Security policy templates: A key differentiator
Achieving and maintaining SOC 2 compliance is a multifaceted process. The bulk of your time reaching compliance may be spent on your security systems and technical controls, but there is one critical component of SOC 2 reporting that still needs your attention: your security policies.
What part do your internal policies play in your SOC 2 report and why are policy templates such crucial tools for making the process smoother, simpler, and more reliable? In part three of our series on key diffecrentiators in security automation platforms, we answer these questions and explain why not all compliance platforms offer security policy templates.
The role policies play in security certifications
A business could have an incredibly in-depth and well-protected security system from a technical perspective: access controls, firewalls, and so on. However, the chief risk to any business’s data security is simple human error. If your employees and other contributors aren’t using your security system properly, that system is moot.
This is why SOC 2 requires that you institute security policies and protocols for your employees, contractors, and others to follow to keep your data safe. These include policies for using access controls, setting and updating secure passwords, managing vendors, logging and monitoring your security system, and so on.
Developing and instituting internal policies may sound simple compared to building intricate technical security controls. Make no mistake, though: Designing policies from scratch can be arduous, to say nothing of finding ways to implement those policies reliably, holding people accountable for following them, and ensuring that they align properly with SOC 2 controls.
Let’s look at how your choice of an automated compliance platform can make this less of a headache and an expense.
The three stages of establishing compliant security policies
As you put your necessary security policies in place for your SOC 2 report, there are three stages you’ll need to go through.
First and foremost, you need to write your security policies. There are several specific security policies you’ll need to have in place to satisfy your SOC 2 report auditor, governing certain areas of your data security, such as risk assessment and mitigation, access control, incident reporting, and so forth. This can require extensive research to ensure you’ve written policies that cover all the necessities for your SOC 2 report.
Policies only matter if they’re followed, so the second stage of putting your SOC 2 compliant policies in place is implementing them and ensuring that your employees, contractors, and other contributors are actively following them. This could overlap with the technical aspects of your SOC 2 compliant system, like in the case of access controls: the access control system allows you to manage each person’s access and the policy outlines how this system works and requires all contributors to follow certain protocols.
3. Control mapping
SOC 2 details certain controls you need to cover in your security policies, but you’ll need to show your SOC 2 auditor that your policies cover all those controls. You can do this by specifically mapping your policies to these controls and indicating which sections apply to which controls.
How an automated compliance platform with policy templates can help your security compliance
You may already know that an automated SOC 2 compliance platform can streamline the technical aspects of your compliance, but if you choose the right platform, it can make your policy development clearer and easier, as well.
A compliance platform like Vanta uses policy templates to guide you through all three stages of developing, implementing, and mapping your security policies for your SOC 2 report.
First, Vanta’s policy templates allow you to start with an established base for your critical security policies rather than creating them from scratch. While you can customize each template to meet your needs, these templates offer a foundation that can save numerous hours and the expense that goes along with them.
Next, to help you with the policy adoption process, Vanta includes specialized workflows to track the approval status of your policies among each stakeholder who needs to approve them. The same is true for tracking employee acceptance statuses to confirm that each employee agrees to your policies.
Finally, Vanta further stands apart from other compliance platforms with the ability to directly map your policies to each SOC 2 control that they cover. Vanta documents all of this for your SOC 2 auditor to make the audit process faster and more efficient, saving time and potentially saving money for your business.
Selecting an automation platform that makes the best use of policy templates
SOC 2 compliance automation platforms are best known for their ability to scan your security system and document your security controls, but if you choose the right platform, the benefits you’ll reap from its policy templates will revolutionize your compliance process. Learn more about Vanta SOC 2 compliance software and its multifaceted potential to simplify your SOC 2 audit.
Read the series on key differentiators in security automation platforms
Part one: “Documents tab” and recurring evidence tasks
Part two: Automated employee offboarding and access management workflows
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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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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.
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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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