SOC 2 Audit – What You Need To Know

In healthcare, adherence to laws and regulations is not just a legal requirement, but a foundational aspect of demonstrating satisfactory assurances to your partners, customers, and patients. The healthcare ecosystem is meticulously governed by a complex array of regulatory requirements designed to protect patient information, ensure the delivery of high-quality care, and uphold ethical standards within the industry.

As a busy healthcare leader, it can be difficult to follow the security and compliance landscape. Don’t fall victim to accumulating security and compliance debt. This blog will outline the 2 audit processes and why meeting SOC 2 audit requirements is vital for protecting patient safety. To do this properly, we must introduce a term unfamiliar to many, but serves as an often unseen obstacle to healthcare innovation. This barrier is compliance debt.

The word ‘debt’ generally implies something negative, suggesting a duty that remains unmet. Debt can encompass all aspects of technology, security, and human resources, and it has far reaching and potentially catastrophic implications for your organization.

In the context of IT and compliance, the idea of debt expands well beyond mere monetary considerations.

Compliance Debt Security Debt
The accumulation of technical, operational, and personnel requirements to reach and maintain an adequate state of compliance. Quantified by evaluating the risk profile and risk tolerance with the ROI of compliance investment toward mitigating potential reputational and financial impacts, which result from compliance cycles, data breaches, costs of remediation, and massive regulatory enforcement actions. The accumulation of vulnerabilities in your organizational security posture increases the likelihood and impact of exploitation and makes it harder or even impossible to defend critical business operations, systems, or data from cybersecurity threats.

One of the key mechanisms to ensure robust security is the Service Organization Control 2 (SOC 2) audit.

SOC 2 is an authoritative measure that assesses a company’s ability to manage and safeguard customer data. SOC 2, also known as Service Organization Control Type II, represents a cybersecurity compliance framework created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Its main goal is to validate the effective implementation and management of effective internal security controls of third-party service providers. SOC 2 Type I SOC 2 Type I examines the effectiveness of an organization’s internal controls’ design and implementation at a specific point in time.

SOC 2 Audit – Why is it required? 

The SOC 2 audit is a procedure that scrutinizes service providers’ management of third-party data conducted by a licensed CPA firm, it focuses on five trust service principles (TSC): security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy, where applicable to a service provider’s scope of services.

The SOC 2 Type II audit is particularly significant as it offers continuous assurance to stakeholders by demonstrating that the controls are not only in place but also operational (Scrut.io).

The necessity of SOC 2 audits stems from the urgent need to secure sensitive health information and is often consider a cost of doing business. Regular audits help identify and contextualize potential gaps, as outlined in the TSC. They are integral to obtaining invaluable insights to an organization’s security posture, building trust, decreasing risk by enabling targeted cybersecurity investment, and encouraging efficient business practices.

What are the benefits to my company? 

Successfully completing a SOC 2 audit without a “qualified” opinion, demonstrates your Healthtech company’s commitment to effective data protection. It signifies that your firm has sufficiently designed and implemented relevant security controls and can solidify the organization’s value proposition and competitiveness within the market.

Moreover, completion of a SOC 2 audit underscores your dedication to maintaining compliance standards. Your SOC 2 report generally lasts for a year, indicating that your company is continually reevaluating its processes and staying updated with the latest security standards.

Demonstrating adherence to applicable TSC principles can also serve as a powerful marketing strategy. Achieving success in a SOC 2 audit could attract prospective clients seeking validated security assurances for handling sensitive data. Companies that successfully complete SOC 2 audits earn clients’ trust for safeguarding their sensitive information, which is especially important when securing PHI in the cloud.

How to Prepare for a SOC 2 Audit

A SOC 2 audit involves an evaluation of your company’s implementation of specific policies, processes, and technology controls. These may include:

Information Security Management Audit Logging and Monitoring
Access Controls Third-party Risk Management
Change Management Data Classification
Password and Privilege Management Acceptable Use
Risk Management System/Software Security Requirements
Incident Response Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Meeting the stringent demands of a SOC 2 compliance audit requirements can sound daunting, but it’s essential for your company to establish precise policies, procedures, and technologies to maintain high standards of security and compliance. These include, but are not limited to network and endpoint security, encryption, key management, vulnerability identification, identity verification, access control, as well as data backup and duplication. Additionally, it’s crucial to develop a mechanism for auditing logs, monitoring security system modifications, and safeguarding vital information. By implementing these protocols, you demonstrate to external auditors your robust cyber risk management strategies.

It’s essential to remember that the SOC 2 audit covers criteria that enable companies to mitigate the risk of a breach. Thus, the primary purpose is not just about successfully completing the audit, but more so about adopting, aligning, and adhering to a robust information security framework that can enable an organization to reduce cyber risk and defend against potential threats.

How can a Cloud Security Posture Management and Managed Services company help with SOC 2 Audits?

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) providers offer industry-recognized standards for data protection based on best practices. They use advanced controls and countermeasures to address security risks and keep your data protected. Moreover, they’re always monitoring the threat landscape with continuous monitoring of your cloud environment and systems. These companies can identify suspicious activity and take quick action to prevent significant security incidents, which can involve a breach. They don’t just find the weak spots—they help you fix them.

Finally, many CSPM and managed service providers (MSPs) can tailor their services to meet your specific needs. Whether it is regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, or industry standards and frameworks, such as TSC for SOC 2 compliance, they have you covered. They will work with you to understand your unique challenges and objectives, developing a customized plan that ensures you can focus on your core business initiatives.

If your company is facing a SOC 2 audit, it may be time to consider partnering with a vendor that can significantly simplify your path to compliance. It’s not just about compliance—it’s about building a robust security posture that protects your customers’ data, your company’s reputation, and your ability to innovate in the cloud!

SOC 2 audits are more than just a compliance requirement, they are a testament to your commitment to maintaining a strong security and compliance posture, and demonstrating to stakeholders that their data is protected.

Don’t fall victim to accumulating compliance debt. If you’re wondering how to prepare for a SOC 2 audit, schedule a consultation with a healthcare security and compliance expert today.

 

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