Understanding the SOC 2 standards is paramount when it comes to maintaining compliance for SaaS (Software as a Service) providers. These standards, established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), serve as a benchmark for evaluating the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of a SaaS organization's systems. In this article, we delve into the details of SOC 2 standards, including some thoughts on their importance and implications.

What Is SOC 2?

SOC 2, or Service Organization Control 2, is a framework for assessing the controls and processes related to the collection, storage, and usage of customer data within SaaS organizations. These standards are crucial for ensuring that SaaS providers maintain adequate safeguards to protect client information from unauthorized access, misuse, or compromise.

The SOC 2 framework evaluates an organization's adherence to the Trust Service Criteria, including security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. You can learn more about each of these criteria within this SOC 2 Trust Services Criteria PDF (which you can download here).

By undergoing a SOC 2 audit, SaaS companies demonstrate their commitment to maintaining the highest data security and privacy standards for their clients, making it not just a good business practice but a competitive advantage, as well.

What Are the 5 Areas of SOC 2 Compliance?

The SOC 2 standards relate to five key areas, each addressing specific aspects of organizational controls and processes:

  1. Security: The measures in place to protect against unauthorized access, both physical and logical, to the SaaS provider's systems and data.

  2. Availability: The reliability and accessibility of the SaaS platform, ensuring uninterrupted service delivery to users.

  3. Processing Integrity: The accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of processing transactions within the SaaS environment.

  4. Confidentiality: The protection of sensitive information from unauthorized disclosure, both internally and externally.

  5. Privacy: The collection, use, retention, disclosure, and disposal of personal information by established privacy policies and regulations.

What Are the SOC 2 Type 2 Standards?

The SOC 2 Type 2 standards build upon the foundational elements of SOC 2 by incorporating a time element into the assessment. While SOC 2 Type 1 evaluates the design and implementation of controls at a specific point in time, SOC 2 Type 2 assesses the effectiveness of these controls over a specified period, typically six to twelve months.

According to the AICPA, SOC 2 Type 2 audits provide greater assurance regarding the operational effectiveness of controls, as they evaluate their operating effectiveness over an extended duration.

What Are the Objectives of SOC 2 Audits?

The primary objectives of SOC 2 audits is to provide assurance regarding the effectiveness of controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy within SaaS organizations. By achieving compliance with SOC 2 standards, SaaS providers demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding client data and maintaining the trust and confidence of their user base.

The best way to ensure that you are fully prepared for a SOC 2 audit is to use a SOC 2 checklist. You may create your own checklist from scratch, but you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel as there are plenty of templates online. For example, the HIPAA Journal provides this downloadable SOC 2 compliance checklist PDF you could adapt for your own needs. Even if you don’t use a ready-made checklist, reviewing one is a great way to understand exactly what your organization needs to do to satisfy each of the five Trust Services Criteria.

Similarly, this SOC 2 checklist on GitHub outlines the essential steps and requirements for preparing for and undergoing a SOC 2 audit. This checklist serves as a valuable resource for SaaS companies aiming to achieve SOC 2 compliance.

Who Needs SOC 2 Type 2 Certification?

SOC 2 Type 2 certification is especially important for organizations that store and process sensitive data, including on behalf of their customers. By achieving SOC 2 Type 2 certification, a company demonstrates to current and future customers that maintaining data security is a top priority. SOC 2 Type 2 certification should be considered by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and cloud computing companies, among types of organizations and service providers.

Who Can Do a SOC 2 Type 2 Audit?

Only a licensed CPA firm (or similar agency accredited by the AICPA) can conduct a SOC 2 Type 2 audit. To maintain objectivity and fairness, an organization must use a third-party, independent auditor.

How Do You Maintain SOC 2 Compliance?

Maintaining compliance with the SOC 2 standards is crucial for SaaS providers seeking to establish trust and credibility with their clients. By conforming to these standards and undergoing regular SOC 2 audits, SaaS companies show that they are as committed to protecting customer data as their customers expect them to be. As compliance for SaaS continues to be a priority, embracing SOC 2 standards becomes an absolute-must for navigating the evolving landscape of data protection and regulatory compliance.

Need Help with SOC 2 Compliance? Start with Trava

For SaaS providers looking to enhance their security posture and establish credibility with clients, achieving SOC 2 compliance is essential. Whether you are looking to enhance your current SOC 2 compliance framework, or you’re not sure where to even start, we can help! Contact Trava today to learn more about how we can assist you in your journey towards SOC 2 certification and ensure the protection of your valuable data assets.