The world of cybercrime is ever-evolving, and attacks are becoming more ubiquitous. Some research claims over 1,800 cases of data compromise occurred in the United States in 2022 alone. Those 1,800 cases impacted at least 422 million individuals. As a result, many businesses have chosen to outsource some or all of their cybersecurity tasks to third-party service providers to account for these challenges.
Outsourcing provides multiple benefits for organizations, from saving time and money to accessing security intelligence without hiring new staff. However, it can increase cybersecurity risks if data isn’t handled correctly. SOC 2 solves this issue by providing a framework to ensure third-party service providers prioritize security when managing client data.
What Is SOC 2 Compliance?
Established by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), Service Organization Control Type 2 (SOC 2) is an auditing procedure that dictates how service providers should address customer data. Criteria for SOC 2 compliance include the five trust service principles that contribute to robust data security. They include:
- Security: Assesses the level of protection against unsanctioned access to data and systems
- Availability: Determines whether or not the availability of data and systems support a company’s objectives
- Processing integrity: Evaluates the accuracy and completeness of systems processing, as well as ensuring it only processes authorized data
- Confidentiality: Ensures confidential information features the proper amount of protection
- Privacy: Verifies that customers’ personal information is handled per the organization’s privacy notice and according to Generally Accepted Privacy Principles (GAPP)
Outsourcing cybersecurity doesn’t just mean data security is out of an organization’s hands, it may also mean it is out of sight, too. SOC 2 compliance matters because it gives businesses peace of mind that third-party service providers follow a strict framework for implementing security measures to safeguard sensitive data.
Why Choose a SOC 2-Compliant IT Security Provider?
Achieving SOC 2 compliance proves advantageous for service providers as it can help them stand out from other vendors. Here are a few reasons why:
Improved Security Measures
A thorough SOC 2 audit ensures service provider’s tools, systems, and processes cover the five trust service principles for protecting sensitive data. When companies delegate tasks to providers, they reap the benefits of these high-level security controls.
To attain SOC 2 compliance, service providers must complete additional steps compared to other vendors, such as creating comprehensive data management policies. In turn, they develop greater security awareness and can provide expertise in risk mitigation in addition to their services.
SOC 2 compliance serves as a token of trust for companies. This is because it indicates a commitment to the five trust service principles, which provide reassurance that the highest standards of data security are implemented to protect data and networks. Businesses gain the confidence they need to focus on other tasks.
According to a Privacy and Consumer Trust report from the International Association of Privacy Professionals, approximately 68% of global consumers express concern about online privacy. Having a security partner with the right credentials, like SOC 2 compliance, can help businesses assure consumers about their data privacy, helping increase their customer base.
Working with a SOC 2-compliant service provider proves valuable for businesses across multiple industries. As an illustration, see its benefits in action with these two case studies of companies operating in different fields:
An enterprise offering cloud-based software for retail and manufacturing intelligence underwent a SOC 2 compliance audit. This software delivers insight into product performance and possible starting prices for new products. It collects consumer data about new products through online games across many channels. The purpose is to help ensure their clients value the input of the right consumers.
Given its handling of consumer data, this SaaS provider sought SOC 2 compliance to show its clients how securely they manage sensitive information. By attaining SOC 2 compliance, the SaaS provider developed best practices for overseeing consumer data, empowering it to create policies and procedures to reinforce those best practices.
In addition to reducing cybersecurity risk, becoming SOC 2-compliant also streamlined training for new hires, simplifying compliance tracking and the creation of training materials.
Health Management and Technology Provider
Healthcare organizations often seek solutions to enhance data security to comply with HIPPA guidelines and other laws. To this end, one company providing management and technology solutions for healthcare systems, provider networks, and similar organizations sought a SOC 2 compliance audit. The company’s goal is to help these healthcare organizations optimize operations and clinical and financial outcomes.
SOC 2 compliance has given the internal audit team more insight into operations to better safeguard consumer information. Additionally, it has enabled them to secure clients who demand providers go through SOC 2 reports. Experience with SOC 2 auditing has allowed this health management and technology provider to accelerate this process to obtain the client.
How to Find SOC 2-Compliant Companies
If you’re searching for IT solutions from a service provider, identifying if they maintain SOC 2 compliance can indicate their reliability with data privacy and security. The two following strategies are the best ways to help you locate a SOC 2-compliant service provider:
When investigating a potential partner, start by researching the organization. Many service providers will list their certifications at the bottom of their webpage. SOC 2 compliance is denoted as it appears on the AICPA website — SOC 2® – SOC for Service Organizations: Trust Services Criteria.
Ask for Certifications
You may not see SOC 2 compliance certification on a provider’s website, but they may have independent approval. In this case, ask for certifications. You may also consider asking the provider to undergo a SOC 2 audit.
Seek a SOC 2-Compliant Provider for Cybersecurity Services
Don’t take a risk with data privacy — choose a SOC 2-compliant service provider. After all, SOC 2 compliance means providers utilize a tried-and-true framework of five trust service principles for managing and safeguarding data. For this reason, SOC 2 compliance should be a key consideration when evaluating any third-party provider you choose to work with.
M.A. Polce is a SOC 2-certified managed services provider (MSP) and managed security services provider (MSSP) offering high-quality and cost-effective IT and cybersecurity solutions for small to medium-sized businesses throughout New York State. Contact us today to learn more about our services.