In the world of IT and telecommunications, standards like SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2) are becoming increasingly important. This certification ensures robust security measures and is crucial for service providers managing customer data in the cloud. Learning about certifications within the SOC family, including certification criteria and their importance — especially for managed network services (MNS) providers — will help you decide if choosing a SOC 2-certified provider is essential for your business.
What are SOC 2 Standards?
Developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), SOC reports define criteria for managing customer data based on five “trust service principles”:
- Security: Safeguarding against unauthorized access
- Availability: Ensuring that services are consistently available
- Processing Integrity: Guaranteeing that system processing is complete, accurate, and timely
- Confidentiality: Protecting confidential information
- Privacy: Properly handling personal information
These criteria are essential in guiding secure and reliable service delivery in telecom and networking.
There are different types of SOC reports:
- SOC Type 1 reports describe a vendor’s systems and whether their design meets relevant trust principles.
- SOC Type 2 reports detail the operational effectiveness of Type 1 controls. These reports are intended to meet the needs of a broad range of users who need detailed information and assurance about an organization’s security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy controls. Generally used for existing or prospective clients, Type 2 reports are confidential and shared only under nondisclosure agreements.
- SOC Type 3 reports also detail a system’s operational effectiveness, but do not provide the same level of detail as Type 2 reports. They are considered general-use reports and are often more freely distributed.
SOC 2 reports, whether Type 1 or Type 2, provide insights into an organization’s control environment, detailing the effectiveness of security controls. These internal reports provide you — along with regulators, business partners, and suppliers — with important information about how your service provider manages data.
The Value of SOC 2 Certification
SOC 2 compliance isn’t necessary for SaaS and cloud computing vendors; however, its role in securing your data cannot be overstated. SOC 2 certification is crucial for organizations, as it builds trust, ensures regulatory compliance with global standards, and identifies and mitigates data security risks, thereby enhancing risk management.
The process of achieving SOC 2 certification involves an outside audit of an organization’s data security measures. The audit not only identifies potential risks but also provides organizations the opportunity to implement effective mitigation strategies. It’s a proactive approach to risk management, crucial for maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of client data.
SOC 2 is more than just a badge of compliance; it represents a commitment to operational and security excellence. It signifies that an organization is not just meeting the minimum standards but is dedicated to continuous improvement and best practices in data security and management.
Obtaining SOC 2 Certification
The certification process is an intense and structured journey that requires considerable effort and commitment from participating organizations, all managed by outside auditors. The duration of a SOC 2 audit depends on the organization’s size, complexity, and scope of the audit. Most certifications take an average of six months to achieve. Preparation for the audit alone can take months, and then the certification process can take another several weeks to complete.
SOC 2 certifications include:
- Internal Assessments: Before anything else, organizations conduct an in-depth evaluation of their existing practices. This step helps identify existing areas of compliance and also gaps where improvements are required.
- Auditor Selection: The next step is to choose a certified auditor with expertise in SOC 2 audits. The auditor’s role is not just to assess compliance but also to provide insights and recommendations for improvement.
- Audit Process: This stage is the core of the certification process, in which the selected auditor conducts a comprehensive examination of the organization’s controls and processes. The auditor will assess whether the organization meets the SOC 2 criteria. This step can be intensive, as it requires providing the auditor with access to various documents, systems, and personnel.
- Remediation: Following the audit, organizations receive a report detailing the findings. If gaps or deficiencies are identified, organizations must address these through remediation — which involves revising policies, enhancing security measures, and/or implementing new procedures as needed to ensure compliance. This step is crucial and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to continuous improvement.
- Certification: Once the remediation actions have been successfully implemented and verified, organizations can finally receive the SOC 2 certification.
SOC 2’s Relevance for MNS Providers
For managed services providers, SOC 2 compliance is not just beneficial — it’s essential. It demonstrates a commitment to achieving and maintaining secure network infrastructure, ensuring that client data is handled with the utmost security.
SOC 2 certification is important for MNS providers for three key reasons:
- It builds trust with clients by showing a commitment to high security.
- It improves the provider’s own security and risk management practices.
- It ensures compliance with various data protection regulations.
SOC 2 certifications enhance a provider’s credibility in the competitive market and also plays a crucial role in maintaining robust data security and legal compliance, making it a key factor in long-term success and in maintaining excellent MNS client relationships.
Proving our commitment to security and our clients, Globalgig achieved SOC 2 Type 2 certification in January 2023 through an audit conducted by BARR Advisory. This accomplishment is more than a mere compliance checkmark; it’s a testament to our dedication to providing high-quality, secure experiences for our clients.
Achieving SOC 2 certification is a journey toward operational excellence. For telecom and networking companies, especially those providing managed services, this certification distinguishes their exceptional commitment to security. SOC 2 doesn’t just represent compliance; it embodies a culture of security and reliability, pivotal for any organization looking to stand out and succeed in the communications industry.