Third party data breaches happen all the time, so it’s important to keep your client’s customer data safe. One of the most significant ways you can do this is by getting a System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 compliance report, which will help you understand how to protect your secured data from cyber-attacks, malicious insiders, or system failures which could lead to major information security risks. But as information technology—and those associated risks—become more advanced, so does the auditing of information technology protocol.

One of the key trends affecting accounting and auditing practices lies in the potential for automation. Assisted by data analysis, and machine learning technologies, the automation of SOC 2 reports is becoming more common. With the potential to review vast quantities of information security control data with a minimal risk of human error, automation holds an appeal for some companies. But automation for SOC 2 reports is not as simple as pushing a button and letting a machine do the work. If your company has undergone a traditional audit for compliance with the SOC 2 standard and is considering automation, or you're considering using automation in a SOC 2 in order to improve transparency for your cybersecurity management, here's what you need to know.

A Look at SOC 2 Automation

The auditing of IT protocol is a crucial process to help ensure the safety and security of sensitive information. The only way we can keep up with innovations in this field is by ensuring that our protocols are as sophisticated as those who would do us harm.

A SOC 2 report covers the established principles and criteria related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. If conducted by a reputable CPA firm, a team of professionals research and evaluate an organization’s gaps and risks, which help formulate new policies and procedures. Generally SOC 2 audits begin with this controls assessment, followed by a limited scope audit of controls, and then a full-scope engagement. All in all, the SOC 2 attestation engagement may take about a year. The manual labor and upkeep involved in the SOC 2 process may seem exhaustive, enhancing the appeal of automated workflows.

There are several automated compliance tools and resources available on the market that hold the potential to accelerate the SOC 2 attestation process. These include security monitoring, cyber asset management platforms, policy and procedure creations, system monitoring, dashboards, control settings, security alerts, risk assessments, systems scanning, compliance assessments and more. Each with their own individual purpose, these tools can help manage and detect your associated risks.

Are These Tools Effective?

These tools are useful in assisting with a SOC 2 report, as they can save time on data collection. But the idea of SOC 2 automation is a misnomer. Even when multiple automation tools are used together, they don’t completely automate the entire SOC 2 compliance process. Machine learning and data analysis of any kind rely on human input, so there’s an element of the person that plays a role in the process. Not every company has the exact same risk, so a solution that may be perfect for one business might not work as well for others because everyone has a unique set of needs.

Generally the output of the automation also goes through human analysis. People help piece together the entire process, and use a discerning eye to analyze the data for anomalies. Properly configured, automation tools can be a game changer—increasing the amount of data available for review and potentially the breadth of controls that can be analyzed, but in today’s marketplace at least, there’s no magic button that replaces the role of the auditor in the scenario. Automation tools are a step in an iterative process toward improving cybersecurity protocols and navigating risks rather than the end-all solution.

Next Steps

If you need assistance conducting a SOC 2 report or have questions regarding the process, contact us.

Published on August 17, 2021