An Ultimate Guide to SOC 2 Controls List
In today’s age of digital transformation, businesses of all sizes rely heavily on technology and cloud services to store and process sensitive data. As a result, customers and stakeholders demand assurance that their information is secure and privacy is guaranteed. One way to demonstrate a commitment to security and compliance is by obtaining a SOC 2 report.
But before obtaining a SOC 2 report, it’s essential to understand what SOC 2 is and what SOC 2 controls organizations can implement to protect their sensitive data. Don’t worry! We have got you covered.
The article explores the essential SOC 2 controls that companies must implement to meet the standard and assure customers that their data is handled with the utmost care and diligence.
What are SOC 2 Controls?
SOC 2 controls are a set of requirements that companies can implement to demonstrate compliance with the SOC 2 framework. They are organized into five controls or trust service principles: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
Each category contains a set of control objectives that outline specific requirements for how a company should design, implement and monitor its controls for protecting sensitive information to ensure it meets the standard.
What is the SOC 2 Controls List?
The SOC 2 controls list is a comprehensive list of all the control objectives and related controls that a company can implement to meet the SOC 2 standard. The list is organized into the five trust service principles and contains specific requirements.
However, the control list is not a static, one-size-fits-all document and is flexible enough to be tailored according to a company’s unique needs and circumstances. Companies can implement controls appropriate for their specific business processes and systems.
The framework incorporates four extra control components and derives its list of controls from the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) framework. These four control components include:
- Logical and physical access controls: To ensure data privacy, integrity, and confidentiality, controls must be in place to limit access to sensitive data and devices or networks, monitor safeguards, and restrict physical access to protected information assets. A strong Identity and Access Management (IAM) program can prevent unauthorized data access.
- System and operations controls: Controls relating to infrastructure efficiency test an organization’s ability to swiftly address deviations and disruptions to operations to mitigate security risks. These controls encompass threat detection, incident response, root cause analysis, and compliance.
- Change management controls: These controls pertain to a robust change management system that includes policies and procedures for updating infrastructure, data, software, or processes. Maintaining a comprehensive database that records all changes made, the authorizer, designer, configuration, testing, approval, and implementation of the changes is essential.
- Risk mitigation controls: Risk assessment and mitigation are critical components of SOC 2 audits, which help identify risks associated with location, growth, or information security best practices. Organizations need to document the scope of risks associated with identified vulnerabilities and demonstrate how they monitor, identify, analyze, and prevent losses resulting from those risks.
When subjected to a SOC 2 audit, your cloud security controls are assessed for their design and operational efficiency against the selected TSC (Trust Service Criteria). Since the framework is not prescriptive, organizations can determine their critical controls; hence, each business’s precise list of controls will vary.
Let’s discuss the control list against each TSC (Trust Service Criteria).
SOC 2 Controls for Security
The security criteria are the most crucial in the SOC 2 framework, which encompasses nine common criteria, five of which are fundamental and aligned with the COSO principles.
- The control environment: This series requires organizations to demonstrate organizational commitment to integrity and ethical values, board’s independence, clearly establish reporting culture, commit to developing and retaining staff, and demonstrate a culture of accountability for internal control responsibilities.
- Risk assessment: According to this series, organizations are required to demonstrate risk assessments, identify fraud, demonstrate analysis of risk, and identify and assess potentially impactful changes.
- Communication and information: Organizations should be able to support internal controls, demonstrate clear communication of control responsibility, and communicate with external parties regarding external controls.
- Monitoring of controls: Organizations should demonstrate regular internal controls evaluations and timely address identified controls’ deficiencies.
- Design and implementation of controls: This series requires organizations to demonstrate the controls used for risk mitigation, development of other technical controls, and controls for well-defined policies and protocols.
Examples of security controls may include access controls, firewalls, anti-malware/viruses, and intrusion detection systems.
SOC 2 Controls for Availability
This TSC is well-suited for those companies hosted in the cloud because its inherent features make it simpler to fulfill the criteria.
The TSC includes three criteria:
- A1.1: The organizations manage their processing capacity and system components, including infrastructure, data, and software, to handle capacity demands and achieve its objectives by maintaining, monitoring, assessing current usage, and implementing additional capacity as required.
- A1.2: To achieve their objectives, the organizations are required to authorize, design, develop, implement, function, approve, maintain, and evaluate environmental protections, software, and processes for data backup and infrastructure recovery.
- A1.3: The organizations are required to have a recovery plan supporting system recovery.
To meet these requirements, organizations need to implement controls concerning backups, replication, processing capacity, business continuity, and disaster recovery planning and testing.
SOC 2 Controls for Confidentiality
If your company stores sensitive information protected by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), or if your customers have particular requirements regarding confidentiality, consider adding the Confidentiality category to your SOC 2 scope. This category contains two criteria:
- C1.1: Organizations are required to identify and maintain confidential information to meet confidentiality-related objectives.
- C1.2: Organizations must dispose of confidential information adequately to meet the objectives.
Additionally, the criteria evaluate your data deletion and removal practices, so confidentiality is necessary if you commit to removing customer data upon service completion or contract termination. Controls companies may implement to meet these requirements include encryption, access controls, and network/application firewalls.
SOC 2 Controls for Processing Integrity
The list of controls required for this criterion includes the following:
- PI 1.1: Organizations utilize relevant, high-quality information to support the processing of products and services, including defining the data processed and product/service specifications.
- PI 1.2: Organizations are required to implement policies and procedures for system inputs to meet the requirements.
- PI 1.3: Organizations are required to implement policies and procedures for system processing to meet the requirements.
- PI 1.4: Organizations are required to implement policies and procedures to enable the accurate and timely delivery of outputs.
- PI 1.5: Organizations are required to implement policies and procedures to store inputs, processing items, and outputs accurately and securely to meet the objectives.
To comply with this TSC, you need to establish policies and procedures that guarantee the effective functioning of your system and conduct regular reviews to ensure the accuracy of the information entered into your software or system. Additionally, ensuring end-user device and network security are crucial controls in this category.
SOC 2 Controls for Privacy
You must inform relevant parties of your privacy practices and promptly communicate any changes in using personal information, as required by this TSC.
The requirements of the Privacy criteria are divided into eight categories:
- Notice and communication
- Choice and consent
- Collection, use, retention, and disposal
- Enhancement of the objectives of controls related to privacy
Become SOC 2 Compliant with CyberArrow
Implementing SOC 2 controls can be a complex and challenging process for organizations due to the numerous requirements and the need for ongoing monitoring and testing. Organizations need to ensure that their security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy measures are all aligned with the Trust Service Criteria. Here, CyberArrow can help.
CyberArrow is a compliance automation tool that removes your burden of managing compliance. By implementing the CyberArrow compliance automation tool, you can streamline SOC 2 compliance efforts, reduce the risk of non-compliance, and free up resources to focus on other critical business activities.
Stay updated with the latest information about compliance with CyberArrow, and visit our website to learn more about the platform.
What is SOC 2 AICPA?
SOC 2 is a framework developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) that sets standards for evaluating and reporting on the effectiveness of a company’s controls related to the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of information.
What are the 5 principles of SOC 2?
The five principles of SOC 2 include security, availability, confidentiality, process integrity, and privacy.
Is SOC 2 the same as ISO 27001?
While SOC 2 and ISO 27001 focus on information security and compliance, they have different scopes, requirements, and objectives. SOC 2 is specifically designed for service organizations, while ISO 27001 broadly applies to organizations of all sizes and types. Organizations may pursue one or both depending on their specific needs and goals.