Modern businesses are increasingly being built around customer data. Companies are using consumer data to improve their products and services, to create personalized experiences, predict what customers want, and to gain valuable insights that will give their business advantage. However, how you use your customer data can make or break your business.

Every entity that handles customer data needs to take adequate steps to protect the privacy and security of that information. The Service Organization Control 2 (SOC 2) helps you do just that. It’s a framework that businesses use to guide them on creating internal controls for securing customer data while meeting their own organizational goals. If you are a startup that processes, stores, or transmits customer information in any way, you need to be SOC 2 compliant.

How SOC 2 Works

After an increase in data breaches and information security concerns, SOC 2 was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Companies use the SOC 2 framework to assess whether their data security controls are solid enough to keep their client’s information secure. After updating its policies and controls to meet the SOC 2 criteria, a company performs a SOC 2 audit.

The auditor, who should be an independent and certified public accountant, gauges whether the company’s internal controls and security measures are adequate and effective, and gives a report. After passing the audit, your business is issued with a SOC 2 certification. SOC 2 has 5 trust service categories. It’s up to your startup to study the requirements, decide which ones are relevant to your situation, and determine what controls to create to meet those requirements. Here are the 5 trust categories.

Security

Regarded as the primary criteria, your startup must demonstrate that it has implemented measures to guarantee the safety of customer data. This includes preventing information theft, misuse, alteration, and unsanctioned access and disclosure. Your security systems should be formidable enough to protect against such scenarios.

Availability

To be compliant, your startup has to show that your data systems, services, and products are ready for utilization and that they meet your business objectives. Here, you should have a backup and disaster recovery plan to ensure your services are always accessible.

Processing Integrity

Your system processes and applications are scrutinized to ensure they promote end-to-end data integrity. This ensures your apps and processes don’t misbehave and modify, delete, hold-up, or give incorrect information.

Confidentiality

This category is meant to make sure your startup has taken steps to store and manage all sensitive and critical information securely. This includes customer information and any other vital data. Tools such as encryption software are used to prevent information exposure or theft.

Privacy

Here, you have to ensure that any customer data is gathered, used, stored, disclosed, or deleted according to the privacy agreement your customer signed. You should demonstrate that you follow your privacy policy and conform to the Generally Accepted Privacy Principles (GAPP).

Benefits of Getting SOC 2 Compliance and how it will Help Your Startup Build Credibility

Although SOC 2 compliance is a complicated process, it can generate a lot of value for your company once implemented. Here’s how it can benefit your startup.

Better Relationships with Banks and Partners

When you are a young company, credibility is everything. Strictly regulated industries such as banks have strict requirements that dictate how they work with various businesses. This often creates a challenge for startups who are seeking funding. To avoid being disqualified, startups need to go out of the way to remove roadblocks that may cause friction between you and the financer. Being SOC 2 compliance is one way to show a bank that you have taken adequate measures to protect your customers and your business. When you become certified, banks, insurance companies, and investors will find it easier to work with you.

Reputation

Compliance cultivates reputation. Showing your customers and partners that you have taken some concrete cybersecurity measures will paint you as a responsible company. A SOC 2 certificate can help you with this. Large and medium enterprises looking for vendors or partners only work with startups that can produce compliance certifications. A SOC 2 certification will boost your reputation and open up new opportunities.

Competitive Advantage

SOC 2 certification will give you an advantage over your competitors. Since today’s customers are more concerned with their digital security, they opt to work with businesses that are concerned with customer information security. By marketing your startup as SOC 2 compliant, customers will trust you and choose you over your rivals.

Increased Innovation

The policies you implement when complying with SOC 2 will help tighten the security of customer data in your company. Therefore, you will have less to worry about cybersecurity. This will allow you to concentrate on your core business functions and focus your resources on innovation.

Wrapping Up

Getting a SOC 2 certification at the early stages of your company is very beneficial. It will help your business to build its credibility early on and develop positive relationships with customers, financers, investors, and partners from the word go.

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