SOC 2 Compliance: Overview & Implementation

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Security of data is essential in a business and technology environment where consumers are increasingly seeking cost-effective, secure, and scalable data storage solutions. Although you may think your security practices are effective, guidelines like SOC 2 can help you determine how well you’re really doing without the risk of any legal consequences or fines.

SOC 2 compliance is designed to detect any data security issues and give you some direction for fixing those issues since it demonstrates what and where you could improve. If your policies and procedures are efficient and perform well in the SOC 2 audit, you can receive a certification that bolsters your reputation and potentially your customer count. Although becoming SOC 2 compliant may seem challenging, it’s well worth the effort when you consider the high numbers of data breaches and security incidents. 

What is SOC 2 compliance?

Originally developed as a data privacy and security standard for accountants, SOC 2 is a way to assess whether your organization is appropriately handling customer data. Customers should be able to trust that you will have their data available, secure it to ensure privacy and data integrity, and restrict sharing. 

As an IT professional, SOC 2 compliance should be a priority for keeping your client data as secure as possible. Since your clients trust you with access to their systems and data, you must protect that trust. Although the SOC 2 framework shares some similarities with other guidelines, such as NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), it focuses specifically on data that your organization stores in the cloud. 

Benefits and importance of SOC 2 compliance

Although SOC 2 compliance is generally a voluntary certification, there are several benefits to undergoing an audit and becoming certified: 

  • Data protection: The importance of protecting sensitive data and maintaining information security cannot be understated. You must protect both your customers’ and your organization’s private information to protect everyone’s interests and identities.
  • Enhanced trust and credibility: Clients and stakeholders are more likely to trust that you’re handling their data properly if you’re actively pursuing SOC 2 compliance. Following a trusted framework is more likely to increase your credibility than flying by the seat of your security pants, so to speak. 
  • Competitive advantage: Customers seeking your services are often looking for assurances that you will handle their data securely. A SOC 2 certification provides this assurance and gives you an advantage in the marketplace. 
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: SOC 2 requirements typically go above and beyond legal requirements, so if you follow SOC 2 guidelines, you shouldn’t find yourself paying fines for lack of compliance. 

SOC 2 audit and certification

To become SOC 2 certified, you need an external auditor, generally a certified public accountant (CPA), to audit your organization. Whether you have an audit that covers only a specific moment in time (Type I) or an audit that covers 6-12 months (Type 2), the process is roughly the same. Initially, you should determine what you want from the audit and what information will be most helpful in improving your security posture. Next, when you’re ready to hire an auditor, create a comprehensive list of your policies and procedures. The auditor will be able to use these to compare typical behavior with ideal behavior.

Once the audit begins, you’ll review the desired outcome with the auditor and work out a timeline for the process. The audit will consist of the auditor testing the policies and procedures you’ve already written to determine their effectiveness. Finally, you’ll receive a report with documented results. 

For a successful SOC audit, complete an internal audit first. This practice run will help you identify potential problems and fix them before bringing in the external auditor. Implement data access controls and automated monitoring, or consider using a remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution that can alert you to potential vulnerabilities and help you remotely install patches or updates.

SOC 2 compliance implementation and key considerations

If you’re planning to become SOC certified, detailed documentation of your organization’s policies, procedures, and controls is essential. For the highest levels of security and business continuity, logging your activities can help keep other members of your team informed and minimize disruptions during times of change. 

You are not the only person who can affect your environment. Whether internal or external, other users may have differing interpretations of your policies or fail to follow them correctly. Training is essential to ensure compliance. It’s also important to limit access to certain data for team members who don’t need it and implement automated monitoring solutions.

Finally, there are some key considerations that you will need to account for before your audit. 

  • Privacy: Your organization must have sufficient verification and authentication protocols in place. Employees should be using multi-factor authentication, creating single-use passwords, and only accessing the data they need to do their jobs. 
  • Confidentiality: Utilize encryption and firewalls to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to your cloud storage. 
  • Processing integrity: Review your internal policies and procedures to ascertain whether anything is ineffective. Monitor your environment and employees for compliance. 
  • Availability: Create disaster recovery plans that prepare you for the worst. Use backup solutions to ensure that customers can access their data if your organization is the target of ransomware or other cyberattacks.
  • Security: Generate reports frequently to confirm that your policies and procedures effectively secure data. 

Integration of SOC 2 compliance with IT infrastructure

Incorporating SOC 2 guidelines into your existing IT infrastructure and security and compliance frameworks may seem intimidating, but it’s essential for your continued success. Customers want to know that they can trust you with their data, and if you complete an audit and then create a roadmap for implementing the requirements, the time and resources used are worth the expense. 

Your roadmap should include creating new policies and procedures that sufficiently protect data. Ensure that you’re using encryption and multi-factor authentication, as well as controlling access to data. To keep attackers out, implement automatic monitoring, alerts, and firewalls. Finally, create a disaster recovery plan to help you minimize downtime and recover quickly after any potential data disaster.

Data security practices are essential for modern organizations

To stay competitive and relevant, your organization needs to have robust data security practices, and becoming SOC 2-compliant can give you something to aim for while improving customer confidence. If you leverage technologies and tools that are already SOC 2 certified,  like NinjaOne, becoming SOC 2 compliant within your organization will be faster and easier. SOC 2 compliance will strengthen your organization’s data posture, decrease your risk of security incidents, and improve the likelihood that potential customers will entrust you with their data. 

Next Steps

The fundamentals of device security are critical to your overall security posture. NinjaOne makes it easy to patch, harden, secure, and backup all their devices centrally, remotely, and at scale.

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