by Trava, Cyber Risk Management
Get the skinny on SOC2, including how you benefit from the guidelines and process.
This blog post was updated in November 2023.
Understanding SOC 2 compliance is pivotal in today's digital landscape. Often perceived as a complex realm reserved for accountants, the SOC 2 certification process aims to fortify cyber security through a stringent audit methodology.
Although it might seem like jargon to many, its significance in safeguarding data and earning client trust cannot be overstated. Often misconceived as a mere certification, SOC 2 compliance is, in fact, a rigorous validation process, serving as a powerful testament to a company's cybersecurity readiness.
But what does it mean, and how can it be harnessed even before the audit begins? In this article, we will delve into the world of SOC 2, demystify its role, and explore how it can benefit your organization.
Administered by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), SOC 2 compliance involves a detailed evaluation of a company's cyber security operations by certified auditors. The aim is to certify that your systems meet the Trust Services Criteria (TSC) requirements for robust security controls. This is detailed in an attestation report.
Despite the name, "SOC 2 compliance" is, in reality, a validation of cybersecurity readiness. It is more of a verified statement rather than a regulatory seal.
The involvement of accountants might raise eyebrows—but it's not as odd as it seems. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) excel at auditing, making them ideal for overseeing the SOC 2 certification process.
Unlike companies facing financial audits—which typically have internal auditors to help—organizations facing SOC 2 audits often walk into the process without comprehending the time and money the process can take.
Some companies expect they can rely on their in-house IT teams to work the SOC2 process into their regular responsibilities. And some IT employees enter the process believing that’s possible. But this is not a spare-time project; it takes focus and expertise. So time is the most significant soft cost.
The hard costs are easier to define:
There is a hard-cost solution to the soft-cost concern of losing time or lacking expertise: A contractor adept at conducting the assessments and offering vCISO services to help you mitigate vulnerabilities before a CPA starts evaluating your systems and protocols.
Preparing for SOC 2 compliance before the official audit kicks off can be advantageous. It's not just about the certification; it's a statement of readiness. Completing internal assessments, addressing vulnerabilities, and having solid documentation in place have the power to attract customers and investors even before full compliance is achieved.
So, why wait for SOC 2 compliance when you can proactively demonstrate your cybersecurity readiness to your stakeholders?
The recent SOC 2 revision brings significant changes, enhancing clarity on risk assessment, new attestation standards, and evolving disclosure requirements. The aim is to make the criteria more robust and relevant in the face of ever-evolving technology and threats.
This change empowers organizations to better evaluate and address risks, providing a more comprehensive approach to cybersecurity readiness. The revised points of focus provide explicit guidance on how to manage and identify threats to data recovery, create effective mitigation strategies, and align with other best practices outlined in frameworks like COSO.
Introducing new attestation standards ensures that businesses maintain high standards of cybersecurity controls. This gives clients and investors greater confidence in their security measures.
The revision also offers clarity on disclosure requirements. This stipulation is meant to encourage organizations to provide more transparent and comprehensive information to stakeholders.
SOC2 attestation signals to clients and investors that your organization is implementing cybersecurity controls that meet or exceed the industry standard for cybersecurity. But you can benefit from preparing for your audit before it even begins.
Remember, SOC2 is not a license. It’s a statement that all is in order. With your internal assessments complete, vulnerabilities addressed, and documentation in hand, customers and investors can evaluate your program’s maturity and they may elect to move forward before SOC 2 is in place.
Which leads me to a final question: Why wait?
For a more in-depth account of compliance versus cyber security, including SOC 2, read the article.
Trava’s virtual chief information security officers (vCISOs) provide expert guidance to help you prioritize action steps and plan cybersecurity investments. We can also help you prepare for an audit, SOC2 readiness, and other risk mitigation services.