BlogSOC 2
May 18, 2023

Fitting incident management into the SOC 2 puzzle

This is a guest post by Luis Gonzalez, Senior Content Marketing Manager at

In today’s business landscape, security and compliance mean everything. 

Because of this, many modern businesses look towards solutions that will provide customers and prospects with the most confidence and trust. One of these is SOC 2 compliance and attestation. SOC 2 is a marker of solid and consumer-minded companies that want to protect customer data. 

That said, there are many things that companies can do to best position themselves for a SOC 2—adopting an incident management tool is one of them. 

An incident management tool can help businesses respond better to incidents and reduce downtime, which falls squarely within the Availability principle of SOC 2. Here, we’ll discuss how you can leverage an incident management platform to obtain your SOC 2 attestation and increase long-term customer confidence. 

SOC 2 attestation is worth the effort

As we hinted above, getting your SOC 2 is much more than another item to check off on your company’s to-do list. It helps your company out with a whole host of things, such as: 

Customer confidence

Since SOC 2 attestations require businesses to adhere to defined criteria for protecting consumer data, companies will have to ensure that they’re following best practices when it comes to security. Granted, even with the best shot, incidents can still happen, but at least you’ve put in as many measures to be able to respond to these as efficiently as possible. 

On the other side of that token, customers can rest easy knowing that, at the very least, companies are putting forth a legitimate effort to protect their data—a small but hugely consequential decision. 

Industry rapport 

We exist in an age of hyper-competition. Gone are the days of being the only option on the block—now, businesses go up against dozens, if not hundreds, of competitors. 

So what’s one way to stand out? 

A SOC 2  showcases your commitment to security. Ultimately, businesses want to work with companies they know and trust. You can make the “trust” part of this equation much more straightforward by getting your SOC 2.  

Allows you to sell to larger companies

It’s common for enterprise-sized businesses and some SMBs to require SOC 2 documentation as a part of their SaaS procurement process. If you’re in a position to meet the needs of these businesses without a SOC 2, you can very quickly lose the bidding war against companies with the attestation. 

It makes it easier to obtain other security certifications

Getting one security and compliance certification creates a snowball effect, but that’s a positive. Doing so makes it much easier to obtain subsequent security and compliance certifications since you would have implemented all of the necessary controls and measures. 

Many certifications have slightly overlapping and, in some cases, identical requirements, e.g., SOC 2 and ISO 27001. 

What do incident management tools do? 

If your business wants a SOC 2 or related security and compliance certification, you’re likely already searching for an incident management tool. And you may be very familiar with whether a tool like this will help. For those in the latter group, here’s what a dedicated incident management tool can assist you with:

Ensure outages are resolved as quickly as possible

Many businesses take an ad hoc approach to resolving incidents; in some cases, this works out just fine. But in other cases, this approach leaves businesses liable to more downtime as they scramble to respond tactfully. 

A dedicated incident management tool solves this problem by giving businesses a streamlined process to follow during incident response. Ultimately, this reduces downtime as outages are resolved faster. 

Give you actionable insights into incidents 

Incidents may happen, but you may be doomed to repeat them if you can’t learn from them. Incident management tools allow businesses to glean insights into their resolved incidents that they can implement. This way, you can cut down on wholly preventable incidents that come up repeatedly. 

Give you structure around your incident response process 

We hinted at this earlier, but an incident management tool gives structure to your response process. From the initial declaration to assigning an incident lead and severity down to creating a post-mortem, incident management tools help ensure that you’re following a workflow that works to resolve incidents faster. 

When one action is completed, you’re prompted to do the next, so you’ll never have to guess the next logical step in the response process. 

Improve your communications so customers stay in the loop

This is a significant process improvement that often gets overlooked. 

Sure, incident management tools can help you streamline your incident response for a drastic cut-down in downtime, but they can also improve both your internal and external communications. Let’s break both of these down:

Internal communications: Let’s use’s workflow as an example here. When an incident is declared, a Slack channel is created as a place for all communication about that incident to happen. This does away with side channels and consolidates comms into a single location. All actions and updates are visible to everyone on the incident response team. Visibility is essential as a general point, but even more so during the incident response process—an incident management tool helps with this. 

External communications: Without an incident management tool, getting your external communications in order becomes a game of whack-a-mole. Who’s the incident lead? Who’s on external comms? What’s the issue in the first place? What’s our ETA for resolution? When you know what’s going on internally, you can communicate more clearly and effectively externally. Let’s say you have a system outage that’s causing global disruption of your product. Once you declare the incident and figure out the root cause, you can jump onto Twitter or LinkedIn or update your status page with relevant information to keep customers in the loop. This way, your customers know that they're always in the loop, no matter what's happening.

So, how does an incident management tool fit into the SOC 2 attestation process? 

Part of the requirements for SOC 2 revolves around availability, specifically disaster recovery and security incident handling—the latter of which an incident management tool can help you with. 

We’ve touched on most of these throughout this article, but here’s a recap of how integrating an incident management tool can make getting your SOC 2 attestation that much more straightforward. 

Automated workflows that allow for seamless incident response

We’re all busy and would love to automate many of the manual tasks we do daily. It can help to look for an incident response tool with built-in automation that walks incident responders through the process. For example, you can set up an automation that nudges responders to create a post-mortem as soon as the incident status is set to closed. 

This way, folks can go through the incident response process as seamlessly as possible since they always know the next step—cutting back on your downtime.

A simple incident declaration process that loops in appropriate people quickly 

With an incident response tool like, you can declare incidents very quickly and simply to help you get to the quickest resolution possible. All you need to do is fill out a form with fields like severity and type. To simplify things, you can do all this by typing the /inc command on Slack. 

And by setting up appropriate workflows, you can ensure that certain folks are looped in when specific parameters are met, e.g., incidents of a certain severity or type. 

Seamless post-mortem documentation

Documenting your incidents is crucial so you can both keep a track record and learn from them. It’s a highly valuable process that will make your incident response better in the long term. With, you can automatically generate incident post-mortems with relevant information such as response and resolution times, timeline activity, etc. 

Deep insights that can highlight vulnerabilities, prompting you to create a more secure product 

When it comes to incidents, the more you learn, the better you can prevent them. Incident management tools like often provide dashboards that show trends in things like severity types, responding teams, duration, seasonality, and more. These insights can help you minimize or eliminate recurring issues, and ultimately help you create a more efficient process and a better product.

Looking to get your SOC 2? Check out an incident management tool  

If you’re looking into a SOC 2 attestation to help boost your company’s overall rapport, it’s also worth looking into an incident management tool at the same time. 

The latter will help you with many requirements to secure a SOC 2 and make your organization more efficient when responding to incidents. While you can get by with an ad hoc approach, it's important to invest in a scalable, efficient process for long-term benefit.

In the end, if you like the idea of saving time and money, and making your organization more efficient in responding to incidents, then look into a dedicated tool like helps businesses simplify and take the effort out of incident management. Between automated workflows, deep insights into trends and integrations with over a dozen popular SaaS tools, businesses can save up to seven hours per incident.


Determine whether the GDPR applies to you and if so, if you are a processor or controller (or both)

Do you sell goods or service in the EU or UK?

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Do you have employees in the EU or UK?

Do persons from the EU or UK visit your website?

Do you monitor the behavior of persons within the EU?

If any of the above apply to your business, you’ll need to get GDPR compliant.

Create a Data Map by taking the following actions

Identify and document every system (i.e. database, application, or vendor) which stores or processes EU or UK based personally identifiable information (PII)

Document the retention periods for PII in each system

Determine whether you collect, store, or process “special categories” of data

racial or ethnic origins
genetic data
political opinions
biometric data that can uniquely identifying someone
religious or philosophical beliefs
health, sex life or sexual orientation data
trade union membership

Determine whether your Data Map meets the requirements for Records of Processing Activities (Art. 30)

the name and contact details of the controller
the purpose behind the processing of data
a description of the categories of data that will be processed
who will receive the data including data
documentation of suitable safeguards for data transfers to a third country or an international organization
the retention period of the different categories of data
a general description of the technical and organizational security measures

Determine whether your Data Map includes the following information about processing activities carried out by vendors on your behalf

the name and contact details of the processor or processors and of each controller on behalf of which the processor is acting, and, where applicable, of the controller’s or the processor’s representative, and the data protection officer
the categories of processing carried out on behalf of each controller
documentation of suitable safeguards for data transfers to a third country or an international organization
a general description of the technical and organizational security measures

Determine your grounds for processing data

For each category of data and system/application have you determined the lawful basis for processing based on one of the following conditions?

consent of the data subject
contract with the data subject
necessary for compliance with a legal obligation
necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or a third party
necessary for the performance of a task in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the rights of data subject

Take inventory of current customer and vendor contracts to confirm new GDPR-required flow-down provisions are included

Review all customer contracts to determine that they have appropriate contract language (i.e. Data Protection Addendums with Standard Contractual Clauses)

Review all in-scope vendor contracts to determine that they have appropriate contract language (i.e. Data Protection Addendums with Standard Contractual Clauses)

Do your agreements cover the following items?
vendor shall process the personal data only on documented instructions (including when making an international transfer of personal data) unless it is required to do otherwise by EU or member state law
vendor ensures that persons authorized to process the personal data are subject to confidentiality undertakings or professional or statutory obligations of confidentiality.
vendor have adequate information security in place, technical and organizational measures to be met to support data subject requests or breaches
vendor shall not appoint or disclose any personal data to any sub-processor unless required or authorized
vendor shall delete or return all the personal data after the end of the provision of services relating to processing, and deletes existing copies unless Union or Member State law requires storage of the personal data;
vendor makes available all information necessary to demonstrate compliance and allow for and contribute to audits, including inspections

Have you performed a risk assessment on vendors who are processing your PII?


Determine if you need to do a Data Protection Impact Assessment

Is your data processing taking into account the nature, scope, context, and purposes of the processing, likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons?

Does your processing involve any of the following?
automated processing, including profiling, and on which decisions are based that produce legal effects
special categories of data or data related to criminal convictions and offenses
monitor publicly accessible area on a large scale.
If any of the above are true, you may need to conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment for existing and new data projects.

Review product and service design (including your website or app) to ensure privacy notice links, marketing consents, and other requirements are integrated

Do you have a public-facing Privacy Policy which covers the use of all your products,  services and websites?

Does the notice to the data subject include the following items?

the identity and the contact details of the organization and its representative
the contact details of the data protection officer, if applicable
the purposes to process personal data and its legal basis for the processing
the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data, if any
the details regarding any transfer of personal data to a third country and the safeguards taken applicable

Does the notice also include the following items?

the retention period, or if that is not possible, the criteria used to determine that period
the existence of the data subject rights (i.e. requests for information, modification or deletion of PII)
the right to withdraw consent at any time
the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority
whether the provision of personal data is a statutory or contractual requirement, or a requirement necessary to enter into a contract, as well as whether the data subject is obliged to provide the personal data and of the possible consequences of failure to provide such data
the existence of automated decision-making, including profiling, and meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the consequences

Do you have a mechanism for persons to change or withdraw consent?


Update internal privacy policies to comply with notification obligations

Update internal privacy notices for EU employees

Do you have an Employee Privacy Policy governing the collection and use of EU and UK employee data?

Determine if you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer, and appoint one if needed

Have you determined whether or not you must designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO) based on one of the following conditions (Art. 37)?

the data processing is carried out by a public authority
the core activities of the controller or processor require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale

If you export data from the EU, consider if you need a compliance mechanism to cover the data transfer, such as model clauses

If you transfer, store, or process data outside the EU or UK, have you identified your legal basis for the data transfer (note: most likely covered by the Standard Contractual Clauses)

Have you performed and documented a Transfer Impact Assessment (TIA)?


Confirm you are complying with other data subject rights (i.e. aside from notification)

Do you have a defined process for timely response to Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR) (i.e. requests for information, modification or deletion of PII)?

Are you able to provide the subject information in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language?

Do you have a process for correcting or deleting data when requested?

Do you have an internal policy regarding a Compelled Disclosure from Law Enforcement?


Determine if you need to appoint an EU-based representative, and appoint one if needed

Have you appointed an EU Representative or determined that an EU Representative is not needed based on one of the following conditions?

data processing is occasional
data processing is not on a large scale
data processing doesn’t include special categories or data related to criminal convictions and offenses
doesn’t risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects
a public authority or body

If operating in more than one EU state, identify a lead Data Protection Authority (DPA)

Do you operate in more than one EU state?

If so, have you designated the Supervisory Authority of the main establishment to act as your Lead Supervisory Authority?


Implement Employee Trainings to Demonstrate Compliance with GDPR Principles and Data Subject Rights

Have you provided appropriate Security Awareness and Privacy training to your staff?


Update internal procedures and policies to ensure you can comply with data breach response requirements

Have you created and implemented an Incident Response Plan which included procedures for reporting a breach to EU and UK Data Subjects as well as appropriate Data Authorities?

Do breach reporting policies comply with all prescribed timelines and include all recipients i.e. authorities, controllers, and data subjects?


Implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk

This includes pseudonymization/ encryption, maintaining confidentiality, restoration of access following physical/technical incidents and regular testing of measures

Have you implemented encryption of PII at rest and in transit?

Have you implemented pseudonymization?

Have you implemented appropriate physical security controls?

Have you implemented information security policies and procedures?

Can you access EU or UK PII data in the clear?

Do your technical and organizational measure ensure that, by default, only personal data which are necessary for each specific purpose of the processing are processed?


Consider streamlining GDPR compliance with automation

Transform manual data collection and observation processes into continuous monitoring

Download this checklist for easy reference

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Develop a roadmap for successful implementation of an ISMS and ISO 27001 certification

Implement Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process to recognize challenges and identify gaps for remediation

Consider ISO 27001 certification costs relative to org size and number of employees

Clearly define scope of work to plan certification time to completion

Select an ISO 27001 auditor


Set the scope of your organization’s ISMS

Decide which business areas are covered by the ISMS and which are out of scope

Consider additional security controls for business processes that are required to pass ISMS-protected information across the trust boundary

Inform stakeholders regarding scope of the ISMS


Establish an ISMS governing body

Build a governance team with management oversight

Incorporate key members of top management, e.g. senior leadership and executive management with responsibility for strategy and resource allocation


Conduct an inventory of information assets

Consider all assets where information is stored, processed, and accessible

  • Record information assets: data and people
  • Record physical assets: laptops, servers, and physical building locations
  • Record intangible assets: intellectual property, brand, and reputation

Assign to each asset a classification and owner responsible for ensuring the asset is appropriately inventoried, classified, protected, and handled


Execute a risk assessment

Establish and document a risk-management framework to ensure consistency

Identify scenarios in which information, systems, or services could be compromised

Determine likelihood or frequency with which these scenarios could occur

Evaluate potential impact of each scenario on confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information, systems, and services

Rank risk scenarios based on overall risk to the organization’s objectives


Develop a risk register

Record and manage your organization’s risks

Summarize each identified risk

Indicate the impact and likelihood of each risk


Document a risk treatment plan

Design a response for each risk (Risk Treatment)

Assign an accountable owner to each identified risk

Assign risk mitigation activity owners

Establish target dates for completion of risk treatment activities


Complete the Statement of Applicability worksheet

Review 114 controls of Annex A of ISO 27001 standard

Select controls to address identified risks

Complete the Statement of Applicability listing all Annex A controls, justifying inclusion or exclusion of each control in the ISMS implementation


Continuously assess and manage risk

Build a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving the ISMS

Include information or references to supporting documentation regarding:

  • Information Security Objectives
  • Leadership and Commitment
  • Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities
  • Approach to Assessing and Treating Risk
  • Control of Documented Information
  • Communication
  • Internal Audit
  • Management Review
  • Corrective Action and Continual Improvement
  • Policy Violations

Assemble required documents and records

Review ISO 27001 Required Documents and Records list

Customize policy templates with organization-specific policies, process, and language


Establish employee training and awareness programs

Conduct regular trainings to ensure awareness of new policies and procedures

Define expectations for personnel regarding their role in ISMS maintenance

Train personnel on common threats facing your organization and how to respond

Establish disciplinary or sanctions policies or processes for personnel found out of compliance with information security requirements


Perform an internal audit

Allocate internal resources with necessary competencies who are independent of ISMS development and maintenance, or engage an independent third party 

Verify conformance with requirements from Annex A deemed applicable in your ISMS's Statement of Applicability

Share internal audit results, including nonconformities, with the ISMS governing body and senior management

Address identified issues before proceeding with the external audit


Undergo external audit of ISMS to obtain ISO 27001 certification

Engage an independent ISO 27001 auditor

Conduct Stage 1 Audit consisting of an extensive documentation review; obtain feedback regarding readiness to move to Stage 2 Audit

Conduct Stage 2 Audit consisting of tests performed on the ISMS to ensure proper design, implementation, and ongoing functionality; evaluate fairness, suitability, and effective implementation and operation of controls


Address any nonconformities

Ensure that all requirements of the ISO 27001 standard are being addressed

Ensure org is following processes that it has specified and documented

Ensure org is upholding contractual requirements with third parties

Address specific nonconformities identified by the ISO 27001 auditor

Receive auditor’s formal validation following resolution of nonconformities


Conduct regular management reviews

Plan reviews at least once per year; consider a quarterly review cycle 

Ensure the ISMS and its objectives continue to remain appropriate and effective

Ensure that senior management remains informed

Ensure adjustments to address risks or deficiencies can be promptly implemented


Calendar ISO 27001 audit schedule and surveillance audit schedules

Perform a full ISO 27001 audit once every three years

Prepare to perform surveillance audits in the second and third years of the Certification Cycle


Consider streamlining ISO 27001 certification with automation

Transform manual data collection and observation processes into automated and continuous system monitoring

Identify and close any gaps in ISMS implementation in a timely manner


Learn more about achieving ISO 27001 certification with Vanta

Book an ISO 27001 demo with Vanta

Download this checklist for easy reference

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Determine which annual audits and assessments are required for your company

Perform a readiness assessment and evaluate your security against HIPAA requirements

Review the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights Audit Protocol


Conduct required HIPAA compliance audits and assessments

Perform and document ongoing technical and non-technical evaluations, internally or in partnership with a third-party security and compliance team like Vanta


Document your plans and put them into action

Document every step of building, implementing, and assessing your compliance program

Vanta’s automated compliance reporting can streamline planning and documentation


Appoint a security and compliance point person in your company

Designate an employee as your HIPAA Compliance Officer


Schedule annual HIPAA training for all employees

Distribute HIPAA policies and procedures and ensure staff read and attest to their review


Document employee trainings and other compliance activities

Thoroughly document employee training processes, activities, and attestations


Establish and communicate clear breach report processes
to all employees

Ensure that staff understand what constitutes a HIPAA breach, and how to report a breach

Implement systems to track security incidents, and to document and report all breaches


Institute an annual review process

Annually assess compliance activities against theHIPAA Rules and updates to HIPAA


Continuously assess and manage risk

Build a year-round risk management program and integrate continuous monitoring

Understand the ins and outs of HIPAA compliance— and the costs of noncompliance

Download this checklist for easy reference

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Setup access review procedures
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  • Set your access review frequency (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and working period/deadlines
Consolidate account access data from systems
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  • Upcoming integrations include Zoom and Intercom (account access), and Personio (HRIS)
  • Upload access files from non-integrated systems
  • View and select systems in-scope for the review
Review, approve, and deny user access
  • Select the appropriate systems reviewer and due date
  • Get automatic notifications and reminders to systems reviewer of deadlines
  • Automatic flagging of “risky” employee accounts that have been terminated or switched departments
  • Intuitive interface to see all accounts with access, account accept/deny buttons, and notes section
  • Track progress of individual systems access reviews and see accounts that need to be removed or have access modified
  • Bulk sort, filter, and alter accounts based on account roles and employee title
Assign remediation tasks to system owners
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  • Optional task tracker integration to create tickets for any access changes and provide visibility to the status of tickets and remediation
Verify changes to access
  • Focused view of accounts flagged for access changes for easy tracking and management
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Report and re-evaluate results
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