When conducting any type of business in any industry, protecting customer information should be of significant importance. Due to this need for customer data security, organizations must comply with SOC 2 (System and Organization Control.) But what exactly is system and organization control compliance? And what do you have to do to achieve system and organization control compliance?
Understanding SOC 2 and what it entails, plus how to comply with it, can help you safeguard your data more efficiently.
SOC 2 in a Nutshell
System and organization control compliance is simply a set of privacy and security standards for customer service providers. The SOC 2 reporting platforms were designated by AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). However, SOC2 compliance is not mandatory, but clients mostly need it from companies they wish to entrust with their information to make sure that the data will be safe. Therefore, organizations that offer services such as cloud-based storage need to be SOC 2 compliant to win the trust of their clients.
To meet SOC compliance, organizations must put in place different service and procedure controls related to the organization’s system processing integrity, confidentiality, availability, and security. These organizational systems include:
- Physical infrastructures
To ensure these controls are sufficient, organizations must utilize third-party, independent companies to conduct the system and organization control compliance audit.
When conducting these SOC 2 audits, these third-party organizations check whether the company has set appropriate measures to meet SOC compliance. Companies that pass the SOC 2 compliance audit can utilize it to effectively demonstrate their determination and commitment towards providing better privacy and security to their stakeholders and customers.
Why should you consider SOC 2 Compliance?
If you wish to ensure the confidentiality and safety of your client’s data should highly consider SOC compliance. That is because, by complying with System and Organization Control standards, organizations can easily demonstrate to clients their commitment to data privacy and security. Moreover, achieving SOC compliance also helps organizations avoid legal fines and liabilities, which keep them out of bad PR.
Therefore, through SOC 2 compliance, organizations are able to build trust with their partners and clients, which in turn helps safeguard their reputation. Moreover, it also helps organizations attract more clients. Therefore, it also offers the organization a competitive advantage.
SOC 2 TSC (Trust Service Criteria)
When dealing with data security, you should note the TSC standard under SOC 2. Though most people overlook this standard, it is vital to SOC compliance. The TSC standard covers everything ranging from data encryption to physical security. Moreover, this standard has five primary categories which are:
When dealing with SOC 2 TSC, security simply refers to the protection of systems and databases from unauthorized or unpermitted access. Companies can achieve security via the utilization of strategies and elements such as:
- Two-factor authentication
These components, though complex to implement, make it challenging for individuals to access data from your organization without authorization.
Apart from security, another crucial category under TSC is known as availability. Through compliance with the availability principle of TSC, companies should be able to provide their service and operations whenever their client requires them without delay.
To meet the availability criteria, companies must bear written policies that include measures to correct, detect and prevent interruptions that might affect their service availability. Moreover, this policy also addresses the following:
- Business continuity
- Incident response
- Capacity planning
- System maintenance
The process integrity principle under TSC states that business controls and systems should protect the security, privacy, and confidentiality of data processing. Therefore, for companies to meet this crucial principle, they must put security controls in place to shield information from unauthorized access. Moreover, this policy also ensures that organizations process data accurately and consistently.
The TSC confidentiality principle under SOC 2 requires companies to implement and design various controls to protect sensitive information confidentiality. For example, through compliance with the confidentiality principle, organizations can limit individuals who access sensitive information, ensuring that only people with proper authorization access the information.
To satisfy compliance with these criteria, companies have to control logical and physical access to information in their system. Therefore, they have to employ various mechanisms to respond, detect and prevent compromises to data confidentiality.
SOC 2 Checklist
A SOC 2 compliance checklist involves you asking yourself questions regarding organizational security. The question should mainly focus on the following:
- How information is collected
- How the information is stored
- Way to cope with vulnerabilities in the system
- How do you control access to information stores in your system?
Therefore, with this in mind, here is a SOC 2 compliance checklist that you can work with:
Prepare beforehand via self-audits
Before you let third parties audit your organization for SOC 2 compliance, you should first audit yourself. Doing so will help you point out potential weaknesses that might be present in your system controls, and therefore you can make necessary adjustments before the audit. To carry out self-audits, you pass your system through all five TSC categories.
Select the TSCs that you wish to emphasize during the Audit
After completing a successful self-audit, you will have to specify the TSCs you wish to emphasize during the audit. However, if you can manage to, you can still focus on all the TSC principles. However, focusing on all TSC principles will come at a cost and increase the audit scope.
Review your Security Controls
After selecting the TSC criteria that you will focus on during the audit, it is time to move closer to the security controls. While in the security controls area, you should review and update all your documentation and ensure that they meet the SOC 2 compliance specifications.
Carry out the last Self-assessment
After updating the security controls, it’s now time to carry out a final assessment test. Under this section, you should verify all the changes you have made to the organization’s controls and ensure your organization’s readiness for the SOC compliance audit.
Complete the Audit
The last step is to undertake a real SOC compliance audit. To carry out this audit, you will require a third-party organization for accurate reports without biases. When the audit is complete, you will receive a SOC 2 report that contains findings from the audit. If everything falls in place, you can utilize the seal of compliance with SOC on your site to indicate that your organization takes customer info protection and security seriously.
Companies that succeed in achieving SOC compliance have to carry out annual maintenance, which means yearly audits. Therefore, you should keep on updating documentation and security controls. Moreover, it would help if you also carried out regular self-audits to ensure that everything is in peak form.
SOC 2 compliance helps organizations in different industries establish and implement various security controls to shield customer data from unauthorized access. Moreover, through TSC, organizations are able to assess and identify whether or not their systems meet SOC compliance. If their systems meet SOC compliance, the organizations can easily protect customers against unauthorized access, use, destruction, alteration, and disclosure of information.
Finally, you can connect with our software development company Aalpha in order to get the requirements of the SOC 2 compliance.
Also read: GDPR compliance checklist for software