The True Cost of SOC 2 Compliance

by Trava, Cyber Risk Management

Explore the true cost of SOC 2 compliance, from timeframes and resources to the choice between self-preparation and consultant engagement, in our comprehensive guide to safeguarding your organization's data integrity and reputation.

Achieving SOC 2 compliance is a critical milestone for organizations that handle sensitive customer data or provide services that impact data security and privacy. However, embarking on this journey involves a series of well-defined stages, each with its unique challenges and requirements. In this article, we will delve into the true cost of SOC 2 compliance, shedding light on the timeframes, resources, and considerations necessary to successfully navigate the complex landscape of preparing for a SOC 2 audit. From the stages of assessment and planning to the involvement of personnel and technology recommendations, we will provide valuable insights into what it takes to ensure your organization meets the stringent SOC 2 standards. Whether you choose to tackle this endeavor on your own or engage an information security consultant, understanding the intricacies and implications of SOC 2 compliance is essential to safeguarding your organization's data integrity and reputation.

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What are the stages of preparing for a SOC2 audit?

Preparing for a SOC 2 audit involves several stages to ensure a comprehensive and successful compliance process. These stages generally include:

  1. Assessment and Planning:

    Scoping: Define the scope of the audit, including systems, services, and controls to be assessed.

    Identify Applicable Trust Service Criteria: Determine which Trust Service Criteria (e.g., security, availability, confidentiality, processing integrity, privacy) are relevant to your organization.

    Gaps Analysis: Assess current controls against SOC 2 requirements to identify gaps that need to be addressed.

  2. Designing Controls:

    Control Implementation: Develop and implement controls and policies aligned with SOC 2 requirements and the identified gaps.

    Documentation: Create documentation detailing control objectives, procedures, and evidence to support compliance.

  3. Testing and Implementation:

    Testing Controls: Conduct testing to ensure that implemented controls are functioning effectively.

    Remediation: Address any deficiencies found during testing and refine control implementation.

  4.  Internal Readiness Review:

    Internal Audit (optional): Conduct an internal audit or self-assessment to identify any remaining gaps or issues.

  5. Pre-Audit Preparations:

    Readiness Assessment: Evaluate the organization's readiness for the official SOC 2 audit.

    Documentation Review: Ensure all necessary documentation and evidence are in order for the audit.

  6. Engaging with Auditors:

    Engagement with Auditors: Interact and coordinate with the chosen auditing firm or auditor to schedule the audit, clarify expectations, and address any concerns.

  7. SOC 2 Audit:

    On-Site or Remote Audit: The auditing firm performs the assessment, reviewing controls, evidence, and documentation to validate compliance.

    Evidence Presentation: Present evidence and provide explanations as needed during the audit process.

  8. Post-Audit Follow-Up:

    Audit Report Review: Review the draft SOC 2 report provided by the auditor.

    Address Findings: Address any findings or recommendations provided in the report.

    Final Report Issuance: Receive the final SOC 2 report from the auditor.

Throughout these stages, ongoing communication, collaboration among various stakeholders, continuous improvement, and a proactive approach to addressing any identified issues are crucial to ensuring a successful SOC 2 audit and ongoing compliance.

What is a realistic timeframe for compliance?

It's important to note that these timeframes are estimates and can vary significantly based on the organization's unique circumstances. Some stages may overlap, and the timeline might be expedited or prolonged based on the organization's readiness, resources, and the efficiency of the compliance efforts. Additionally, engaging experienced consultants or experts can often streamline the process and reduce the duration of certain stages.

The total time required to complete all stages of preparing for a SOC 2 audit can vary widely based on factors such as the organization's readiness, the complexity of systems, the number of controls to be implemented, and the resources dedicated to the compliance effort.

Roughly estimating the time across all stages:

  • Assessment and Planning: 2-4 months

  • Designing Controls: 6-12 months

  • Testing and Implementation: 4-6 months

  • Internal Readiness Review: 1-2 months

  • Pre-Audit Preparations: 3-6 months

  • Engaging with Auditors: 1-2 months before the audit

  • SOC 2 Audit: 1-2 weeks

  • Post-Audit Follow-Up: 3-6 months

Summing these estimated durations across all stages, preparing for a SOC 2 audit might typically take anywhere from approximately 1.5 to 2.5 years, considering the range of activities involved, potential overlaps between stages, and the timeframes needed for comprehensive preparation, testing, and post-audit actions.

It's important to note that these estimates are approximate and can significantly vary based on the organization's specific circumstances, level of preparedness, complexity, and the efficiency of the compliance efforts. Organizations with robust existing controls and prior compliance efforts might require less time, while those starting from scratch or facing significant compliance gaps may take longer.

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How much is an estimated DIY cost of each of those stages for companies less than 250 employees?

For companies with fewer than 250 employees, the cost estimates for each stage of preparing for a SOC 2 audit might differ compared to larger organizations due to differences in scale, complexity, and resource availability. Here's a breakdown:

  1. Assessment and Planning:
    Scoping: Similar to larger organizations, minimal cost, mainly internal staff time for scoping exercises.

    Identify Applicable Trust Service Criteria: Minimal cost, mostly internal staff time for analysis.

    Gaps Analysis: Can range from $2,000 to $10,000+ depending on the complexity, involving consultant fees for assessments or internal staff resources.

  2. Designing Controls:
    Control Implementation: Costs might range from $5,000 to $30,000+ for implementing necessary controls, policies, and procedures.

    Documentation: Minimal external costs, mainly internal staff time.
  3. Testing and Implementation
    Testing Controls: Can range from $5,000 to $20,000+ involving internal staff time and potentially external testing services or tools.

    Remediation: Costs can range from $2,000 to $15,000+ for addressing identified issues.
  4. Internal Readiness Review:
    Internal Audit (optional): Costs might range from $5,000 to $15,000+ if engaging external auditors or allocating internal staff time.

  5. Pre-Audit Preparations:
    Readiness Assessment: Minimal external costs, mainly internal staff time.

    Documentation Review: Minimal external costs, mainly internal staff time.

  6. Engaging with Auditors:
    Can range from $2,000 to $10,000+ for initial discussions and coordination with auditing firms.

  7. SOC 2 Audit:
    The cost for the SOC 2 audit itself can range widely from $10,000 to $50,000+ based on the scope and complexity.

  8. Post-Audit Follow-Up:
    Address Findings: Costs to address identified findings might range from $5,000 to $20,000+ depending on the number and severity of issues.

    Smaller companies might have fewer systems and controls to manage, potentially reducing costs in certain areas compared to larger organizations. However, the need for compliance with SOC 2 standards and the associated expenses largely depends on the complexity and scope of their operations, rather than just the employee count. As with larger organizations, obtaining detailed quotes and considering all expenses is essential for budgeting and planning for SOC 2 compliance.

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What are the resources I will need for a SOC2 audit?

What type of personnel?

Preparing for a SOC 2 audit involves various facets of your organization. Engaging with specific personnel across different departments ensures a comprehensive approach to compliance readiness:

  1. Executive Leadership: Their support and commitment are crucial. They need to understand the importance of SOC 2 compliance and allocate necessary resources.

  2. IT/Security Team: They play a pivotal role in implementing technical controls, securing systems, and managing access controls. Involving network administrators, security analysts, and system administrators is essential.

  3. Operations and HR: Collaboration with these departments ensures that policies and procedures align with SOC 2 requirements, particularly in areas like hiring practices, incident response, and change management.

  4. Legal and Compliance: Legal counsel or compliance officers can offer insights into regulatory requirements, contractual obligations, and privacy laws that intersect with SOC 2 compliance.

  5. Risk Management: Risk officers or those involved in risk management help in identifying and mitigating risks associated with data security and privacy.

  6. Internal Audit Team (if available): They can conduct internal audits to proactively identify and address any gaps in controls before the official SOC 2 audit.

  7. Project Management: Having a project manager or coordinator ensures that the compliance efforts are organized, deadlines are met, and tasks are delegated efficiently.

  8. External Consultants (optional): If you choose to engage external consultants or auditors, they'll collaborate with various departments to assess, advise, and guide your organization through the compliance process.

  9. Employee Training: All employees should be aware of their roles in maintaining security and privacy standards. Training sessions may be necessary to ensure understanding and compliance at all levels.

The involvement of these personnel fosters a multidisciplinary approach to SOC 2 compliance, ensuring that technical, procedural, and administrative aspects align with the necessary standards. Collaboration and clear communication among these stakeholders are crucial for a successful SOC 2 compliance initiative.

What type of technology?

Achieving SOC 2 compliance involves a combination of software tools and internal processes to demonstrate adherence to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy standards. The specific software needed can vary based on your company's operations, but here are some types of software commonly used during the SOC 2 compliance process:

  1. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools: SIEM solutions help monitor and analyze system events and logs for security incidents and anomalies.

  2. Identity and Access Management (IAM) Systems: IAM software helps manage user access, permissions, and authentication processes.

  3. Vulnerability Scanning and Management Tools: These tools identify and manage vulnerabilities in your systems, helping to maintain a secure infrastructure.

  4. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Software: DLP solutions aid in preventing the unauthorized transmission of sensitive data outside the network.

  5. Encryption Software: Encryption tools secure data both in transit and at rest, ensuring compliance with confidentiality requirements.

  6. Audit and Compliance Management Software: These tools help in documenting, tracking, and managing compliance-related activities and evidence.

  7. Configuration Management Tools: Tools for managing and documenting configurations help ensure consistency and security across systems.

  8. Collaboration and Documentation Software: Platforms for collaboration and documentation aid in creating and managing policies, procedures, and evidence required for compliance.

  9. Monitoring and Alerting Systems: Real-time monitoring and alerting tools help detect and respond to security incidents promptly.

  10. Backup and Recovery Solutions: Robust backup and recovery software is essential to ensure data availability and integrity.

It's crucial to select software that aligns with your company's specific needs, considering factors such as the size of your organization, the complexity of your systems, and the Trust Services Criteria relevant to your business. Additionally, engaging with experts or consultants who specialize in SOC 2 compliance can help identify the most suitable software solutions for your company's compliance efforts.

What are the benefits/drawbacks of preparing for SOC2 audit on my own?

Preparing for a SOC 2 audit on your own can have its advantages and drawbacks:


  • Cost Savings: Doing it internally can be more cost-effective initially as you're not hiring external consultants or firms.

  • In-Depth Understanding: Internal teams often have a deep understanding of the company's operations, which can facilitate the alignment of controls with business processes.

  • Control Over Process: You have more control and flexibility over the timing, pace, and implementation of changes needed for compliance.


  • Resource Intensiveness: Preparing for a SOC 2 audit demands significant time and resources, which might distract your internal team from their primary responsibilities.

  • Expertise and Knowledge Gap: Lack of expertise in SOC 2 requirements and audit procedures might result in overlooking critical aspects or misinterpretation of the criteria.

  • Risk of Non-Compliance: Misinterpretation of standards or incomplete implementation might result in failing the audit or not meeting the requirements fully.

  • Audit Credibility: Some clients or partners might perceive an internally prepared SOC 2 report as less credible or thorough compared to one conducted by an independent, reputable auditing firm.

  • Potential Lengthening of Process: Without experienced guidance, the process might take longer and encounter more challenges, delaying the achievement of compliance.

To mitigate the cons of preparing for a SOC 2 audit internally, many companies opt for a hybrid approach. They utilize internal resources for initial preparations but seek guidance or assistance from external consultants or firms to ensure accuracy, completeness, and readiness for the audit.

Ultimately, the decision depends on factors like the availability of internal expertise, resources, time, budget, and the criticality of achieving SOC 2 compliance within a specific timeframe.

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What are the benefits/drawbacks of engaging a information security consultant to help?

Engaging an information security consultant for SOC 2 compliance can offer several benefits, but there are also potential drawbacks to consider:


  • Expertise and Experience: Consultants typically possess specialized knowledge and experience in SOC 2 compliance. They understand the intricacies of the standards, requirements, and best practices, which can streamline the compliance process.

  • Efficiency and Guidance: Their expertise allows for more efficient identification of gaps, development of necessary controls, and guidance on implementation, potentially saving time and resources.

  • Objective Perspective: An external consultant can provide an objective view of your systems and controls, identifying areas for improvement without internal biases or assumptions.

  • Preparation for Audit: Consultants help in preparing for the audit, ensuring readiness and increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

  • Credibility and Assurance: Working with a reputable consultant can enhance the credibility of your SOC 2 compliance efforts, reassuring clients and partners about the security of your services.


  • Quality Variability: Not all consultants have the same level of expertise or commitment to quality. Choosing the wrong consultant might lead to subpar guidance or incomplete compliance efforts.

  • Misalignment with Company Culture: A consultant might not fully understand your company's culture, operations, or unique challenges, potentially leading to recommendations that don’t align well with your organization.

  • Time Constraints: Depending solely on external consultants might cause delays if they have multiple clients or are unable to allocate sufficient time to your project.

Before engaging a consultant, it's essential to assess your organization's needs, the scope of the project, and the consultant's track record. A well-chosen consultant can significantly ease the SOC 2 compliance process, but clear communication and collaboration are key to maximizing the benefits while minimizing potential drawbacks.

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