Your business stores a lot of consumer information that needs to be protected from hackers and other cybersecurity threats. Depending on the industry, your company needs to meet certain compliance standards, and this is one of the reasons why you should conduct a SOC 2 audit.
These standards reassure consumers that their personally identifiable information (PII) is secure. The compliance requirements can vary according to the specifics of the applicable data protection act, but businesses that store PII have one aspect in common. It is meeting the compliance standards in a Service Organization Control 2 (SOC 2) audit.
In this article, you’ll learn how a SOC 2 audit can help your business meet compliance standards, along with other ways it can benefit your company.
What is SOC 2
Created by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), SOC type 2 is an audit procedure that checks if your company is managing stored consumer data securely. Performing a SOC 2 audit isn’t a requirement for compliance, but it does help organizations meet their industry standards.
There are five principles covered in a SOC 2 Type 2 audit that includes,
- Security – Protocols and practices are in place that protects a company’s systems and stored data from unauthorized access.
- Availability – The systems and stored data are operational and used to meet the purposes disclosed by the company.
- Processing Integrity – Verifies that your systems only process data that is complete, accurate, and authorized by the consumer.
- Confidentiality – Ensures that confidential information is protected according to industry compliance regulations.
- Privacy – Verifies that the company follows its privacy notice for how consumer information is gathered, used, stored, shared, and destroyed.
Once an organization has completed and passed a SOC 2 audit, a certificate will be issued from the private auditor. It will not count towards a business meeting compliance standards, but it does help companies avoid the penalties for not meeting industry PII regulations.
Benefits of a SOC Type 2 Audit
Since a SOC 2 audit isn’t a requirement for compliance, organizations often wonder why they should pay for an independent auditor. There are several reasons why the SOC 2 audit is worth the expense for any company that handles consumer data.
Gain and Keep Consumer Trust
When your business doesn’t have the trust of its customers there will be problems. Consumers are aware of the risks that exist when they divulge their personal information. They expect, and demand, that it is securely managed.
If a data breach occurs, it can cause consumers to lose trust in the organization. Without consumer trust, it will be hard for a business to see a profit.
When an organization passes a SOC 2 audit, a certificate will be issued that will reassure consumers that the business is proactively protecting their data.
Bringing in an outside auditor does cost a fee. Compared to other potential expenses, it is worth it. Most organizations do not have the time or the necessary IT employees to perform an audit without interrupting operations. A slow-down in production typically results in financial loss.
Hiring an auditor can be expensive, but not as costly as shutting down to perform it yourself. It’s also less costly than a data breach.
Ensure Your Security Measures Effective
It’s difficult to know if your current cybersecurity protocols are effective unless a data breach was prevented. You want to know before the breach occurs if your practices are adequate to block one.
A SOC 2 Type 2 audit will let businesses know if there are any vulnerabilities in their data protection protocols. Once a weakness has been identified, your company can fix it before an issue arises.
Verify Employees Understand the Practices
Companies need to ensure that employees understand cybersecurity protocols and practices. Performing the SOC 2 audit will verify staff recognizes potential data risks and understands how to implement the current cybersecurity protocols.
What Should a SOC Type 2 Audit Cover
For a SOC 2 audit to successfully test your cybersecurity protocols, you need to determine what aspects should be covered. If the audit is too broad, small vulnerabilities could be missed. The same can occur if the scope is too narrow.
Use the five principles covered in a SOC 2 audit to build the framework for yours. The audit doesn’t need to review all of the principles, only the ones that apply to the organization. One example is if the company doesn’t process data, it doesn’t need to be audited for that SOC principle.
Systems to Cover
The size of your organization will determine the number of systems used. Not all need to be included in the audit.
If the business has a social media account, it can be excluded from the audit. Some system tools can also be left out. If the tool is only used for system support it does not need to be included. Any part of the system that handles, manages, stores, or deletes consumer data does need to be audited.
Once you know what the audit will include, you can create the practices necessary to pass the audit. There is another reason you want to limit the audit’s scope. If you omit a system, it can leave you open to cyberattacks. If a data breach occurs, you face the potential fines for being out of compliance.
When unnecessary tools and systems are included in the SOC 2 audit, it’s time-consuming and expensive. Instead of concentrating on pertinent vulnerabilities, you will be focusing on improving protocols in areas that are already industry compliant.
Starting a SOC 2 Audit
You want to be and stay compliant if you store or have access to personally identifiable information. Starting a SOC 2 audit isn’t difficult and you want to have one performed regularly.
How often your company has one done will depend on when it needs to meet industry compliance certification requirements.
Ideally, an organization will have a SOC 2 audit done annually. It will minimize cybersecurity risks by ensuring that the company’s operating systems meet cybersecurity standards. It can also pinpoint vulnerabilities that could put consumer data at risk.
Even though performing a SOC 2 Type 2 audit isn’t difficult, it can be time-consuming. While larger corporations often have larger IT departments and can spare the personnel, it can still interrupt daily operations. Smaller companies often find that they need to bring in outside help.
When you’re ready to schedule a SOC 2 audit, the experts at RSI Security are here to help. Due to the audit requirements, you want a company to tailor it to your organization. We will help you meet the 5 SOC 2 principle requirements.