The traditional process of getting a SOC report can be lengthy and costly, especially when you want to receive a type 2 report which provides you with complete information about the deployed controls on your systems.
Nowadays, compliance automation software tools help cybersecurity professionals in this case, simplifying their tasks and reducing this timeline. Today, a type II report for Service Organization Control compliance can be provided in weeks compared to the long timeline required before the arrival of new technologies.
By automating the monitoring and test processes of your IT infrastructure and collecting reliable and on-time information, the entire process can be done in a few months, and the results are provided for the report.
The SOC 2 Audit Process
The SOC 2 audit process follows a step-by-step plan in which your third-party service provider will perform it through 6 main steps. The time needed for performing audits depends on the expertise and experience of your third-party service provider, and the complexity of your systems and the implemented controls are also important in this case.
Here is the step-by-step roadmap for a trustworthy SOC 2 compliance report:
1. Which Type of Report Do You Need?
Before taking any step, you need to make it clear and understand which type of audit report you will need for your organization. There are 2 options for SOC-2 reports, and every report provides you with a specific scope and information. SOC 2 type II reports require thorough documentation, so you will need more time to stay to get a complete report.
2. Define Your Scope and Objectives
All organizations have specific objectives when they decide to get a SOC report, and the scope of the audit must be cleared at the first step. If you are not sure which information and tests you will need in your report, you can simply contact our team to provide you with complete recommendations.
You can book a time now, so our cybersecurity experts will outline all the requirements and develop the most effective plan for your organization. Once you have a clear scope in mind, our team will start the process to provide you with the required reports.
3. Select a Certified Auditor
Keep in mind that an AICPA-accredited firm must perform your SOC 2 audit, and they are the only ones who are certified to provide the related reports. Experience and expertise are 2 essential factors in choosing a third-party auditor to get things done in a defined time period.
A certified auditor proves you will get the desired results, and they can help you in all stages with expert advice and recommendations. Make sure the firm you have selected is AICPA-accredited and conducts the audits based on the AICPA guidelines and standards.
4. Conducting a Gap Analysis
In most cases, conducting a thorough gap analysis will help you understand your IT infrastructure better. You can contact our team to perform a gap analysis based on SOC 2 requirements.
This gap analysis allows you to identify any areas where you need to strengthen and add more protection for protecting your customers’ data. It helps fill the gaps before performing a SOC 2 audit and guarantees you will get the compliance report within the defined time.
5. Beginning the Audit Process
It may take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months to do the audit process and provide you with the final report.
There will be a questionnaire by which your auditor will ask your team about your company policies, IT infrastructure, etc. Providing you with a trustworthy report requires this step, so this is an essential step before beginning the hands-on tests.
The auditor’s team will ask you for some documents about your systems and controls, so they can start the tests based on the collected information and documents.
6. The Final SOC 2 Report
At the end of the audit, you’ll be provided with a report that outlines the results. If you have passed the audits, this is good news for your business. If you didn’t pass the audits, don’t worry and take it easy.
The auditor will give you the required information about the cybersecurity gaps that must be solved. If you take the necessary steps and fix these issues, you can receive the final report showing your systems and IT infrastructure is secure and protected according to the SOC 2 compliance requirements.
You can add a management’s response to the reported issues and explain the decisions that you are going to make in the near future.
How Long Does a SOC 2 Audit Take?
There may be several complexities when an auditor wants to analyze an organization’s IT infrastructure and provide it with a reliable report. Considering these factors, generating a type 2 report can take up to six months. Many factors affect this duration, so the time needed for performing tests and providing reports varies from company to company.
For instance, companies with more diverse IT and cybersecurity infrastructures will require more tests and longer timelines to have the final reports. Additionally, the number and type of users and digital assets will all impact the audit’s assessment scope.
The minimum period of time to consider for providing a type 2 report is 3 months, but it can be extended up to 12 months for more complex and large organizations. As a result, you need to start your process as soon as possible if you need a thorough assessment of your controls according to the SOC requirements.
How Much Does a SOC 2 Audit Cost?
The key difference between SOC 2 type I and type II reports is the required timeframe and the type of tests and assessments. Based on this, each of these reports costs differently.
Type II reports require more time, from 3 months to 12 months, and additional tests for these reports impact the final costs.
Typically, SOC 2 type II reports cost an average of $30-60k for the audit, and the entire process can cost companies more than $100k altogether.
SOC-2 type I reports cost companies between $5-20k, and it depends on your IT infrastructure and the complexity of your systems and controls.
● With the gap analysis complete, you will know what security weaknesses you have in your systems that must be fixed as soon as possible. Now it’s time to take the necessary steps and fix them. The cost of fixing these weaknesses can be up to $100k, depending on the scope of your systems, which can include buying new security tools, team training, and hiring additional employees.
● Some companies prefer using MSSP services that offer cybersecurity services at managed prices. Outsourcing a part of your cybersecurity program or the entire process to a third-party service provider will help you perform tasks at high speed and focus attention on your business continuity and growth.
Who Performs a SOC 2 Audit?
SOC audits are regulated by the American Institute of Certified Accountants (AICPA), and they must be completed and verified by an external auditor. This auditor will be a licensed CPA firm that has the required certifications to provide official SOC 2 reports, whether it’s a type I or type II report.
To maintain and verify related standards, AICPA only allows its Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to perform audits, and any audits that AICPA disapproves are not acceptable.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is one of the world’s largest communities, operational since 1887. As the association of public accountants, this organization sets ethical and auditing standards, and it’s the primary body that governs various certifications and compliance rules, including SOC 1 and SOC 2.
● AICPA is also responsible for the education of CPA professionals, and the organization provides valuable training to upgrade their expertise according to the industry’s needs. Remember that a SOC auditor must be completely independent and unbiased. The auditors cannot have any stake in your business, and they should not be from key decision-makers on your company’s board.
SOC 2 Audit Frequency
Many companies want to know “Do SOC-2 reports expire?” and “How long are the reports valid for my organization?.”
Please note that SOC-2 reports don’t expire, and they don’t have any defined expiration time. But, customers and your business partners are interested in having updated and trustworthy reports outlining the current situation of your IT systems and controls.
If too much time has elapsed from your last audit, this means you need to renew your reports to tell your customers and business partners there is no issue in your IT infrastructure.
● Type II reports provided under SOC-2 standards are valid for a duration of 12 months following the date a report was issued. Based on this, companies renew their reports every year, but there might be gap letters if needed.
● After issuing a report, it doesn’t expire, but it becomes stale. This means your report will be considered less valuable after the timeframe, and you need to contact your independent SOC-2 auditor to renew your reports.
SOC 2 Audit Training
SOC audit training empowers your employees to identify threats when they hit and prevent a wide range of negative impacts caused by these threats. SOC 2 compliance training is an essential requirement of the process if you want to adapt your systems and controls according to these standards.
Your third-party auditor can provide you with these training programs that include steps and procedures. The programs aim to help your employees become and remain SOC compliant at all stages, ensuring the TSC scope and requirements are practical in your organization.
● Education is a crucial part of cybersecurity in small and large organizations to ensure employees understand the various cyber threats they are exposed to.
Remember that when you show off your SOC reports, you say all requirements are implemented in your organization and your employees have the practices in place in terms of data security and integrity. There will be a complete analysis before an audit that determines if you need to hold training programs in your organization or not. If so, training programs will guarantee your employees are well-educated and understand the main cybersecurity threats that may impact your business.
Companies can rely on SOC 2 audit reports for achieving security standards. While the traditional process of obtaining a SOC 2 report can be lengthy and expensive, modern compliance automation software tools have simplified the process through the main six steps that are required for providing SOC2 reports, including:
1. Selecting the type of report needed
2. Defining objectives
3. Selecting a certified auditor
4. Conducting a gap analysis
5. Beginning the audit process
6. Receiving the final SOC 2 report
Taking these six steps are crucial for companies to demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity and data protection, which can provide peace of mind for customers and clients.
1. What is the difference between a SOC 2 type I and type II report?
A SOC 2 type I report covers an organization’s controls and processes at a specific point in time, while a SOC 2 type II report covers the same controls and processes over a defined period, typically six months. Type II reports are considered more comprehensive and provide a higher level of assurance for stakeholders.
2. Who needs to comply with SOC 2 standards?
Any organization that provides services to other businesses or individuals, particularly those that involve sensitive data or transactions, should consider obtaining a SOC 2 compliance report. This includes software as a service (SaaS) providers, data centers, financial institutions, healthcare providers, and more. Read more about SOC 2 for Saas-model businesses HERE, and SOC 2 for B2B companies, HERE.
3. How can organizations prepare for a SOC 2 audit?
To prepare for a SOC 2 audit, organizations should first determine which type of report they need and define the scope of the audit. They should then select an accredited auditor, conduct a gap analysis, and begin the audit process, which may take several weeks to several months. It’s also important to regularly review and update controls and processes to maintain compliance with SOC 2 standards.