SOC 2 Audit: Keys To Success


Vector Representation of a SOC 2 Audit
Keys To Success in SOC 2 Audit

SOC 2, also known as the Service Organisation Control, is a voluntary compliance framework for service organizations created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). A SOC 2 audit report gives detailed information and assurance about a service organization's availability, security, processing integrity, privacy controls, and confidentiality. This is based on their compliance with the AICPA's TSC (Trust Services Criteria). The report also specifies how organizations should handle customer data.


Most organizations benefit from completing their SOC 2 compliance audit beforehand as it acts as a reputation enhancement tool. Once you provide the final audit report to your clients, they experience a sense of enhanced trust, transparency, and reliability for your business.


The top "keys" to success are listed below. When implemented, they can improve the efficiency of the SOC 2 audit process, thereby increasing an organization's chances of receiving a clean SOC 2 report.


1. Presence Of Executive Sponsorship


Executive Sponsorship is one of the key factors determining the success of the SOC 2 audit. SOC 2 auditing requires time and personnel from different departments across the organization. Additionally, newer procedures and policies may need to be implemented to meet the requirements of the SOC 2 standard. Personnel may not be granted additional time without executive sponsorship, or personnel from different departments may not work well together. This will lead to a delay in implementing new policies and procedures, which will be ineffective for SOC 2 compliance.


2. Choosing The Right "Type" Of SOC 2 Report


SOC 2 consists of two types of audits – Type 1 and Type 2. An organization must decide which audit type they can undertake as it depends on the resources and time you assign to the project.


The Type 1 audit provides an assessment report on the security process designs an organization has put in place at a specific point in time. It creates a report of the security controls descriptions provided by the service organization for a particular instant. While the Type 2 audit tests the effectiveness of those designs over 6 to 12 months.


The reason for this long-term observation period is that the Type 2 auditor checks both:

  • Has the company designed the proper security controls, and

  • Has the company operationalized those security controls?


Due to a long observational period, the Type 2 auditor can collect random samples and ensure that the organization company is compliant.


3. Cooperative Departments


Most times, SOC 2 audits need personnel cooperation from multiple departments to conduct controls and showcase evidence during the audit for the available audit. Human resources, IT, security, operations, DevOps, and C-suite, are some of the departments that participate at the time of the SOC 2 audit. If you have already established executive sponsorship, then this step would be easier for you to implement as well.


4. Meeting Clients' Expectations


Most of the time, the trigger for SOC 2 compliance stems from clients' requests. To draw the timeline for the audit, you first need to understand the requirements of your clients and by when they wish to see the final report. Your clients can either request quick reports or be okay with a little lead time.


This is where your organization would need to make a call between Type 1 and Type 2 audit processes, depending on the client's demand and ……. Ensure clear communication with your clients about the SOC 2 report completion and delivery deadlines. Being upfront with the clients can go a long way.


5. Engage With A Qualified CPA Firm


While choosing a CPA firm, check whether the firm personnel has qualified certifications. Some credentials you can check to authenticate the firm include Certified Information System Auditor (CISA) and Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP). A CPA firm with these licenses will better understand SOC to the auditing framework. It can also help you with strategies regarding security risk management.


6. Work Through The Expectations Of Internal Stakeholders


It is also critical to have early conversations with internal stakeholders to ensure they understand the rigor required to complete a SOC 2 audit. Many internal stakeholders, like clients who request a SOC, may have unrealistic expectations about when the SOC 2 report will be in their hands and available to customers.


7. Vendors Play A Huge Role In Meeting Requirements


Vendors can sometimes play an important role in meeting SOC 2 security requirements. For example, if your infrastructure is housed in a third-party data center, you would expect a third party to have the needed physical security controls in place to restrict access to your infrastructure. To fulfill the physical security requirement for SOC 2, you would rely on the third party's controls to function properly. Understanding what is expected of your vendor and communicating what is expected of them, if anything, it will allow for a more efficient audit.


Closing Thoughts


The majority of companies are concerned about how they can perform a clean SOC 2 auditing operation. However, it is crucial to run an efficient auditing process in order to achieve this. So make sure you follow the above-mentioned key points that can lead you to obtain a clean auditing process and, finally, a SOC 2 report.


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