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Optimizing your SOC 2 and ISO 27001 compliance reporting to gain an edge


As a service organization, your risk environment has likely changed over the past few years. Companies have had to adjust to working remotely and adapt to the challenges of new cybersecurity protocols.

In a world filled with ever-evolving cyber threats, customers and partners want assurances that the companies they work with take cybersecurity and privacy seriously. That’s why it’s critical to update your organization’s IT governance and risk assessment process and enhance your SOC 2 report. Doing this demonstrates your commitment to protecting data, mitigating risk, and keeping on top of industry trends and changes, and your clients’ expectations.

Enhancing your SOC 2 report establishes trust, which is critical to your bottom line, and it can be a competitive differentiator when closing new business.

From SOC 2 compliance to SOC 2+

Developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the service organization control (SOC) is a reporting platform that provides essential insight and stakeholder assurance to both internal and external stakeholders by ensuring trust and transparency.

Most organizations are familiar with SOC 2, a minimum security requirement for service organizations and any organization processing and/or storing customer data in the cloud. It focuses on securing and protecting customer data across five categories called trust services criteria (TSC):

  • Security—The system is protected against unauthorized access (both physical and logical).
  • Availability—The system is available for operation and use as committed or agreed.
  • Processing integrity—System processing is complete, accurate, timely, and authorized.
  • Confidentiality—Information designated as confidential is protected as committed or agreed.
  • Privacy—Personal information is collected, used, retained, disclosed, and disposed of in conformity with the commitments in the entity’s privacy notice and with criteria set forth in generally accepted privacy principles (GAPP) issued by the AICPA and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

However, many organizations are unaware of the enhanced SOC 2+ option that assures compliance beyond the five TSC to include multiple regulatory and industry frameworks such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the International Standardization Organization (ISO), the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST), and the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) to name a few.

SOC 2+ reports also provide assurance beyond the five trust services criteria:

Why a SOC 2+ audit is vital for your business

There’s been an uptick in demand and requirements for SOC 2+ reports, primarily driven by remote work, significant levels of outsourcing, and a rapidly growing number of organizations (especially technology and fintech companies), that are building conditions for SOC 2+ reporting directly into their outsourcing contracts.

By upgrading your SOC 2 reporting to a SOC 2+, you simultaneously meet a broad range of regulatory and industry control requirements and maintain a competitive advantage.

Other benefits include the opportunity to:

  • Facilitate and improve customer retention
  • Boost efficiency of internal processes
  • Reduce the number of resources required for third-party oversight
  • Avoid costly data breaches or fines for non-compliance 

Whether you’re a healthcare provider, cloud service provider, financial services technology provider or data centre hosting service provider, getting a SOC 2+ report is the way forward.

Achieving customized compliance

In some cases, optimizing your SOC 2 compliance can be achieved through customized add-ons based on your customers’ unique needs. We recently helped a leading energy billing vendor achieve both SOC 2 and ISO 27001 compliance to provide their clients with an additional level of assurance.

While SOC 2+ provides a full-scale implementation of multiple frameworks, there is a significant overlap between the SOC 2 TSC and the ISO 27001 criteria, allowing the client to realize efficiencies in reporting and reduced costs by mapping the TSC to this compliance framework.

As it was our client’s first time going through the audit, we performed a preliminary gap assessment and provided the company with a roadmap of the current compliance focus areas to address before the official audit.

What resulted was a successful audit certifying that the company had established enterprise-grade security procedures for customer data.

ISO/IEC 27001:2022 specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system within the context of the organization.

HITRUST provides standards for all stages of transmission and storage of health care information to help ensure integrity and confidentiality.

The NIST framework focuses on improving cybersecurity for critical infrastructure.

Cloud controls matrix (CCM) is specifically designed to provide fundamental security principles to guide cloud providers and to assist prospective cloud clients in assessing the overall security risk of a cloud provider.

Cybersecurity assessments and ISO27001 implementation support

We also provide cybersecurity assessments and ISO 27001-ISMS implementation support to clients on their ISO 27001 certification journey.

Cybersecurity threats are on the rise for organizations of all sizes and in all industries. Regulators, industry associations, and federal governments have begun to take action, issuing attestation guidelines and regulatory mandates surrounding organizational cybersecurity programs.

With concern growing among stakeholders, there’s increasing pressure for companies to prove they have adequate controls in place. Businesses must detect and mitigate cyber breaches that can disrupt business operations, damage their brand, and cause significant financial losses.

Obtaining a comprehensive cyber risk assessment allows an organization to understand its cyber program’s current state, identify potential gaps and risks, and ultimately implement a practical cybersecurity framework.

Risk assessments should evaluate:

  • Application security
  • Data protection
  • Identity and access management
  • Infrastructure management
  • Vendor management
  • Event management
  • Security awareness training

We integrate select components of the major cybersecurity frameworks, including NIST, ISO, AICPA, and HITRUST, measuring against regulatory and legal guidance to optimize risk mitigation. This approach results in a comprehensive program and improves alignment across the organization:

Collect relevant policies, standards, procedures, infrastructure/network diagrams, previous assessments, and audit reports. Conduct interviews to gather valuable information to support the analysis phase.

Review collected data and assess it against NIST or ISO 27001 requirements to determine compliance and vulnerabilities. If a vulnerability is identified, the level of risk is determined, and potential threats are enumerated. Gaps and vulnerabilities will be further explored and validated during the assessment phase.

Validate the extent to which all vulnerabilities discovered exist and determine the risk rating. Provide a detailed risk report that describes the assessed areas and their strengths and weaknesses. Identified weaknesses are described in detail, including recommendations for remediation measures to comply with both regulations and standards.

How BDO can help

We know that keeping up with the various compliance requirements can be demanding, especially if you don’t know where to start.

That’s why our advisors are uniquely equipped to meet you where you are on your compliance journey and help you become more proficient in your approach to third-party reporting. Contact us to find out how we can help your business.

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