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An organization pursuing SOC 2 Compliance is required to comply with the applicable criteria listed under the AICPA’s SOC2 Trust Services Criteria. The 5 Trust Service Criteria based on which the auditor assesses the organization is Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Process Integrity & Privacy. While the Security criteria are mandatory, the other four Trust Services Criteria are optional. Organizations may opt to include Process Integrity in their audit if they wish to provide assurance to their clients that there no errors in their process of data input, processing procedures and the data output.
Complying with SOC2 Audit, Process Integrity criteria will demonstrate that the organization’s system processing is complete, valid, accurate, and authorized to meet its customer’s objectives. It suggests that the service organization has implemented necessary policies and procedures over system inputs, including controls to ensure completeness and accuracy in products, services, and reporting offered to their clients.
In today’s article, we have discussed why including Process Integrity in SOC2 Audit would be beneficial for an organization. We have discussed what it means for an organization to be SOC2 Compliant with Process Integrity criteria.
What is Process Integrity in the TSC of SOC2 Audit?
AICPA defines Process Integrity as system processing that is complete, valid, accurate, and authorized to meet the entity’s objectives. It is a criterion that ensures there are no errors in processing and in case of any, they should be detected timely and corrected. Additionally, the criteria cover ensuring that the inputs and outputs to the system are accurate throughout the process and the data stored are secured and well maintained.
Understanding Process Integrity in a systems Data Input Process
For organizations to achieve compliance with SOC2 Process Integrity need to ensure that they perform their due diligence and ensure the accuracy of the data they process. Moreover, they need to demonstrate to their auditors their awareness about the data input process into their system. If not this could lead to incomplete and inaccurate data that could impact a client’s ability to use that data. Considering this, organizations need to demonstrate that they have all the necessary policies and procedures in place that guide them on accurate data input into their system.
Who should include process integrity in their SOC2 Audit?
If an organization deals with the processing of data, then they need to ensure that the data input into their systems is accurate. So, for those service organization who provide financial or data-related services such as analytics must consider adding process integrity as a trust services criteria in their Audit report. Today, most clients ask organizations providing data processing services to include process integrity in their report to know if the services they are providing are complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized.
Why should Process Integrity be included in a SOC 2 Audit?
Any business outsourcing a part of its operation to a service organization needs to know the working process of the service organization. It is essential for businesses to determine the process integrity of systems and information of service organization which deals with their data. They need to verify that the service organization has in place all the necessary policies and procedures for process integrity that protect the information, and assures the system ( hardware, software, and cloud applications) is completely accurate, valid, timely and properly authorized. It validates whether or not the service organizations are abiding with the operational and technical mandates as per the industry standards. A SOC2 Process Integrity will verify that the service organization system performs all the intended functions in an unimpaired manner, with no unauthorized or unintentional manipulation of data.
Given below are a few reasons based on which an organization may decide to include processing integrity in their SOC 2 Audit–
- If the organization is unable to achieve the level of accuracy or completeness in systems and data processing as necessary, and in accordance with the agreement, they may need to include Process Integrity in SOC2 Audit.
- If the service organization wishes to demonstrate compliance with SOC2, validating the accuracy and completeness of systems and information processing, require organizations to include process integrity in SOC2 Audit.
- In case of a disconnect between the organizational services and expectations of the business entity, the integrity of the processing of client data by the service organization will be questionable and will hence require an audit of system and information process integrity.
- If the business suspects or detects frequent errors in its information and control procedures offered by their third-party service organization, they ask for process integrity SOC2 audit of their systems. The audit will help pinpoint the issue at its source and facilitate quick remediation.
- If the business witnesses frequent delays in service offerings, a closer look at the service organization’s processing integrity may help both parties resolve the prevailing issue immediately.
- If the business entity has even the slightest reason to believe that processing of systems and information is performed without required approvals at the service organization, they may request a for process integrity SOC2 Audit review. The reports from the audit will ensure whether or not the service organization is ensuring proper authorization with their transactions.
Generally, if the business process is smooth and as per the agreement, the business entity should have no reasons to not request for including Process Integrity as part of their SOC2 Audit. But making it a part of the audit process resolves a lot of issues, especially before it snowballs into a bigger problem and creates a mess. Moreover, Process Integrity SOC2 Audit demonstrates the organization’s commitment to ensuring accuracy, validity, and completeness of system processing.
Complying with Processing Integrity Criteria
During a SOC 2 audit, an auditor will assess the Compliance with the Process Integrity criteria based on the following six criteria which include:
- Procedures need to be in place to prevent, detect, and correct processing errors to meet the business entity’s process integrity commitments and system requirements.
- System inputs must be measured and recorded to ensure timely, accuracy, and completeness, to meet the business entity’s processing integrity commitments and system requirements.
- Data processing is performed with due authorization completely, accurately, and on time to meet the business entity’s processing integrity commitments and system requirements.
- Data stored must be maintained completely, accurately, and on time for only a specified time-frame to meet the business entity’s processing integrity commitments and objectives.
- Ensure that system input and output is complete, accurate, and distributed to meet the business entity’s processing integrity commitments and objective.
- Ensuring modification of data, with due authorization and processing to meet the business entity’s processing integrity commitments and objective.
Process Integrity is one of the five Trust Services Criteria in a SOC 2 Audit. Although it is an optional criterion, service organizations performing transactions or completing processing on behalf of clients must consider including Process Integrity in their Audit. While it helps demonstrate the organization’s commitment to process integrity, it also ensures systems and information are secured against unauthorized manipulation. Moreover, the business entity or clients may likely ask Service Organizations for processing integrity review in their SOC2 Audit. So, from a security standpoint, a business standpoint, and for achieving Compliance, incorporating Process Integrity will surely strengthen the processing of data and systems in the organization.