Achieving and maintaining SOC 2 compliance is a complex but manageable process. Between navigating the SOC 2 landscape and implementing the proper controls and security systems, the to-do list quickly becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, many tasks required for successful SOC 2 compliance don’t come with a ‘how-to’ manual. This is especially true regarding developing your SOC 2 policies, protocols, and documentation.
Your automated ace up your sleeve for confident compliance.
In this piece, we’re talking about SOC 2 templates and their role in making the compliance process smoother, more reliable, and far less complicated. But first, let’s do a quick refresher on some of the SOC 2 basics to ensure we get started on the same page.
What is a SOC 2 Report?
The gist of a SOC 2 report is for an independent certified auditor to communicate their stamp of approval. This includes evaluating management’s claims and testing the relevant controls stated by management. They do this via a detailed description of your SOC 2 audit.
In simple terms, it’s an evaluation of whether your business successfully provides a secure, available, confidential, and private solution to your customers. Naturally, this is vital for securing potential new customers (and investors) and satisfying current ones.
Generally, the auditor will only release the report after thoroughly examining your organization’s control over one or more of the Trust Services Criteria (that you have chosen). In essence, your SOC 2 report will be the go-to report you can share with report users (customers) to address anything security or risk-related. In fact, a well-done SOC report can completely replace requests to complete vendor security questionnaires from customers. If you know what customers will ask in a security questionnaire, you can include all those requirements in the SOC report for the auditor to test and validate.
This one report can then be shared with multiple customers.
However, there is one thing that can have a make-or-break impact on your audit and, subsequently, your report – your SOC 2 policies, protocols, and documentation.
The Role Policies Play in SOC 2 Compliance
When it comes to getting (and staying) compliant, we often remind our clients that their employees will always be their first line of defense. Why? Well, regardless of whether you have the most in-depth and well-protected security system from a technical perspective (we’re talking access controls, firewalls – the works) – your chief risk to data security can still be as simple as human error.
For this reason, creating clear security policies and protocols is paramount to maintaining compliance, especially internal policies. This is the golden rule of all things SOC 2 regarding access controls, setting and updating secure passwords, managing vendors, logging and monitoring your security system, and so on – document everything (and keep the proof).
However, although designing, documenting, and implementing policies is a hard requirement for SOC 2 compliance, there is very little blueprint for what an effective policy should entail. More so, how must organizations effectively design a plethora of policies from scratch while simultaneously ensuring that the policies are reliable, SOC 2 compliant, and implemented correctly?
Enter SOC 2 templates.
The Benefits of SOC 2 Templates
Although SOC 2 compliance may feel like a heavy burden to companies just getting started on their journey toward SOC 2 compliance, it’s important to differentiate which challenges are part and parcel of getting SOC 2 compliant and where you’re allowed to streamline and smooth over the process. SOC 2 templates provide just that opportunity; here’s a few reasons why:
Time-saving: Templates are a valuable starting point so you can focus on the details that make your business unique. By providing businesses with a structured framework, SOC 2 templates can save significant resources and time within the policy development stage.
Confident compliance: The right templates are designed explicitly with SOC 2 criteria in mind – something that can be especially useful for SOC 2 newbies. By following these templates, businesses can rest assured that their policies and protocols align with the SOC 2 security standard.
Consistency: Using templates helps organizations level up their overall consistency across different policies and procedures. This becomes particularly important for effective implementation and understanding across all departments and employees.
However, not just any old template will do. You need to ensure you’re using the right one for your business.
Key Elements of SOC 2 Templates in Modern Compliance
It’s a natural concern that if a business decides to base its entire SOC 2 compliance on a template, it would want to be incredibly confident that they’re using the correct one – which is why it’s essential to include the following key elements when using a template.
Customization is crucial to ensure policies and procedures accurately reflect the organization’s operations and risks. Additionally, regular reviews and updates are necessary to keep the policies aligned with evolving compliance requirements and business practices.
While SOC 2 specifies specific controls that must be addressed in your security policies, you must demonstrate to your SOC 2 auditor that your policies encompass all these controls. Be sure that your template provider has in-depth and unique insight into your specific controls, clearly indicating which sections pertain to each control.
Updates and Revisions
Templates should allow for the need to be regularly updated to reflect changes in SOC 2 requirements, industry best practices, or your business practices. This ensures that organizations have access to up-to-date compliance resources.
In addition to providing the templates themselves, be sure to prioritize providers that offer additional guidance and educational resources to help organizations understand the rationale behind each policy and how it contributes to SOC 2 compliance.
When implementing policies and procedures, it all hinges on adherence and whether or not the described policies can be implemented. Due to this, it’s vital to keep in mind that all documentation must be clear to understand and apply. To ensure this, many organizations tie their policy implementation with their security awareness training objectives to aid the understanding and application of SOC 2 documentation across the board.
Elevate Compliance with our SOC 2 Templates
At Scytale, we understand that SOC 2 compliance is a demanding job, but that doesn’t mean it has to drain your time, money, and peace of mind. We help lift the burden so leadership and management can take on their SOC 2 responsibilities with confidence.
Our fully automated SOC 2 compliance solution helps businesses fast-track their journey towards getting (and staying) compliant, including custom-generated policies and procedures that are auditor-approved and vetted by our leading industry-specific compliance gurus.