Any service organization that wants to establish an element of trust between its services and the end user and its customers needs transparency. This means providing ample information regarding policies and procedures for how the company operates. Service Organization Controls (SOC) Reports® are one form of ensuring service organizations are taking steps to safeguard their customers’ information. Service, and especially technology-as-a-service organizations, benefit from a SOC 2 report and audit performed by a Certified Public Accountant. How can you ensure a successful outcome when you’re new to SOC 2? We have a few pointers for you.
Document Your Policies and Procedures
All of the policies and procedures for your organization, from hiring to data security, need to be documented, and that documentation needs to be readily available. Documented policies and procedures benefits your SOC audit by demonstrating that a security program has a plan and can be readily communicated to employees and other stakeholders. Documented policies make it easier to enforce and monitor effectiveness of an organization’s security program. Policies and procedures cover a wide range of areas such as:
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
- Human Resources and personnel security
- Access Control and Authentication
- Change Management
- Security Awareness
- Incident Management and Response Plan
- Code of Conduct
- Risk and 3rd Party Management
- Threat and Vulnerability Management
- Encryption and Secure Communications
These policies need to be crafted to an organization’s industry, customers, and they type of service provided. Creating effective policies is a laborious process that will take a lot of effort when done correctly. Starting with an authoritative framework such as ISO 27001 or working with your audit firm on better practices can cut down some of the time and create a structure as you build your security program.
Know Which SOC 2 Trust Services to Report On
There are five Trust Service Principles (TSP) that SOC 2 specifically addresses: availability, confidentiality, privacy, security, and processing integrity. While some organizations might choose to address all five of these areas during an audit, that’s not always required or relevant. Your organization needs to consider which TSPs the user entities want to know about. The two most commonly demanded principles for organizations providing technology-based services include security and availability.
Complete a Readiness Assessment
Just as sports teams hold scrimmages and actors hold dress rehearsals, the best way to know if you’re ready for the SOC 2 audit is to have a readiness assessment or mock audit. Choose a reliable organization that can guide you through better practices and not just regurgitate the SOC 2 criteria. The readiness assessment examines your policies, procedures, and all other system artifacts in order to identify weak spots. The readiness assessment provides gaps in the organization’s control environment and documents preliminary controls identified during the review. Documented controls are the basis prior to the actual audit.
Compile Reports Every Year
After you’ve remediated the weak points and undergone a SOC 2 audit, you’re in the clear, right? No. Keep in mind that these audits are not a one-time deal; management and especially your regular users will generally request an update at least once a year. An ongoing compliance program and annual SOC 2 report will help ensure your organization is addressing its customers needs. Learn more about the SOC 2 audit process by contacting Barr Assurance & Advisory Inc. today.