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What is SOC 2 compliance automation?
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September 22, 2022

What is SOC 2 compliance automation?

You just had your first meeting with a SOC 2 auditor and now you have some homework. Imagine sifting through endless file folders, applications, and documents in order to collect evidence of security. Without compliance automation, it could take weeks, if not months, to find what you need. But how do you even know what to look for and where to start?

Despite how rigorous compliance might seem, it’s actually quite nuanced when it comes to applying controls and writing policies. Every company and industry is different, which means generic compliance solutions won’t always fit the bill. That’s where SOC 2 compliance automation comes in. 

What exactly is compliance automation?

Compliance automation is software that integrates with each piece of your company’s internal technology environment. In order to demonstrate competent security, you’ll need to source relevant information about cloud services, identity providers, task trackers, and other applications.  

Instead of learning what to gather, and why you need to gather it, compliance automation does it for you. But even after your SOC 2 audit, compliance automation protects your company by running hourly checks within your tech stack to ensure all compliance controls are fulfilled.

Life without SOC 2 compliance automation

Organizations seeking a SOC 2 report have a few options. The DIY approach to compliance can seem appealing, especially to scrappy startups that aren’t afraid of hard work. But there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. Between education, employee expenditure, human error, and the chance of getting it wrong, self-attestation can be problematic. Plus, your potential customers will likely request external validation from a credible source. 

So what about the tried-and-true traditional path? Well, it can still be quite challenging. Here are some of the reasons why a third party may not be right for you:

  • It requires a trusted source, like a CISO or Senior IT
  • It is an inefficient use of skilled workers and their time
  • It is only a point-in-time test, not continuously monitored (more on this below)
  • It leaves the door open for audit fraud
  • After a SOC 2, you may need more than one audit for different frameworks
  • You will have to conduct SOC 2 audits on an annual basis

Manual compliance processes will soon be a chore of the past. Inefficiencies, monetary cost, low assurance, and repetition are meaningful examples of why an automated compliance solution is a better choice. 

What great compliance automation looks like

An effective compliance automation tool doesn’t stop at compliance—it bolsters important security functions across the organization, such as:

Continuous monitoring

Before compliance automation, point-in-time monitoring was the normal method of proving security. Point-in-time monitoring consists of periodic snapshots that assess security at a specific time. Continuous monitoring is a constant, ongoing survey of your information security system. This method ensures risks, vulnerabilities, and outdated practices are hashed out before they become problematic. 

Effective risk management

A great SOC 2 compliance automation platform should provide you with a risk register to simplify annual assessments. An automated risk register provides one source of truth to track risks, mitigate tasks, and assign tasks. When it comes time for your annual SOC 2, you’ll have thorough documentation for your auditor without wrestling with manual spreadsheets or emails.

Onboarding and offboarding employees

How you handle onboarding and offboarding is directly relevant to SOC 2. You need a strategy in place that helps you securely manage employees, contractors, and other individuals, specifically their access to important information. Unnecessary access to critical parts of your system and data storage pose huge risks. Vanta’s SOC 2 platform includes ways to automatically document your onboarding, offboarding, and access management.

Completing and remediating tests and scans

SOC 2 compliance is largely influenced by vulnerability scans—a deep assessment of your cloud environment used to surface gaps in data security. Without a proper compliance automation tool, you would need to perform a vulnerability scan with a third party in preparation for an audit. You’ll also need to access your cloud environment to remediate any issues that appear. Vanta automatically fetches vulnerability findings from AWS Inspector, offering a highly-visible dashboard where users can remediate or ignore flagged items.



More than automation

Even though automation works wonders, you should seek out a compliance partner that can supplement technology with human guidance. Vanta alleviates the burden of compliance complications by pairing automation with knowledgeable experts who can guide you through a SOC 2 audit—all the way from onboarding to final report delivery. 

Learn more about SOC 2 compliance 

Why a SOC 2 is the most accepted security compliance standard

What is a SOC 2 bridge letter?

SOC 2 Type 1 vs. Type 2

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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?

Yes
No

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.

Get PCI DSS certified

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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