Scoping a SOC 2 Audit

In the past, performing SOC 2 audits by was considered a rite of passage and a strategy for improving their street credibility. However, things have changed in recent years. In today’s cybersecurity sphere, SOC 2 audits are more like facts of life. If your organization cannot pass this audit, no one will even bother looking your way.

Undertaking a SOC 2 audit isn’t an easy task, especially for small companies. It is essential that you correctly set up your SOC 2 audit’s scope. If you have a scope that is too narrow, your clients won’t get the assurance that they want. Likewise, if the scope is too broad, you are likely to waste a lot of money undertaking the audit.

You need to know how you can strike the right balance as far as the scope of your SOC 2 audit is concerned. Similarly, you must define the role that your audit or compliance executive will play. It is advisable to start by recalling the logic behind a SOC audit especially if you are a service organization.

SOC audits offer stakeholders an assurance about the robustness of security controls that you have in place. Type 1 SOC audits confirm that your organization’s controls are adequately designed at a particular point in time. Type 2 audits ascertain that the controls that you have in place work for a specific period.

How to Find Your TSPs

The AICPA formulated five main principles that need to be considered when undertaking SOC 2 audits. These are;

  • Security. You must ensure that your organization’s systems are protected against unauthorized access, use, and modification.
  • Availability. Your systems ought to be always available for use and operation in a manner that meets the organizations’ requirements and commitments.
  • Processing Integrity. System processing must be valid, complete, timely, accurate, and authorized.
  • Confidentiality. Any information that is designated as confidential within your data environment needs to be protected accordingly.
  • Privacy. Any personal information that gets collected, used, or retained by your system must not be disclosed.

Not all SOC 2 audits need to consider the principles mentioned above. These audits only apply to specific clients or prospects that your company is eyeing. Each client presumably has particular needs that ought to be addressed by your firm. Therefore, you should only consider principles that help you address those needs.

Deciding on the TSPs that satisfy any concerns that your clients have about security will help you determine your SOC 2 audit’s scope. To avoid wasting too much time and money on an audit, it is good practice that you only consider TSPs that are necessary.

If you provide clients with data storage services at a data center while they undertake all processing on their systems, it makes sense to include the Availability and Security principles when conducting a SOC 2 audit. In this case, the Processing Integrity principle is needless. Likewise, if your organization stores personal data, the Privacy principle ought to be included in the audit.

Why are the Principles Important?

You should identify the most relevant TSPs since it will help you determine the procedures, policies, and systems that support those principles. This will enable you to organize all your internal controls in a manner that matches these needs. Therefore, SOC 2 audits that cover several TSPs can sweep your organization’s controls and systems into scope.

The main question that you should ask yourself is whether your relationship with clients will be affected if you can’t guarantee a principle that addresses their needs. If the answer to this question is positive, it means that the principle is in scope. At this point, you must partner with senior executives within your organization so that you clearly define your services, products, and strategy.

Once you have defined your target market and what you are offering, you will be in a position to drive and customize your SOC 2 audit’s scope. Audit and compliance executives don’t need to answer the questions mentioned above on their own. The questions should be forwarded to the organization’s senior management team while insisting that immediate answers are required.

You should examine whether there is clarity about the goods and services that your company offers. Likewise, you should ask yourselves what your systems ought to provide to ensure integrity and data security. To succeed in whatever industry you operate, you should be able to address these questions since it will go a long way in safeguarding clients’ data as well as your system.

The questions should be not only granular but also company-specific. Besides this, it is advisable that you first undertake a Type 1 SOC audit before proceeding to a Type 2 SOC audit. This will give you an accurate picture of where your organization stands as far as data security is concerned.

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