Top 5 tips for evaluating SOC 2 security monitoring platforms

Technology has opened the door for people around the world to launch their own businesses and ventures, and in many cases, to do this at a lower start-up cost than they would need for a brick-and-mortar business. As wonderful as it is that there are so many new opportunities available, this also creates a problem: Some of these new businesses don’t realize that they’re missing vital security measures.

That’s why security protocols and certifications have become so critical. In many cases, your security protocol is a deciding factor that determines whether a new client, vendor, partner, or customer chooses to do business with you. Automated security monitoring platforms can be the key to proving your security proficiency and earning new business more efficiently.

Of course, not all security monitoring platforms are created equal. The platform you choose could make or break your compliance process for your SOC 2 report or other security standards. Our experts are here to explain why your platform matters and outline the best ways to evaluate a platform.

Why your choice of a security monitoring platform is important

A SOC 2 report is essential for any business that stores customer data in the cloud. Investing in an automated security monitoring platform can make the process smoother and more cost-effective...but only if you choose the right platform.

If your monitoring platform is accurate, it can help you get a detailed report in hand that shows your security protocols. This is what establishes your business as a trustworthy partner for any client or vendor that asks. If you don’t put together a thorough enough report, it could cost you business instead.

Your choice of security monitoring platform also helps your business avoid potential serious financial liabilities. The SOC 2 security guidelines are there for a reason: to keep your customers’ data safe. A strong monitoring platform can identify security gaps to help you maintain the trust of your customers and avoid potential lawsuits.

Finally, the right automated monitoring platform also streamlines your process for getting and maintaining your SOC 2 report. It’s far faster and more accurate than creating and combing through a manual checklist to see what you might be missing. With a strong security monitoring platform, you can invest your time in non-automatable tasks.

Tips for evaluating SOC 2 security monitoring platforms

If you’re looking for a platform to make your SOC 2 reporting easier and more thorough, you’ve come to the right place. Our team at Vanta talked to 1,000+ customers about their SOC 2 reporting and how they chose a monitoring platform. These were their top tips.

1. Evaluate the company’s experience level

Your SOC 2 report is vital to sustaining and growing your business, so to be frank, you can’t afford to take a chance with an inaccurate or poorly built monitoring platform. You need a platform that has been proven effective by real-world businesses.

To assess a particular platform’s expertise, ask these key questions:

  • How much experience does the company have in security overall?

  • How much experience does the company have with SOC 2 reports in particular?

  • How many businesses trust this platform with their SOC 2 reporting?

  • How many businesses has the company successfully guided through the process of obtaining a SOC 2 report?

2. Consider how well the platform will work with an auditor

In case you’re new to the world of SOC 2 reports, allow us to explain: A valid SOC 2 report must be prepared by an auditor. The auditor examines your paperwork, scans, and other evidence of your security measures, potentially visiting you on-site as well, to create a detailed report of your security protocols and their effectiveness.

For a smoother process, you want your monitoring platform to be able to prepare the evidence that the auditor needs. To make sure a monitoring platform can do this, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this platform have any specific features designed to make the auditing process easier?
  • Does the company have any connections with trusted auditors?
  • How many trusted audit partners does the company have?
  • Are these auditors knowledgeable and experienced? Approximately, how many audits have they each performed?
  • How exactly does the platform coordinate with auditors?

3. Make sure the platform is thorough and compatible

It’s great to be able to rely on an automated security monitoring platform as you prepare for your SOC 2 audit. But what if you assume you can trust the platform and you don’t realize until the audit that there are important pieces your security protocol is missing?

To avoid wasting time and effort, you need to choose a monitoring platform from the start that is thorough and compatible with your needs. Ask these questions about the platform you’re evaluating:

  • Does the platform evaluate all of the Trust Service Criteria, the five categories included in a SOC 2 report? Does it also evaluate all the details within those five categories?

  • What types of SOC 2 reports does the platform support? There are two types of reports: SOC 2 Type I and SOC 2 Type II. The Type I report is very minimal and only describes your security measures in place at one point in time. Think of it as a snapshot of your security system. The Type II report is the one most vendors, partners, and customers will require because it doesn’t only detail your full security system but it shows evidence of the system’s effectiveness.

  • What components and tools does the platform include? For instance, does it handle vulnerability scanning, policy templates, continuous scanning, ready-to-use reports, and so on?

  • Is the platform built on a master control set? If so, how was that master control set developed?

4. Choose a platform backed by support and guidance

The general idea of a security monitoring platform is to automate as much of the process as possible. However, you don’t want to simply be handed a tool and sent on your way. Chances are that you’ll have questions or need extra guidance at some points in the process. That’s why you want a monitoring platform that is backed by a knowledgeable support team who is available to help.

To make sure you’ll get the guidance you need from your security monitoring, ask these questions about the platform:

  • How much guidance does the company provide for you throughout the compliance process?

  • How many support representatives does the company have available? What hours are they available to assist you?

  • What is the company’s typical response SLA? How well do they adhere to that expectation?

5. Select a platform you can grow with

Selecting an automated security monitoring platform is a long process, so why go through it more times than necessary? Your ideal monitoring platform has multiple compliance capabilities so you can grow with them instead of starting over and searching for a new platform if your needs grow.

To determine if a monitoring platform is likely to be around for the long haul, consider these questions:

  • Does the platform offer other compliance-related services? For example, does it perform similar security monitoring for other types of compliance like PCI compliance or HIPAA?

  • Is the platform able to serve the needs of businesses of various sizes and businesses across multiple industries?

  • Does the company expect to continue expanding its services?

How Vanta’s SOC 2 compliance monitoring platform answers your needs

As you’re looking for SOC 2 compliance monitoring platforms to evaluate and compare, you need to start somewhere, so why not start with Vanta? We’ve done the legwork for you. Take a look at our answers to the top evaluation questions you need to know.

Our experience level

Vanta is an established and trusted name in security compliance, and we have a track record of success to prove it. We have been working in SOC 2 automation since 2016 and have guided more than 1,000 customers through the full SOC 2 reporting process. Today, more than 2,000 businesses trust Vanta with their security reporting.

Our auditor alignment

Vanta’s specialized security monitoring experts are well aware that, ultimately, you’ll need an auditor to prepare your SOC 2 report. We aim to make that part of the process as simple as possible, much like we’ve done with the other aspects of your compliance reporting.

That’s why we have a network of trusted auditor partners. Not only are these partners all certified auditors, but they have all been specially trained in using Vanta’s software. They know exactly how to access the data they need from Vanta to develop your SOC 2 report, and they can even prepare their report within Vanta to make it simple and seamless. So not only does this network make it easier for you to find a trusted auditor, but the smoother process means that you’ll get your finished report more quickly.

Vanta’s network of skilled auditors includes over 30 professionals who have helped businesses across a range of industries to get the exact depth and complexity they need in their SOC 2 reports.

Our thoroughness and compatibility

With Vanta, you can rest assured that the security monitoring data you receive will be comprehensive, accurate, and tailored to your specific needs. Our SOC 2 platform is specifically designed for SOC 2 Type II reports, so it has the in-depth details your auditor will need.

As a specialized service, our SOC 2 monitoring is also packed with features to make your job easier, including:

  • Policy templates to help you design your security protocol

  • Continuous monitoring so any changes or new gaps in your security are detected

  • Assessments for your cloud configuration infrastructure

  • Laptop management to control who can access which data

  • Immediate and informative alerts so you’ll know when a problem arises and how to fix it

  • Vendor management to ensure that your vendors aren’t compromising your customers’ data safety

  • Security reports you can customize to fit your specific needs

  • A network of trusted auditors who can access and integrate their process with Vanta’s software

Our Ongoing Guidance and Support

As bona fide experts in SOC 2 compliance, our team at Vanta knows the process of assessing your security and obtaining a SOC 2 report inside and out. We know that it can be challenging and complex, especially if it’s a new task for you, so we’re here to help.

We have a team of knowledgeable experts who specialize in SOC 2 and in Vanta’s advanced software who can answer your questions and guide you through the process. In fact, we have several teams! Our Customer Success team and Audits team are available to help you through your SOC 2 reporting and answer your questions along the way. Meanwhile, our support team offers knowledgeable and responsive technical support, typically responding to any customer needs within four business hours.

Our future growth

Vanta is a well-established fixture in the digital security community. In fact, our expertise expands beyond SOC 2 reports. We offer other specialized monitoring services that review your compliance with HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and ISO 27001. If your business needs to adhere to any of these other security standards in addition to your SOC 2 reporting, you can take care of it all with one platform.

Vanta is also uniquely versatile in our ability to work with a wide range of companies. our reach extends to an extensive list of industries and specialties, with varying degrees in company sizes. From healthcare to cutting-edge technology, we can take care of it all.

Choose the best security monitoring platform for your SOC 2 reporting

If you recently discovered that you need a SOC 2 report or that you need a more advanced platform than you’ve used in the past, the road ahead may be easier than you think. Vanta is here to guide you step-by-step and provide continuous and automated security monitoring so you’ll have all the data you need without putting such an added burden on your team.

To learn more about Vanta and how we can help with your SOC 2 report, explore Vanta security software and what we have to offer.


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

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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

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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
  • View detailed audit evidence of historical access reviews
Setup access review procedures
  • Define a global access review procedure that stakeholders can follow, ensuring consistency and mitigation of human error in reviews
  • Set your access review frequency (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and working period/deadlines
Consolidate account access data from systems
  • Integrate systems using dozens of pre-built integrations, or “connectors”. System account and HRIS data is pulled into Vanta.
  • 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
  • Built-in remediation workflow for reviewers to request access changes and for admin to view and manage requests
  • 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
  • Automated evidence of remediation completion displayed for integrated systems
  • Manual evidence of remediation can be uploaded for non-integrated systems
Report and re-evaluate results
  • Auditor can log into Vanta to see history of all completed access reviews
  • Internals can see status of reviews in progress and also historical review detail

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