When preparing for an audit, seeing an actual SOC 2 report example can be beneficial.
What is a SOC 2 Report?
SOC 2 reports are performed by independent auditors who issue a report on their findings. A SOC 2 report includes various information such as the business and organizational aspects used by the service provider to provide IT services and an assessment and opinion on their effectiveness. It includes many different controls, such as physical, network, application software security, and more.
SOC 2 reports are widespread among major corporations that outsource some or all of their IT services. This type of service is much more common in the US than in any other country. It comes as no surprise that many large corporations have been assessed for a SOC 2 certification to show their commitment to high standards for protecting customer data and information from possible exposure to outside parties or a cyber attack.
SOC 2 Report Structure
The SOC 2 report includes different sections, which are all outlined in the SOC 2 standard. These sections include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
- Report from the auditor
- Management assertion
- System description
- Tests of controls
- Other information
A SOC 2 report includes an introduction that provides general information about the audited entity. It also discusses what was involved in the testing process and how long it took to complete.
In addition, an auditor is required to provide an opinion on their assessment of the service provider’s controls. The report also includes recommendations for improving the organization’s security protocols, if needed.
Report from the auditor
A SOC 2 report includes a report from the auditor which discusses their opinion on the service provider’s compliance with the Trust Services Principles and Criteria for each of its security objectives.
In addition, they highlight any instances where a control didn’t work as it should have or give an opinion about whether or not control was effective enough for the level of security it was supposed to provide.
The next section is an opinion on management’s assertion about whether or not they have effective controls in place regarding the Trust Services Principles and Criteria. This part of the report outlines what vetting procedures are used for employees, contractors, and third-party providers involved in the service and whether or not those procedures comply with the standards set out in SOC 2.
In addition, it outlines the organizational structure, which involves all levels of management, from those directly involved in providing IT services to those holding decision-making power within the company.
SOC 2 reporting requires a description of the information system architecture and its components. It will include information on the company, its services, all servers involved in data processing, and security systems such as firewalls. It must also outline the devices used for access control like username, passwords, and any other system required for identification purposes.
Tests of Controls
A SOC 2 report requires exact tests on the controls in place to ensure they function properly. It also requires testing of any changes that may have been made to the system since the last report or at such a time as required by management (if no formal procedures are in place).
Other information includes the service provider’s responses to requests for access and instructions, notifications of unauthorized access, incidents of unauthorized access, or any data breaches within the system. It also includes information about the service provider’s business continuity plan and how often it has been tested.
The SOC 2 standard is one example of many compliance standards for IT-related services provided to clients. This type of certification can be a useful marketing tool for service providers who want to reassure clients that they can be trusted. While it’s not required by law, companies may face disciplinary action from the CSA if they don’t have formal certification in place. In addition, it can be an engaging read for customers because it gives them insight into how secure their data will be when it’s being processed by a service provider.