This article is most valuable to SaaS companies looking to improve their understanding of compliance in general, as well as understanding the value and usefulness of SOC 2 report audits.
Before diving into the SOC framework, it is important to understand the three different types of audit your company can perform:
Third party audits allow you to distribute a report as well as display a logo on your website, proving to your existing and potential clients that you have been audited and have passed said industry standards.
"The SOC standard is updated regularly to adjust to the fast-moving industry."
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is in charge of designing and maintaining the SOC framework. It is updated regularly to adjust to the fast-moving industry.
SOC, which stands for Service Organization Control is a reporting framework. The reports compiled by the auditing company are the ones you will be distributing to your clients and are the result of auditing standards followed by the auditors.
Both SOC-1 and SOC-2 audits exist to validate the controls in place at your company and let your clients know that you are following industry standards.
SOC 1 is used to audit the controls relevant to your company’s finances.
SOC 2 is used to audit the controls relevant to the security, availability, or processing integrity of either a system you are running, or the information the system processes.
Both SOC 1 and SOC 2 exist in two flavors:
Type 1: A point in time audit, during which auditors evaluate and report on the design of controls your company put into place as of a point in time. This is a great way to show good faith to your customers.
"This is how you show your clients and customers that you are continuously following industry standards."
Type 2: Happens over a period of time. This type of audit follows a Type-1 audit and is what your larger customers will be after. Auditors usually recommend a 4-6 months period for the first audit, and a 6-12 months period for consequent audits. It is important to note that there are no requirements or standards for the audit duration other than a 3 months minimum period.
At the end of the period, auditors will come on-site and review the controls you put in place during the Type-1 audit, except this time auditors will ask for historical data. This is how you show your clients and customers that you are continuously following industry standards.
As an example, let’s assume that you have a procedure in place to revoke access to a terminated employee:
- During a Type 1 audit, auditors will review this policy and make sure conforms to the SOC-2 standard.
-During a Type 2 audit, the auditors will ask you for a list of all employees who left during the 3 months period and will be looking at proof that you followed the policy in place.
If your company offers a SaaS solution, a SOC 2 report will prove to your clients that you are handling their data safely by following trusted industry standards. It will make the difference between you and your competitors. Starting with a SOC 2 Type 1 report is a great first step to understanding the technicalities of the audit before moving to the SOC 2 Type 2 cycle.