Blogs   >   What Are The Myths And Malpractices Of SOC 2?

What Are The Myths And Malpractices Of SOC 2?

Are you a start-up looking to undertake SOC Compliance? Well, don’t get confused to sort out things as it might occur due to the lack of information, and clarity. 

SOC 2 Compliance ensures the security and integrity of your business, be it a large MNC or just a small business. From confidentiality to the privacy of data stored in the cloud, SOC 2 Compliance is paramount. 

However, several myths and misconceptions surrounded SOC 2 report and compliance. The existing Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt in the market, fostered by dishonest merchants, further complicates this situation. 

Addressing the same, we break down the complexity of SOC 2, explain how the AICPA sees it, explain who can audit an organization, and much more in this blog. 

Understanding SOC 2 Compliance In Detail

SOC 2, or Service Organization Control 2, is a framework developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to help service organizations ensure the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data. It is based on five trust service criteria and is often used by organizations that provide services related to information technology and cloud computing.

SOC 2 Types 

SOC 2 reports can be classified into two types SOC Type I and SOC Type II. 

  1. SOC 2 Type I: This report evaluates the suitability of the design of an organization’s controls to meet the selected trust service criteria at a specific point in time.
  2. SOC 2 Type II: This report goes a step further and assesses the effectiveness of the organization’s controls over a specified period, usually six to twelve months.

SOC 2 Checklist criteria include:

To achieve SOC 2 compliance, small businesses, and large enterprises must adhere to a set of criteria outlined in the SOC 2 checklist. 

  • Security: The system is protected against unauthorized access (both physical and logical).
  • Availability: As promised or agreed upon, the system is ready for usage and functioning.
  • Processing Integrity: System processing is complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized.
  • Confidentiality: As promised or negotiated, information marked as confidential is safeguarded.
  • Privacy: The collection, use, retention, disclosure, and disposal of personal information are all done under the privacy notice of the relevant entity.

Organizations undergoing SOC 2 compliance must implement controls and practices that align with these criteria, and undergo regular audits by independent auditors following industry standards.

What Is AICPA? 

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or AICPA, is the professional organization in charge of setting accounting and certification standards in the United States. It promotes moral guidelines for businesses and nonprofits as well as U.S. auditing requirements for national, state, and local governments, including private enterprises. To help explain the efficacy of their risk management initiatives, AICPA developed the SOC 2 cybersecurity risk management framework. The AICPA has a significant impact on SOC 2 compliance

AICPA makes sure these rules are strong, current, and meet security and technology requirements by defining the SOC 2 checklist and standards.   

Is SOC 2 Important For Startups? 

Yes, SOC 2 compliance is crucial for startups as it helps establish trust with customers and partners, demonstrates a commitment to data security, and can provide a competitive advantage in the market.

The Importance of SOC 2 Compliance For Small Businesses- 

  • Trust and Credibility
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Regulatory Requirements
  • Data Security
  • Customer Expectations

What Are The Myths Surrounding SOC 2? 

Myth 1: Exclusive partners are commissioned by AICPA for SOC 2 license   

A common misperception regarding SOC 2 compliance is the idea that SOC 2 licensing and attestation can only be provided by a small number of companies. 

In reality, SOC 2 licensing is an inclusive process accessible to all qualifying organizations. A “qualified entity” in the context of SOC 2 attestation primarily refers to Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and CPA firms. These professionals are authorized to attest SOC 2 reports, which involve verifying and providing an independent assessment of controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy, based on the Trust Service Criteria of a Service organization system.

Myth 2: Only certain companies or consultants can grant SOC 2 attestation- 

Another myth surrounding SOC 2 compliance is the belief that only specific companies or consultants can grant SOC 2 attestation. 

However, SOC 2 licensing is not monopolized; it is a standard that any qualified entity, such as a CPA or CPA firm, can attest to, following the guidelines for processing integrity set by AICPA. While individual CPAs and CPA firms can perform SOC 2 attestations, CPA firms may offer broader resources and a team-based approach.

Myth 3: The AICPA supports particular compliance platforms – 

There’s a misperception that the AICPA supports particular compliance platforms. However, the AICPA upholds impartiality and guarantees fairness for all platforms that satisfy strict requirements. They don’t support or favor any particular platform. Any certified third-party assessor can utilize the Trust Service Criteria, a framework and set of standards provided by the AICPA, to analyze an organization’s compliance and create an attestation report or readiness assessment. In the compliance market, this open approach fosters choice, innovation, competition, and access.  

Myth 4: SOC 2 compliance is only necessary for large corporations- 

Some believe that SOC 2 compliance is only relevant for large corporations with extensive operations. However, SOC 2 compliance is essential for any organization that processes, stores, or transmits sensitive data, regardless of its size. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) also handle sensitive information and can benefit from implementing SOC 2 controls to protect their data and gain customer trust.

Myth 5: SOC 2 compliance is a one-time effort- 

Another common myth is that achieving SOC 2 compliance is a one-time effort. In reality, SOC 2 compliance is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring, updates, and improvements to ensure that controls remain effective. Organizations must regularly assess and update their security practices to address evolving threats and changes in the business environment. Ongoing compliance helps organizations maintain trust with customers and demonstrates a commitment to data security and privacy.

Facts At A Glance

Fact 1: SOC 2 licensing is accessible to all qualifying organizations, not just a select few exclusive partners. 

Fact 2: Any qualified CPA or CPA firm can grant SOC 2 attestation, ensuring a fair and accessible process. 

Fact 3: AICPA maintains neutrality and does not endorse specific platforms for SOC 2 compliance, promoting a competitive and innovative compliance market. 

Fact 4: SOC 2 compliance is essential for all organizations that handle sensitive data, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). 

Fact 5: SOC 2 compliance is an ongoing process, requiring continuous monitoring and updates to remain effective.

Some Common SOC 2 Malpractices & Vendor Misguidance

Exclusive Rights Claims: Be wary of vendors who assert they have the only authority to offer SOC 2 auditing services; this is a deceptive and fraudulent claim made by someone trying to get new business. 

Exaggerated Affiliations: Vendors who overstate their affiliation with the AICPA should be avoided. Even though a lot of vendors follow the AICPA guidelines, it is false to say that they have an endorsed or preferred connection.  

Attestation Guarantees: Buyers should be wary of vendors offering SOC 2 attestation without first conducting a comprehensive assessment of the control environment. A thorough audit of the asset environment is necessary for the SOC 2 report, and it cannot be guaranteed upfront. 

Absence of Transparency: Suppliers should be forthright and truthful about their qualifications, auditing practices, and adherence to the Trust Services Criteria. Their opaque process for ensuring they’re prepared for an audit raises a serious red flag.    

What Happens With Unethical Vendor Claims? 

Deceptive tactics not only hurt the specific companies who fall for them, but they also damage the reputation and integrity of the compliance and regulatory industry as a whole. 

Erosion of Industry Trust: When vendors act unethically, it creates a bad image for the sector and makes people skeptical of even reputable suppliers. Service firms may find it difficult to identify reliable compliance partners and external auditors as a result of this erosion of confidence, which could complicate their compliance journey.  

Compromised Compliance Integrity: Deceptive tactics may cause SOC 2 audits to be insufficient or inaccurate, giving rise to a false sense of security. When major holes or vulnerabilities in their risk assessment and attestation process are left ignored, organizations may think they are compliant. This undermines SOC 2 compliance’s primary objective, which is to guarantee strong data security and privacy procedures. 

Legal and Financial Consequences: Service organizations may face legal and financial consequences if they fall prey to deceptive techniques, particularly if they result in a breach.  

How To Choose The Right SOC 2 Vendor? 

When choosing the right SOC 2 vendor, organizations should conduct due diligence and verify credentials. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) maintains a list of licensed CPA/CPA firms, which can be used to verify the credentials of potential audit partners. Additionally, organizations should inquire about the vendor’s audit process to understand their approach and methodology for assessing controls and managing any gaps. 

Resources along with SOC 2 Report need to be checked for verifying claims about AICPA licenses including the AICPA’s official website, industry forums and groups, and independent reviews or testimonials about the vendor’s services. Engaging with these resources can help organizations make informed decisions when selecting a SOC 2 vendor.

How Socurely Maintains Transparency & Integrity? 

Socurely is a leading compliance solution provider, offering comprehensive services to ensure businesses meet regulatory requirements such as SOC 2, GDPR, and PCI DSS. With a focus on transparency and integrity, Socurely provides expert guidance, continuous monitoring, and clear reporting to help businesses navigate complex compliance landscapes confidently.

Some of the common areas Socurely manages are-

  1. Clear Communication: Socurely communicates openly with clients, providing clear and honest information about their services, pricing, and processes.
  2. Comprehensive Reporting: Socurely provides detailed reports on compliance assessments, ensuring clients understand their compliance status and any areas for improvement.
  3. Continuous Monitoring: Socurely offers continuous monitoring services to help clients stay compliant with changing regulations and security threats.
  4. Expert Guidance: Socurely’s team of experts provides guidance and support to clients throughout the compliance process, ensuring they make informed decisions.
  5. Commitment to Ethical Standards: Socurely upholds the highest ethical standards in its operations, ensuring that clients can trust them to act with integrity at all times.

Conclusion 

Unlike SOC 2 Compliance, organizations should also be aware of the ISO 27001 myths. Read this blog to know about the ISO 27001 Myths- https://socurely.com/iso-27001-compliance-busting-common-myths-how-it-helps-businesses/ 

SOC 2 compliance is essential for organizations looking to protect their data and build trust with customers. By debunking common myths and understanding best practices, organizations can ensure they are on the right path toward SOC 2 compliance.

FAQ

  1. What are the basics of SOC 2 Compliance?
    • SOC 2 compliance is a framework developed by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) to ensure service organizations securely manage data. It focuses on security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy as the five Trust Service Criteria.  
  2. What is the SOC 2 Compliance Checklist?
    • The SOC 2 Compliance Checklist is a detailed list of requirements and controls that service organizations must adhere to to achieve SOC 2 compliance. It covers areas such as data protection, risk management, and access controls.
  3. Can you be SOC 2 Compliant With An AICPA Member?
    • Yes, AICPA members who are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) can perform SOC 2 audits and issue SOC 2 reports. However, the report itself is not awarded by the AICPA but rather by the organization undergoing the audit.
  4. Where to report claims exclusive rights to AICPA attestation?
    • Claims of exclusive rights to AICPA attestation should be reported to the AICPA Ethics Division. The AICPA takes such claims seriously and will investigate any allegations of misconduct or improper use of its name or services.
  5. How long does it take to become SOC 2 compliant?
    • The time it takes to become SOC 2 compliant can vary depending on the complexity of your organization and its systems. Between a few months and over a year is the average timeframe for the process.
  6. What is the difference between SOC 1 and SOC 2 compliance?
    • SOC 1 compliance is focused on controls relevant to financial reporting, while SOC 2 compliance is focused on controls relevant to data security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.