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SOC 2 Compliance Checklist: Step by Step Guide for an Audit

By Anas Baig | Reviewed By Muhammad Ismail
Published April 3, 2024

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The Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 compliance checklist aims to cater to users seeking detailed information and assurance regarding the controls implemented in a service organization. It reflects an organization's ability to appropriately manage, store, and handle all customer data it collects, processes, and disposes of.

Naturally, in a world where companies and individuals are becoming increasingly conscious about how their data is handled, SOC 2 compliance provides organizations with an opportunity to take every measure possible to adequately protect their customers' data.

The following SOC 2 compliance checklist aims to make it easier for organizations to do so. Following this template, organizations can conduct the relevant self-assessments effectively while increasing their probability of gaining that prestigious SOC compliance badge.

What is SOC 2 Compliance?

SOC 2 compliance refers to a voluntary compliance standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) that can be implemented by an organization for SOC 2 audit. The SOC 2 compliance report plays an important part in the following:

  • Oversight of the organization
  • Vendor management programs
  • Internal corporate governance and risk management processes
  • Regulatory oversight

The standard is based on the Trust Service Criteria with the following vital principles:

  • Security
  • Availability
  • Processing Integrity
  • Confidentiality
  • Privacy

Organizations aiming to comply with the SOC 2 compliance standard must follow at least one of the aforementioned principles. A SOC 2 audit determines an organization's effectiveness in managing its users' data.

Hence, a SOC 2 compliance checklist may prove a vital asset for organizations that want to be SOC 2 compliant and maintain an infrastructure that enables them to do so.

SOC 2 Compliance Checklist

The SOC 2 compliance checklist is fairly compact. There are no guidelines or requirements set by AICPA that organizations must undertake to become SOC compliant. However,  organizations can conduct their SOC 2 audits using the following checklist as part of their regular operations.

The entire process can be broken down into the following four steps:

a. Scoping

The first and arguably the most important step of the entire SOC audit process is appropriately setting up the scope of the assessment. During this step, an organization must determine which type of SOC 2 audit it needs to conduct. Each type is meant to assess and evaluate different aspects of an organization's data handling measures.

b. Self-Assessment

The self-assessment process is a critical part of the SOC 2 audit that needs to be carried out over an extended period, usually several months. Hiring an external auditor or contractor is considered a good practice.

This self-assessment can help identify gaps and allow for immediate remediation steps. This prevents major adverse findings in the final report, which can hamper an organization's chances of being SOC 2 compliant.

c. Remediation Steps

In some ways, this is an extension of the aforementioned step, as it involves proactively addressing the findings of the self-assessment process and closing any identified gaps. If possible, this process should be left to individual departments.

The departments can then continue with the remediation process, which generally involves the following steps:

  • Developing, approving, and communicating the implementation of solutions addressing the identified problems.
  • Modifying the existing workflow processes to eliminate the chances of the problem recurring.
  • Implementing critical security measures and controls.
  • Eliminate unauthorized access for personnel and any connected services.

d. Final Readiness Assessment

Once all the identified gaps from the self-assessment phase have been addressed, a final readiness assessment needs to be conducted.

This assessment tests and verifies all the organization's security measures and controls to ensure their operational effectiveness. Any lingering issues can be identified and addressed before a formal compliance audit by an external Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm.

Why is SOC 2 Compliance Important?

Organizations may consider the benefits of being SOC 2 compliant. The benefits of being SOC 2 compliant revolve around an organization's ability to firmly communicate its commitment to the security, confidentiality, and integrity of all the data it collects from its users, clients, and partners.

Some other critical reasons why SOC 2 compliance is important include:

1. Customer Trust

The most important reason an organization should diligently conduct and act on SOC 2 audit reports is to ensure its data protection measures for all stakeholders whose data it handles. A SOC 2 compliance badge is by far the most effective way to build a relationship of trust and confidence, particularly in an age where data is an invaluable asset.

2. Competitive Advantage

An organization can gain a significant advantage over its competitors by being SOC 2 compliant as it effortlessly demonstrates to potential clients and customers how committed the organization is to adopting best practices in data security and privacy.

3. Regulatory Compliance

SOC 2 and several of its assessment measures overlap with the regulatory requirements imposed by different laws, such as the GDPR and HIPAA on organizations. Compliance with SOC 2 standards enables compliance with these regulatory obligations.

4. Market Access

Some industries and sectors require all organizations providing third-party services to be SOC 2 compliant. Hence, being SOC 2 compliant opens up several lucrative business opportunities and markets.

5. Operational Efficiency

Any measure that enables an organization to evaluate and improve its internal processes and controls proactively is highly beneficial. SOC 2 compliance does just that by reducing the chances of errors, operational inefficiencies, and disruptions via thorough internal and external audits of all vital functions.

How Securiti Can Help

Being SOC 2 compliant allows for both regulatory compliance and opening up several business opportunities. In other words, it makes both legal and regulatory sense for organizations to strive for SOC 2 compliance.

Securiti, a pioneer in offering data security, privacy, compliance, and governance solutions, can offer organizations just that.

The Data Command Center, a centralized platform that enables the safe use of data and GenAI, provides unified data intelligence, controls, and orchestration across hybrid multicloud environments. With its plethora of modules, organizations can leverage individual solutions such as Data Security Posture Management (DSPM), Data Access Intelligence and Governance (DAIG), and Data Risk Management, which can all prove highly beneficial when conducting a self-assessment of all security measures and controls in place.

Request a demo today and learn more about how Securiti can help you in your SOC 2 compliance journey.

People Also Ask

Here are some other frequently asked questions related to SOC 2 reports:

There are two types of SOC 2 reports. A Type 1 audit involves an extensive audit of the designs of an organization's security measures and controls. A Type 2 audit assesses the operational effectiveness of the organization's security measures and controls. 

A SOC 2 audit report is valid for 12 months. A standard market practice is to conduct the audit proactively each year, while organizations may conduct the self-assessment parts of such an audit more frequently if they wish. 

Independent Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or CPA firms can only perform SOC audits. Organizations may hire non-CPAs to prepare for SOC audits or conduct self-assessments, but independent CPAs must always conduct the final assessments.

These firms operate and conduct their assessments based on the AICPA's established standards. Furthermore, all such audits must undergo peer review.

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