Getting Your SOC 2 Certification: What Are the 5 Steps You Need to Take?
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) business is booming, but it is not without associated challenges. When customers decide to hand over data to third parties for storage in the cloud, they need to be made confident that it will remain safe.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) developed a framework known as “systems and organization controls” (SOC) that serves this important purpose. SaaS vendors who acquire SOC Type 2 certifications thereby instill confidence in potential clients.
As might be expected of an AICPA-promulgated standard, SOC Type 2 is both comprehensive and rigorous. Companies preparing to face a SOC audit can take the following five concrete steps to improve their chances of becoming certified.
1. Find Trustworthy, Reliable Auditors
The entire SOC system rests on the idea that independent, knowledgeable auditors can root out any problems with a company’s data-handling procedures. Experts at SOC Compliance who work full-time on such matters are inevitably best positioned to help out.
The auditors that a company chooses for its own SOC Type 2 certification push will influence everything that follows. Fortunately, there are now a fair number of auditors who have the experience and skills required to ensure a smooth certification process.
Some of the things that it generally proves best to insist upon are consistently high standards and a proven record of success. Businesses should never choose SOC auditors carelessly, as no other decision will end up mattering as much.
2. Set Auditing Criteria
The SOC system includes some built-in flexibility which is meant to accommodate the many ways businesses use SaaS offerings in practice. Companies can target any of a number of goals specified under the SOC Type 2 framework.
One business, for instance, might wish to emphasize data security and availability, while another focuses on processing integrity. Auditing criteria need to be defined before any subsequent investigation occurs in order to ensure reliable, accurate results.
3. Create a Detailed Plan
Once criteria have been established, a company hoping to become SOC certified will need to create a plan that aims at satisfying them. Fortunately, this will normally be straightforward, with simple adherence to established best practices typically being enough.
4. Conduct the Audit
A strong foundation having been established, SOC-related auditing work can finally follow. Auditors will need to be provided with access to a business’s systems in order to carry out their work.
Just how long a SOC Type 2 audit takes will depend on a number of factors. One of the most significant of these, in most cases, is how far a company is from satisfying the auditing criteria to begin with.
The conclusions that auditors arrive at should be taken to heart and used to inform progress toward the goal. This will ensure that every SOC certification drive ends up being productive.
5. Prepare for the Future
Maintaining SOC certification is just as important as obtaining it, and can be even more challenging. Every SOC audit should be seen as an opportunity to develop processes that will make it easier to withstand future audits.
Companies that do so can make SOC Type 2 certification a cornerstone of the cases they make to prospective customers. As more and more businesses come to take data security seriously when using SaaS products, this will become even more valuable.
SOC Type 2 Certification Awaits
Trying to become SOC Type 2 certified can seem a bit intimidating. In practice, though, businesses that work through these five straightforward steps should have nothing to worry about.
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