Over 60% of businesses moved their operations to the cloud in 2020, and that trend has continued into the new year. It has also led to over 80% of businesses using cloud services, giving access to third-party vendors. While this has improved customer relations and enhanced the level of service that an organization can provide, it also has the potential to expose client data to a possible breach.

Securing sensitive customer data requires certain best practices, and because details and circumstances can differ from organization to organization, a standardized means of checking compliance is needed. This is where an organization can use System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations 2 (SOC2).

What is SOC2, and how does it work? Why is using it considered a best practice for companies that allow third-party vendor access to cloud data? What are the benefits of implementing SOC2?

What Is SOC2?

SOC2 is a cybersecurity auditing procedure that makes sure that client data is securely managed and not put at risk by third-party access. It was initially developed by the American Institute of CPSs, and SOC1 is typically used by CPAs performing security audits. SOC2, however, is more broadly used by compliance supervisors, executives, and external auditors. While SOC1 checks that a vendor’s systems meet cybersecurity requirements, SOC2 examines the effectiveness of those systems as they operate.

Reports issued as a result of SOC2 reflect the five “trust service principles” SOC2 is built on:

  1. SOC2 determines the operational effectiveness of firewalls, user authentication, and intrusion detection.
  2. SOC2 determines the operational effectiveness of incident management, disaster recovery for business continuity, and performance monitoring.
  3. Processing integrity. SOC2 determines the operational effectiveness of process monitoring and quality assurance methods.
  4. SOC2 determines the operational effectiveness of firewalls, access controls, and data encryption.
  5. SOC2 determines the operational effectiveness of access controls, data encryption, and user authentication.

Certain aspects of the audit overlap, and not every report needs to address all these criteria since the needs of each organization will likely differ. But these principles guarantee the integrity of the report issued by SOC2 procedures.

Why Is SOC2 a Good Choice?

A SOC2 compliance auditing system is optional, but there are many reasons for organizations to request one through a CPA, an independent accounting organization, or a managed security services company.

  • SOC2 is built on requirements that mirror other compliance regulations, such as HIPAA and ISO 27001. Receiving SOC2 certification augments your organization’s other efforts at regulatory compliance, especially if you leverage software-as-a-service (SaaS).
  • Customer protection. Ensuring that sensitive and personal customer data is not breached by unauthorized access or theft is a responsibility—and one that your customers view as a priority.
  • Enhanced security. Ensuring that your third-party vendors are not compromising your clients’ security also enhances the overall security of your organization. Blocking unauthorized access to customer data also ensures your organization’s data is better protected from malicious breaches.

What Are the Benefits of SOC2?

In addition to being a responsible choice, SOC2 brings tangible benefits to you and your company.

  • Even though an audit may cost your organization, the cost of an audit far outweighs the cost of a breach. In a 2021 study, the total cost of data breaches was estimated to be over $4 million. The recent increase in remote workers has affected the overall cost and lengthened the average response and recovery time to over 300 days.
  • A competitive edge. In a competitive market, having a SCO2 compliance certificate can give you a definite advantage over competitors who cannot prove compliance.
  • Increased value. A SOC2 audit report can provide your organization with valuable insights into the potential risks and vulnerabilities you face. These insights can help to improve your security strategies and third-party vendor management and satisfy any regulatory oversight as well.

Choosing the Right Auditor

Choosing the right auditor starts with getting expert advice as to the needs of your organization. This will help to determine what the scope of the audit will be so that your organization does not waste valuable time or resources. Consultation may reveal the need to upgrade to a product or platform that will satisfy compliance, even before the audit begins.

With experienced SOC2 compliance experts, Robust Networks IT outsourcing experts can ensure your data management processes are up to standard. To learn how your organization can ensure SOC2 compliance, reach out to Robust Networks today!