SOC 2 attestation: What to know
The first time you’re on the brink of closing an amazing deal and the client requests your SOC 2, it can be a bit of a roadblock. If you don’t have your SOC 2 attestation and you can’t acquire it in a short period of time, you could lose out on the contract that will skyrocket your business into the big leagues. You can prevent that devastating letdown if you plan ahead and get your SOC 2 attestation before it’s needed.
What is SOC 2 attestation?
Service Organization Controls, or SOC 2, is a set of standards designed to protect the information security of any data your organization manages. That includes your internal data as well as your clients’ and their end users’ data. It covers policies and protocols you should have in place as well as technical security measures you should be using like firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption.
A SOC 2 report, is a verified document that acknowledges your organization effectively complies with security controls you have in place. These reports are provided by third-party auditors who are specifically trained to assess for SOC 2 compliance.
Why get a SOC 2 attestation?
SOC 2 is not a legal requirement like GDPR or HIPAA, so you won’t be at risk for fines or penalties if you aren’t compliant. However, many businesses and organizations throughout North America will only hire vendors who have a valid SOC 2 attestation. This report demonstrates that any data you process or handle will be protected. It’s fair to say that if you aren’t SOC 2 compliant, you’re likely to miss out on lucrative business opportunities.
Types of SOC 2 reports
There are multiple types of SOC 2 reports and some organizations will require one over the other.
SOC 2 Type I vs. Type II
A SOC 2 Type I report details the security controls and policies you have in place at one moment in time: the time when the audit is taking place. This is otherwise known as a point-in-time snapshot of your current security posture.
A Type II report looks at the same controls and policies as a Type I report, but it also measures these controls over a period of time to see how effective they are. In other words, Type I indicates what security controls you have in place, while Type II indicates what controls you have in place and how well they work. Check out our guide on each report to learn more.
How do SOC 1 and SOC 3 relate to SOC 2?
A SOC 1 report focuses on your internal controls for financial reporting; it’s a measure of how accurate your financial reporting will be. SOC 2 focuses on information security rather than financial reporting. SOC 3 assesses the same controls and information as SOC 2, but it’s designed for public release rather than for security professionals. Because of this, a SOC 3 report is less technical so the general public can understand it.
How much does SOC 2 report cost?
SOC 2 attestation can be a considerable investment and every business demands unique requirements. The costs vary significantly based on factors like the auditor you hire, the type of SOC 2 you need, the amount of work needed to reach compliance, and the size of your organization. Most SOC 2 reports fall between $5,000 and $60,000.
How to get your SOC 2 report
- Assess your current standing
Before you can get your SOC 2, you need to meet all the compliance requirements, and that journey begins with seeing where you currently stand. You could manually dig through your policies and security systems, but the most efficient way to do this is to use an automated compliance platform. This game-changing tool automatically reviews your information security system and gives you a detailed report of which SOC 2 criteria you meet and which ones you don’t.
- Close any compliance gaps
Now that you have a detailed report of where you match up with SOC 2 requirements, you can close any compliance gaps you have identified. Go through that report and address each item one by one. When you’re finished, it’s a good idea to run another automated scan to make sure you’re compliant before you proceed with your audit.
- Hire a third-party auditor
When you’re confident that your business is in compliance with SOC 2, it’s time to hire an auditor. This should be a third party rather than someone in your organization, and they should be certified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the organization that created SOC 2.
- Complete your audit
Once you’ve hired your auditor, they will set up a date to begin your audit. They will review extensive documentation, visit your physical location, and conduct any other investigations to document your security controls and (hopefully) provide you with your well-earned SOC 2 report.
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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.
Does your business offer services to customers who are interested in your level of PCI compliance?
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:
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.
Learn more about eCommerce PCI
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
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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