A SOC 2 report can be an invaluable resource for growing businesses, promoting increased levels of enterprise security while enabling businesses to target enterprise clients. Cybersecurity insurance costs can be reduced by completing an annual SOC 2 audit; and in the future, may become a requirement for insurability. However, securing this proof often requires a significant investment, both in time and resources.
Obtaining a SOC 2 report takes at least several months, and in some instances, as long as a couple of years. The speed at which your business can secure a SOC 2 report is largely driven by its current level of readiness and ability to quickly update existing systems and processes.
The SOC framework is wide-ranging, covering far more than just IT processes. Becoming SOC accredited often requires businesses to make important changes. Many events must be completed before an audit is scheduled.
In this overview, we outline the typical timeline that businesses seeking a SOC 2 report follow, explaining each stage and exploring what steps businesses can take to accelerate their journey toward SOC compliance.
There are two types of SOC 2 Reports: a Type 1 report and a Type 2 report.
A SOC 2 Type 1 report tests your business’s information security controls at a single point in time. From first deciding to get a SOC 2 report, it often takes businesses between 6 – 24 months to be ready for this audit.
A SOC 2 Type 2 report tests your business’s information security controls over a period of time, usually 6 – 12 months. After securing a Type 1 report, it often takes businesses around 6 – 15 months to secure a Type 2 report.
In many instances, this timeline is far longer than businesses initially hoped.
To pass a SOC 2 Type 1 audit, a business must first complete a series of steps, including developing a series of testing controls, completing certain action items, writing a comprehensive system description, and more. Audits look backward, meaning you must have all of these controls in place before the audit. Depending on your business’s level of preparedness, completing these steps can take months.
The speed with which a business can obtain a SOC 2 certification is primarily driven by the internal dynamics of the company. In a large organization, it can take a significant amount of time for businesses to secure the appropriate buy-in and make the required changes. In a smaller, more nimble organization, change can happen faster, particularly if there is an executive sponsor with the authority to drive the project forward.
Becoming SOC 2 compliant happens at different speeds in every organization. But regardless of the speed, most organizations will follow a process similar to the one outlined below.
For businesses with a limited knowledge of SOC, starting with a pre-readiness assessment is a helpful educational experience. During a pre-readiness assessment, the business will work with an established SOC auditor on a consultative basis. If your business has a more mature compliance infrastructure, it may skip this stage.
At Smith + Howard, the support we provide during this process may include:
This process is very educational, but your business still has to complete these steps independently to ensure the SOC auditing firm advising you retains independence.
To pass a SOC 2 Type 1 audit, businesses must complete a series of tasks in the months leading up to their audit. By working through these with their SOC auditor, businesses can ensure they’re doing everything correctly and are set up to pass the audit.
This process can take anywhere from 6 to 24 months, depending on the motivation and flexibility of the business. During this time, businesses formalize necessary controls and define the policies and processes mandated by the SOC framework. The SOC auditor will also work with the business to understand their current processes and identify which satisfy the criteria and which need attention. A key reason to complete a Readiness Assessment is to learn from the SOC Auditor which evidence will be tested and to begin retaining that evidence or establish new processes to collect this evidence. Other steps that must be completed before an audit, such as a penetration test, are also completed during this phase.
Think of the readiness assessment as an open-book practice test. Your SOC audit partner can help you answer questions you missed or answered incorrectly. When the time comes to undergo the audit, your business will be well prepared for success.
Once your business has reached a satisfactory level of SOC 2 readiness, it’s ready for a SOC 2 Type 1 audit. These audits assess your business’s SOC compliance at a single point in time. You’ll also be required to show evidence of the steps taken in advance of the audit, such as the completion of penetration tests and security awareness training.
Provided you haven’t deviated from the internal controls and processes established during the SOC readiness period, your business should be well placed to secure a SOC 2 Type 1 report. This process typically takes around 3 – 6 months.
Following the SOC 2 Type 1 Report, many businesses go a step further and pursue a SOC 2 Type 2 report. These reports evaluate your business’s SOC compliance over a period of time, demonstrating your ongoing commitment to compliance.
SOC 2 Type 2 audits can be completed for as little as 4 months, but in most instances, it’s recommended that a business undergoes a 6 – 12 month audit. SOC 2 Type 2 audits must be completed each period for your business to remain accredited.
Finding the right partner to guide you through your journey to SOC 2 compliance is extremely important. If you’re in the early stage of your compliance journey, you need a partner that will customize their approach to your business.
At Smith + Howard, that’s exactly what our SOC reporting team does. As an established CPA firm, we’ve been supporting our clients in compliance matters for decades and have provided SOC reporting services since the framework was first established in 2010. Our professionals are accredited by the AICPA and bring the full depth of expertise you would expect from a leading assurance firm.
Our team takes a consultative, responsive approach that’s the hallmark of all Smith + Howard services, partnering with clients to guide them through every step of their compliance journey. To learn more about how Smith + Howard can support your business’s SOC 2 compliance journey, contact an advisor today.
If you have any questions and would like to connect with a team member please call 404-874-6244 or contact an advisor below.CONTACT AN ADVISOR