availability after complying with the security TSC.
Additionally, you can use your customers' priorities to help define the scope of your SOC 2 audit. For example, your customers might put more emphasis on confidentiality and privacy over process integrity and availability. In this case, the scope of your SOC 2 audit should prioritize confidentiality and privacy in your SOC 2 compliance process.
- Pick the type of SOC 2 report
Picking the type of SOC 2 report you need, Type 1 or Type 2, will depend on your company's specific objectives and requirements. Here are key differences between the two.
SOC 2 Type 1
SOC 2 Type 2
A Type 2 SOC 2 report is generally more comprehensive than a Type 1 report, as it provides your customers with a higher level of assurance.
- Choose an auditor
Working with an auditor with plenty of experience in your specific industry will be more beneficial for you, as they are likely to be already familiar with the process. Check the firm’s peer review. It will provide you with information about how well a specific firm is adhering to AICPA standards. Firms with a positive peer review are the best options for a SOC 2 assessment.
- Prepare for the audit
You need to perform a gap assessment to ensure your company is prepared for its SOC 2 audit. This will test your company's security controls and policies to determine if they are working as intended. A gap assessment will also help you detect any weaknesses in your security controls and policies that need to be addressed before the audit.
Preparing for a SOC 2 assessment can be intimidating, especially if it's your first time. This is why you should partner with a trusted managed IT services provider like Charles IT. Our IT experts will perform a gap assessment to identify holes in your organization's current cybersecurity posture and provide you with options for resolving those issues. Call us today to start preparing for your SOC 2 audit.