SOC 2 requirements checklist: Simplify SOC 2 audit preparation


June 14, 2023 • 8 min read

Managing your cloud environment involves a prioritization for compliance and security to ensure data protection. You can understand how secure your cloud environment is by checking it against StackZone’s SOC 2 requirements checklist. At StackZone, we’re passionate about AWS cloud security which is why our AWS cloud management platform simplifies SOC 2 audit preparation, providing you with enhanced security and a competitive advantage. 

What is SOC 2? 

System and Organization Controls is a series of auditing standards that analyze whether service providers are secure. It was created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). During SOC 2 audits, various controls and processes are evaluated to gauge levels of security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy, known as the 5 trust principles of SOC 2. It’s believed that 72% of organizations view SOC as key to their cybersecurity strategy.

What is the purpose of SOC 2? 

The purpose of SOC 2 is to help customers see if the service organizations they rely on and share their data with, have effective internal controls and security practices in place. We highly recommend SaaS companies to comply with SOC 2 as this is what their customers are looking for. By completing a SOC 2 audit, you can provide assurance to your customers that you can adequately safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their data. While it’s not a compulsory standard, from our experience in cloud management, we’re seeing a greater focus for AWS security management, which is why we recommend you to follow the SOC 2 requirements checklist. 

SOC 2 requirements checklist  

With StackZone’s SOC 2 configuration blueprint, you can automate the following checklist items to ensure your cloud workloads are protected and resilient. You will need to provide evidence of each of the following as part of your SOC 2 audit preparation:

1. Maximized security

To comply with SOC 2 standards, the audit preparation process involves you gathering evidence of tight control with access management, firewalls, entity-level controls, and more. Essentially, these controls are working hard to protect your organization from unauthorized access. 

What does this look like in the cloud?

 Examples include:

  • A cloud landing zone as the architecture of your cloud management 
  • Secure access management with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and AWS Single Sign On (SSO)
  • Encryption for data both at rest and in transit 

With the AWS security solution that consists of AWS config monitoring and auto-remediation, StackZone can have these security best practices set up in hours to rapidly increase your cloud security status. 

2. Availability 

The availability principle of SOC 2 requires CSPs to ensure their systems are available for the agreed-upon operation and use with their customers. So, once a customer signs a contract with a CSP, they can start using their services at the agreed date due to this availability that matches the needs of the customer. 

What does this look like in the cloud?

To comply with this SOC 2 requirements checklist item, you need to implement redundancy and failover mechanisms to minimize downtime, ensuring your customer continually has access to their data in the cloud. It looks like having disaster recovery procedures in place to handle security incidents. 

How do we achieve this?

The correct cloud architecture is required as well as consistent monitoring to have an understanding of the performance of resources. If there’s any issues with this, you need to be alerted straight away so it doesn’t cause major disruptions for your customers, and cause vulnerabilities over the security of their data. 

The AWS cloud compliance software, StackZone, provides resource performance monitoring, configurations monitoring, and alerts you when your attention is needed so you maintain availability. StackZone provides disaster recovery capabilities with visibility. By activating StackZone’s backup services  by simply tagging help you to recover parts of your workload during a disaster. When trying to manually tag your accounts with AWS backup, it takes hours doing this to each one. Whereas, with StackZone you only have to do it once. StackZone’s configuration rules help you identify what is and isn’t included in your backup plan, so it’s easy to identify if you’ve forgotten to tag something, without StackZone, this could end in disaster. With 24/7 monitoring, you have the resources you need to recover from a disaster situation with all the tools that are inbuilt into the powerful AWS cloud management platform.  

3. Processing integrity

The processing integrity principle of SOC 2 relates to both quality assurance and processing monitoring. At this point in our SOC 2 requirements checklist, you want to be analyzing if data is processed accurately, completely, and efficiently. 

What does this look like in the cloud?

Implementing controls to prevent data loss, corruption, or duplication during transmission and processing. With StackZone, you can automate these process integrity tasks to create continued maximized security. 

4. Confidentiality 

The confidentiality principle of SOC 2 requires CSPs to protect confidential information from unauthorized access, disclosure, or use. 

What does this look like in the cloud? 

To pass your SOC 2 audit, you need to show you have strong access controls and encryption to protect data from unauthorized access or theft. To speed up completing this, StackZone keeps it simple with: 

5. Privacy

A huge component to securing your cloud environment is maintaining privacy. In the context of the SOC 2 accreditation, this relates to collecting, using, retaining, and disclosing personal information in accordance with their customers’ privacy policies and applicable laws and regulations. This relates to Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from cyber breaches. For instance, if you work in the healthcare industry, it’s your responsibility to protect patient records with robust cybersecurtiy measures. 

What does this look like in the cloud? 

This means implementing appropriate data privacy controls, such as data minimization and data retention policies, and ensuring that customer data is not shared with unauthorized parties.

6. Risk assessments 

SOC 2 requires Communication Service Providers to conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer data.

What does this look like in the cloud? 

Identifying potential risks associated with cloud computing and taking steps to mitigate those risks.  

Here is what we recommend you to do about risk assessments: 

  • Identify and log your assets and systems – This includes any software you use, hardware, data repositories, essentially anything that stores sensitive information. 
  • Identify potential threats – It’s important to be aware of anything that could reduce the security, confidentiality or integrity of the assets you have identified. These threats could be from natural causes or from external threats. 
  • Conduct risk analysis – Go through each of the threats you identify and evaluate the impact each of these would cause. How likely is it that you could experience each of these? How would you respond to each of these to mitigate the risk, do you have enough controls and are they adequate? What impact would they call on your day-to-day business operations? 
  • Explore your gaps in cybersecurity – We invite you to identify any limitations or weaknesses in your controls. Compare what cybersecurity protection you need within this SOC 2 requirements checklist and determine where your gaps are so you can arrange introducing more robust controls. 
  • Develop a risk treatment plan – In this plan, outline the actions you will take to prevent the risk level of the identified threats. Some actions may look like implementing new controls for further protection. 
  • Continuous monitoring – It’s important to not stop here. Maintaining continuous compliance to SOC 2 is a 24/7 proactive process and needs regular attention to reassess risks as they evolve. 

This is of course a lot of work and requires cybersecurity expertise and experience to correctly analyze your risks. To make it easier, you can automate this with the StackZone console because it has an in-built vulnerability assessment, the Prowler tool. Once activated, it will run reports across your AWS organization, informing you of exactly where you’re not meeting SOC 2 requirements.

7. Incident response

Effective incident response is essential for minimizing the impact of security breaches and ensuring business continuity. SOC 2 requires CSPs to have an incident response plan in place and to conduct regular testing of that plan.

What does this look like in the cloud? 

In the cloud, this means ensuring that incident response plans are updated to account for cloud-specific risks and that testing includes scenarios that involve cloud computing.

In the event of a major incident, you should have pre-assigned responsibilities for your team ready to follow a documented incident response plan so you can follow processes and escalation paths to resolve the incident.  

You also need to have incident reporting in place to maintain incident logs, collect evidence, and detail the response actions taken. It’s an opportunity to learn from the incident and to prevent anything similar happening in the future. This can all be done in the StackZone console, in the log archive which is deployed through StackZone’s cloud landing zone, so you never lose access to your logs, even if one of your accounts is compromised.  

How to achieve SOC 2 compliance quickly? 

If you’ve got an upcoming SOC 2 audit you need to efficiently prepare for, our SOC 2 configuration blueprint is perfect for you. Our customers have been able to transform their cloud environment in hours to become compliant for SOC 2. 

Using this blueprint with the StackZone console helps you to rapidly improve your security, workload resilience, cloud management, and governance capabilities perfectly inline with SOC 2 requirements. StackZone’s automation will deploy a predefined and compliant set of AWS configurations, monitoring, and auto remediation features that will facilitate the adoption of the standard as well as reduce cost and implementation times significantly. 

StackZone’s AWS cloud compliance software continues to monitor your environment, creating reports, and alerting you when your attention is needed. Built-in self-healing security configurations and auto-remediations keep your cloud environment compliant without endless manual tasks to be completed by your team. 

With just one tool, you simplify your SOC 2 audit preparation and achieve full visibility into your compliance with SOC 2 regulations. Create effortless completion of the SOC 2 requirements checklist by using StackZone’s cloud compliance console. Want to find out how StackZone can support your business with cloud management? Book a demo to speak to our expert team. 

This article was written by Graham Calder, CEO of StackZone

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