What is SOC 2 Compliance? Guide & Checklist

SOC 2 compliance is a framework developed to ensure the secure management of customer data. Learn what it is, why it matters and how to achieve it.

9 minute read

As businesses shift to cloud-based solutions, ensuring customer data privacy and security is essential. Service Organization Control Type 2 (SOC 2) compliance sets the standard for managing customer data based on specific trust principles. In this blog, we’ll explore what SOC 2 compliance involves, its importance and its role in cyber resiliency. We’ll also highlight how Compliance Manager GRC from RapidFire Tools can help you achieve and maintain SOC 2 compliance.

What is SOC 2 compliance?

SOC 2 compliance is a framework developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to ensure the secure management of customer data. SOC 2 is designed for service organizations to demonstrate their commitment to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. It evaluates and reports on the controls at a service organization to ensure customer data is securely handled and privacy is maintained. This framework is crucial for organizations that handle client information and need to prove their data protection measures.

Why is SOC 2 compliance important?

SOC 2 compliance is essential because it establishes a framework for managing and securing sensitive data. With the increasing frequency of data breaches and cyberthreats, having robust data protection measures is critical for any organization handling client information. Compliance with SOC 2 not only helps prevent data breaches but also builds trust with clients and stakeholders. This trust can lead to increased client satisfaction and retention, ultimately benefiting the organization’s bottom line.

Who needs SOC 2 compliance?

SOC 2 compliance is vital for any organization that stores, processes or transmits client data. This includes the following entities:

  • Cloud service providers
  • IT managed service providers (MSPs)
  • SaaS companies
  • Data centers
  • Financial services organizations
  • Healthcare organizations

These businesses need to demonstrate their commitment to protecting client data to maintain trust and comply with regulatory requirements.

SOC 1 vs. SOC 2 compliance

The key difference between SOC 1 and SOC 2 compliance lies in their focus and the type of information they evaluate.

  • SOC 1 compliance: Focuses on internal controls over financial reporting. It is mainly relevant to organizations that handle financial transactions and need to ensure the accuracy and integrity of financial data.
  • SOC 2 compliance: Concentrates on the controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. It applies to organizations that need to demonstrate their commitment to protecting client data.

SOC 2 compliance requirements: Trust Service Criteria

SOC 2 compliance is built around the Trust Service Criteria. These criteria are the basis of SOC 2 audits and are defined as follows:


Security ensures that the system is protected against unauthorized access and breaches. This involves implementing measures such as firewalls, encryption, intrusion detection systems and regular security assessments. These measures help prevent malicious attacks, data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information. Organizations must establish robust security policies and procedures to safeguard their systems and data.


Availability ensures that the system is available for operation and use as committed or agreed. This means that the system should be reliable and accessible to users when needed. Measures to ensure availability include disaster recovery planning, redundancy and regular maintenance. Organizations must have strategies in place to minimize downtime and ensure continuous access to their services.

Processing integrity

Processing integrity ensures that system processing is complete, valid, accurate, timely and authorized. This criterion focuses on the accuracy and reliability of data processing. Organizations must implement controls to verify that data is processed correctly and in a timely manner. This includes validation checks, error detection mechanisms and ensuring that only authorized personnel can initiate data processing activities.


Confidentiality ensures that information designated as confidential is protected from unauthorized disclosure. This involves implementing access controls, encryption and data masking techniques to protect sensitive information. Organizations must also establish policies for handling and sharing confidential information, ensuring that it is only accessible to those with a legitimate need to know.


Privacy ensures that personal information is collected, used, retained, disclosed and disposed of in accordance with the entity’s privacy notice. This criterion focuses on protecting the privacy rights of individuals whose data is being processed. Organizations must comply with data protection regulations and establish policies for managing personal information. This includes obtaining consent, providing transparency and implementing measures to protect personal data from misuse.

What is a SOC 2 audit?

A SOC 2 audit is a comprehensive evaluation of a service organization’s controls related to the Trust Service Criteria. It assesses whether the organization’s controls are suitably designed and operating effectively to meet these criteria.

Who can perform a SOC audit?

A SOC 2 audit must be performed by licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or accounting firms that have specific training and expertise in SOC 2 audits. These professionals have the necessary knowledge and skills to assess an organization’s adherence to the Trust Service Criteria. The auditors evaluate the design and operational effectiveness of controls, ensuring they meet the rigorous standards set by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). It is crucial to choose an experienced and reputable auditing firm to conduct the SOC 2 audit, as their assessment will be critical in demonstrating compliance and building trust with clients and stakeholders.

SOC 2 Type 1 vs. Type 2 reports

Type 1 report: A SOC 2 Type 1 report evaluates the design and implementation of an organization’s controls at a specific point in time. This report focuses on whether the necessary controls are in place and suitably designed to meet the Trust Service Criteria. It provides an initial assessment of the organization’s preparedness for handling sensitive data but does not evaluate the operational effectiveness of these controls over time. The Type 1 report is often used as a starting point for organizations seeking to demonstrate their commitment to data protection and security.

Type 2 report: A SOC 2 Type 2 report, on the other hand, assesses the operational effectiveness of an organization’s controls over a specified period, typically ranging from six months to a year. This report provides a more comprehensive evaluation by examining whether the controls were consistently applied and functioned effectively throughout the review period. The Type 2 report offers a higher level of assurance to clients and stakeholders, as it demonstrates the organization’s ongoing commitment to maintaining robust security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy controls. It is particularly valuable for organizations that need to prove their long-term adherence to SOC 2 standards.

SOC 2 compliance checklist

Achieving SOC 2 compliance involves a series of structured steps to ensure your organization meets the rigorous standards set by the Trust Service Criteria. Here’s a detailed look at each step in the process.

1. Perform a readiness assessment and self-audit

The first step in achieving SOC 2 compliance is to conduct a readiness assessment and self-audit. This involves evaluating your current security controls and processes to identify any gaps or deficiencies that need to be addressed. During this assessment, you will:

  • Review existing policies and procedures to ensure they align with SOC 2 requirements.
  • Conduct risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats to your systems.
  • Perform internal audits to evaluate the effectiveness of your current controls.
  • Document findings and create an action plan to address any identified issues.

This self-audit helps prepare your organization for the formal SOC 2 audit by highlighting areas that need improvement and ensuring that all necessary controls are in place.

2. Address deficiencies against Trust Service Criteria

Once the readiness assessment is complete, the next step is to address any deficiencies identified. This involves implementing the necessary improvements to ensure your organization meets the Trust Service Criteria for security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. Key actions include:

  • Enhancing security measures, such as firewalls, encryption and access controls to protect against unauthorized access.
  • Improving system availability by implementing redundancy, disaster recovery plans and regular maintenance procedures.
  • Ensuring processing integrity through validation checks, error detection mechanisms and authorization controls.
  • Strengthening confidentiality measures by applying data masking, encryption and strict access controls.
  • Complying with privacy requirements by establishing clear policies for data collection, use, retention and disposal.

By addressing these deficiencies, your organization will be better prepared for the SOC 2 audit and will demonstrate a strong commitment to protecting client data.

3. Complete SOC 2 Audit with an independent auditor

The next step is to engage an independent auditor, typically a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or an accounting firm with expertise in SOC 2 audits. The auditor will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your organization’s controls to ensure they meet the SOC 2 standards. The audit process involves:

  • Reviewing documentation of your security policies, procedures and controls.
  • Conducting interviews with key personnel to understand the implementation and effectiveness of the controls.
  • Testing the controls to verify their operational effectiveness over a specified period (for a Type 2 audit) or at a specific point in time (for a Type 1 audit).
  • Providing a detailed audit report that outlines the findings and any recommendations for improvement.

The SOC 2 audit is a critical step in demonstrating your organization’s commitment to data protection and compliance. The resulting audit report can be shared with clients and stakeholders to build trust and confidence in your data management practices.

4. Maintain ongoing SOC 2 compliance

Achieving SOC 2 compliance is not a one-time effort. To maintain compliance, organizations must continuously monitor and improve their controls. This involves:

  • Regularly reviewing and updating security policies and procedures to address emerging threats and changes in the regulatory landscape.
  • Conducting periodic internal audits and risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
  • Providing ongoing training and awareness programs for employees to ensure they understand and adhere to security best practices.
  • Implementing continuous monitoring solutions to detect and respond to security incidents in real-time.
  • Engaging in regular communication with clients and stakeholders to keep them informed about your compliance status and any changes to your security posture.

By maintaining ongoing SOC 2 compliance, your organization can ensure the continued protection of client data and uphold the trust and confidence of your clients and stakeholders.

Want an easier way to learn more about managing SOC 2 compliance? Check out our on-demand webinar, “Navigating SOC 2 Compliance for Enhanced Cybersecurity.”

Benefits of SOC 2 compliance

Becoming SOC 2 compliant offers several key benefits:

  • Enhanced security posture: Strengthens your organization’s ability to protect against data breaches.
  • Client trust, satisfaction and retention: Builds and maintains client trust, leading to higher satisfaction and retention rates.
  • Regulatory compliance support: Helps meet various regulatory requirements related to data protection.
  • Improved processes and efficiency: Streamlines your processes and improves overall operational efficiency.
  • Ongoing risk mitigation: Continuously identifies and mitigates risks associated with data security.

How can RapidFire Tools help with SOC 2 compliance?

Compliance Manager GRC from RapidFire Tools is a superior tool that can help organizations achieve and automate SOC 2 compliance. It offers:

  • Automated compliance management: Streamlines the process of achieving and maintaining SOC 2 compliance.
  • Comprehensive audits: Provides detailed reports and assessments to ensure your organization meets all SOC 2 requirements.
  • Continuous monitoring: Keeps track of compliance status and alerts you to any issues that need attention.

Achieve SOC 2 compliance with Compliance Manager GRC

SOC 2 compliance is crucial for any organization that handles client data. It ensures data is managed and protected according to stringent standards, building trust with clients and stakeholders.

Compliance Manager GRC from RapidFire Tools simplifies the process of achieving and maintaining SOC 2 compliance, providing automated tools and continuous monitoring to ensure ongoing compliance.

To see it in action firsthand, schedule a demo today!

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