Introduction to SOC 2
Why is SOC 2 compliance important?
There are several benefits of SOC 2 compliance. A completed SOC 2 report strengthens your security posture, demonstrates trust to stakeholders, and drives business growth. While it does require significant time and resources, it shows your stakeholders you're committed to protecting their data and that you’re a trustworthy vendor.
In this article, we’ll review what SOC 2 compliance is, why SOC 2 compliance is important, and explain the process for getting a SOC 2.
What is SOC 2 compliance?
SOC 2 is a well-known framework that provides standards for information security and offers a verified method for evaluating and certifying your security infrastructure. The security policies and practices for SOC 2 are organized around five categories known as the Trust Service Criteria (TSC).
To get your SOC 2 attestation, you’ll need to undergo a SOC 2 audit by a third-party auditor who will assess your security infrastructure against these five criteria. After they’ve completed their audit, they’ll prepare a SOC 2 report which will serve as the official document that demonstrates your SOC 2 compliance.
Why is SOC 2 important?
While a SOC 2 is not required by law — there’s no penalties or fees for not having one — customers often need to see your SOC 2 report before they agree to do business with you.
Below are three reasons why a SOC 2 report is important, both for you and your customers.
1. Establishing a trusted reputation
If you manage, process, or handle customer data, your customers need to know they can trust you before they give you access to that data. This is important because if you experience a data breach that compromises their data (or their customer’s data), their business will suffer too. SOC 2 compliance shows your stakeholders that you’ve taken the necessary precautions to prevent a breach and keep their data safe.
For this reason, a SOC 2 can help you build trust with prospects and positively impact your organization’s reputation.
2. Unlocking revenue opportunities
Not only does SOC 2 compliance help demonstrate your trustworthiness to prospects and partners, but it can also unlock deals that require a SOC 2. Many large organizations, particularly in North America, need to see a vendor’s SOC 2 before they’ll agree to work with them. Without a SOC 2 report, your prospects may be forced to walk away from a nealy-closed deal.
However, even if your prospects don’t require you to have a SOC 2, it can still provide you with a competitive advantage. Having a SOC 2 report shows prospects and customers that their data will be safer in your systems than with competitors without one.
3. Building a strong security infrastructure
And finally, a SOC 2 can help you implement a strong information security infrastructure. As you prepare for your audit, you’ll be implementing best practices and safeguards that will lower your risk of a data breach and the expensive consequences that come with a breach.
According to IBM security, the average cost of a data breach is $4.45 million. These expenses come in the form of paying employees additional compensation to mitigate the breach, fines or penalties, and loss of revenue as customers switch vendors. Additionally, a breach will negatively impact your brand’s reputation long term.
Who needs SOC 2 compliance?
SOC 2 is not a mandatory or legally-required compliance standard for any organization. However, it is often expected from prospects, customers, and partners if your organization handles, manages, or processes customer data. It's particularly common among SaaS organizations, managed IT service providers, and business or data analytics providers.
How do I get a SOC 2?
You’ll need to go through the SOC 2 audit process. This involves hiring a third-party auditor to investigate your information security and create a report that details your security posture and the controls you have in place to protect your organizational and customer data. However, there’s a lot of preparation you need to do before you're ready for an audit.
Here’s an overview of what the full SOC 2 process looks like:
- Scope your SOC 2 report, identifying which criteria are relevant to your business.
- Implement the required controls and test them.
- Hire an auditor from an accredited AICPA firm.
- Collect evidence and documentation.
- Undergo a SOC 2 audit and receive a SOC 2 report.
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, 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.