If you run a business and you hold sensitive client data, you must abide by robust security rules and regulations. Failure to do so can result in severe consequences.
About 36 billion data records were compromised in 2020. So in an attempt to shore up security, contractors should comply with SOC 2 levels of certification. Government agencies and critical businesses are expected to follow suit.
With this being said, do you think you are ready to undergo SOC 2 compliance review?
If not, read on as we discuss everything you need to know about how to build a SOC 2 compliance checklist and eventually pass a SOC 2 audit.
Let’s get you started!
Know Your Scope and Objectives
It is always important to begin by understanding your scope and objectives. This will help you to identify which SOC 2 principles, criteria, and controls are relevant to your company’s operations. Once you’ve determined which principles apply to your scope and objectives, create a list of the criteria and controls for each principle.
Compare the controls to best practices and ensure that all controls provide coverage of the principle requirements. Before beginning the assessment, perform risk evaluations to identify the right focus during the assessment and where the highest level of risk is located.
Identify Trust Services Criteria
Start by identifying the Trust Services Criteria outlined in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). These criteria include:
- processing integrity
After formally recognizing and understanding these criteria, organizations must take the necessary steps to ensure that they are compliant. This includes selecting appropriate technology and safeguards. It also covers the enforcement of:
- security policies
- risk assessments
- training of personnel
- periodic testing
Once the Trust Services criteria are fully understood and implemented, organizations should take the necessary steps to:
- maintain SOC 2 compliance
Take note that each principle in the TSC includes specific controls that your organization must address.
Control Design and Implementation
Controlling design and implementation means looking at the controls available. It also means deciding how best to secure the organization. Security controls should be designed to protect data from unauthorized access.
Availability should ensure that service can be accessed at all times. Similarly, confidentiality should be used to ensure that only authorized users can access information. It is also important to look into the policies used by the organization, such as:
- password policies
- change control standards
- virus protection measures
Implementation of the chosen controls should be part of the checklist. This helps to ensure that the controls are working as intended.
Perform Risk Assessment
An effective risk assessment should identify potential problems or threats to an organization’s data and systems. It is important to examine the organization’s existing procedures and vulnerabilities. This should be done once threats have been identified.
If the procedures are inadequate, new processes or security measures must be developed. This helps to address any potential risks. Additionally, the security measures should also be evaluated for their effectiveness.
This will allow for the development of a checklist that incorporates both security and procedures. The checklist should also be regularly updated to remain compliant with SOC 2 standards.
Implement Security Policies and Procedures
The checklist should also cover all security policies and procedures. This is because both are needed to be in place to ensure that the organization is adhering to the identified standard. Security policies should include things such as:
- assessing risk
- ensuring data confidentiality
- ensuring environment integrity
Procedures should include processes to conduct regular reviews of existing data. It must also include:
- segregation of duties
- user activity logs
- secure authentication
- patch management
- configuration management
- third-party reviews
- physical security
- access control
- training requirements
Maintain documented security policies and procedures that align with the selected Trust Services Criteria as mentioned above. Ensure that all employees are aware of and trained on these policies and procedures.
Develop an Incident Response and Data Breach Management
When creating the checklist, include the incident response and data breach management procedures. These should include steps for properly responding to a security incident, such as:
- assigning roles and responsibilities
- documenting the incident
- notifying customers
Incident response plays an integral role in ensuring SOC 2 compliance. All personnel should be briefed on procedures that will be followed in the event of an incident or suspected incident. It should be made clear who is responsible for responding to any incidents that may occur.
It also means taking into account the roles of the:
- security team
- operations team
- endpoint team
- incident response team
It also includes other personnel who may need to be involved. Incident response is crucial to the organization and should not be overlooked when creating SOC 2 compliance checklists.
Ensure Vendor Management
Proper vendor management requires conducting due diligence and periodic assessments of third-party service providers. Considerations should include setting up a secure framework for the third party to follow, such as:
- incident management policy
- pre-authorization forms
- confidential data access oversight
- management of contractual rights
- management of responsibilities
Organizations should also leverage the latest technologies such as automation and robot process automation (RPA) to streamline workflows. This can:
- ensure proper compliance
- improve security
- maintain highest levels of data privacy
All due diligence conducted should be done through a suitable professional such as an accredited service auditor who is also keen about the SOC 2 penetration testing requirements. This helps to ensure full regulatory compliance.
Learn to Build a Comprehensive SOC 2 Compliance Checklist
Overall, having a comprehensive SOC 2 Compliance Checklist is key to any business trying to protect their data. Audit your processes and services regularly. This helps to ensure you are compliant and secure.
For more information to build your own SOC 2 Compliance Checklist, contact a certified security professional today.
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