SOC 2 audits are performed to check the effectiveness of controls established and the security measures in place in a company. It determines whether your organization has sufficient policies and procedures in place to protect information assets and prevent unauthorized access and document loss.
This article will provide you with a step-by-step SOC 2 compliance checklist template to ensure you pass the audit successfully.
Choose your Objectives
The first step in the SOC 2 compliance checklist for conducting a SOC 2 audit is to choose your objectives. Your objectives should be as specific and concrete as possible because they will help guide the rest of your audit.
If you’re planning to audit a specific system, then your objective should be as specific as the type of system and its components. For example, if you’re planning to audit an application that stores customer data, then your objective might be: “Determine whether the application is storing customer data securely.”
Identify the type of SOC 2 report you need
The first step in conducting a SOC 2 audit is to identify the type of report you need. There are two types of reports available:
- Type 1 – This report captures information on your organization’s policies and procedures, including risk management practices, processes, and controls. It also includes an assessment of the effectiveness of these controls.
- Type 2 – This report addresses compliance with laws or regulations applicable to your business activities (e.g., PCI DSS).
Define the Scope of your Audit
Defining the scope of your audit is also crucial. This is a critical step because it will help you determine what information to look for and how far back in time to audit data. Here are a few examples of questions that must be in your SOC 2 questionnaire to determine to audit’s scope:
- Who Is Being Audited?
- What Is Being Audited?
- How Far Back Will You Go?
Conduct an Internal Risk Assessment
An internal risk assessment will help you identify the risks to your system and the SOC 2 controls list in place to mitigate those risks.
The results of this exercise should include:
- Identification of all potential vulnerabilities or threats that have been identified through risk assessments and threat modeling exercises.
- An assessment of how each vulnerability can be exploited by attackers (e.g., through social engineering).
- A list of controls that are in place to mitigate these risks (e.g., firewalls and penetration testing).
Perform Gap Analysis and Remediation
Once you have completed your internal SOC 2 audit, the next step is to perform gap analysis and remediation. This process aims to identify areas that need improvement in your organization’s security processes, policies, and procedures.
For this, you must identify all potential risks that could impact an organization’s information assets or critical information systems. These risks may include physical access breaches, malware infections affecting endpoints such as desktops/laptops running Windows OS, phishing attacks targeting employees’ credentials, and unauthorized remote access attacks against office networks.
Implement Stage-appropriate Controls
To ensure that controls are implemented at the appropriate stage, you must first identify the required level of control. This can be done by reviewing your business processes and identifying which processes are most significant to your organization. Once you’ve identified these processes, it’s important that they be reviewed in order for the auditor to determine if they meet industry standards or recommendations.
Undergo Readiness Assessment
A readiness assessment is a process that helps prepare your organization for an audit by determining the level of preparedness and identifying areas where improvement could be made. In a nutshell, it involves:
- Identifying all aspects of your business that may be relevant to an audit or similar types of review, such as SOC compliance issues or financial fraud/waste;
- Assessing whether these areas are adequate in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, security, and governance;
- Prioritizing those requirements for which you need improvement first;
- Developing action plans for implementing changes deemed necessary or recommended by external auditors.
SOC 2 Audit
The SOC 2 audit is the final step in the SOC 2 process. It’s a one-time event that involves an external assessment of your controls and procedures. This can include an independent auditor or an internal team depending on your management.
The audit looks at your processes, policies, and procedures to determine if they’re effective at protecting customer data from unauthorized access or loss. The results of this review will tell you whether your company has met its legal obligations and provide valuable information about areas where improvements need to be made to ensure SOC 2 compliance.
In order to achieve SOC2 compliance, you must establish a continuous monitoring program. This means that your organization will monitor processes and procedures regularly in order to detect deviations from established standards that may be caused by human error or other factors outside the control of your organization.
We hope this SOC 2 audit checklist has helped you understand how to prepare and audit your SOC 2 reports. Remember, in order to ensure that you pass the SOC 2 audit successfully, every team of the organization involved in the audit needs to work together.