What is SOC 2 compliance automation?

September 22, 2022

You just had your first meeting with a SOC 2 auditor and now you have some homework. Imagine sifting through endless file folders, applications, and documents in order to collect evidence of security. Without compliance automation, it could take weeks, if not months, to find what you need. But how do you even know what to look for and where to start?

Despite how rigorous compliance might seem, it’s actually quite nuanced when it comes to applying controls and writing policies. Every company and industry is different, which means generic compliance solutions won’t always fit the bill. That’s where SOC 2 compliance automation comes in. 

What exactly is compliance automation?

Compliance automation is software that integrates with each piece of your company’s internal technology environment. In order to demonstrate competent security, you’ll need to source relevant information about cloud services, identity providers, task trackers, and other applications.  

Instead of learning what to gather, and why you need to gather it, compliance automation does it for you. But even after your SOC 2 audit, compliance automation protects your company by running hourly checks within your tech stack to ensure all compliance controls are fulfilled.

Life without SOC 2 compliance automation

Organizations seeking a SOC 2 report have a few options. The DIY approach to compliance can seem appealing, especially to scrappy startups that aren’t afraid of hard work. But there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. Between education, employee expenditure, human error, and the chance of getting it wrong, self-attestation can be problematic. Plus, your potential customers will likely request external validation from a credible source. 

So what about the tried-and-true traditional path? Well, it can still be quite challenging. Here are some of the reasons why a third party may not be right for you:

  • It requires a trusted source, like a CISO or Senior IT
  • It is an inefficient use of skilled workers and their time
  • It is only a point-in-time test, not continuously monitored (more on this below)
  • It leaves the door open for audit fraud
  • After a SOC 2, you may need more than one audit for different frameworks
  • You will have to conduct SOC 2 audits on an annual basis

Manual compliance processes will soon be a chore of the past. Inefficiencies, monetary cost, low assurance, and repetition are meaningful examples of why an automated compliance solution is a better choice. 

What great compliance automation looks like

An effective compliance automation tool doesn’t stop at compliance—it bolsters important security functions across the organization, such as:

Continuous monitoring

Before compliance automation, point-in-time monitoring was the normal method of proving security. Point-in-time monitoring consists of periodic snapshots that assess security at a specific time. Continuous monitoring is a constant, ongoing survey of your information security system. This method ensures risks, vulnerabilities, and outdated practices are hashed out before they become problematic. 

Effective risk management

A great SOC 2 compliance automation platform should provide you with a risk register to simplify annual assessments. An automated risk register provides one source of truth to track risks, mitigate tasks, and assign tasks. When it comes time for your annual SOC 2, you’ll have thorough documentation for your auditor without wrestling with manual spreadsheets or emails.

Onboarding and offboarding employees

How you handle onboarding and offboarding is directly relevant to SOC 2. You need a strategy in place that helps you securely manage employees, contractors, and other individuals, specifically their access to important information. Unnecessary access to critical parts of your system and data storage pose huge risks. Vanta’s SOC 2 platform includes ways to automatically document your onboarding, offboarding, and access management.

Completing and remediating tests and scans

SOC 2 compliance is largely influenced by vulnerability scans—a deep assessment of your cloud environment used to surface gaps in data security. Without a proper compliance automation tool, you would need to perform a vulnerability scan with a third party in preparation for an audit. You’ll also need to access your cloud environment to remediate any issues that appear. Vanta automatically fetches vulnerability findings from AWS Inspector, offering a highly-visible dashboard where users can remediate or ignore flagged items.

More than automation

Even though automation works wonders, you should seek out a compliance partner that can supplement technology with human guidance. Vanta alleviates the burden of compliance complications by pairing automation with knowledgeable experts who can guide you through a SOC 2 audit—all the way from onboarding to final report delivery. 

Learn more about SOC 2 compliance 

Why a SOC 2 is the most accepted security compliance standard

What is a SOC 2 bridge letter?

SOC 2 Type 1 vs. Type 2

“Vanta's expert team helped analyze our compliance requirements and shared what was needed to complete a SAQ-D. Because of this, we accelerated our timelines, saved hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in costs.”

Klas Hesselman
Co-founder  |  Flow Networks
Vanta automates security compliance.
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