The Basics of SOC 2 Compliance

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Reliable, safe, trustworthy. These are all words that companies strive to fulfill and uphold for their clients. If your company or a third party you work with is responsible for handling and storing customer data, how do you ensure your clients’ data will be kept safe? SOC 2 is a framework applicable to all technology service or SaaS companies that store customer data in the cloud to ensure that organizational controls and practices effectively safeguard the privacy and security of customer and client data.

What is SOC 2 Compliance?

SOC 2 compliance is part of the American Institute of CPAs’ Service Organization Control reporting platform. Its intent is to ensure the safety and privacy of your customers’ data. It outlines five trust service principles of security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data as a framework for safeguarding data.

SOC 2 is not a prescriptive list of controls, tools, or processes. Rather, it cites the criteria required to maintain robust information security, allowing each company to adopt the practices and processes relevant to their own objectives and operations. 

The five trust services criteria are detailed below:

  • Security refers to the protection of information and systems from unauthorized access. This may be through the use of IT security infrastructures such as firewalls, two-factor authentication, and other measures to keep your data safe from unauthorized access.
  • Availability is whether the infrastructure, software, or information is maintained and has controls for operation, monitoring, and maintenance. This criteria also gauges whether your company maintains minimal acceptable network performance levels and assesses and mitigates potential external threats. 
  • Processing integrity ensures that systems perform their functions as intended and are free from error, delay, omission, and unauthorized or inadvertent manipulation. This means that data processing operations work as they should and are authorized, complete, and accurate. 
  • Confidentiality addresses the company’s ability to protect data that should be restricted to a specified set of persons or organizations. This includes client data intended only for company personnel, confidential company information such as business plans or intellectual property, or any other information required to be protected by law, regulations, contracts, or agreements. 
  • Privacy criteria speaks to an organization’s ability to safeguard personally identifiable information from unauthorized access. This information generally takes the form of name, social security, or address information or other identifiers such as race, ethnicity, or health information. 

Who Does SOC 2 Apply To?

SOC 2 applies to any technology service provider or SaaS company that handles or stores customer data. Third-party vendors, other partners, or support organizations that those firms work with should also maintain SOC 2 compliance to ensure the integrity of their data systems and safeguards. 

What are the Benefits of SOC 2 Compliance?

SOC 2 compliance is determined by a technical audit from an outside party. It mandates that organizations establish and adhere to specified information security policies and procedures, in line with their objectives. SOC 2 compliance can cover a six to 12-month timeframe, to ensure that a company’s information security measures are in line with the evolving requirements of data protection in the cloud.

Being SOC 2 compliant assures your customers and clients that you have the infrastructure, tools, and processes to protect their information from unauthorized access both from within and outside the firm. 

In practice, SOC 2 compliance means,

  • Your firm knows what normal operations look like and are regularly monitoring for malicious or unrecognized activity, documenting system configuration changes, and monitoring user access levels.
  • You have tools in place to recognize threats and alert the appropriate parties so they can evaluate the threat and take necessary action to protect data and systems from unauthorized access or use. 
  • You will have the relevant information on any security incidents so you can understand the scope of the problem, remediate systems or processes as necessary, and restore data and process integrity. 

How Can a GRC Platform Help? 

A GRC platform can help your firm to audit its compliance with the SOC 2 Trust Services Criteria, enabling you to map your business processes, audit your infrastructure and security practices, and identify and correct any gaps or vulnerabilities. If your company handles or stores customer data, the SOC 2 framework will ensure your firm is in compliance with industry standards, giving your customers the confidence that you have the right processes and practices in place to safeguard their data. Learn more about LogicGate's SOC 2 Compliance Application to see how it can help your organization prepare for and achieve a SOC 2 attestation report.

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