SSAE 16, SSAE18, SOC 1, SOC2: Understand risk and security
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June 18, 2020

SSAE 16, SSAE18, SOC 1, SOC2: Understand risk and security

SSAE 16 to SSAE 18, and SOC 1 and SOC 2

As your company grows, solid security infrastructure is necessary to manage the data security implications of today’s business practices. Cloud computing and the ease of outsourcing services that would have previously required costly in-house storage and computing capacities have changed the way companies do business.

This flexibility today enables organizations to nimbly adapt in response to market needs, and to access breakthrough opportunities for growth. Flexibility for companies is partly driven by systems, programs, and third party operations including SSAE 16, SSAE 18, SOC 1, and SOC 2. But as your company grows it is important to know what the differences between SSAE 16 vs SSAE 18 are.

But this level of flexibility — and the risks that come with outsourcing services that require third-party access to customer data and information — also require comparably evolved security standards, and holistic methods of assessing an organization’s approach to managing its security, internally and in regards to how it works with external partners and service providers.

Establishing a holistic security infrastructure as your organization charts its growth path will position you to maintain a strong security posture as your company grows — ensuring that you build and maintain the trust of your customers along the way.

It is of key importance to understand the cybersecurity risks as well as the benefits associated with outsourcing services. The ease and speed with which companies can streamline operations using software tools operating in the cloud has transformed the business landscape.

However, the use of third-party services accessing data in the cloud means that your company has less control over its data, and less knowledge about where that data is traveling. While outsourcing your company’s services streamlines your operations, the responsibility of maintaining the security of customer data remains with your company — no matter where your data goes.

What is SSAE 16?

SSAE 16 stands for Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements #16. In practice, SSAE is a set of auditing standards established by the AICPA to guide auditors, especially as they prepare SOC 1 reports. It has been largely replaced by SSAE 18, though, which is why SSAE 18 is often preferred when comparing SSAE 16 vs. SSAE 18.

What is SSAE 18?

SSAE 18, or the Statement on Standards for Attestation Agreements #18, was created and enacted in 2017 by the AICPA. It’s a comprehensive auditing standard that integrates most of the AICPA’s previous standards, so while comparisons of SSAE 18 vs. SSAE 16 often recognize that SSAE 18 is newer, it’s more accurate to say that SSAE 18 includes SSAE 16. SSAE 18 is typically used for SOC 2 reports and SOC 3 reports.

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Access Review Stage Content / Functionality
Across all stages
  • Easily create and save a new access review at a point in time
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Setup access review procedures
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Review, approve, and deny user access
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Verify changes to access
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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.

Get PCI DSS certified


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

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

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).

Automate your ROC and AOC

Download this checklist for easy reference


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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