Before we look into the SOC2 compliance checklist, it is worth spending a minute on understanding what SOC2 is. Just to set the context, the internet has become a basic necessity for a modern life. It has got integrated with all our daily activities in various forms. Some use it just for the entertainment purpose while others have more extensive usage of it. But no matter how your usage pattern is, your private information always comes into play. Whether you login to any social media account or you make any transaction from your online bank portal, you need to always identify yourself first.
Thus, if so much information is flowing through the internet from one end to another, the concern for information security becomes indispensable. You need to ensure that your information is safe and companies use it only for the right purpose. Companies should protect it from hackers and online theft so that no one can misuse it for any wrong reason. Hence, to address this concern SOC 2 compliance has been put into practice by the government for organizations dealing with large amounts of information of their customers.
What is SOC2?
If you want to understand what is SOC2 compliance, you need to first know a little about SOC2. It is the name of a report defined by American Institute of Certified Public Accountants which is produced during an audit. Information service providers use this to issue validated reports of internal controls on their system to their users. SOC 2, GDPR, or HIPAA are all different compliance standards applicable to different organizations and nations.
Basically, SOC 2 is a technical audit to ensure that companies follow strict policies and procedures to establish their information security framework. These companies have to develop their policies based on five trust service principles that include:
- Security of customer information from any external intrusion
- Availability of data at all times
- Processing integrity based on quality assurance and processing monitoring
- Confidentiality that includes encryptions and access controls
- Privacy of customer data in conformity with organization’s privacy notice
What is SOC2 compliance?
If you are a SaaS based organization and want to ensure that you are able to implement the security best practices in your firm, then you need consider the following checklist.
#1 Define categories for usual and unusual activities
Before you begin, you must identify what kind of activities in your cloud setup you consider as usual. The kinds of regular transactions which are necessary for your business operations fall under usual category. Hence, you must think through all the possible scenarios which are a regular part of your business activities. Then, you must allow these activities to fall under the category which are not needed for monitoring purposes.
The real monitoring results can show only when anything apart from these usual activities occur in your system. The purpose of monitoring is to identify what unusual activities are occurring in your cloud setup. Hence, for the framework which you design for identifying suspicious activities, the system must be able to differentiate between what is normal and what is unusual.
#2 Create security alerts
For any unusual system activity your monitoring platform must raise a security alert. SOC2 compliance checklist requires that you have a proper setup in your security system that raises alerts when it detects any threat. You would also need to demonstrate an ability to respond to those alerts and take corrective measures to keep the situation under your control. The list of activities that are categorized as unauthorized in SOC 2 compliance includes:
- Any unauthorized access or modification of data
- File transfers to unknown destinations
- Unauthorized access to login information of system or accounts
You need to initialize the usual activities in advance so that the system doesn’t send you any false alerts . Because if the system raises same alerts for usual activities also, then it means your monitoring practice is not effective and requires a lot of manual intervention. This will result in a lot of time and effort wastage if your system is not intelligent enough to identify real threats.
#3 Record all details of your audit
When you receive an alert you need to know all about the system to respond effectively to those alerts. You need to understand the authorization rules and the regular activities of your operations to remediate the issue at place.
A deep understanding of your business operations would help you deal with the issue at hand from its root. Hence, you must record and save all the details of a transaction in your database so that you can refer to the system’s log files to understand if the alert was genuine or not.
#4 Maintain a preventive actions checklist
Once you receive the alerts, you need to be well equipped for taking quick measures to prevent any damage to your customers’ information. Maintain a checklist of actions in place so that anyone can follow it for different kinds of alerts they receive from the system. All alerts should correspond to the various data that you are storing in your database about those threats. That includes:
- Attacker’s point of origin like the ip address from where someone is trying to access your database.
- Network route have they followed to access your system.
- What is the overall impact of that suspicious activity on different parts of your system?
- What could be the next possible action they can take?
These are few of the information you must be ready with in advance to deal with a threat effectively.
Importance of SOC 2
Customers have become more vigilant and sensitive than ever when it comes to sharing their private information. For a SaaS business, it has become quite important that they win their customer’s confidence on concerns related to data security. Achieving compliance through this SOC2 compliance checklist will enhance your credibility in the marketplace.
This will result in customer loyalty and boosting sales. It will also ensure that you are securing yourself from any future mis-happenings that can occur in terms of data breach. Because once you fall in that category, the news spreads like a current in the online world. And once you have lost customer’s trust, it becomes too difficult to sustain your business in this competitive world.
SOC 2 Resources for SaaS
After understanding what is SOC2 compliance, let us look at a few of the resources available online that will help you dive deep into this topic.
SOC 2 information on Wiki
AICPA official page on SOC 2
History of SOC 2 : A short video
Understanding the 5 Trust Service Principles
The ultimate guide to SOC 2 compliance
SOC 2 for SaaS Companies22
SOC 2 explained in layman terms
Rohan has over 11 years of experience in client services, marketing and hospitality field. Previously, he was head of digital marketing for a hi-tech mobile application. Rohan is driven by new challenges and the possibility of making an impact on individuals and businesses.
Published June 26, 2020, Updated March 01, 2023