Meeting SOC 2 (Service Organization Control) compliance is essential for organizations that handle customer data, particularly in the technology and cloud computing sectors. SOC 2 compliance evaluates an organization's controls across five key dimensions, known as the Trust Services Criteria, namely data security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. SOC 2 assessments are crucial for organizations that deal with sensitive data and services in the cloud or other digital platforms. The TSC are based on the five principles of internal control established by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) :
1. Security - This criterion focuses on safeguarding your systems, data, and infrastructure from unauthorized access, breaches, and other threats. Key areas to consider include :
- Access controls: Implement strong user authentication, authorization, and role-based access control.
- Network security: Use firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and encryption to protect data in transit and at rest.
- Data protection: Apply encryption and masking to sensitive data, both during transmission and storage.
- Security monitoring: Deploy monitoring and alerting systems to detect and respond to security incidents promptly.
- Incident response: Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to address security breaches effectively.
2. Availability - This criterion ensures that your systems and services are available for operation and use as agreed upon with customers. Key areas to consider include :
- Redundancy: Implement failover mechanisms, backup systems, and disaster recovery plans to minimize downtime.
- Scalability: Design your infrastructure to handle increased loads without compromising availability.
- Performance monitoring: Regularly monitor and analyze system performance to ensure it meets agreed-upon levels.
3. Processing Integrity - This criterion pertains to the accurate processing of data. Key areas to consider include :
- Data validation: Implement checks to ensure data accuracy during input and processing.
- Error handling: Develop processes to identify and correct errors in data processing.
- Audit trails: Maintain logs of data processing activities for tracking and accountability.
4. Confidentiality - Confidentiality involves protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access. Key areas to consider include :
- Data classification: Categorize data based on its sensitivity and restrict access accordingly.
- Encryption: Apply encryption to sensitive data at rest and in transit.
- Access controls: Limit access to authorized individuals and ensure secure transmission of data.
5. Privacy - This criterion addresses the collection, use, retention, and disclosure of personal information. Key areas to consider include :
- Consent and disclosure: Clearly communicate to customers how their data will be used and obtain appropriate consent.
- Data retention policies: Establish guidelines for retaining and disposing of customer data.
- Data subject rights: Provide mechanisms for individuals to access, correct, and delete their personal data.
The Trust Services Criteria (TSC) harmonizes with the 17 principles outlined in the COSO framework, a comprehensive internal control framework applied at both entity-wide and segment levels enabling TSC’s seamless application in organization-wide assessments for reporting.