Key differentiators: Automated employee offboarding and access management workflows
Investing in an automated compliance platform has helped businesses large and small to streamline their SOC 2 reporting, saving them valuable time and money. But not all of these automated platforms have the comprehensive tools you need to optimize every part of your SOC 2 audit.
There are several differentiating factors between automation platforms that make certain platforms stand out above the rest. In part two of our key differentiators series, we discuss features that enhance your security while also easing the SOC 2 audit process: automated employee offboarding and access management workflows.
About employee offboarding, access management, and SOC 2 compliance
SOC 2’s security controls require that you strategically manage which employees, contractors, and other individuals have access to which parts of your system and your data storage. The bottom line is that access should be locked down as tightly as possible so that only people who truly need to access your data can reach it and so that even these individuals only have access to the data or system components they need.
This applies to both existing and former employees and contractors. SOC 2 compliance requires that when someone leaves your organization, their access is revoked promptly and thoroughly. As part of your SOC 2 audit, you’ll need to have documentation to prove to the auditor that only active employees have access to your data, that this access is individually administered and is as minimal as possible, and that when an employee leaves or is terminated, their access is promptly removed.
How do most automated compliance platforms handle access monitoring and employee offboarding?
Most automated compliance platforms primarily focus on the technical aspects of your information security. They scan your security controls like firewalls, antiviruses, network configurations, and so on to compare the controls to the requirements and standards of SOC 2. But when it comes to employee offboarding and access monitoring, most of these tools fall short.
With most compliance platforms, there is little or no automation regarding access management and offboarding. You’re still required to manually remove employees’ access when they leave the organization, and you must provide screenshots and other manual evidence to prove that during your observation period for your SOC 2 audit, no inactive personnel has access to your data.
Understandably, this creates a problem. It adds time and work to your plate that you may not have accounted for. It also leaves room for human error because you or someone in your organization must remember to go through the offboarding process when an employee is terminated, and they must complete each step correctly.
The Vanta difference: automated employee offboarding and access management workflows
Unlike most compliance platforms, Vanta’s SOC 2 compliance automation platform includes systems to simplify and document your offboarding and your access management.
When an employee or contractor leaves the organization, Vanta has automated workflows that allow you to quickly and efficiently carry their account through the offboarding process. These workflows ensure that your team doesn’t miss important pieces of the offboarding operations so that each former employee’s access is promptly and thoroughly removed. Along the way, Vanta documents all of this so your auditor can see the steps you’ve completed for each termination.
Vanta also offers easy and transparent access management. You’re able to see at a glance which employees have access to which data stores. This allows you to quickly spot unnecessary permissions and correct them.
Benefits of automated employee offboarding and access management controls
In managing your SOC 2 compliance, it’s generally true that the less you need to do manually, the better. But automated employee offboarding and access management controls carry several benefits for your business.
1. Improved security
Manual tasks are best to avoid not only because they take time, but because they leave the door open for human error. No matter how reliable your team typically is, there’s always a risk that they will forget to change an employee’s access or, while offboarding an employee, will miss an important step in the protocol. If you can automate these processes instead, those simple yet critical mistakes are less likely.
2. Easy access monitoring
To strengthen your security, it’s helpful to do an access audit on a regular basis - reviewing who has access to what data and looking for unnecessary permissions you can remove. For a large organization, manually finding this information and analyzing it is highly time-consuming and therefore expensive. With Vanta’s access monitoring, though, all the information you need (and the ability to manage that information) is in one concise place.
3. Smoother SOC 2 audits
SOC 2 audits aren’t anyone’s favorite tasks, but they’re necessary if you want to keep opportunities open for your business. So, the smoother and faster you can make your audits, the better. Vanta’s automated employee offboarding workflows and access management show your auditor that a reliable system is in place for ensuring access limitations. Moreover, Vanta documents when these workflows and tasks have been completed so you can prove your compliance to your auditor without gathering additional evidence manually.
4. More appealing SOC 2 report
You’re acquiring and maintaining a SOC 2 report for a reason: because customers and partners use it to get a picture of your security. It’s not a pass/fail report. If your SOC 2 report details that you have automated systems in place for managing access and offboarding rather than hoping your employees are keeping up with the protocols, your report will be more appealing to stakeholders.
Choosing an automated compliance platform that offers the solutions you need
If you’re due for a new or updated SOC 2 report, do yourself a favor and choose an automated platform that simplifies and safeguards as many aspects of your information security as possible. Learn more about Vanta SOC 2 compliance software and how it can help.
Read the series on key differentiators in security automation platforms
Part one: “Documents tab” and recurring evidence tasks
Part three: Security policy templates
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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.
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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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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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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.
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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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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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