Introduction to SOC 2

What is SOC 2?

SOC 2 is a compliance framework used to evaluate and validate an organization’s information security practices. It’s widely used in North America, particularly in the SaaS industry. To get a SOC 2, your organization's security controls will need to be investigated against a set of criteria to verify you’ve implemented the right policies and protocols to protect your customer’s data. A SOC 2 will help build trust with your stakeholders and let them know what measures you have in place to keep their data safe.

What does SOC 2 stand for?

SOC 2 stands for System and Organization Controls 2. It was created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) as a way to help organization’s verify their security and reduce the risk of a security breach. The name relates to which controls are being assessed, which for the case of SOC 2, is an organization's data security controls across their technical system and day-to-day operations. 

What is SOC 2 compliance?

When you get your SOC 2, it means you have implemented the appropriate security controls and have had those controls investigated by a third-party auditor. Your auditor will assess your information security against five categories, known as the five Trust Services Criteria (TSC)

  • Security (CC): Your systems and data are protected against unauthorized access and disclosure.
  • Availability (A): Your information and systems are available for their intended use.
  • Confidentiality (C): Confidential information is kept confidential.
  • Processing integrity (PI): Data processing is complete, valid, accurate, and timely.
  • Privacy (P): Consumer data is protected and consumers are informed about the collection, use retention, and disposal of their data. 

The five Trust Services Criteria (TSC) of SOC 2 and what they cover.
Your auditor will assess your information security against the five Trust Services Criteria (TSC).

Each TSC category includes a list of various practices and standards. The security criteria, also known as the common criteria, are mandatory for all SOC 2 reports, while the other four criteria categories only need to be included if they apply to your organization’s products and services. For example, you should add confidentiality to the scope of your report if that criteria is relevant to your business and your SOC 2 report. 

What is a SOC 2 report?

A SOC 2 report is a document that verifies your SOC 2 compliance. To get a SOC 2 report, you will need to hire an AICPA-accredited auditor to evaluate your data security and document the SOC 2 controls you’ve implemented. The auditor will then create a report of their findings and their attestation as to whether your organization meets SOC 2 criteria. 

SOC 2 Type 1 vs. SOC 2 Type 2 reports

There are two types of SOC 2 reports: SOC 2 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2.

A SOC 2 Type 1 report will detail your security controls at a single point in time, the date of your audit. This type of report verifies that the necessary controls have been implemented but does not include information about how effective those controls are. SOC 2 Type 1 is often faster and more cost-effective than a SOC 2 Type 2, however SOC 2 Type 1 tends to be less valuable among larger firms.

A SOC 2 Type 2 report assesses your security controls over a period of time and tests how effective they are. You choose the length of your audit window depending on how long your controls are in operation. This window can be between three and twelve months. This type of report provides additional reassurance to stakeholders as it demonstrates how effective your controls are over time. 

Importance of SOC 2 compliance

SOC 2 is not legally required by any organization, however, it may be required by your prospects before they agree to do business with you. Your SOC 2 report helps your customers reduce the risk of bringing you on as a vendor and verifies what measures you have in place to protect their data. For this reason, many businesses and investors in North America can only do business with organizations that demonstrate their information security with a SOC 2 report. 

There are several advantages to getting a SOC 2 that can impact your business: 

  • Show you have a strong data security posture.  
  • Ensure via an audit that you’ve lowered your chances of a possible data breach. 
  • Unlocks deals with high-value clients and business partners that require a SOC 2. 
  • Demonstrate trustworthiness with your stakeholders. 
  • Build a strong data security posture.

How long does it take to get a SOC 2?

The average SOC 2 process takes between six months to a year from the moment you start preparing the controls to when you have a completed SOC 2 report in hand. This is because you’ll need to see which controls are missing, set your security controls, test them, collect evidence, and then find an auditor. Once you’ve found an auditor and established your audit window, their assessment will take between four to six weeks. 

However, you can cut this time in half with compliance automation

With Vanta’s trust management platform, you can streamline your SOC 2 audit. Here’s what an automated SOC 2 process can look like: 

  • Connect your infrastructure to the Vanta platform with our 200+ built-in integrations.
  • Assess your risk holistically from one unified view. 
  • Identify areas of non-compliance with in-platform notifications.
  • Get a checklist of actions to help you make the needed changes. 
  • Automate evidence collection and centralize all your documents in one place.
  • Find a Vanta-vetted auditor within the platform. 
  • Streamline reviews by giving your auditor the information in your Trust Center. 
  • Complete your SOC 2 in half the time. 

By using Vanta, you can save your business valuable time and money during your SOC 2 audit process. Learn how you can get your SOC 2 faster by requesting a demo

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