OutSystems recently went through a successful SOC 2 (Service Organization Control) audit of security controls to demonstrate compliance and our ability to protect sensitive customer data. As that is something organizations are increasingly asking of vendors, knowing five key tips will help ensure a smooth audit.
Before embarking on this journey, remember that there are many certified auditors and picking the right auditor is critical. Take into consideration your gaps in security, confidentiality, availability, privacy, and processing integrity. Some auditors can help you with this gap analysis and work with you to develop a prioritized approach.
Following are the top five tips for SOC 2 audit success:
1. It’s about more than just technology
Tech companies often think of information security in terms of technologies such as antivirus software, firewalls, perimeter networks, and more. As important as those technologies are, it’s important to remember that information security is also about people and processes.
If your organization doesn’t have defined processes to support its technologies, not to mention people with the proper knowledge and experience to use those technologies, it’s a recipe for disaster. You’ll wind up with gaps in your security, privacy, and processing integrity, as well as a host of other problems that come when you don’t effectively manage and govern information technologies.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you need proper planning, communication, and follow up. Try to engage all of the right stakeholders across your entire organization.
2. Management commitment is key
To succeed with SOC 2 compliance, management commitment is required, especially at the top. In particular, you’ll need their commitment to:
Management, reinforcing the importance of your SOC 2 program is critical. Because, in any fast moving organization, there are competing priorities.
3. Promote security awareness early on
It’s common to find considerable gaps in security awareness at different levels of any organization. The sooner you start promoting greater awareness of security-related topics, the sooner you will start to realize the benefits.
Keep in mind that different security terms may mean different things to different people. For example, people often confuse disaster recovery with business continuity. Knowledge harmonization is key, so we adopted a variety of different approaches to achieve it, ranging from more casual brown bag lunches to formal classroom training. Because security is a broad and complicated topic, ensure you have multiple communication points and constant reinforcement.
4. Security is a continuous management process
Verifying SOC 2 compliance with an audit is just the first step. There are ongoing security requirements that you will have to fulfill under SOC 2 that will take time and dedicated resources. For example:
5. Include planning for your innovation processes from the beginning
Risk is an inherent part of innovation and building the appropriate approach to risk management into your innovation process can facilitate and even accelerate it. However, it also requires careful planning and communication. Preparing for a SOC 2 audit is time consuming. Avoiding a conflict with a major innovation initiative is critical. So, make sure that the relevant teams are involved early and updated regularly.
As the only audit with predefined and consistent criteria, SOC 2 reports are quickly becoming the standard by which service providers are measured. The SOC 2 journey can be challenging, but there’s no better way to simultaneously demonstrate your commitment to security and provide transparency into your controls and policies.
About the Author
With 20+ years of international software, B2B and IT security experience, José Casinha is Chief Information Security Officer for OutSystems, the world's leading low-code platform for application development.