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The Key Trust Service Principles of SOC2 and How it Protects Organizations

Today’s internet culture, the use of Big Data, tightening data protection regulation and more means that it is increasingly important to take cybersecurity precautions. These don’t just involve bolstering the security of company systems, but also vetting any third party service providers that your company is working with.
 
What is SOC2?
One particularly effective auditing procedure is SOC2 compliance, the first step any company should take in selecting a service provider. SOC2 is a set of criteria developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) that defines five trust service principles for managing customer data. The goal of SOC2 is to ensure that service providers manage your company’s data in a way that protects the information of both your company and your clients.
 
SOC2 certification is given by outside auditors based on a service provider’s compliance with the five trust service principles. These five principles include:
 
Security - The first principle of SOC2, which refers to the extent that a service provider’s system resources are protected. A secure system prevents unauthorized access by using access controls to protect against system abuse, data theft or alteration, and more. A company can meet the security requirement of SOC2 by using tools such as two-factor authentication, web application firewalls (WAFs), and intrusion detection.
 
Availability - According to the AICPA, availability means that “the system is available for operations and use as committed or agreed.” This commitment most commonly takes the form of a service level agreement (SLA) between the service provider and its customers. Essentially, this agreement is about the service provider making a promise to its customers that its network will perform to the availability as stipulated in the contract.
 
A provider that meets the availability requirement of SOC2 is one that monitors network performance, is able to properly handle security incidents, and has reliable disaster recovery solutions.
 
Processing Integrity - A company that satisfies this principle ensures that data processing is complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized. To help meet this requirement, service providers can monitor data processing and have quality assurance policies in place.
 
Confidentiality - Keeping data confidential is about establishing which persons or organizations are allowed access to which information. For example, sensitive data, such as a company’s intellectual property or the financial information of customers, will typically be restricted to certain company personnel.

Compliance with the confidentiality principle is crucial in a third party provider, as it helps ensure that data about a company and its customers isn’t unknowingly shared with other clients or partners. There are a few ways service providers can maintain confidentiality. These including encrypting data and making use of access controls and firewalls.
 
Privacy - Ensuring privacy is about adhering to the best practices for safeguarding highly sensitive client or consumer data. These ten best practices, referred to as the Generally Accepted Privacy Principles (GAPP), revolve around the collection, management, disclosure, and disposal of highly sensitive information.
 
We can define highly sensitive information as data that disclose personal details about customers or clients. This includes details such as the name, address, and social security number, as well as personal information about religion, race, sexuality, and health.
 
How Does SOC2 Protect Organizations?
By now, we’ve established that checking for SOC2 compliance is a way of checking that a third party service provider will keep your company’s data safe and secure. By meeting these five principles--and thereby fully complying with SOC2--service providers are better able to protect the data of the companies they’re working with.
 
Working only with software vendors that are SOC2 compliant protects company data as well as customer information. Meeting such privacy standards is critical in obtaining customers in the first place, and is an important factor for company success. It’s also crucial in light of privacy laws like GDPR, which have been cracking down on companies’ sharing of customer data.
 
The SOC2 certification process, wherein third party auditors check for SOC2 compliance, is quite rigorous. When using a third party service, partner only with vendors that have this certification. This way, you’ll be able to rest assured that your data won’t get into the wrong hands.


Joseph Chukwube is an Entrepreneur, Digital Marketer, and Tech enthusiast. He's the Founder and CEO at Digitage, a digital marketing agency that specializes in content marketing and SEO to help businesses improve their online visibility.


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