For modern SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, few things are more important than achieving and maintaining compliance, particularly compliance for SaaS. This becomes somewhat unwieldy, though, as the number of applications used by the average company continues to increase.

Ensuring the security and privacy of customer data is not only a legal requirement but also essential for building trust with clients. One of the key frameworks utilized by SaaS organizations to achieve compliance is the SOC 2 framework. This article will address what SOC 2 entails, as well as its significance within the context of SaaS compliance.

What Is the SOC Framework?

A SOC—or Security Operations Center—framework is a method for standardizing compliance with industry and security standards. This framework provides a repeatable approach for evaluating security, mitigating major risks, and ensuring that an organization is using the most secure applications and processes possible.

It also provides a comprehensive framework for demonstrating a commitment to data security and privacy. By adhering to SOC standards, organizations can assure their customers that adequate measures are in place to protect their sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.

What is the SOC 2 Framework?

The SOC 2 framework is a specific set of standards developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to assess the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data in SaaS organizations. Unlike SOC 1, which focuses on financial reporting controls, SOC 2 is specifically tailored to address the unique challenges of SaaS environments.

  • Is SOC 2 a Governance Framework? A PDF from Deloitte explains how the SOC 2 trust principles can be applied to an overall governance framework for mitigating risks and ensuring compliance.

What Are the SOC 2 5 Trust Principles?

There are 5 SOC 2 trust principles that inform the SOC 2 framework:

  • Security: The system is protected against unauthorized access, both physical and logical.

  • Availability: The system is available for operation and use as committed or agreed upon.

  • Processing Integrity: System processing is complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized.

  • Confidentiality: Information designated as confidential is protected as committed or agreed upon.

  • Privacy: Personal information is collected, used, retained, disclosed, and disposed of in conformity with the commitments in the entity’s privacy notice and criteria outlined in the AICPA’s privacy trust principles.

These principles serve as the foundation for assessing the effectiveness of controls implemented by SaaS providers to mitigate risks associated with data security and privacy.

What is the Difference Between the NIST Framework, SOC 2, and ISO 27001?

Modern organizations have several frameworks available for enhancing their cybersecurity and ensuring compliance. Understanding the difference between three of the major frameworks—NIST, SOC 2, and ISO 27001—is essential for selecting the most suitable approach.

NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework is a voluntary framework designed to help organizations manage and reduce cybersecurity risks. It provides a flexible and risk-based approach to cybersecurity, offering a set of guidelines and best practices that can be customized to meet the unique needs of different organizations.

The NIST framework consists of five core functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. By following these functions, organizations can develop and implement a comprehensive cybersecurity program that addresses their specific risks and vulnerabilities.

SOC 2

The SOC 2 framework, developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), focuses specifically on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data in SaaS organizations.

Unlike the NIST framework, which provides general guidelines for cybersecurity risk management, SOC 2 is a compliance framework that involves an independent assessment of controls related to data security and privacy. SOC 2 audits help organizations demonstrate their commitment to protecting customer data and can provide valuable assurance to customers and stakeholders.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security management systems (ISMS) published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It provides a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information, ensuring its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

ISO 27001 is a comprehensive framework that covers various aspects of information security, including risk management, asset protection, access control, and compliance. Unlike SOC 2, which focuses primarily on SaaS environments, ISO 27001 applies to organizations of all types and sizes, making it a versatile framework for addressing cybersecurity risks across different industries.

Differences and Considerations

While all three frameworks aim to enhance cybersecurity and ensure compliance, they have distinct features and focus areas.

  • The NIST framework provides a flexible and customizable approach to cybersecurity risk management, making it suitable for organizations in various industries.

  • SOC 2, on the other hand, is specifically tailored to address the unique challenges of SaaS environments, focusing on the security and privacy of customer data.

  • Finally, ISO 27001 offers a comprehensive framework for managing information security risks, applicable to organizations of all types and sizes, regardless of industry or sector.

What Are the Basics of SOC 2 Compliance?

For organizations looking to achieve and maintain SOC 2 compliance, there are a few key terms you’ll need to know: primarily, the difference between SOC 2 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2. One of the biggest differences between the two types of SOC 2 is their focus.

  • SOC 2 Type 1 concerns the design of an organization’s controls at a single point in time—at the time they’re being evaluated or audited, providing a snapshot-type understanding. A SOC 2 Type 1 controls list would generally include things like the systems and tools the organization is using, their key security strategies, and the overall cybersecurity posture.

  • SOC 2 Type 2 also concerns an organization’s controls, but unlike SOC 2 Type 1, SOC 2 Type 2 also involves a time component. In other words, rather than assessing a single point in time, SOC 2 Type 2 considers the effectiveness of implemented controls over a set time frame. You can learn more by downloading this SOC 2 Type 2 report example [PDF] provided by the AICPA.

Trava Security: A Modern SOC 2 Solution

The SOC 2 framework plays a crucial role in ensuring the security and privacy of customer data in SaaS organizations. By adhering to SOC 2 standards, companies can build trust with their customers and demonstrate their commitment to data protection.

Achieving SOC 2 compliance requires ongoing dedication and investment in implementing and maintaining robust security controls—but you don’t have to do it all alone. At Trava, we’ve built a platform that provides a wide range of dynamic cybersecurity services, including risk management and SOC 2 compliance. To learn more about Trava and how it can benefit your organization, reach out to our experts today.