Information security is a concern for any organization that handles sensitive data, especially if they’re outsourcing part of their operations. This should come as no surprise given that mishandled information can leave a company vulnerable to problems like malware and data breaches. A third-party vendor can prove their adherence to cybersecurity best practices by earning a System and Organization Controls (SOC) certification. But how do you get SOC 2 compliance?
Before we get into SOC 2 compliance requirements, let’s first discuss SOC 2’s definition. Developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), SOC 2 is an auditing procedure that ensures service providers securely manage data in the best interests of their clients. If you’re outsourcing your cloud needs to a third party that’s SOC 2 certified, then you know they’re handling your data according to the standards of your industry.
SOC 2 is one of the most highly sought after certifications in terms of security and compliance. It represents the highest degree of excellence in systems and operation controls. A vendor can pursue SOC 2 certification in five different categories, including security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
Now let’s go over how to get SOC 2 compliance.
The first step regarding how to get SOC 2 compliance is reviewing your security measures. This requires an unbiased and credible auditor from outside of your organization. Having an impartial set of eyes ensures objectivity in your assessment. The expert auditor can help you understand the distance between your current processes and the SOC 2 standards you’re trying to reach. From there, you can create a roadmap for what needs to be done to make sure your product or service meets compliance standards.
When you’re ready to earn SOC 2 certification, you’ll need to pick what criteria you want to focus on. As mentioned earlier, SOC 2 is based on five categories: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. These categories are known as the Trust Service Principles (TSP).
- Security: Security is focused on whether your systems are protected against unauthorized access.
- Availability: This refers to the availability of your services for operation and use according to your agreement with your customers.
- Processing Integrity: How do your systems process data, including client data and personal information?
- Confidentiality: Do you protect confidential information as you agreed to with your customers?
Each category represents your commitment to security. You can choose one, two, or all of these categories to be certified in.
The next step in how to get SOC 2 compliance is to build a roadmap with your auditor. After the examination is over, you need to develop a plan with your auditor on how to get your systems and processes up to SOC 2 standards. This is usually a project that takes multiple weeks and requires a lot of hands-on work.
Once you and the auditor agree on the roadmap, following it to a T is important. Whether you’re certified or not depends on your company adhering to this roadmap.
Everything done in the previous steps prepares you for the fourth step: the official audit. After you’ve spent a few months adjusting your systems and processes to meet SOC 2 compliance requirements, a formal audit is conducted. Similar to the first step, the auditor reviews your IT environment and security processes. You can also expect to be asked questions about security and confidentiality.
Similar to using receipts to prove you bought something, it helps to have receipts showing you followed your roadmap. These can act as proof that you did what was required according to your new policies. If it’s determined that you’re following all best practices and there’s clear documentation that proves it, the auditor will tell you that you’re SOC 2 compliant in the categories you selected.
The process doesn’t end once you’ve achieved SOC 2 compliance. SOC 2 certification is something you have to maintain, or you could lose it. It’s necessary to schedule regular annual audits to keep your certification. This ensures that you’re continuing to implement security measures that protect your clients. If you lose certification, you can always apply to get recertified.
While there’s no requirement for a service provider to be SOC 2 compliant, it can give you a leg up on your competition. In a market filled with third-party vendors, SOC 2 compliance shows potential clients that your company can be completely trusted with the security of their data. A trustworthy service provider is much more likely to convince a customer to use their services.
If you’re interested in achieving SOC 2 compliance, let the experts at RCS Secure help. As your outside auditor, we can check your security and processes and recommend improvements that will help you attain compliance. We also offer a host of cybersecurity services designed to fight any cyberthreats that come your way.
Contact us today to learn more about how to get SOC 2 compliance.
RCS Secure offers a full spectrum of cyber security safeguards and services. Our services combine compliance standards expertise with cutting-edge technology to identify risks, prioritize remediation, and ensure you are both secure and compliant.