Service Organization Control (SOC) reports are designed to help businesses achieve more efficient and secure operations. There are several types of SOC reports, but the most relevant to IT is SOC 2 reporting. SOC 2 reports are designed to establish and define a robust IT framework for your business. The reporting ensures data privacy, security, and streamlined workflows with regards to the processing of data across digital platforms. Being SOC 2 compliant is a stamp of approval for your customers, vendors, and other entities you work with. And for businesses that engage in cloud computing, SOC 2 compliance becomes even more relevant.
Continuous compliance shows that your company has taken steps to ensure the security and privacy of customer data, especially in an environment where data analytics is critical to the success of your business. Because the cloud is increasing in size and complexity by the day, more data is being collected, stored, processed, and shared in real-time. Keeping these large amounts of data, private and secure, should be a top priority for your cloud-related operations.
What is SOC 2 Compliance?
SOC 2 compliance refers to the process of implementing strong data security practices aimed at protecting business data. Compliance is a comprehensive process that involves the preparation of regular reports, the establishment of IT controls, auditing, and managing your vendor networks. In other words, SOC 2 reporting is the culmination of internal controls that are directed towards securing business data. And because each company has unique needs when it comes to data security and management, SOC 2 compliance can be tailored towards your specific environment.
The need for SOC 2 reporting evolved from growing concerns with data security and privacy. Furthermore, the interconnected operations of businesses have made third-party service providers a risk factor when it comes to data security. If a supplier, hosted data centre, or insurance claims processor were to experience a breach, this threat would also extend to your business and potentially affect customer data.
This is why SOC 2 compliance is critical. The guidelines established for SOC 2 audits help ensure that threats emerging from your data environment are minimized.
The Components of SOC 2 Compliance
Securing the IT operations of any business can be challenging. This is why SOC 2 is categorized into five trust services that touch on specific areas of data management. With all five categories put together, SOC 2 reporting becomes thorough and effective at mitigating security/privacy concerns. SOC 2 reporting is meant to ensure the
3) Process integrity
4) Privacy and
of systems that are designed to handle user data for companies. To achieve these five objectives, SOC 2 compliance includes the following steps. Each step is further broken down into activities and components that help you meet the five service categories of SOC 2 compliance.
- Active monitoring
The first step to SOC 2 compliance is actively monitoring your data processing systems. Active monitoring ensures that you can detect threats during the early stages. In this way, appropriate adjustments can be made to protect the integrity of business data. In the case of cloud computing, the rapid movement of large amounts of information further necessitates active monitoring.
For example, you may share data in real-time with a supplier so as to control inventory costs. But without active monitoring, a breach in supplier networks will also spread into your company systems. Active monitoring can be done by setting up robust data security systems, managing your networks, and having real-time alerts in place.
- Real-time alerts
Speaking of real-time alerts, the primary goal of actively monitoring your networks is to detect threats before they become worse. Real-time alerts are an early warning system that helps you respond to data security threats during the early stages. In this way, you can limit the danger and avoid costly disruptions to daily operations.
Under SOC 2 reporting, your systems should be able to detect issues with file transfer, data configurations, logins, and data modifications.
- Regular and timely auditing
SOC 2 auditing is one of the backbones of continuous compliance. With regular and timely audits, you’ll be able to get a realistic picture of how your systems and processes are performing with regard to data security threats. A SOC 2 audit involves a thorough examination of specific workflows that apply to business data handling. Auditors will typically look at your access controls, the performance of essential system components, the potential impact of an attack, and how you’re currently managing third-party vendors.
All audits are summed up by a report that represents a current state of affairs. In other words, the audit is a reality check that may reveal any shortfalls in data security and privacy within your organization. It may also affirm the effectiveness of steps that you’ve taken towards protecting this data.
- Actionable insight
Actionable insights are the blueprints that propel your business to take appropriate action. After actively monitoring your networks, auditing performance, and getting real-time alerts, you need a plan of action for responding to data threats in real-time.
SOC 2 reporting requires businesses to obtain actionable data from other aspects of their IT operations. This may involve analyzing where threats are likely to come from, what impact they might have on operations, and how such threats can be mitigated. Actionable insights are step by step processes that meticulously secure business and user data.
Applying SOC 2 to Cloud Computing
Because SOC 2 compliance mainly covers IT operations, there are multiple areas where SOC and cloud computing overlap. The rapid transmission of data across the cloud may expose your sensitive information to threats. SOC 2 reporting ensures that your data privacy and integrity remain intact. It also gives your customers peace of mind knowing that your systems have undergone the necessary testing and auditing to prevent threats. And because even a single data breach event can cost millions of dollars, SOC 2 compliance can help you save costs and avoid disruptions to your operations.
For cloud computing (and other related industries), SOC 2 audit reports are carried out with respect to each of the five trust service categories. A SOC 2 audit process may involve the following steps:
- Preparation of organization charts
- Overseeing of change management processes
- Carrying out inventories of assets
- Onboarding and off-boarding
How To Remain Compliant
Maintaining SOC 2 compliance during cloud computing is critical when securing company data. Achieving and maintaining compliance is a collaborative effort that will require internal controls, the policy establishment and enforcement, and the alignment of relevant procedures. There are specific steps you can follow to achieve and maintain compliance without ripping your hair out. These steps include:
- Establishing a SOC 2 compliance team and appointing suitable members
- Setting and aligning your goals to fit in with data security and privacy concerns
- Determining your scope of compliance: for example, will you meet all or part of the five service categories of SOC 2 compliance?
- Monitoring and self-auditing your processes to identify and loopholes
- Preparing for an independent, external SOC 2 audit from a Certified Public Accountant
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