SOC1/SOC2 Auditors play a key role in the SOC report attestation. System and Organization Control Reports also known as SOC Reports provide details about an organization’s internal controls based on the standard requirements and applicable Trust Service Criteria (TSC). They are reports which are governed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) that focuses on ensuring that the controls implemented by the Service Organizations are effective and secures data.
For organizations to comply with SOC and achieve a SOC1 or a SOC2 audit report are required to go through an audit that evaluates the organization’s controls against the applicable standard or Trust Service Criteria. This audit is conducted by a SOC1/SOC2 Auditor who will then based on the findings provide a detailed report outlining how the organization has implemented security controls and whether or not the organization can achieve SOC1 or SOC2 Compliance.
The organization can then based on their compliance use the SOC1 or SOC 2 report as a certification of security attestation showing they are compliant with their clients. So, for organizations selecting the right SOC1/SOC2 Audit is crucial in their journey of compliance. Selecting the right partner to guide your organization with SOC1/SOC 2 compliance can be challenging. So, addressing this challenge, we have compiled a few key considerations that organizations must consider when selecting a SOC1/SOC2 Auditor for SOC1/SOC 2 compliance.
Key Considerations when Selecting SOC1/SOC2 Auditor
Selecting a SOC1/SOC2 Auditor may be a daunting task for Service Organizations looking to achieve SOC1/SOC2 Compliance. While it may be a difficult task to begin in your compliance journey, yet selecting the right auditor is crucial. So, for Service Organizations like you, to make the process of shortlisting simple, here is a list of points you must consider in an auditor before hiring them as your Audit partner. Here are some key drivers for your decision in the selection process.
A SOC1/SOC2 Audit can only be performed by an AICPA Affiliated or Certified CPA firm or Person. So, to begin with, Service organizations must shortlist vendors listed as AICPA Certified. Organizations must only engage with an independent SOC1/SOC2 auditor or assessor to conduct an audit and receive a SOC1/SOC2 Attestation. The Service Organizations can look for this list on the official website https://cpaverify.org/ to select vendors that they can probably work with.
Service Organizations must look for experienced auditors for performing their SOC1/SOC2 Audits. Experience in the industry counts and this definitely goes a long way in ensuring a smooth compliance journey for your organization. One must determine whether the audit firm has performed similar SOC Audits in your niche and similar-sized organizations. Your internal audit team will find it easy working with an audit firm that already holds a good amount of experience in auditing similar companies like yours.
Qualification & Skills of the Audit Team
As a bottom line, SOC1 and SOC2 are heavily IT and Information Security based standards; so a CPA who is very good in Finance and Accounting but has a basic background in IT and Information Security will most probably end up doing a shoddy job. Service Organizations should determine the individual qualification and skills of the audit team of the AICPA Certified Audit firm before you hire one as your partner.
This is essential because it is the individual auditor that performs the audit in your organization. This will prevent your organization from falling for non-qualified auditors performing the audits for your organization. So, Organization should check whether the SOC1/SOC2 audit team has relevant background and certifications to perform the audit. A few highly recommended certifications can be CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA, etc; at the very least, we strongly recommend a minimum experience of at least 5 years in IT audit and Information Security.
Process & Time-frame for Audit
Your organization needs to know the process that an audit firm follows for performing the assessment. You need to verify whether the audits are conducted based on the latest AICPA guidelines and Trust Service Criteria (TSC). Further, you must ensure that the SOC1/SOC2 Auditors have a defined process for conducting the audit because, this requires you to invest your resources (time, money, and people) in it as well.
You should also know the time frame for the entire audit and attestation process to prepare your team accordingly. So, knowing the general timeframe for assessment including the evaluation of security controls, drafting of reports, and delivering the final SOC 2 report is crucial. You should be looking for a firm that is committed to quality and efficiency in its audit process.
You must check what kind of audit deliverables the CPA Audit firm provides to their clients. The deliverables should include recommendations that help mature your security controls and the environment. The auditor must suggest areas for improvement in terms of security implementation, processes, and technologies to consider for your organization. All of this plays a key role in achieving SOC1/SOC2 compliance.
Cost of SOC1/SOC2 Audit
Cost for SOC1/SOC2 Compliance is crucial for any Service Organization, especially small-scale start-ups. SOC1/SOC2 Compliance can be an expensive investment, requiring the organization to spend a good amount of time, money, and other resources on it. So, organizations should consider the overall value or cost to shortlist a vendor that fits the budget.
Organizations must analyze to see whether or not the prices are competitive with the market and offer good value. It is important to note that SOC1/SOC2 Compliance is an ongoing process. So consider the total cost of the audit process over at least 2 or 3 years and not just the first year. That said, partnering with the same audit firm, there will be much more efficient over time and that may work out to be a lot more reasonable for your organization.
VISTA InfoSec is a global Cybersecurity organization with offices in US, UK, Singapore and India. We have our Consulting/Advisory practice as well as separate audit department with independent CPA for conducting independent audits and attestations for clients globally. We have been a part of this industry for nearly two decades since 2004 and have the experience, expertise and qualified in-house auditors to help organizations like you in your efforts of SOC1/SOC2 Compliance.
Our team of compliance experts and auditors will handhold you throughout the Compliance journey and guide you with recommendations of improvement for mature security controls and the environment. To learn more about us or the SOC1/SOC2 Audit & Attestation services you can drop us a mail at info[@]vistainfosec.com. Also if you wish to learn more about SOC1, SOC2, SOC3 Audits and attestation you can check our blogs and YouTube video which is a treasure trove of knowledge for our viewers, readers, and clients.