I’ve heard SOC 2 mentioned in various cybersecurity contexts, but I have no idea what it is. Does it have anything to do with security operations? Much of the confusion about SOC 2 is because there is another acronym used in the world of cybersecurity – SOC – that refers to a security operations centre.
The reality is that SOC 2 is more like ISO 27001, as it’s a security standard you use for running your business and can be externally certified so you can demonstrate to your customers, partners, or regulators you have a well-implemented security program.
What does SOC stand for?
SOC stands for System and Organisation Controls and was designed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). SOC 2 is the reporting standard used to describe how an organisation designs and operates its controls. The controls are described in the framework most commonly known as the Trust Services Criteria (TSC).
The service organisation evaluates the suitability of the design and operating effectiveness of the controls stated in the description to provide reasonable assurance that its service commitments and system requirements were achieved based on the TSC relevant to the trust services category or categories included within the scope of the examination.
Firstly, SOC 1® is an audit report describing controls related to the protection of financial statements and reports. Secondly, SOC 2® is an audit report related to controls on security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy.
There are two types of SOC 2® reports Type 1 and Type 2; a Type 1 report is restricted to an assessment of how the security controls are designed, and a Type 2 report includes the operating effectiveness of the security controls. Finally, SOC 3®, is a higher-level compliance report which can be provided to any of the given organisation’s customers as it does not contain sensitive information. However, it must demonstrate both design and operation effectiveness; essentially this is a Type 2 report.
The purpose of SOC standards is to create a level of confidence and trust for organisations when they engage a third-party to provide important services. SOC 2® compliance is critical for protecting the given organisation and its customers from data breaches, threats and vulnerabilities. Enterprise customers will also require service providers to meet the TSC and the compliance requirements prior to engaging in contracts. Moreover, SOC 2® compliance is a competitive differentiator. It enables the service provider to boost establishment, credibility and remain attuned to customer needs.
What are organisations missing?
Business leaders choose to improve efficiency, enhance operations, or transfer risk by outsourcing functions to service organisations. For example, data centre hosting, cloud software solutions and managed security. These service providers collect, transmit, store and dispose of information. Both your customer’s information and your organisation’s information could be at risk. Potentially service organisations could be missing governance which poses a risk to customers, investors and organisations.
With new security threats proliferating the internet, data security standards are constantly evolving. This makes it challenging for even the savviest CIO to keep a cloud-based data system compliant and secure.
The problem SOC 2® services solves
SOC 2® reporting solves the issue of how a business leader can trust that a service provider is taking its obligations seriously by conducting a SOC 2® Type 1 and Type 2 report to evaluate data protection systems and procedures. The AICPA created SOC 2® to fill the need for rigorous independent examinations of the operational controls in service organisations.
Further to this, SOC 2® bolsters company culture, provides documentation to meet legal and compliance challenges, assists with risk management and improves overall security.
Who is the SOC 2® service for?
If you are a service provider or a service organisation that stores, processes or transmits any kind of information you may need to involve a SOC 2® consultancy and audit team. Service providers that have a SOC 2® Type 1 and Type 2 report ready to give to an organisation, will ultimately have a commercial advantage over their competitors.
On the contrary, the SOC 2® Type 1 and Type 2 reports are an invaluable resource for user organisations to confirm the effectiveness of their service provider’s internal controls and to ensure their clients’ sensitive data is protected.
For security-conscious businesses, SOC 2® compliance is a minimum requirement when considering a SaaS provider.
Privasec now Sekuro’s SOC 2® services ensure you save time, reduce costs and receive exceptional results. Our SOC 2® services are end-to-end, offering a lifecycle of SOC 2® Type 1 pre-work, gap assessment, remediation services, the controls matrix and mapping exercises, service description and optimal consulting services.
Further to the lifecycle approach, our audit team will take over and drive the SOC 2® Type 2 test designs. The team will ensure that the controls are operating effectively prior to providing the required deliverables. Both our consulting and auditing teams have exceptional skills in ensuring your organisation guidance and direction throughout the SOC 2® process.
How to prepare/plan for your service
Are you ready to get SOC 2® certified? Follow these steps to begin your organisation’s journey:
- Ensure that you are a service provider, store customer data in the cloud and require compliance to security controls.
- Take a look at the Trust Services Criteria (TSC) and determine the controls and principles you want to implement.
- Ensure that you have resources and time ready for the duration of the SOC 2® engagement.
- Prepare and create policies and procedures or update all internal processes, employee training and education and organise these documents into a shared file.
For more information or a free walkthrough of our SOC 2® approach and methodology, contact Sekuro today to talk to an expert.
Sita Bhat is a Managing Consultant at Sekuro, and leads the IRAP team across various states - working with numerous global tech giants. Sita is passionate about sharing her skills and knowledge, and championed the first Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) related stream inside Sekuro's Hackcelerator program.