Compliance with the System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations 2 (SOC 2) isn’t mandatory. No industry requires a SOC 2 report, nor is SOC 2 compliance required by law.

That said, if your business is a service provider, you should consider investing in the technical audit required for a SOC 2 report anyway. Many companies now expect SOC 2 compliance from their service providers, and having a SOC 2 report demonstrates a seriousness about cybersecurity that your sales prospects will find attractive.

What Is SOC 2?

SOC 2 audits were developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to provide assurance over a service provider’s cybersecurity controls. They are analogous to SOC 1 audits, also developed by the AICPA, to provide assurance over a service provider’s financial reporting.

SOC 2 audits are based on five “Trust Service Principles:” security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. SOC reports also come in into two types:

  • A Type I audit assesses whether the vendor’s security controls are designed to meet the relevant trust principles.
  • A Type II audit assesses whether those controls actually work as intended over a period of time.

SOC 2 can apply to all service providers that process and store customer data. In producing the SOC 2 attestation of compliance, auditors refer to the AICPA’s Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 18 (SSAE 18), which emphasizes data security.

SOC 2 requires organizations to establish and follow strict information security policies and procedures, encompassing the security, availability, processing, integrity, and confidentiality of customer data – the five trust service principles mentioned above. Having the SOC 2 report attesting to your enterprise’s compliance means you can demonstrate to others that the data you process is protected.

Vendors typically start with a SOC 2 Type I audit, which attests to your compliance at a single point in time. Then they follow up with Type II audits, which measure your ongoing SOC 2 compliance. Both types of audit are challenging (Type II audits more so); high-quality Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) software can do the heavy lifting of audit work for you, saving you time, money, and sleep.

What Is Required for SOC 2 Compliance?

SOC 2 compliance is based on specific requirements for effectively handling client data, divided into five the Trust Service Principles: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.


The security principle focuses on preventing unauthorized use of the vendor’s assets and data compliance and cyber hygiene practices. For example, you can employ access restrictions to prevent harmful attacks or unlawful data removal, abuse of corporate software, unauthorized adjustments, or disclosure of corporate data.

The Trust Services Criteria for Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy Document details the basic SOC 2 compliance checklist (which will satisfy an auditor) and should address the following controls:

  • Controls over logical and physical access: how you control and restrict logical and physical access to prevent illegal entry
  • Operation of the system: how you manage system operations to detect and minimize deviations from established processes
  • Change management: implementing a regulated change management procedure and preventing illegal modifications
  • Risk mitigation: the process of identifying and developing risk mitigation strategies while dealing with business interruptions and the use of vendor services


Availability focuses on your system’s accessibility in maintaining and monitoring your infrastructure, software, and information, to assure that you have the operating capability and system components required to achieve your business objectives.

In this area, SOC 2 compliance obligations include:

  • Determine current usage: create a benchmark for capacity management that you may use to assess the risk of decreased availability due to capacity restrictions
  • Identify environmental threats: evaluate environmental risks that may influence system availability, such as rough weather, fires, power outages, or environmental control system failure

Processing Integrity

Processing integrity focuses on supplying the correct data at the right time. Data processing must be quick, accurate, valid, and allowed.

In this area, SOC 2 compliance obligations include:

  • Make and keep records of system inputs: deep detailed logs of all system input operations
  • Defines processing activities: define processing operations to guarantee that products or services fulfill requirements


The confidentiality principle restricts access to, and disclosure of, private information so that only particular persons or organizations can access it. For example, confidential information may contain sensitive financial information, corporate strategies, general user data, or intellectual property.

In this area, SOC 2 compliance obligations include:

  • Identify sensitive information: implement methods for identifying private information as it is received or generated and determining how long it should be kept
  • Data Erasure: implement strategies for erasing confidential information when it has been recognized for deletion


The privacy principle focuses on the system’s conformity to the client’s privacy policy and the AICPA’s Generally Accepted Privacy Principles (GAPP). This SOC category includes techniques for collecting, using, and retaining private information, along with the process for data disclosure and destruction.

In this area, SOC 2 compliance obligations include:

  • Use clear and visible language: the language used in the company’s privacy notice should be straightforward and consistent, leaving no possibility for misunderstanding
  • Collect information from trustworthy sources: the company should guarantee that third-party data sources are reliable and that their data collection procedure is fair and lawful

Is SOC 2 Required by Law?

No. SOC 2 is not mandatory in a legal sense, and certification isn’t required by law. Most business-to-business (B2B) and Software-as-a-system (SaaS) vendors, however, should seriously consider being certified (if they haven’t already) because SOC 2s are often a requirement in vendor contracts.

Why Would I Need to Comply with SOC 2?

Here are six reasons to obtain a SOC 2 compliance report:

  1. Customer demand. Protecting customer data from unauthorized access and theft is a priority for your clients, so without a SOC 2 attestation (or SOC 3, which uses the same audit but whose report is designed for public consumption), you could lose business due to a poor cybersecurity posture.
  2. Cost-effectiveness. Think audit costs are high? In 2021, a single data breach cost, on average, $4.2 million – a figure that keeps rising every year. A SOC 2 audit helps to avoid those costly security breaches.
  3. Competitive advantage. Having a SOC 2 report gives your organization the edge over competitors that cannot show compliance.
  4. Peace of mind. Passing a SOC 2 audit assures improved security posture for your systems and networks.
  5. Regulatory compliance. Because SOC 2’s requirements dovetail with other frameworks, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001, attaining certification can speed your organization’s overall compliance efforts – especially if you use GRC software that provides you with that big-picture view.
  6. Value. A SOC 2 report provides valuable insights into your organization’s risk and security posture, vendor management, internal controls governance, regulatory oversight, and more.

Manage SOC 2 Compliance with ZenComply

Aside from risk assessments, procedures, reporting, and communication, the one thing that all internal control schemes have in common is paperwork. The more people you have on your team, the more challenging it is to keep everyone on the same page.

Small organizations may begin by keeping their controls on spreadsheets, but as their business increases, so does the number of internal and external stakeholders. As a result, planning ahead of time for a more efficient approach can save time and money.

ZenComply is a compliance software that may help simplify and streamline your compliance processes by automating various time-consuming, manual activities. Its compliance templates help you speed up self-assessments; and its easy, unified dashboard provides a consolidated view of all your compliance frameworks, revealing where holes in your programs exist and how to solve them.

Chief compliance officers will be empowered to monitor non-compliance risks in real-time in a quick, easy, and dynamic manner, depending on the unique requirements of each compliance office. ZenComply also preserves and organizes all related papers, making them easy to locate when the time comes for your audit.

Why try to meet these problematic requirements on your own? ZenComply assists in removing the “risk” from risk management and compliance. Contact us to set up a demo and begin your worry-free route to compliance.