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What is SOC 2?

SOC 2 has emerged as a critical framework for assessing and demonstrating an organisation's commitment to safeguarding sensitive information, especially in today’s world where data sensitivity and compliance is crucial for businesses of all sizes. As businesses increasingly rely on cloud service providers to manage their data, understanding SOC 2 compliance is essential for ensuring the security, availability, and confidentiality of that data, and protection from theft, extortion, and malware installation that can result from mishandled data.

The number of data breaches is on the rise, meaning businesses are facing growing threats, so information and data security should be a top priority. One single data breach could cost a business millions; and that doesn’t include the damage done to their reputation and loss of customer trust.

To demonstrate their commitment to information security, companies can obtain various standards and certifications. The SOC report stands out as one of the most reputable- specifically, the SOC 2 report which is particularly relevant for customer data.

What is SOC 2?

SOC 2, short for Service Organisation Control 2, is a set of standards developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to evaluate the controls and processes implemented by service organisations that store, process, or transmit customer data in the cloud. Unlike SOC 1, which focuses on financial reporting controls, SOC 2 is specifically designed to assess the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data.

Why SOC 2 Matters

Particularly in today's digital landscape, data breaches and cyber threats pose even more significant risk to businesses of all sizes and industries across the globe. SOC 2 compliance provides assurance to customers, partners, and stakeholders that a service organisation has implemented robust security measures to protect their sensitive information. Achieving SOC 2 compliance is instrumental in demonstrating a commitment to data security and strengthens trust in the organisation's ability to safeguard confidential data.

What is the difference between Type 1 SOC 2 and Type 2 SOC 2?

The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 SOC 2 reports lies in the scope and duration of the assessment:

Type 1 SOC 2 report

A Type 1 SOC 2 report evaluates the suitability and design effectiveness of an organisation's controls at a specific point in time. It provides an assessment of the organisation's control environment as of a specified date.

Type 2 SOC 2 report

A Type 2 SOC 2 report not only evaluates the design effectiveness of controls but also examines their operational effectiveness over a defined period, usually spanning at least six months. Unlike Type 1 reports, Type 2 assessments involve a more extended evaluation period. They provide insights into how well the controls have been implemented and operated over time, offering a more comprehensive understanding of the organisation's control environment.

In summary, while both Type 1 and Type 2 SOC 2 reports assess the effectiveness of controls within an organisation, Type 1 reports provide a snapshot assessment at a specific point in time, whereas Type 2 reports offer a more comprehensive evaluation over a defined period, demonstrating the ongoing effectiveness of controls.

Understanding SOC 2 Compliance Criteria

SOC 2 compliance is based on five trust service criteria, also known as the AICPA Trust Service Criteria (TSC):

The security criterion assesses the effectiveness of controls implemented to protect against unauthorised access, data breaches, and other security incidents. This includes measures such as access controls, encryption, intrusion detection, and incident response procedures.

To prevent security breaches and protect against potential unauthorised access to systems and valuable data, various IT security measures can be used; including utilising network and web application firewalls (WAFs), implementing multi-factor authentication, and deploying intrusion detection systems. These tools and techniques play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive information and maintaining the integrity of systems.

This evaluates the uptime and reliability of the service provider's systems and infrastructure by assessing the organisation's ability to demonstrate resilience against downtime, ensure timely access to services and resources, and maintain business disaster recovery plans in the event of disruptions or outages.

Processing Integrity
Processing integrity refers to the accuracy, completeness, and validity of data processing. It evaluates the controls in place to ensure that data is processed correctly, efficiently, and in accordance with established policies and procedures. Organisations must be able to show that they have implemented controls to prevent errors, unauthorised alterations, or omissions in data processing workflows.

Confidentiality relates to the protection of sensitive information from unauthorised disclosure. Organisations must safeguard data through encryption, access controls, and data classification mechanisms to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure.

Encryption serves as a critical measure to ensure the confidentiality of data during its transmission. In conjunction with stringent access controls, the implementation of network and application firewalls plays a vital role in safeguarding information that is being processed or stored within computer systems.


The privacy criterion focuses on the organisation's handling of personal information in compliance with applicable privacy laws and regulations. It evaluates controls related to the collection, use, disclosure, and disposal of personal data (which includes someone's name and address as well as personal data related to health, race, sexuality and religion), as well as individual rights regarding privacy and data protection.

Achieving SOC 2 Compliance

Achieving SOC 2 compliance requires thorough planning, implementation, and ongoing monitoring of security controls and processes. We’ve pulled together some key steps to help you achieve SOC 2 compliance:

Assess your current state of compliance - Conduct an initial assessment of your organisation's current security posture and identify gaps or areas for improvement against SOC 2 requirements.

Implement controls - Implement security controls and measures to address the requirements of the five trust service criteria. This may include implementing access controls, encryption, monitoring systems, and incident response procedures.

Document your policies and procedures - Document policies, procedures, and controls related to data security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

Conduct a thorough risk assessment - Identify and assess potential risks to the security, availability, and integrity of personal data, and implement measures to mitigate those risks.

Use a third-party auditor - Select a qualified third-party auditor to conduct a SOC 2 audit and assess your organisation's compliance with the trust service criteria.

Obtain SOC 2 report - After successful completion of the audit, obtain a SOC 2 report from the auditor, which provides assurance to customers and stakeholders of your organisation's compliance with SOC 2 requirements.

Who needs a SOC 2 report?

Although it is not mandatory, any business that handles sensitive customer data, such as technology companies, cloud service providers, and organisations in regulated industries like finance and healthcare, benefit from SOC 2 reports and should have one available. These reports assure clients and stakeholders of robust security measures, making SOC 2 compliance essential for maintaining trust, meeting regulatory requirements, and gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace.

SOC 2 compliance is crucial for service organisations that store, process, or transmit customer data in the cloud. By adhering to the trust service criteria and implementing robust security controls and processes, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding sensitive information and building trust with customers and stakeholders.

With thorough planning, implementation, and ongoing monitoring, achieving and maintaining SOC 2 compliance is attainable for businesses seeking to strengthen their data security presence in today's digital landscape.

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