The fine art of scoping a SOC2 audit

Some years back, the thought of undertaking an SOC2 audit was usually a great indication for a service organization, says Ken Lynch, founder of ReciprocityLabs.com in the article.
security review for enterprises
In fact, it shows status and growth since only big customers would need such an audit, particularly for the security of their company data. All the same, most enterprises have currently embraced the online world, which makes an SOC2 audit a standard requirement for all companies.

Without an SOC2 audit, your company appears to be less trustworthy to clients as far as securing their data is concerned during the service provision period. Clients depend on such audits to identify the internal controls that you have implements in your company for data safety.  Companies use the SOC2 audits to assess your organization’s competency.

One of the main elements to look at in an SOC2 audit is the scope. A company has to decide which elements of its internal controls it should give its customers. However, keep in mind that audits that are too costly utilize resources unnecessarily while those that are too narrow may weaken trust.

Why is it Vital to Properly Scope an SOC2 Audit?

An SOC 2 Audit functions as an evaluation that you offer to your customers in a bid to build trust in the security controls of your organization. As such, it is upon to choose the internal control elements that you prefer to highlight to both on-going and potential customers.

It is often not a requirement to offer a detailed outlook of each part of your processes, especially when determining an audit’s scope.  The key to a well-scoped audit not only entails the identification of the most vital concerns of clients but also pinpointing them in the report.

In fact, proper scoping serves as a fine art that encompasses the balancing of the concerns of your clients and the available resources. So, when it is done appropriately, you can end minimizing operational costs, boosting client confidence and continuing to grow your client base.

Proper Scoping Starts with your Trust Service Principles

If you are wondering where you need to start when properly scoping an audit, then your Trust Service Principles are your much-needed answer. TSPs are important aspects for directly influencing your client’s trust and measuring your internal control’s competency. Here are 5 main Trust Service Principles (TSPs) that you can utilize when embarking on determining your audit’s scopes:

  1. Security

This Trust Service Principle is probably the essential part of your audit. It helps in determining the capability of your system to deal with attempted hacks or unauthorized access. What’s more, security assesses how well you can avert the unauthorized use or modification of your systems. Therefore, note that all audits should include at least include a security assessment.

  1. Confidentiality

More clients nowadays are concerned with the safety or confidentiality of the company information and that belonging to their customers as well. For this reason, a confidentiality assessment is necessary to determine how capable the system is keeping information both discrete and protected.

  1. Integrity

In this case, the integrity of your company’s system entails having a framework that is valid, accurate, timely and authorized at all times.

  1. Privacy

Currently, more customers are worried about the privacy of their customer data.  Hence, a vital TSP for a service company in such a case involves showing clients that your systems only gathers, utilizes and discloses information to authorized personnel only.

  1. Availability

Make sure your audit covers the extent of your system’s availability, particularly for use in accordance with the requirements outlined by the client.

Creating your Audit Plan from your Trust Service Principles (TSPs)

Even though all the outlined TSPs above are fundamental, they may not necessarily apply to all your customers. As such, you can include certain things in your audit while leaving out the non-applicable ones. For instance, confidentiality may be more vital that process integrity in case you are offering data storage for sensitive bio-data

After deciding which TSPs fit your client base, you can start developing your SOC2 audit in a bid to identify the procedures and systems that will support your preferred Trust Service Principles. To implement this plan effectively, you require having an adequate understanding of your customers, their primary concerns, future goals and requirements.  The trick, in this case, requires you to include the principle that you cannot guarantee, which can end up harming your business relationship with a given client, in the SOC2 audit scope.

As another key strategy, always start with TSPs that deal with more of a SOC2 audit prior to moving to the subsequent type 2 audits, which are more detailed. Finally, remember that any SOC2 audit scope that you perform will be dependent on your client base and their key concerns.

By Ken Lynch
Ken Lynch of Reciprocity
Ken Lynch founded and propelled Reciprocity’s success with the mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.