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What is a SOC 2 readiness assessment?
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November 7, 2022

What is a SOC 2 readiness assessment?

A SOC 2 readiness assessment is a final look at your organization’s documents, policies, processes, and vulnerabilities before your formal audit takes place. This is a crucial phase of SOC 2 compliance because your auditor will be using these materials in depth to assess your control environment.  

A SOC 2 readiness assessment provides answers to questions such as:

  • Is my business properly prepared for a SOC 2 audit?
  • Does my organization have effective controls and policies in place?
  • Are there any security weaknesses or vulnerabilities present?
  • If any, how can those vulnerabilities be remediated before the audit?

Before we dive deeper into readiness assessments, here’s a quick primer on SOC 2 audits. 

What is a SOC 2 audit? 

A SOC 2 audit is an examination of your organization’s security and compliance program conducted by a third-party, certified auditor. Once your audit is finished, you’ll receive a SOC 2 report—a widely recognized document assuring customers, prospects, and partners that your services are trustworthy. 

There are two forms or types of SOC 2 reports that most businesses pursue—Type I or Type II. A Type I is usually obtained faster, but a Type II report is detailed and demonstrates more trust. Many prospects generally prefer—and often require—a SOC 2 Type II report. 

What to look for during a SOC 2 readiness assessment

Before entering the official auditing process, it’s best to have a thorough understanding of your organization’s compliance environment. You should presume that each written policy and piece of collected evidence will be inspected.  The SOC 2 readiness assessment is your last chance to remediate any issues or discover any vulnerabilities before your actual audit. 

SOC 2 readiness assessments can be conducted internally, known as a self-assessment, or by an auditor. Every organization’s assessment and audit will be unique, but here are a few key categories to focus your efforts while preparing for an audit. 

Policies and controls 

Policies and controls serve as the foundation for your organization’s security efforts. SOC 2 requires that you establish security policies and protocols for the way employees, contractors, and others interact with your business. These include policies for access management, setting passwords, vendor management, and much more. The SOC 2 readiness assessment is when you should make sure that each policy is up-to-date and correctly maps to controls. 

Vulnerability and risk management 

A secure business will have an idea of its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to data privacy and risk mitigation. A SOC 2 readiness assessment is a perfect time to conduct vulnerability scanning, penetration tests, and risk assessments.

Without a compliance platform like Vanta, you’ll likely have to upload screenshots and create spreadsheets to demonstrate the results of these tests. All vulnerabilities that rank in the High/Medium severity should be resolved before your audit. For every identified risk, be sure to create at least one task to mitigate the risk identified.

Documentation 

Documentation usually includes evidence and proof that you appropriately follow security controls and procedures. Documents can include data from infrastructure, virtual tools, test results, and more. 

Having these materials organized for your auditor will greatly expedite the auditing process. This is the time to make sure all materials are accurate, up-to-date, and align with your organization’s current compliance state.  

How Vanta helps you prepare for SOC 2 audits 

Before Vanta, audits were complex, manual events demanding valuable time and energy from employees across the organization. From collecting evidence to coordinating with stakeholders, the compliance process could take up to a full year. 

Vanta is the first-to-market automated compliance solution that can get you SOC 2 compliant in days instead of months. Here’s how.

The Vanta platform  

The Vanta platform is designed to be your central, automated dashboard for every component and function of organizational compliance. In addition to continuous monitoring, automated evidence collection, and seamless integrations, Vanta goes beyond traditional compliance with a robust suite of features.

Vanta uses policy templates to guide you through all stages of developing, implementing, and mapping your security policies for your SOC 2 report. Instead of searching the web for boilerplate policy language, you’ll have access to a library of accurate, customizable policies that map directly to your organization.

Vanta's Smart System Description feature helps you generate a custom System Description—a foundational component of your SOC 2 audit. An unsatisfactory system description can result in significant audit delays. Vanta’s Smart System Description guides you through 13 required sections, many of which are pre-populated based on existing workflows.

Vanta’s Risk Management solution removes the need for spreadsheets and endless emails with stakeholders when it comes to protecting your business. This feature includes easy-to-use workflows to guide organizations, even those new to risk assessments, efficiently through the entire process. Instead of spending days or weeks walking an auditor through your systems and processes, your auditor can access everything in one place through Vanta. 

In-house support

As a Vanta customer, your Customer Success Manager will be your trusted advisor and advocate ensuring you have everything needed throughout each milestone of your compliance journey. Vanta’s Customer Success Managers assist every Vanta client through a personalized readiness assessment. With Vanta’s platform serving as the main hub, your CSM will walk you through each component of your assessment so everything is airtight before the audit.

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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

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.

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Does your business offer services to customers who are interested in your level of PCI compliance?

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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.

Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:

SAQ A

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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SAQ A-EP

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

SAQ D
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

ROC
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

Questions?

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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