What is a SOC 2 bridge letter?
Even after you’ve completed your first audit, you’ll need to maintain controls until your next audit. Being compliant is a continuous journey, and a SOC 2 bridge letter will certainly come in handy along the way. Knowing when and how to use one can keep your business moving forward when it matters most.
What is a SOC 2 bridge letter and when should you use it?
A SOC 2 bridge letter, or gap letter, can be used to vouch for your credentials in between an expired SOC 2 report and the time it takes to obtain a new one. SOC 2 reports do not necessarily expire, but many potential prospects or partners will not accept a SOC 2 report if it is older than a year.
Many businesses renew their SOC 2 Type I or Type II at the six-month benchmark, eliminating the need for a bridge letter. But if your company decides to conduct audits within a 12-month timeframe, you may experience a gap in report coverage because dates do not generally line up with the fiscal year. This is why bridge letters typically cover a period of three months.
And while a bridge letter doesn’t replace the efficacy of a fresh new SOC 2 report, it can be an indispensable asset to prove your security while in a new audit process.
What does a SOC 2 bridge letter include?
Most importantly, the SOC 2 bridge letter communicates the date of your previous SOC 2 coverage and audit. You may also include the CPA firm or auditing body that initially conducted your previous audit. The date of your new, refreshed SOC 2 report should also be included in the letter.
Perhaps your company experienced a stage of growth or internal change since your last SOC 2 audit. This kind of development may have prompted updates to your SOC 2 controls, security systems, or compliance automation platform. If this is the case, these changes should be included in your SOC 2 bridge letter.
If your company did not undergo changes as it relates to SOC 2 compliance, then your bridge letter should state that all systems reflect your previous control environment and report. The letter should finally state that as of the date of the issued letter, your company is not aware of any further changes, malfunctions, or deficiencies facing your control environment.
SOC 2 bridge letter example
To Interested Party:
Llama Time, Inc. recognizes the need to maintain an appropriate internal control environment and report on the effectiveness of its system of internal control. We also recognize our responsibility to state any material changes to our system.
This letter serves as a confirmation that based on our records, and to the best of our knowledge, for the period of (date) through (date), we are not aware of any material changes to the system of internal control provided by Llama Time, Inc., nor has anything come to our attention we believe would impact the conclusions reached in the SOC 2 Type II report.
Llama Time, Inc. continually evaluates risks to the system of controls that could be introduced to the scope of Llama Time, Inc.’s control environment.
This letter is not intended to be a substitute for the SOC 2 Type II report for Llama Time, Inc., or provide interested parties with a certification of Llama Time, Inc.’s internal control, or suggest that Llama Time, Inc. has performed a separate evaluation of its controls for the purposes of producing this letter.
Llama Time, Inc.
Who writes and delivers a SOC 2 bridge letter?
Your organization should be the sole entity that drafts, authorizes, and delivers the SOC 2 bridge letter to any interested party. The CPA firm or auditing body does not draft, authorize, or deliver the letter. By creating and issuing the bridge letter, you are offering a guarantee that your company’s SOC 2 compliance posture is in good standing.
Learn more about SOC 2 compliance
The SOC 2 compliance checklist
The ultimate guide to SOC 2 compliance
How to turn SOC 2 compliance into a growth strategy
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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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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.
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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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