The number of data breaches is trending upwards, from 157 compromises in 2005 to 1,862 in 2021, the highest number of incidents in a year up to that time. If any aspect of your company manages customers’ personal and financial data, your customers need to know that you take security seriously. SOC 2 attestation reassures them — and you — that the steps you’ve taken are sufficient. Here are seven important things you need to know about it.
Unlike other security certifications such as the ISO27001, your company won’t receive a certificate of compliance with the Systems and Organizations Controls 2 standards. Instead, you receive a report attesting to an auditor’s observations and tests of your cybersecurity measures. These reports provide your customers and vendors insight into the controls you implement to safeguard financial data.
Storing data in the cloud is becoming the norm for businesses of all sizes. If your company has joined the ranks, your security measures should address risks inherent in using the cloud. SOC 2 standards are designed explicitly for cloud-based services, and SOC 2 certification demonstrates that your company adheres to the standards.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants developed a framework for information cybersecurity containing five principles of trust. When you seek certification and compliance with SOC 2 standards, you must establish controls that fulfill the criteria for security. Each of the other four principles is voluntary, but you must determine which ones to include in your report before completing the certification process.
The security principle is the primary and largest category of the five principles. The controls you implement protect customer data from unauthorized access; system abuses; data theft, alteration, or disclosure; and misuse of software.
The processing integrity principle requires controls for data management and transfer. This principle doesn’t establish criteria for accurate data input, only for handling it once it is in the system. If you choose to include processing integrity in your SOC 2 certification, you need to ensure your system processing is accurate, valid, authorized, and timely.
While the confidentiality principle provides criteria for data access and retrieval, the availability principle establishes criteria for access to your information and technology systems, including cloud storage and computing. To receive SOC 2 certification, you must demonstrate sufficient controls to ensure that those authorized to access the system can do so when needed.
Confidentiality refers to who has access to your customer’s information. Adherence to this principle requires you to implement controls to ensure that only authorized personnel or organizations receive or access sensitive data.
You can comply with the standards without receiving certification. However, gaining new customers or obtaining vendor services may be challenging without a SOC 2 report. If you undergo the certification process, you will need an external audit.
The auditor you choose must be an AICPA-certified CPA. At the end of the process, if your organization passes, you will receive an attestation report from the auditor.
There are two types of audits for SOC 2 certification, each with an associated report: Type I and Type II. You can get a Type I without a Type II, but if you choose the latter, you must also get the first one.
A Type I assessment and report review your company’s policies and procedures for protecting your customer’s sensitive data. During the auditing process, the CPA evaluates how well your system adheres to the Security Principle and any of the other four principles you chose for certification. You can expect the auditor to interview employees, assess company policies, and evaluate your physical space and relevant security documentation.
The Type II audit is more in depth and analyzes how well your controls work. Obtaining SOC 2 certification at this level offers your customers and vendors an even greater assurance that the data you handle are secure. The auditor will want to see that you’ve implemented the measures identified in your policies and procedures, that everyone involved follows them, and that they work. You can’t complete a Type II audit until you pass the Type I audit.
The federal government has no law requiring companies to obtain a certification of compliance with SOC 2 standards. However, if your business operates in the financial services space and stores data in the cloud, your customers want and deserve to know that you are protecting their sensitive information.
Certification is voluntary, but your vendors and customers may require evidence that you adhere to SOC 2 standards, and with good reason. In 2021, the financial services sector experienced 279 breaches. The industry took up the second spot behind healthcare as the most-targeted sector. Protecting financial data is not optional, and certification provides evidence of your commitment to security.
The certification process requires significant planning to develop and implement controls that adhere to the five principles. It requires an investment of time, personnel, and financial resources. You can expect it to take several months from the initial planning stages to audit completion.
An automated security software system designed for the SOC 2 framework can help you reduce the time it takes, saving precious resources to devote to other aspects of your business. The right system can also ensure you remain compliant, even if the standards change.
Compyl is the only end-to-end information security and compliance automation system. We make it easier and quicker for you to achieve SOC 2 certification and remain in compliance. Our automated workflow and native integrations provide an efficient mechanism for developing, monitoring, maintaining, and adapting your security policies and procedures. Request a demo to learn more about what we can do for your business.