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In the realm of cybersecurity and data protection, trust is paramount. It’s the foundation upon which businesses and clients build enduring relationships, secure in the knowledge that sensitive data is handled with the utmost care and security.

So, we’re thrilled to announce a significant milestone on our journey to fortify that trust: Atera has achieved SOC 2 certification!

For us, this achievement is more than just a certification; it’s a testament to our unwavering commitment to data security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. We understand that in the digital age, where remote work and cloud-based solutions have become the norm, safeguarding your business and your clients’ data is non-negotiable. SOC 2 certification is not just a stamp of approval; it’s a promise that we take your security seriously.

In this blog, we’ll delve into what SOC 2 is and why it’s important, how to get SOC 2 compliance in a nutshell, how long a SOC 2 audit typically takes, what SOC 2 certification means for Atera, and, more importantly, what it means for you as a valued member of our community.

So, let’s explore this exciting journey together as we celebrate Atera’s attainment of SOC 2 certification!

What is SOC 2?

SOC 2, or Service Organization Control 2, is a framework for assessing and reporting on the controls and processes implemented by service organizations to safeguard customer data and ensure the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of that data. It was developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) as part of the Trust Services Criteria.

SOC 2 is a widely accepted security standard for cloud service providers that helps organizations protect their customer data from any unauthorized access or misuse. This type of audit is conducted by an independent third party and looks at a company’s non-financial reporting controls such as security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. Organizations that meet the rigorous criteria set out in the SOC 2 standards are said to be compliant with them and have taken appropriate measures to protect customer data.

Obtaining SOC 2 requires organizations to demonstrate that they have adequate controls in place to ensure their customers’ data is secure and handled correctly. The audit covers many aspects of data security, such as user access management, system monitoring, authentication protocols, encryption methods used for data storage and transmission, incident response procedures, and other related standards issued by regulatory bodies, including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), ISO/IEC 27001/2 ( International Organization for Standardization, and the International Electrotechnical Commission), or FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act).

The main objective of this audit is to provide assurance to customers that their data will not be mishandled or exposed in any way. This helps organizations build trust with their customers and gain competitive advantages in the market since most businesses are expected to comply with these standards to stay competitive.

Overall, SOC 2 certification provides peace of mind that customer information is stored securely and handled responsibly while providing additional benefits such as increased trust with customers and potential investors. Atera has recently achieved this important milestone, which will enable us to continue protecting customer data while satisfying industry requirements for safety and security.

What are the differences between SOC 1 and SOC 2?

SOC 1 and SOC 2 are both types of compliance frameworks that address different aspects of a company’s controls and processes related to financial reporting and data security. They are often used by service organizations to demonstrate the effectiveness of their internal controls to clients and stakeholders, but they focus on different areas:

SOC 1 (Service Organization Control 1):

  • Purpose: SOC 1 reports are specifically designed for service organizations that provide services to other businesses, where the services may impact the financial reporting of those businesses.
  • Focus: SOC 1 primarily focuses on controls related to financial reporting, including controls over financial transactions, data processing, and data accuracy.
  • Audience: Typically, the primary audience for SOC 1 reports is the client organizations that use the services of the service provider. These reports are used to assess the impact of the service provider’s controls on their financial reporting.

SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2):

  • Purpose: SOC 2 reports are intended for service organizations that store or process sensitive customer data, like personal information, but not necessarily for financial reporting purposes.
  • Focus: SOC 2 is more broadly focused on controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy (commonly referred to as the Trust Services Criteria). It assesses how well an organization safeguards customer data.
  • Audience: SOC 2 reports are usually shared with a wider audience, including current and prospective clients, business partners, and regulatory bodies. They are relevant for organizations that handle sensitive data and need to assure stakeholders of their data security practices.

In summary, the key difference between SOC 1 and SOC 2 is their focus, scope and purpose. SOC 1 deals primarily with controls related to financial reporting, while SOC 2 focuses on controls related to data security, integrity, availability, and privacy.

Organizations often choose between these frameworks based on their specific business operations and the needs and concerns of their clients and stakeholders. It’s also possible for an organization to pursue both SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports if they have relevant activities in both areas.

Why is SOC 2 certification important?

In a world where data breaches and cyber threats loom large, businesses must take every measure to secure sensitive information. One such crucial measure is SOC 2 certification. But what makes it so important?

SOC 2 certification is an important security standard for cloud service providers, as it provides assurance to customers that their data is being handled in accordance with industry standards. It helps to verify that a company has implemented proper security controls and can be a competitive edge in the market, increasing customer trust in a company’s services.

Organizations must demonstrate that they have adequate safeguards in place to protect customer data and ensure compliance with various laws and regulations. SOC 2 certification serves as an independent verification of the company’s security practices and procedures, providing assurance to customers that their data is protected. This certification also helps organizations maintain their reputation by demonstrating their commitment to protecting customer data.

Furthermore, SOC 2 certification can help organizations gain business from potential customers who are looking for assurance that their data is secure. Many companies now require third-party validation of a provider’s security posture before agreeing to do business with them. As such, achieving SOC 2 certification provides organizations with an additional competitive advantage over those who do not have the same level of assurance.

SOC 2 requires regular audits of systems and processes in order to maintain its certifications, meaning organizations need to continuously monitor and improve their practices over time. This ensures that companies remain compliant with any new regulations or changes in industry standards while remaining on top of any emerging threats or vulnerabilities that could compromise customer data.

In summary, SOC 2 certification is an important security standard for cloud service providers as it provides assurance to customers that their data is secure and handled properly according to industry standards. Additionally, it can give organizations a competitive edge by helping them win business from potential customers who require this type of assurance when considering which provider they will use for their services or products. Finally, it requires regular audits, which help ensure companies remain compliant while staying ahead of any potential threats or vulnerabilities which could compromise customer data.

How to get SOC 2 compliance in a nutshell?

Achieving SOC 2 compliance involves a systematic process that includes the following key steps:

Determine Scope: Begin by defining the scope of your SOC 2 compliance audit. Identify the systems, processes, and services that will be covered by the audit. Determine which of the five Trust Services Criteria (security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy) are relevant to your organization’s operations.

Select an Auditor: Choose a qualified third-party auditing firm that is approved and validated by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) with expertise in SOC 2 assessments. The auditor should be independent and not have any conflicts of interest with your organization.

Gap Analysis: Conduct a gap analysis to assess your current controls and practices against the selected Trust Services Criteria. This analysis will help identify areas where you are in compliance and areas where improvements are needed.

Develop and Implement Controls: Based on the results of the gap analysis, develop and implement controls and security measures to address identified gaps and align with SOC 2 requirements. These controls should cover aspects such as data access, system monitoring, incident response, and more.

Documentation: Create comprehensive documentation that outlines your control objectives, policies, procedures, and evidence of compliance. This documentation should demonstrate how you’ve implemented and maintained your controls.

Testing and Audit: The auditor will perform testing to evaluate the effectiveness of your controls. For a Type II report, this testing will occur over a specified period, typically six to twelve months. Be prepared to provide evidence of your controls in action, such as logs, policies, and procedures.

Remediation: Address any issues or weaknesses identified during the audit. Make necessary improvements to strengthen your controls and security posture.

It’s important to note that SOC 2 compliance is not a one-time effort; it requires ongoing commitment to data security and privacy.

By following these steps closely and preparing thoroughly ahead of time, organizations can confidently achieve SOC 2 certification while providing customers with the assurance that their data is safe and secure.

How long does a SOC 2 audit take?

The process of attaining SOC 2 certification is quite extensive and requires a significant amount of time for successful completion.

The duration of a SOC 2 audit can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the complexity of the organization’s systems and processes, the scope of the audit, the readiness of the organization, and the type of report being issued (Type I or Type II).

Here’s a general guideline:

Type I Report: A Type I SOC 2 report typically covers the state of controls at a specific point in time. This audit is generally shorter and can typically take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to complete. The exact duration depends on the size of the organization and the readiness of its controls.

Type II Report: A Type II SOC 2 report provides a more comprehensive assessment by evaluating the effectiveness of controls over a specified period, often 6-12 months. Type II audits are more extensive and, as a result, take longer to complete.

Next steps for Atera

Atera is committed to continuing its commitment to providing customers with the highest level of security and privacy. To ensure that our platform remains compliant with industry standards, we’ll continue to maintain our SOC 2 certification through regular audits and are now in the middle of our SOC 2 Type 2 process. Additionally, Atera is dedicated to staying at the forefront of the industry by exploring new solutions to further secure our environment and protect our customer data.

Here at Atera, we recognize that cybersecurity isn’t just about technology but also involves all of our employees. So, we continue employee training programs related to data privacy and best practices, and we continue to regularly update policies related to data usage and storage.

We’ll also continue conducting annual risk assessments in order to identify any potential threats proactively and ensure our environment remains compliant with industry standards.

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