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SOC 2 Compliance Mistakes

SOC 2 compliance is more important than ever today as customers are becoming increasingly concerned about the security and usage of their personal information. Read more about common mistakes that people are making in regards to SOC 2 Compliance so that you can be sure to avoid them yourselves.
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SOC 2 Compliance Mistakes

Pew Research Center reports that 79% of US adults are concerned about their personal data usage by companies. It's no surprise that users feel this way, considering the risks of data breaches and the increasing number of cybersecurity attacks on organizations every year. 

In order to ensure customer satisfaction and peace of mind, it's important for companies to ensure SOC 2 compliance. It is a compliance standard made by the American Institute of CPAs for service organizations on how to manage their customers' data. 

The standard focuses on the following factors; processing integrity, security, privacy, confidentiality, and availability. 

Often, due to a lack of understanding surrounding SOC 2 compliance and communication between involved parties, organizations end up making costly compliance mistakes. Which SOC 2 compliance mistakes are most common, and how can you avoid them? 

You'll learn this below. 

SOC 2 Compliance at a Glance

SOC 2 compliance standards are set by the AICPA, dictating how service providers should store consumer data in the cloud. The compliance standards are applicable to almost all SaaS companies and non-SaaS companies that use the cloud for customer data storage. 

Previously, companies only had to comply with SOC 1 standards. With time, as the number of risks and breaches increased, SOC 1 requirements were updated to SOC 2 to minimize risk to consumer data. 

In its most basic form, SOC 2 is a technical audit. However, it also makes it mandatory for companies to follow certain procedures and policies to secure customers' information. 

Additionally, companies must prove their ability to deal with any security incident that takes place pertaining to customer data. The organization must be able to take timely corrective action and prevent similar breaches in the future. 

In short, companies must be aware of the activities that could be indicative of a potential threat within the cloud environment. Plus, they should be prepared to take appropriate and swift action against the breach or security risk.

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5 Common SOC 2 Compliance Mistakes 

A SOC 2 compliance report shows your customers that you're trustworthy and adhere to industry standards. But if you're making the following SOC 2 compliance mistakes, your SOC 2 audit process will be complicated, leading to a report that you certainly don't want your customers to see.

     1. Absence of a Project Manager

When creating organizational guidelines for SOC 2 compliance, it's imperative to have a project manager who can dedicate their time to understanding the nitty-gritty of SOC 2 standards and tying the requirements back to your organization's business model.

They're responsible for creating or commissioning policies and procedures that meet compliance standards, in addition to working closely with a third-party security consultant who understands industry regulations.

In a SOC 2 audit, you'll essentially collect documentation and information from different departments, including systems admins, operations, and HR. 

The information flow will only be seamless if it is well coordinated by a project manager. 

The project manager will act as a single point of contact, making the whole process quick and efficient. Without a project manager, you'll waste time and create chaos in the workplace.

     2. No Employee Training

A Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report showed that 85% of data breaches are due to human involvement. That means if you've not sufficiently trained your employees for preventing data breaches, serious consequences like fines and sanctions could be on the horizon.

Hackers are constantly finding new ways to break into systems and steal confidential information. That's why it's important to conduct training sessions regularly and update employees about security awareness protocols.

According to an IBM Cost of a Data Breach report, without giving your employees SOC 2 compliance training, you're putting your company at risk of social engineering, which costs businesses $4.47 million per year overall. 

What makes matters worse is that only 45% of companies sufficiently train their employees for cybersecurity. Your workforce handles customer information regularly, from updating it into the company's system to sharing it with authorized users.

Therefore, they should be familiar with SOC 2 compliance standards. This is particularly true for healthcare settings, where employees have direct access to the patients' personal information.

Employee training is extremely important because hackers target employees who are least aware of security measures. 

Although it's the company's responsibility to provide such training, you can also seek help from a company, like us at Accountable, which specializes in cybersecurity and offers training to help make your team SOC 2 compliant.

     3. Lack of Leadership Onboard

Formalizing a SOC 2 compliance process requires extensive resources and the involvement of all spheres of leadership.

Many companies make the grave mistake of not making leadership a part of the SOC 2 compliance process. If you get your leaders on board with the program, they can effectively communicate its value to other employees and keep them motivated.

Leadership is responsible for defining security policies and procedures, and it's also their duty to provide resources that will help achieve these goals. 

If they're not involved in the entire process and are only consulted when things get out of hand, your SOC 2 compliance plans may go down the drain.

The leadership in the organization must understand the duration and length of both the audit and the SOC 2 compliance itself. If you need to make any changes to your compliance strategy, make sure you communicate them to the management team. 

     4. Sole Focus on Application Security Controls

Security is undoubtedly the key focus of the SOC 2 compliance audit. However, you shouldn't limit your attention to application security controls exclusively.

Instead, the compliance process should also include the following components:

  • Policy-Writing: SOC 2 compliance policies indicate what a company expects from its workforce and the procedures it has put into place for the fulfillment of those expectations. An auditor will verify that the company's policies are well-defined and that its employees are well aware of them.
  • Reporting: The organization should be able to demonstrate that different information systems are used effectively for documenting controls. This would include security policies, procedures, standards, guidelines, reports on physical access, etc.
  • Risk Assessment: Another important aspect of SOC 2 compliance is a risk assessment. A Risk assessment helps to demonstrate the security controls in place by identifying, assessing, and responding to potential risks to their information systems.
  • Risk Monitoring: It's not enough that you identify risk factors; you also need to verify that appropriate monitoring is taking place within the organization. Auditors will assess several aspects of this process, including policies, procedures, reporting, and corrective measures.

Apart from this, companies also need to plan for implementing their offboarding, onboarding, and governance policies. Keep in mind that ignoring the non-tech side of SOC 2 compliance will only result in non-compliance.

     5. Manual Compliance

SOC 2 compliance requires the tech and non-tech teams in the organization to understand industry standards, rules, regulations, and frameworks.

When you're working in a large organization, this means factoring hundreds, if not thousands, of employees and several departments. During an audit, compiling such an excessive amount of information manually can be toiling.

In fact, companies are often uncertain about where to start.

The simpler solution is to automate menial tasks, such as collecting evidence and creating spreadsheets. You can also use pre-built templates and controls.

Irrespective of the size and scale of your company, compliance can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. Thus, working with a partner can take a massive chunk of the burden off your teams, giving them peace of mind and time to work on other more demanding tasks.

Conclusion

SOC 2 compliance is more important than ever today as customers are becoming increasingly concerned about the security and usage of their personal information.

In such times, it's imperative for organizations to show the customers that their data is in good hands. Since SOC 2 is complicated and can seem overwhelming, it is often the best choice to partner with a compliance SaaS company to guide you through the process. 

Here at Accountable, we’ll help you towards achieving compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA in addition to SOC 2 in a timely and effective manner. Start a free trial to get an insight into our platform today!

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