A service organization controls (SOC) report is one way to verify that an organization is following the underlined best practices specified by the authorities regarding protecting a client’s data before outsourcing a business function to that organization.
These specified regulations are related to the five trust service principles- finances, security, processing integrity, privacy, and availability. Hence, the SOC reports, created and verified by third-party auditors, provide independent assurance and help the potential customers and partners understand that any potential risk involved in working with that organization was already evaluated.
Organizations can create SOC reports under certain circumstances of interest; for example, you might pursue a SOC report because you want to sign on a client who is focused on security. It could also be pursued if your own company works with sensitive client data that you want to be handled with care and under proper security controls.
There are several versions of SOC reports available for organizations, depending on the nature of data, organization, and information available. These are; SOC 1, SOC 2 & SOC 3.
Often you could also witness ‘SOC’ being referred to as a security operations center. However, that’s a separate definition; its meaning isn’t impactful on your compliance obligations.