SOC 2 compliance: A startup’s guide to building customer trust

March 19, 2024
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Tech Insights
Mario Grunitz
SOC 2 compliance: A startup’s guide to building customer trust

Data security standards and compliance have become critical priorities for modern businesses tasked with handling sensitive data. In particular, startups aiming to gain customer trust and credibility need to ensure they are fully compliant to gain crucial business buy-in from customers and stakeholders.

A crucial compliance framework is SOC 2, designed to ensure the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data.

SOC 2 compliance is one of the most highly valued security frameworks for SaaS startups and scaleups. Businesses that achieve SOC 2 compliance demonstrate their ability to keep customer and client data secure, ensuring ultimate trust.

What is SOC 2?

SOC 2, or System and Organisation Controls 2, is a voluntary cybersecurity compliance framework established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Its purpose is to ensure the security of client data handled by third-party service providers by evaluating an organisation’s data security controls across technical systems and operations.

It outlines how organisations should manage customer data based on the Trust Services Criteria (TSC) to mitigate the risk of breaches.

What is SOC 2 compliance?

SOC 2 compliance demonstrates the implementation of adequate security controls, validated by a third-party auditor. Auditors assess information security against five Trust Services Criteria (TSC):

  • Security (CC): Protection of data and systems against unauthorised access and disclosure.
  • Availability (A): Ensuring information and systems are always available for use.
  • Confidentiality (C): Keeping sensitive information confidential and protected.
  • Processing Integrity (PI): Ensuring data processing is complete, valid, accurate, and timely.
  • Privacy (P): Protecting consumer data and informing consumers about data collection, use, retention, and disposal.

Why SOC 2 compliance is important

While not legally required, SOC 2 compliance holds significant importance for businesses that value data protection and customer trust. Clients often demand a SOC 2 report as a prerequisite for engaging in business relationships.

SOC 2 compliance serves as an assurance mechanism, alleviating concerns about data security risks associated with partnering with your organisation. By showcasing your commitment to robust information security measures, a SOC 2 report not only opens doors to lucrative deals with high-value clients and business partners but also enhances your credibility and trustworthiness among stakeholders.

Moreover, achieving SOC 2 compliance demonstrates a proactive approach towards data security, reducing the likelihood of potential data breaches and bolstering your overall data security reputation.

What is a SOC 2 report?

To obtain SOC 2 compliance, your business needs to undergo an audit conducted by an accredited third-party CPA firm to assess whether your business controls align with SOC 2 criteria. Following the assessment, the firm generates a detailed report summarising the audit’s conclusions.

There are two types of reports:

SOC 2 Type 1

Provides a breakdown of your security controls as they exist at the time of audit. While it confirms the presence of required controls, it doesn’t assess their effectiveness. Due to this, SOC 2 Type 1 is typically quicker and more budget-friendly compared to SOC 2 Type 2. However, it’s worth noting that larger firms may perceive SOC 2 Type 1 as less advantageous compared to SOC Type 2.

SOC 2 Type 2

Assesses the organisation’s design, implementation, and ongoing application of internal controls over a defined period to gauge the efficacy of your security controls. The duration of your audit is flexible according to how long your controls have been active. Usually, it can range from 3 to 12 months. This report type offers heightened confidence to stakeholders by showcasing the sustained effectiveness of your controls over time.

While SOC 2 Type 2 reports are more intricate and time-consuming to produce, they offer heightened assurance regarding the effectiveness of the controls.

Achieving SOC 2 Compliance with Vanta

Achieving SOC 2 compliance can be a complex and time-consuming process for startups. However, with the right tools and strategies, it can be simplified. Vanta SOC 2 offers a comprehensive platform that streamlines the compliance process.

Vanta is the leading trust management platform offering simplified and centralised security for all business types. Vanta’s comprehensive platform simplifies compliance processes by automating various aspects of compliance to help businesses achieve and maintain certifications such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA, and GDPR.

Achieving SOC 2 compliance with Vanta is simple, fast, and transparent. Here are the steps:

  1. Onboarding: Vanta will help you understand the SOC 2 landscape and determine the specific report type (SOC 2 Type 1 or Type 2) that aligns with your needs.
  2. Gap assessment: Vanta will assess your existing security system to identify areas that need improvement to meet SOC 2 criteria. This will involve documenting your current controls.
  3. Remediation: Based on the gap assessment, the Vanta team will address any shortcomings in your security practices. Vanta provides tools and resources to streamline this process.
  4. Policy and procedure development: Vanta will then develop or update your security policies and procedures to ensure they align with SOC 2 requirements. Vanta offers templates and guidance to assist you.
  5. Evidence collection: Vanta will help you gather evidence to demonstrate that your security controls are implemented effectively. This may involve screenshots, logs, and other documentation.
  6. Auditor selection: Vanta can connect you with pre-vetted auditors who are familiar with their platform to expedite the audit process.
  7. Audit and reporting: The chosen auditor will perform an independent assessment of your SOC 2 controls and issue a formal report based on their findings.
  8. Maintaining compliance: Vanta offers tools to help you monitor your ongoing compliance and ensure you stay SOC 2 compliant.

By leveraging Vanta’s platform and resources, you can streamline the SOC 2 compliance journey and achieve your desired level of assurance.

SOC 2 compliance for trust and growth

Startups must prioritise data security and compliance to build customer trust and credibility. SOC 2 compliance provides a framework for achieving this, ensuring that startups meet the highest standards of security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and leveraging tools like Vanta SOC 2, startups can streamline the compliance process and differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Get compliant

WeAreBrain is Vanta’s lead Managed Service Provider in the Benelux. Our vCISO automation delivers scalability and flexibility to empower businesses to adapt to evolving security and compliance challenges.

Our automated vCISO services enable real-time threat detection, rapid response to security incidents, and continuous network activity monitoring to minimise the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks.

The scalability and flexibility offered by our vCISO automation empower businesses to adapt to evolving security challenges, safeguard sensitive data, and preserve trust among customers and stakeholders.

Get in touch to get compliant.

Mario Grunitz

Mario is a Strategy Lead and Co-founder of WeAreBrain, bringing over 20 years of rich and diverse experience in the technology sector. His passion for creating meaningful change through technology has positioned him as a thought leader and trusted advisor in the tech community, pushing the boundaries of digital innovation and shaping the future of AI.

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