Service Organization Controls 2 or SOC 2. It’s not the least successful sequel to SOC 1. In fact, it’s not a sequel at all. SOC 1 and SOC 2 are two independent standards that cover different elements of your business. SOC 1 relates to financial controls. SOC 2 is all about data and technology. Specifically, SOC 2 is an independent standard for cloud-based data storage. If you operate as a SaaS provider, SOC 2 may well be your go-to solution for data security.
Why does SOC 2 matter?
SOC 2 is a reporting framework created by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). As one might expect from an accounting organization, SOC 2 comprises both monitoring and auditing.
By making your company SOC 2 compliant, you achieve two essential objectives. First, SOC 2 provides an independent standard to help you achieve data security, ensure the integrity of your data systems and maintain data privacy. These are all important goals in themselves, however SOC 2 compliance also ensures that you meet regulatory requirements around data protection and helps prevent damaging data breaches, as well as its ripple effects.
Second, SOC 2 specifies reporting terms. That is, by following SOC 2 protocols, your business has a clear framework for ensuring data integrity and reporting on your data security to the relevant auditor.
Of course, these goals are connected. You need to take effective SOC 2 data protection measures to comply with auditing requirements. At the same time, independent auditing may identify any lapses or shortcomings in your compliance, enabling you to develop more robust systems.
It’s all about the report
SOC 2 helps you comply with regulations and maintain the trust of your customers. However, it doesn’t just happen.
Ultimately, complying with SOC 2 involves submitting a comprehensive and accurate report to your auditors. Here is the flip side of effective information security: the report involves a lot of very fine-grained detail.
This is because you need to carefully monitor all possible disruptions and breaches and you need to provide full information about multiple elements of your IT infrastructure. Is the system secure? Do users have access to uninterrupted service? Do you have full user logs to account for anomalies?
SOC 2 then and now
Traditionally, SOC 2 has been an exhausting and tedious process that takes a lot of time and effort, and if you fail to account for all relevant data, you may not satisfy your auditors. Fortunately, new technologies have transformed SOC 2 compliance, and rather than wasting countless hours monitoring any number of devices and network connections, it’s now possible to automate the process. Crucially, the best technologies automatically collate all the relevant monitoring data and prepare it for audit.
Effective compliance means planning for the future
The benefits of SOC 2 are clear: enhanced customer satisfaction, rigorous security, and an effective audit and monitoring process. Technology is finally available to make compliance efficient and cost effective, therefore SOC 2 is an obvious choice for any company that provides cloud-based technologies.
However, companies should understand that SOC 2 is not a simple box ticking exercise. Each company’s SOC 2 specifications will look subtly different and as your business expands, the compliance demands become more complex. In other words, businesses need a flexible, responsive process – based on the most suitable technology – to ensure they remain SOC 2 compliant as technical and regulatory demands change.