Businesses that have embraced technology also have to improve their information security in today’s world. Otherwise, they remain vulnerable, as evidenced by the increase in data breaches and hacks. One of the best ways to improve information security that businesses should take advantage of is SOC 2 audits. In a nutshell, SOC 2 audits are designed to assure a company and its stakeholders that everything looks good from an information security perspective for a particular service. Below we will explore SOC 2 audits, how they work, and how they can help improve your cybersecurity.
What’s a SOC 2 Audit?
A SOC 2 audit is a type of IT security audit also known as a System and Organization Controls attestation report. Although there are three types of SOC reports – SOC, SOC 2, and SOC 3 – a SOC 2 report is the most popular and appropriate report for organizations that do not impact the financials of their clients and want to obtain valuable insights about the level of cybersecurity risk they face as well as the level of risk associated with litigation, damage to reputation, and violation of applicable rules and regulations.
After a SOC 2 audit, the organization will receive a SOC 2 report that provides an opinion on whether their controls are adequate to inspire trust and confidence in the service they offer. Typically, auditors that perform SOC audits are seasoned professionals with information security expertise. In addition, their opinions and reviews are guided by standards set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA). This explains why a SOC 2 report is one of the most sought-after compliance reports for organizations that want to prove to key players that they have the necessary IT controls in place to protect regulated data.
What Does SOC 2 Compliance Involve?
SOC 2 compliance involves using Trust Services Criteria (TSC) to assess internal controls related to the organization’s service. When performing a SOC 2 audit, the organization selects the Trust Services Criteria that are most applicable to the risks associated with the use of their services from the ones below:
This TSC looks at whether the system has enough defenses against unauthorized access by assessing security controls such as firewalls, network devices configuration, and password parameters.
When using this TSC, the organization will be required to demonstrate business continuity and have a solid disaster recovery plan and continuity. The organization also needs regular backups and recovery plans to ensure the system is available for operation as expected.
This addresses the protection of confidential information as agreed. For example, confidential information could be shared with other organizations when conducting business interactions and should not be accessed by unauthorized parties.
When an organization collects personal information from data subjects, the privacy criteria are applicable. In addition, the organization must obtain consent when collecting certain data and give data subjects the option to opt-in or out of their service.
This TSC is usually applicable to organizations that process transactions like payments, in which case the system is required to be complete, accurate, and authorized.
Cybersecurity Benefits of SOC 2 Audits
Given the nature of SOC 2 audits and what SOC 2 compliance requires, it follows that SOC 2 offers the following cybersecurity benefits to organizations.
- Prevents data breaches: A SOC 2 audit throws light on your company’s IT controls and highlights areas of improvement. Without a SOC 2 audit, your system may be vulnerable to unauthorized access and theft that puts customer data at risk and can damage your reputation.
- Upgrades information security control. To show SOC 2 compliance, you will have to make the necessary investment in your IT security. Adherence to the rigorous standards ensures that your information security controls are upgraded and solid.
- Encourages continuous improvement. By undergoing a SOC 2 audit, your organization will uncover more ways to keep your system secure. This provides a baseline for continuous improvement to improve services and counter cybersecurity risks.
The bottom line is a SOC 2 audit can help your cybersecurity and more. Improving cybersecurity brings plenty of additional benefits, such as more business. When you minimize the risk of data breaches and hacks, you also protect your organization’s brand and reputation. Having a SOC 2 report also gives you an advantage over competitors without a report. Some clients require businesses they deal with to be SOC 2 compliant when outsourcing services. Therefore, you’ll be more visible to clients and enjoy more commercial success. To conclude, the cybersecurity benefits obtained by choosing to undergo a SOC audit are well-documented and far-reaching.