SOC 2 reporting and documentation
What is SOC 2 Type 2?
As you start your SOC 2 compliance journey, you’ll need to decide whether to pursue a SOC 2 Type 1 or a SOC 2 Type 2. Both types of SOC 2 reports will help you strengthen your security posture and earn the trust of prospects, customers, and partners. But how do you know which type of report is right for you?
A SOC 2 Type 2 report assesses your security controls over a period of time to test their effectiveness, making it more thorough and detailed than a SOC 2 Type 1 report. In this article, we’ll cover what a SOC 2 Type 2 report is, its benefits, and how to prepare for your SOC 2 Type 2 audit.
SOC 2 Type 1 vs. SOC 2 Type 2
There are two types of SOC 2 reports: SOC 2 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2. These reports investigate the same controls with the biggest difference being the duration of the audit. A SOC 2 Type 1 report will only look at your controls at a single point in time, usually shortly after they’ve been implemented, while a SOC 2 Type 2 report will look at them over a period of three to twelve months. This additional time is used to test the effectiveness of the security controls you have in place.
As a result, a SOC 2 Type 2 tends to take longer and be more expensive than a SOC 2 Type 1. However, a SOC 2 Type 2 report will provide more insight into the effectiveness of your security controls given that these controls will have been tested over a lengthy period of time.
Benefits of SOC 2 Type 2 compliance
SOC 2 is a widely accepted compliance standard among service organizations that process, handle, or manage customer data. It’s used all over the world, but is commonly requested by software buyers in North America. Given how thorough a SOC 2 Type 2 report is, it’s usually requested by customers when they know you’ll be handling their confidential data.
There are several benefits of attaining a SOC 2 Type 2:
- Improved trust and credibility
- Strong information security controls and practices
- New business by selling to organizations that require SOC 2 Type 2 compliance
- Reduced security questionnaires and audit fatigue
For many organizations, SOC 2 Type 2 compliance is necessary to expand into larger customer accounts or new regions and markets.
How to get a SOC 2 Type 2 report?
To get a SOC 2 Type 2 report, you’ll need to implement the SOC 2 controls that are relevant to your organization based on the products and services you provide. The SOC 2 controls that your auditor will assess your infrastructure against are called the Trust Service Criteria (TSC) and they are bucketed into five categories: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. The criteria in the security category are required for all SOC 2 reports, while the other four criteria only need to be included if they apply to your organization.
Once you have the appropriate controls in place, you’ll need to hire a third-party auditor from a firm accredited by the AICPA. Your auditor will then investigate your security controls, evaluate them against the Trust Service Criteria, test them, and document how effective they are. Their final report will determine if you’ve met the SOC 2 Type 2 compliance requirements.
How to prepare for your SOC 2 Type 2 audit
It’s important to properly prepare for your SOC 2 Type 2 audit. Here are some best practices and tips to help you on your journey to SOC 2 compliance:
1. Scope your report
Each SOC 2 report is unique. The controls that are included will depend on the products and services your organization provides and what types of customer data you manage. While the security criteria are required for all organizations seeking SOC 2 compliance, the other four criteria only need to be included if they apply to your organization.
Because this is so nuanced and will vary between organizations, it’s important to scope your SOC 2 Type 2 ahead of implementing your controls to ensure you have a clear plan for your SOC 2 compliance project.
2. Implement controls
Once you’ve determined which SOC 2 controls are within the scope of your report, start implementing them. While you can do this manually, a compliance automation platform can speed up this process and provide you with guidance as you set up your security controls.
For example, after connecting your systems to the Vanta platform, you’ll get a checklist of recommended actions to fix areas of non-compliance and guidance for testing your controls ahead of your audit.
3. Prepare your evidence
Before you can begin your SOC 2 Type 2 audit, you’ll need to collect evidence of your security controls and their effectiveness. By doing this evidence gathering ahead of time, you’ll provide your auditor with exactly what they need to start your audit right away. A compliance automation platform can also help you centralize your evidence and security documentation.
4. Find an auditor
When you’ve implemented all the necessary controls to meet the SOC 2 Type 2 requirements, it’s time to hire a SOC 2 Type 2 auditor. You’ll need to find a third-party auditor that is from a firm that is accredited by the AICPA.
How long does it take to get a SOC 2 Type 2 report?
Because a SOC 2 Type 2 audit process includes testing your security controls over a period of several months, it usually takes between six to twelve months to get a final report. Occasionally, this process can take longer than a year depending on how prepared you are for your audit.
Your SOC 2 Type 2 timeline will depend on the scope of your report, how many controls need to be added or changed, how well you’ve prepared for your audit, and if you’ve used compliance automation tools to speed up the process.
How much does a SOC 2 Type 2 audit cost?
The cost of a SOC 2 Type 2 report can also vary depending on the auditor you choose and how they price their services. You can expect to pay roughly between $30,000 to $60,000 for a SOC 2 Type 2 audit.
Here are some factors that will impact the cost of your SOC 2 Type 2:
- The scope of your SOC 2 Type 2 report
- The complexity of your systems
- How easy it is for the auditor to access the information they need
- The size of your organization
There are additional costs to consider as part of your SOC 2 Type 2 compliance outside of the price of your audit, such as:
- Hours spent by your teams to meet all the relevant SOC 2 requirements.
- Security tools like authentication providers and third-party firewalls that need to be implemented to meet the SOC 2 criteria.
- Direct costs of implementing SOC 2 controls, like conducting staff security training.
- Labor costs and/or cost of tools like automated compliance platforms that help you prepare for audit.
SOC 2 Type 2 compliance made easy
If you need a SOC 2 Type 2 report, Vanta’s trust management platform can help you get started. Our platform has compliance automation capabilities that will guide you through scoping your SOC 2 Type 2 report, help you set up and test your controls ahead of your audit, and centralize all your evidence and security documentation. We can even help you find an auditor with the price of your audit built into the price of the platform.
Speed up your SOC 2 Type 2 timeline and save your business money by requesting a demo.