As a Managed Service Provider (MSP), you know the importance of trust when it comes to the relationship between you and your clients. One tangible way to enhance this trust is through the successful completion of a System and Organizational Controls (SOC) 2 audit. A SOC 2 report received from an auditor verifies that a service organization effectively safeguards customer data and is committed to security and privacy. It’s one thing to say that your organization is secure… but a SOC 2 report is an independent verification that shows that your organization is secure. Preparing for your first SOC 2 audit may seem overwhelming, but by considering these five key factors, you can pave the way for a smoother, more efficient process.
Understanding SOC 2 Requirements:
The first step in preparing for a SOC 2 audit is to understand the requirements involved. The SOC 2 audit is built around five Trust Services Criteria: Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy. For each applicable criterion, there must be proper controls implemented and consistently adhered to. To familiarize yourself with the details of these criteria, refer to the comprehensive document provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) on the Trust Services Criteria, linked below:
Implementing Relevant Controls:
Once you understand the requirements of the SOC 2 Trust Services Criteria, you can begin implementing relevant controls to secure your environment. These are procedures and protocols designed to ensure that you are adhering to the principles mentioned above. Your controls may include encryption practices, incident management procedures, and physical security measures to name a few. Start by listing off all the controls your organization currently has in place, then find gaps by comparing your controls to the Trust Services Criteria to find which criteria are not satisfied by your existing policies. Remember that every MSP’s controls will differ depending on its services and clients.
Documenting Policies and Procedures:
Documentation is critical in your SOC 2 preparation. You will need to build a robust policy library, and the auditors will want to see copies of your policies, procedures, and controls. Along with documenting your organization’s commitment to data security, the documentation needs to include specific instructions for how this commitment is fulfilled in practice. Having a centralized documentation solution, as well as an internal ticketing system, will make the process of recording and auditing both the controls and the adherence to the controls drastically simpler.
Preparing your Team:
Preparing for a SOC 2 audit is not a one-person job. The overarching nature of the policies affects most aspects of how a company operates and is an enormous undertaking for just one person. It’s a company wide endeavor that requires everyone’s cooperation. It’s important to form a team that covers all the departments in your organization, and to meet on a regular basis to work through preparation tasks. Consider supplying training to the SOC 2 team members so they share a core understanding of SOC 2 and the Trust Service Criteria.
Engaging an Experienced Auditor:
Lastly, choosing the right auditor can make the difference between a successful audit or an unsuccessful audit. Look for auditors that are experienced in working with MSPs and understand how they operate. An auditor experienced working with MSPs will be familiar with common challenges and best practices and can provide valuable guidance throughout the process. Since SOC 2 reports must be renewed annually, find an auditor that is a great fit for your company and can partner with you on your SOC 2 journey.
Preparing for a SOC 2 audit as an MSP is a significant task, but by considering these five factors – understanding SOC 2 requirements, implementing relevant controls, documenting policies and procedures, preparing your team, and engaging with an experienced auditor – you can navigate the process with confidence. Don’t forget, a SOC 2 audit isn’t just about compliance, it’s a statement of your organization’s commitment to security and privacy that will enhance your reputation among current and potential clients.
We are thrilled to share the news of ProVal Tech recently obtaining a SOC 2 Type 1 report. Our choice to collaborate with MSPAlliance (https://mspalliance.com/), known for their proficiency in compliance and experience with MSPs, symbolizes our dedication to offering secure and dependable services. We hope this blog helps you and your journey to becoming SOC 2 Complaint. Start preparing for your first SOC 2 audit today and stand out as a reliable, secure MSP.