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How to identify and close gaps in SOC 2 compliance

How to identify and close gaps in SOC 2 compliance

For many businesses, especially across North America, complying with SOC 2 standards can be the difference between success or sinking into the red. If your company isn’t meeting all the requirements needed to obtain or renew your SOC 2 compliance, you’ll have to address those issues as quickly as possible.

But how do you find those missing gaps in your SOC 2 compliance, and how do you close them so you can get the certification you need? 

Two ways to identify SOC 2 compliance gaps

If you think you’re missing some requirements for SOC 2 compliance, time is of the essence. You have two options for finding and identifying any gaps: run an automated compliance scan or conduct a manual investigation.

Option 1: Run a SOC 2 compliance scan

Without question, the quickest and most reliable way to identify a gap in your SOC 2 compliance report is to use an automated compliance scanning tool. A Vanta SOC 2 compliance scan, for example, digs through your system and compares it against a detailed checklist of SOC 2 compliance criteria. It’s as simple as purchasing the tool and initiating the process. When the scan is finished, you’ll have a clear report that documents satisfactory standards and areas that need attention. 

There are strong advantages to this type of process. It’s quick, thorough, and accurate, providing you with a low-effort way to identify compliance gaps. The only disadvantage is making the investment and purchasing the compliance software.

Option 2: Perform a manual compliance gap analysis

The other way to find gaps in your SOC 2 compliance is to have your team or compliance specialist manually investigate the system to see which SOC 2 criteria are satisfactory or missing. Your internal team can then prepare a report and begin the process of addressing any gaps should they exist.

The primary advantage of this method is that you don’t need to purchase compliance scanning software. However, that doesn’t mean this option is easier on the bottom line. The internal time spent to ensure your company is SOC 2 compliant may outweigh the cost of an automated platform. Outside of cost, there are several concerning disadvantages to a manual compliance review. Consider the following questions. 

Does your team have sufficient SOC 2 knowledge?

To fully ensure SOC 2 compliance, your team should have a thorough understanding of the Trust Service Criteria (TSC). If they don’t have the same kind of knowledge on par with an auditor, you risk a failed audit, wasted resources, and worst of all—a security breach.

Is human error a possibility? 

Perhaps the biggest advantage of an automated, continuous monitoring platform is confidence. No matter how skilled or experienced your team is, there is always a risk of human error. In a manual assessment, it’s easy for something to get overlooked or completed incorrectly. Entering a SOC 2 audit without complete confidence is never fun. 

Does your team have enough bandwidth?

A manual compliance analysis is simply exhausting. It can take weeks for your team to complete a manual SOC 2 compliance review, and during that time, you run the risk of falling victim to a security vulnerability, never mind a missed opportunity with a potential client. If there are gaps in your SOC 2 compliance, it’s critical to close them as quickly as possible.

The importance of multiple assessments 

Once you’ve identified the missing pieces in your SOC 2 compliance, your team can get to work and close those gaps. The process for fixing them, of course, will depend on what those gaps are, but starting with a clear compliance analysis will set you on the right path. Although each company’s SOC 2 reports can look different, common gaps include:

  • Unmonitored or insecure user access across your org.
  • Poor documentation of protocols
  • Not defining someone who’s in charge of security
  • Not aligning technology or protocols to controls

After addressing each security gap, it’s crucial that you perform another test—manual or automated—to make sure nothing was missed. This allows you to be confident that all the compliance criteria have been satisfied before you call in an auditor. If you’re ready to learn more, check out our SOC 2 checklist as a guide to help you earn and maintain your certification.

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PCI Compliance Selection Guide

Determine Your PCI Compliance Level

If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.

When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.

Answer a few short questions and we’ll help identify your compliance level.

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Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level

The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.

Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:

SAQ A

A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.

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SAQ A-EP

A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.

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SAQ D
for service providers

A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.

Use our PCI checklist

ROC
Level 1 for service providers

A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).

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Questions?

Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.

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