How easy is it to become non-compliant with SOC 2?

November 15, 2023
4 minutes

There’s a common misconception when it comes to SOC 2 compliance that once you get your report, you’re done. 

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

SOC 2 reports need to stay current and for that, audits need to happen on an annual basis. As such, continuous compliance — and all the tools and processes that make this happen — is a must-have. 

In this article, we’re taking a look at the risk of non-compliance, and how a continuous compliance approach can set your team up for success. 

Falling out of compliance isn’t that hard

As soon as a control isn’t met or a policy isn’t abided by — and that can happen for a number of different reasons — your company can fall into non-compliance. The consequences of this can vary in size and impact, and they can make a negative dent in how your company is perceived. 

The cost of non-compliance appears across a number of different areas, including:  

  • Security: A lack of SOC 2 compliance can open the door to potential security vulnerabilities that compromise data. This could lead to lost trust from customers, compromise a product’s integrity, and negatively impact the company’s reputation.
  • Business: 52% of B2B buyers consistently stop doing business with a vendor that is not protective of customer data. Plus, a data breach can be costly from a financial standpoint, as a result of penalties and business interruptions.
  • Legal: Depending on the control you’re non compliant with (and whether it’s part of an industry standard), your company could be penalized from a legal standpoint as well. Customer lawsuits as a result of lost personal data can also become very expensive very quickly.

To avoid this threat of non-compliance, it’s important to take a continuous compliance approach where systems, policies, and controls are constantly monitored (ideally, automatically) so that problem areas can be mitigated and addressed proactively.

What does continuous compliance look like?

Continuous compliance is an approach that involves embedding compliance into the culture of the organization. It’s one where compliance is baked into everything the company does, so as to avoid the risk of non-compliance and be continuously prepared for audits and reviews.

This is particularly important for companies that are scaling, with operations that become increasingly complex. Having a continuous compliance model in place here means that as changes happen, team members are always thinking about compliance and ensuring that they are still aligned as a team grows, as a new technology or vendor is introduced, and as they build new types of products. 

Ideally, continuous compliance is supported by automated tools that manage the monitoring, incident flagging, and compliance support within your organization. Compliance automation software like Drata can be extremely helpful here, as it removes the burden of manually checking compliance and enables your compliance and security teams to focus on more business critical tasks.

Other core continuous compliance capabilities include: 

  • Evolving policies and procedures. As your company evolves and grows, you may find that the documentation you established for your first SOC 2 audit needs to change with it. Beyond the documentation itself, these changes may influence which vendors are approved, how your teams interact with each other, and more.
  • Monitoring all controls continuously. You will need systems in place to check that controls are being met on a consistent basis. This can’t be done manually — you’ll need a robust system in place that functions with the support of compliance technology. This has to be paired with a clear strategy for responding to incidents as they are identified.
  • Making continuous improvement part of continuous compliance. Your processes should get reviewed on a regular basis in order to pinpoint problems and areas of opportunity. Make sure you’re able to document and communicate everything, and set aside time to analyze performance. 

These elements must be supported by widespread alignment across the organization. All teams should be responsible and accountable for ensuring that the company is compliant with SOC 2. 

Benefits of continuous compliance

Having a seamless approach to continuous compliance can benefit companies in a number of ways. 

For starters, continuous compliance makes it easier to see the status of your security controls in real time. This comprehensive insight ensures real-time visibility that enables almost immediate action. 

Continuous compliance also allows you to have a solid foundation for your approach to security. If you’re abiding by the industry standard that SOC 2 is, then your security posture is bound to be strong. 

In addition, continuous compliance ensures that your company is always audit ready. If you’re consistently ensuring compliance, then your audits are never going to find unpleasant surprises. 

Building a continuous compliance program

Teams that focus on establishing continuous compliance within their organization are ultimately giving themselves a competitive advantage. All the time you don’t spend monitoring controls or responding to compliance issues that have been missed can be spent on more strategic tasks that move the business forward. 

Plus, continuous compliance efforts will also help you build trust with your customers and prospects — and that’s important when technology providers are facing so much competition and unreliable macroeconomic times.

At Pima, we’ve made it easier than ever for SaaS vendors to maintain compliance in their sales process. Learn more about our product on the homepage

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