Everything companies need to know about the industry standard for customer data.
With the number of data breaches increasing over tenfold from 2005 to 2021, customer data security has become increasingly important to competitive differentiation. Consequently, many business leaders wonder about the SOC 2 compliance requirements their organizations need to meet to earn the respected customer data security certification.
Starting with an overview of SOC 2 compliance, this article covers everything you should know about each requirement category.
What Are SOC 2 Compliance Requirements?
SOC 2 compliance requirements are the criteria an organization has to meet to earn its certification from an independent auditor. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) has broken down SOC 2 compliance into five known as the Trust Services Criteria: security, availability, confidentiality, processing integrity, and privacy.
It’s important to note that the number of TSC requirements needed for SOC 2 certification is not uniform for all companies. Instead, what organizations have to do varies on a case-by-case basis due to factors like management and auditor discretion. That said, all organizations need to meet the security requirements to earn their SOC 2 certification.
Because it defines the industry standards, AICPA is the undisputed authority on SOC 2 compliance requirements. Visit AICPA’s blog to learn more about the TSC and other key compliance resources.
What Are the 5 Categories of SOC 2 Compliance Requirements?
1. Security Requirements
To meet the SOC 2 security criteria — also called “Common Criteria” (CC) — a company must demonstrate it can keep bad actors from compromising its data and tech stack. This capability is evaluated by auditors using a series of nine different CC requirements. Here are key questions that each of those requirements seeks to answer, along with the overall scope of each requirement.
CC1.0: Has the company set up the control environment appropriately? These requirements cover company leadership formation, talent acquisition, and staff training.
CC2.0: Does the company have the right data management practices? These controls concern how data is collected and shared.
CC3.0: Does the company follow relevant risk assessment practices? These requirements often focus on financial and technical risks.
CC4.0: Does the company have robust compliance monitoring capabilities? These requirements determine an organization’s internal evaluation and reporting processes.
CC5.0: Can the company effectively execute compliance initiatives? These controls ensure that a company can adopt compliance measures across the organization and within its tech stack.
CC6.0: How do the company’s compliance measures relate to its security capabilities? These requirements address data access, handling, and deletion practices.
CC7.0: Does the company have the right systems and operational controls? These requirements focus on incident response capabilities.
CC8.0: Can the company navigate change management? These controls ensure a company has the processes to handle organizational and policy shifts.
CC9.0: Is the company taking the appropriate steps to mitigate risks? These requirements include activities addressing internal risks — as well as vendor and partner risks.
2. Availability Requirements
To meet the availability (A) requirements, an organization needs to prove it can maintain the technical performance necessary to achieve its goals and deliver its products or services. Here’s a breakdown of each of the three A-series requirements.
A1.1: Does the company have the technical capabilities to meet its business objectives? These controls ensure the company actively monitors and assesses its processing capacity and can scale when required.
A1.2: Can the company effectively recover from a disruption? These controls determine if a company has the appropriate contingency infrastructure — like data backup processes — to weather service challenges.
A1.3: Does the company test its recovery protocol? This requirement evaluates the real-world viability of an organization’s recovery process.
3. Confidentiality Requirements
The confidentiality (C) requirements address how an organization approaches exchanging sensitive information. The C series only has two requirements:
C1.1: How does the company handle confidential data? These requirements determine an organization’s ability to identify sensitive information and prevent compromise.
C1.2: How does the company get rid of confidential data? These controls ensure that organizations have appropriate information disposal practices in place.
4. Processing Integrity Requirements
Processing integrity (PI) requirements evaluate how a company’s data storage, processing, and retrieval capabilities match its business goals. While some previous requirement categories emphasize data security, the PI series is more concerned about determining data management competence as a component of product or service quality. Here are the five PI series requirements:
PI1.1: Does the company clearly understand its data processing goals? This requirement includes everything needed to develop actionable data performance metrics and aims.
PI1.2: Does the company ensure the system inputs affecting its products, services, and reporting are correct and comprehensive? This requirement focuses on input quality control.
PI1.3: Does the company have effective measures for maintaining data processing quality? This requirement covers relevant policies and procedures for data processing systems.
PI1.4: Can the company output high-quality data according to internal or external demands? This requirement ensures data processing capabilities are as efficient and effective as the business needs them.
PI1.5: Does the company have adequate data storage systems? This requirement covers storing inputs, information during processing, and outputs.
5. Privacy Requirements
The last TSC category, privacy (P) requirements, establishes firm controls around a particular type of sensitive data: personally identifiable information (PII). Here are the eight requirements:
P1.0: Does the company properly notify relevant parties of their data privacy objectives? This requirement helps ensure clients understand the goals of the company storing their personal data.
P2.0: Does the company communicate the choices relevant parties have concerning their data? This requirement helps safeguard clients’ authority over their data.
P3.0: Can the company collect PII while meeting its data privacy goals? This requirement makes sure the front-end PII processes match the company’s stated aims.
P4.0: Does the company have proper guardrails regarding the use, retention, and disposal of PII? This requirement ensures the rest of the PII lifecycle works as it should.
P5.0: Do relevant parties have the necessary access to review, correct, and update their PII? This requirement ensures clients have access to their PII.
P6.0: Does the company follow the appropriate PII disclosure and breach notification practices? This requirement covers important post-compromise communication practices.
P7.0: Can the company keep its PII stores accurate, current, and comprehensive? This requirement ensures the company has the internal resources and processes necessary to maintain PII data quality.
P8.0: Does the company have effective processes to ensure it can respond to PII questions and issues? This requirement includes the company’s PII monitoring and enforcement processes.
How to Get SOC 2 Compliance the Smart Way
As you’ve likely observed while reading this post, achieving SOC 2 compliance is an involved process that can prove burdensome for many organizations — especially small and mid-sized companies. As a result, firms are increasingly looking for innovative solutions that can accelerate SOC 2 compliance by automating critical parts of the process. A leading DevOps automation platform, DuploCloud enables out-of-box and continuous compliance through auto-generated control implementation that maps exactly to the specifications provided by regulatory bodies like SOC 2, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, HITRUST, and GDPR.