SOC 2 Compliance: A Report, and Rapport, for Customer Confidence

In business, trust is essential, end-to-end, supplier-to-buyer, across the enterprise. In an era of increased information and data management scrutiny, the System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 standards, practices and credentials help organizations understand, build and deploy proven levels of data security, privacy and information operations through proven processes.

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When organizations further their journey, through the rigors and rewards of a SOC 2 audit, the validated results become part of the internal operating process–creating new efficiencies—helping the organization competitively differentiate themselves from their competitors and achieve that all-important trust factor.

SOC 2 Audit

Designed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), SOC 2 includes security and compliance criteria, and was developed to serve organizations of any size and any industry. By using the SOC 2 framework and gaining an objective, third-party independent assessment, an organization can provide its customer and supply chain base validated assurance that data is managed securely, and information confidentiality and privacy is maintained, according to specification and expectations.

As described by the AICPA, a SOC 2 attestation report conveys results of a formal audit of a service provider’s controls related to specific Trust Service Criteria. An audit verifies that an organization meets the applicable Trust Services Criteria.

Critical Categories for SOC 2 Audit and Compliance

In an audit report, the AICPA has five “Trust Service Criteria” (formerly known as “Trust Service Principles”) be addressed. The requirements use language that is quite specific, using references such as:

  • “The security, availability, and processing integrity of the systems the service organization uses to process users’ data,” and
  • “The confidentiality and privacy of the information processed by these systems.”

The AICPA five Trust Service Criteria definitions are:

  • Security: The effectiveness of policies and procedures governing the way organizations protect themselves against unauthorized access and respond to security breaches resulting in unauthorized disclosure of information.
  • Availability: Information and systems must be available for operation and use to meet the organization’s objectives.
  • Processing Integrity: System processing should be complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized to meet organizational objectives.
  • Confidentiality: Information designated as confidential must be sufficiently protected from unauthorized access to meet organizational effectiveness.
  • Privacy: Personally identifiable information must be collected, used, disclosed, and disposed of in a secure manner.

SOC 2 Audit and Compliance Reports

A SOC 2 audit report is categorized in two ways. A Type 1 attestation report looks at the description of an organization’s system, as well as the design effectiveness, to achieve the control objectives for a certain point in time. The goal, however, of a SOC 2 compliance program should be a Type 2 report based on the test of an organization’s control environment over a period of time. This report includes a description of the system along and auditor’s test results. A Type 2 report provides the larger view and insights into the control environment parameters and performance.

Readiness to Reality

Rather than delay the benefits SOC 2 can deliver, organizations are increasingly embracing the criteria and setting SOC 2 audit and compliance as not only a tactical edge but a strategic advantage. Third-party expert auditors, with deep and wide experience in privacy and data management, are the objective resource that can take an organization from SOC 2 readiness to compliance and reporting reality. Alchemi Advisory Group has the audit, industry standard and technology “chops,” trusted across markets and business leaders, to complete your SOC 2 audit with confidence.

Industries and job functions where SOC 2 compliance is critically important include:

  • Cloud computing vendors
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors
  • Customer support and customer-relationship management
  • Data analysis and data management centers
  • Document and records management
  • IT security management
  • Financial services
  • Healthcare and pharmaceutical
  • Human resources
  • Insurance
  • Legal services
  • Sales support
  • Workflow management

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