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What is SOC 2 Compliance?

what is SOC 2 Compliance

Compared to other compliance requirements, SOC 2 is voluntary. Established by the American Institute of CPAs (AUCPA), the SOC 2 compliance framework makes security practice recommendations for organizations  managing their customer data.

Organizations enabling a single instance or multi-cloud strategy with internal controls that incorporate a dispersed data management strategy are ideal candidates for SOC 2 compliance.

IT engineers, software developers, and systems administrators all have an active role in their organization to get this compliance. An essential part of becoming a SOC 2 compliant organization is creating, deploying, and monitoring the various security adaptive controls.

In this article, we’ll review the benefits of SOC 2 compliance, how to maintain SOC 2 compliance, and how this compliance gets assessed. Let’s dive in!

Trust Services Criteria

To better understand SOC 2 compliance, organizations should become familiar with its foundational requirements. SOC 2 aligns exceptionally well with Trust Services Criteria (TSC) compliance framework. The trust services categories within this framework include security, availability, integrity, and confidentiality.

Security

Organizations must provide security for the entire enterprise architecture protecting the customer data and intellectual property. All data elements, including personally identifiable information, are correctly secured by internal security controls, following the industry standard criteria framework and multi-factor authentication.

Availability 

Organizations must provide availability of all systems, networks, and applications hosting customer data after security incidents.

Integrity

Processing integrity must be maintained throughout the collection, storage, and retrieval of customer data, all verified by internal and external compliance audits.

Confidentiality 

Organizations must maintain the confidentiality of their data. No data should be accessed by unauthorized personnel or unauthorized disclosure by a third party.

Benefits of SOC 2 Compliance

Organizations that receive a SOC 2 compliance certificate and results from the attestation report completed by external auditors use this material with their customer-facing marketing efforts to show their commitment to data security. Many prospective customers wanting to do business with cloud providers often require SOC 2 compliance to demonstrate a commitment to cyber security before engaging in any business commerce. 

Business partners also take a great interest in your organization’s SOC 2 audit reports, risk mitigation strategy, and security policies. These business partners also get asked by their clients for similar documentation, including their privacy standards, risk management strategy, and readiness assessment. Organizations will share this information about their SOC 2 compliance status under non-disclosure with potential customers and business partners.

What IT Resources Play a Critical Role in Maintaining SOC 2 Compliance?

Many legacy IT roles remain essential in maintaining SOC 2 compliance and the organization’s security posture. Organizations need access to cybersecurity engineers to help staff their Security Operations center (SecOps), incident response engineers, and IT operations teams with expertise in patching and remediation. These in-house security teams are vital for maintaining the principles of the trusted service described within the SOC 2 compliance checklist.

Maintaining a SOC 2 compliance status and security certifications requires a commitment by the organization to uphold the trust service principles, privacy controls, and all critical standards. This compliance journey required the organization’s financial and operational responsibility to ensure the privacy of customer data is maintained, along with the list of controls for SOC 2 has been deployed correctly.

Once an organization receives this certification, it must maintain the TSC throughout the year by monitoring, patching, remediation, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing. Internal audits assess the current technical risk to the organization, including validating that the internal policies supporting SOC 2 are followed. Security management aligned with the principles of the trusted service is the essential framework for organizations’ security operations teams to follow.

A key element for organizations to pass their annual SOC 2 audits is the availability of qualified company personnel that understand the importance of maintaining the cybersecurity compliance framework. Hiring and keeping the talent to help maintain SOC 2 compliance is expensive and challenging. Some organizations may leverage managed security service providers (MSSPs) to help with the various controls relevant to security measures for SOC 2. MSSPs offer their 24 x 7 monitoring, incident response management, and management of individual products, including NGFWs, IPS sensors, zero-trust architecture, and other parts of the technology environment.

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Assessing SOC 2 Compliance

An external auditing firm issues SOC 2 compliance after service auditors have validated the organization’s various business processes, administrative safeguards, operational efficiency, and ability to maintain SOC 2 trust services.

The auditors will perform technical audits, risk assessment reviews, and reviews of the organization’s ongoing security program to validate their compliance with SOC 2.

Organizations should leverage SOC 2 compliance preparation consulting firms to perform a series of assessments validating that the various TSC attributes are in place and operational before undergoing an external audit and formal assessment.

These assessments could include a penetration test by a certified ethical hacker (CEH) to validate that the various systems, hosts, and applications are patched with the latest security releases. They could also include testing of the integrity of the applications used to collect and process customer data. SOC 2 assessment teams use multiple security application testing tools to confirm the applications are functioning as expected.

If hackers attempt to exploit the application and alter the processing functions, data can be exfiltrated outside the organization. If the breach is successful, the organization’s SOC 2 compliance could be in jeopardy.

This security breach will nullify several TSC attributes, including:

  • Confidentially of the data
  • Privacy of the information
  • Availability of the data and access to critical systems

Failure to maintain the security of customer data will cause the loss of certification of SOC 2, exposing the organization to lawsuits and other compliance violations, including HIPAA, PCI, CCPA, GDPR, and FERPA.

Knowledge for Today and in the Future.

To promote SOC 2 as a competitive advantage, organizations need qualified cyber security engineers, SecOps engineers, and application developers that understand DevOps and DevSecOps. These critical domains are essential for agile application development in a secured framework. 

People, processes, and technology help organizations stay compliant. Organizations have several compliance mandates to meet. The need for qualified cloud and cybersecurity engineers is in enormous demand. 

Interested in building an IT career that helps organizations understand and maintain security? Book an appointment today with one of CIAT’s expert Admissions Advisors to discuss the pathways you can take to achieve your educational and career goals in the technology field.

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