Ensuring network security can be a very expensive game of cat and mouse for organizations. The truth is that securing your organization’s network infrastructure from hackers and other bad actors requires that you keep one step ahead.
Beyond the embarrassment of losing sensitive customer data, there’s a steep price tag associated with today’s breaches. The larger your organization, the more records are at risk and the higher the financial cost of recovering from a cyberattack.
A 2018 joint IBM-Ponemon data breach study pointed out that data breaches cost companies an average $3.8 million in losses, up 6.4 percent compared to 2017. The Equifax breach is quickly becoming the gold standard case study in security circles. With the loss of over 143 million consumer records and a loss of $4 billion in stock market value, it’s a prime example of dropping the ball when it comes to network security.
Although it may seem daunting, it’s critical for any organization storing, processing, or managing confidential customer data to reassess your security posture via a SOC 2 readiness assessment in order to determine where gaps and other weak points exist within your network that could cause you to fail a compliance audit.
Before proceeding, you’ll need to determine which trust service principles and criteria your SOC 2 audit will need to cover. A typical SOC 2 report will provide IT stakeholders with information about the controls at your organization that could possibly affect user entity security, availability, processing
integrity, and confidentiality or privacy.
In order to conduct a robust SOC 2 readiness assessment, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of what gaps and potential risks are at play regarding your current policies and procedures. Before meeting trust services criteria, you’ll need to know how certain how certain risk factors affect internal controls, such as::
- The nature of your organization’s operations
- Your system’s operating environment
- The type of data your organization generates, uses, or stores
- What commitments you’ve made to customers and/or third-party vendors
- Your responsibilities for operating your systems and processes
- The nature of the technology and delivery channels your organization uses
Still, even with a comprehensive understanding of where security gaps exist within your internal controls, you will likely need guidance on how to mitigate and prevent a breach event from causing significant damage, or even from ever happening at all.
A thorough SOC 2 readiness assessment will describe the readiness of the controls in place by providing a review of which ones would pass and which ones would fail. Having that knowledge in hand prior to an audit and knowing the gaps in your operations and procedures could direct key stakeholders to implement preventative security measures immediately, rather than after a breach has occurred.
In addition, the guidance received from the assessment should provide you with an action plan to remediate any gaps found.
Another point to consider when initiating a SOC 2 readiness assessment is time. Be sure to give your organization plenty of time to respond to identified issues so that they can be resolved in an unhurried and concise manner. There is absolutely sage wisdom in avoiding the “haste makes waste” idiom; a SOC 2 audit can be expensive to undertake, so make sure you’re prepared going in.
Careless mistakes when preparing for an audit will only waste valuable financial resources. Once all recommendations have been made in the assessment, it’s important to act on them in a timely manner. Issues regarding training program implementation, established processes, and weak points are best undertaken as soon as possible.
This will give your organization time to revisit your readiness assessment with the vendor and ensure that you’ve done everything possible to successfully pass a SOC 2 audit.