Governance & Compliance

Everything You Need to know about SOC 2 Controls List

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Starting a SOC 2 journey is a proactive measure to enhance your organization's security posture.

To maximize its effectiveness,  it’s crucial to carefully select and implement SOC 2 controls that are well-suited to your specific organizational needs.

The selection of these controls should be based on a comprehensive risk assessment that evaluates potential security threats specific to your business operations and stages of growth. It's also important to consider your customers' security expectations and requirements, as meeting these can significantly boost trust and satisfaction.

By choosing SOC 2 controls thoughtfully, you can strategically prioritize which aspects of your information security to strengthen first. This prioritization should be based on your most pressing risks and vulnerabilities.

Such a targeted approach makes your efforts more efficient and ensures that resources are utilized effectively, thereby enhancing security measures while supporting ongoing business operations.

As you systematically tackle these areas, your company can develop a strong security posture that evolves with your business and adapts to new threats. This strategic focus on security protects sensitive data and establishes your company as a dependable and secure entity in your industry.

In this article, we write about  SOC 2 Trust Service Criteria, delve into SOC 2 controls, and pinpoint the key controls necessary to meet these criteria.

What are SOC 2 Controls?

SOC 2 controls are a broad spectrum of protocols, policies, and technological systems specifically designed to bolster your organization's information security management. 

These controls are integral to the SOC 2 Trust Services Criteria (TSC) and undergo a thorough evaluation by auditors during the SOC 2 audit and report preparation.

These controls span a wide array—from administrative safeguards that dictate data management and access control to technical defenses that protect against unauthorized access and data breaches. Key elements include encryption techniques, secure data storage options, and robust firewall setups.

SOC 2 controls also manage operational procedures like data backup execution, data recovery protocols in case of data loss, and the routine updating and patching of software systems. An essential component of SOC 2 controls is the training of employees on security awareness and operational procedures, ensuring they understand their roles in upholding security.

Each control is customized to mitigate specific risks pertinent to the services your company offers, safeguarding sensitive information from both external and internal threats. 

This holistic approach demonstrates your organization's commitment to security best practices, thereby enhancing trust with your clients. 

SOC 2 Control Examples

SOC 2 controls are designed to enhance data security across various processes within your organization. Key examples include:


1. Password Management: 

Establishing strong password policies is essential for securing system access within your company. This control ensures that you implement comprehensive guidelines for creating and managing passwords, significantly enhancing the protection of your organization's data and systems. 

By enforcing these policies, you effectively guard against unauthorized access, safeguard sensitive information and maintain operational security.

2. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): 

Implementing multi-factor authentication introduces a critical layer of defense for your company by demanding more than just a password for access. 

Before granting access, this method requires you to verify your identity through multiple proofs, such as a code sent to your phone or a fingerprint scan. 

This approach greatly enhances your security posture by reducing the risk of unauthorized entry, ensuring your company's data remains protected.

3. Access Control: 

By establishing specific permissions and defining roles, you ensure that only authorized members of your organization can access sensitive information. This targeted approach helps maintain the security and integrity of your data.

4. Onboarding:

When onboarding new employees, ensure they are thoroughly familiar with your organization's security practices and protocols. This step is crucial in equipping them with the knowledge they need to uphold your company's security standards.

5. Offboarding: 

Ensure your offboarding procedures are secure by revoking access to critical systems and data for departing employees. This practice protects your company from potential security threats by preventing unauthorized access after their departure.

These controls serve as the foundation of SOC 2 compliance, ensuring that you protect sensitive data and uphold the integrity of your organization.

SOC 2 Control List

The list of SOC 2 controls originates from the five Trust Service Criteria, which auditors use to evaluate companies during a SOC 2 audit.

The Trust Services Criteria are a set of principles and criteria established by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) that pertain to SOC 2 reports. They are designed to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of a service organization's system. By adhering to these criteria, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to maintaining high standards of data protection and operational integrity.

These controls encompass all the processes, procedures, and systems you implement to protect customer data in compliance with SOC 2 standards.


1. Control Environment:

This approach highlights the critical role of integrity and ethical values in your organization. It necessitates the active participation of your board of directors and senior management in developing and overseeing internal controls. 

Moreover, it ensures that each individual is held accountable for fulfilling their part in meeting the organization's goals.

2. Monitoring and Control Activities: 

Regular evaluations are conducted to quickly identify and rectify any control deficiencies, ensuring that these findings are clearly communicated to stakeholders. You establish policies and procedures to maintain strong governance and ensure strict compliance with security protocols.

3. Logical and Physical Access Controls: 

This control mandates that you protect your information assets by implementing stringent measures for logical access, such as issuing and managing credentials and authorizations. It also involves regulating physical access to your facilities to prevent unauthorized entry.

4. System and Operations Controls: 

This approach centers on detecting and monitoring changes in your systems that could pose security risks. Additionally, it involves establishing a clearly defined incident response program to handle any security breaches that occur efficiently.

5. Change Management Controls: 

These controls encompass the entire process from authorizing to fully implementing changes in your infrastructure, data, software, and procedures. They guarantee that all modifications align with your organization's objectives and maintain security integrity.

6. Risk Mitigation Controls: 

This process requires you to identify and develop strategies that minimize potential disruptions. This includes creating and implementing comprehensive incident response plans that effectively manage and mitigate security incidents.

Steps to Implement SOC 2 Controls Effectively

To effectively implement SOC 2 controls, you need a strategy customized to your organization's unique requirements. Here's how to begin:

  1. Select the Trust Service Criteria: 

Gain a clear understanding of how each of the five Trust Services Criteria specifically relates to your company’s operations, systems, and the various types of data you manage. The five TSCs are Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy, with Security being a mandatory criterion. 

Recognize the unique impact of these criteria on different aspects of your business, from daily operational procedures to long-term data security strategies. For instance, the Security criterion focuses on protecting information and systems from unauthorized access, while Availability ensures that systems are operational and accessible as needed. Processing Integrity ensures that system processing is complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized. Confidentiality addresses the protection of sensitive information, and Privacy concerns the management and protection of personal information.

This deeper insight will help you select the relevant TSCs and tailor your compliance efforts effectively, ensuring they are not only thorough but also directly aligned with your organization's specific needs and challenges.

  1. Determine the scope of compliance: 

Determine the specific systems, processes, and types of data involved in your operations, taking into account their roles in your business functions and any interactions with third parties. 

You need to consider how these elements integrate with your overall business strategy and how they might be impacted by external partners.

This comprehensive assessment helps ensure that your approach to managing these areas is strategic and effective, enhancing overall operational security and efficiency.

  1. Select appropriate controls: 

Select SOC 2 security controls that closely fit the specific needs of your business operations, meet industry standards, and address the type of data you manage. You need to customize these controls to handle your industry's particular risks and compliance requirements effectively. 

This tailored approach improves your compliance and strengthens your organization's data protection, ensuring a solid defense against potential threats. 

  1. Focus on risk management: 

Choose controls that effectively reduce the risks and vulnerabilities you've identified. Assess the potential impact and likelihood of each risk to accurately prioritize your control strategies.

It’s important to focus on risks that pose the greatest threat to your operations and allocate resources to controls that will offer the most significant protection. For instance, if your organization deals with sensitive customer data, implementing robust encryption methods and strict access controls would be critical. Alternatively, if you face significant cyber threats, investing in advanced intrusion detection systems and regular security training for employees could be the most effective measures.

This strategic prioritization ensures that your efforts are both efficient and effective, safeguarding your organization’s assets and operations against the most critical challenges.

  1. Align controls with compliance requirements: 

Choose controls that not only comply with SOC 2 standards but also address additional regulatory requirements specific to your industry. This holistic approach strengthens your security and extends your compliance coverage.

You must integrate these controls seamlessly into your operations, ensuring that you are not only meeting the necessary legal standards but also proactively protecting your organization from potential security breaches. For example, in the healthcare industry, implementing HIPAA-compliant encryption for patient data and conducting regular privacy audits are crucial. In the financial sector, adhering to PCI DSS requirements by using secure payment processing systems and conducting frequent vulnerability assessments is essential. These measures not only ensure compliance but also enhance your organization's security posture.

This strategy enhances the overall resilience of your business against risks and aligns with best practices in your sector.

How much does SOC 2 Control Implementation Cost?

The costs associated with implementing SOC 2 controls vary widely, depending on several critical factors. Here’s a breakdown of typical expenses you might encounter:

1. Readiness Assessment: 

Costs typically vary between $5,000 and $15,000 for this initial evaluation, which plays a crucial role in pinpointing areas that require enhancement before you proceed to the final audit. It’s important for you to consider this as an investment in your company’s future compliance and security posture. 

By identifying and addressing these areas early, you can streamline the audit process, potentially reduce future compliance costs, and better prepare your organization for rigorous external scrutiny.

2. Consulting and Software: 

You should expect to spend between $10,000 and $50,000 in professional SOC 2 consulting services and specialized compliance software. This range reflects the varying scope and complexity of services and tools required to meet your specific needs.

By allocating funds towards expert guidance and advanced software, you enhance your organization's ability to meet SOC 2 requirements effectively. 

This investment not only helps secure your data but also streamlines your compliance processes, making them more efficient and reliable.

3. Other Tools and Software Investment: 

When setting up new systems for asset inventory, compliance monitoring, and cybersecurity, you can expect costs to range from $5,000 to $40,000. 

The variation in costs largely depends on the sophistication of your current infrastructure. Investing in these systems is crucial for enhancing your organization's ability to track assets, monitor compliance, and protect against cybersecurity threats. 

This financial commitment aids in fortifying your operations and aligns with best practices in risk management and regulatory compliance.

4. Legal and Policy Setup: 

Establishing and reviewing policies and contracts to align with Trust Service Criteria could incur costs up to $10,000. Moreover, training your employees on these policies and other compliance aspects may add up to $5,000, though the total expense can vary depending on your company's size. 

These investments are essential for ensuring that your operations comply with industry standards and for equipping your staff with the necessary knowledge to uphold these standards effectively.

5. Audit Expenses: 

Certified Public Accountants perform these audits, which may cost you between $5,000 and $50,000. The specific cost depends on the scope and objectives of your SOC 2 certification efforts. 

This range allows you to anticipate budgeting according to the depth and breadth of the audit required to meet your certification goals effectively.

Overall, these figures underscore the importance of thorough budget planning to cover all aspects of SOC 2 compliance.

Getting SOC 2 compliant with Cyber Sierra

Getting SOC 2 compliant using Cyber Sierra's platform is an easy and error-free experience. From identifying controls and control gaps to mapping them to the required trust services criteria (TSC), your SOC 2 journey with Cyber Sierra is streamlined from the get-go.

Here's a look at how Cyber Sierra helps:

Streamlined Compliance Journey: Cyber Sierra's comprehensive platform simplifies the SOC 2 implementation and management process. Automated evidence collection and workflows also significantly reduce manual work and ensure accurate documentation, a must-have for SOC 2 compliance.

Real-Time Monitoring: With Cyber Sierra's intuitive dashboards, organizations can continuously monitor compliance and identify control gaps and breaks quickly. Real-time alerts help you stay ahead of potential security risks.

Expert Guidance and Best Practices: Cyber Sierra offers tailored guidance to help you navigate SOC 2 requirements specific to your organization. By implementing industry best practices, you can effectively strengthen your compliance posture.

Enhanced Data Security: Cyber Sierra's platform is enabled with two-factor authentication (2FA), ensuring data protection and controlled access. Protecting sensitive information is paramount with Cyber Sierra's integrated risk management tools.

Seamless Integration: Cyber Sierra integrates easily with your existing systems, facilitating efficient data flow and minimizing disruptions during the compliance process. This ensures a smooth transition to SOC 2 compliance.

Market Differentiation: What sets Cyber Sierra apart from competitors is the access to a host of other features on its platform. You can run vulnerability scans, access our robust third-party risk management modules, continuous control monitoring feature, and employee security training module, eliminating the incremental costs of investing in individual tools for each of these.

Schedule a demo to see how Cyber Sierra's unique features can expedite your SOC 2 compliance journey and enhance your overall governance framework.

- FAQs

  • Is SOC 2 certification necessary?

While SOC 2 certification is not mandatory, it verifies that your organization implements robust security measures to protect sensitive data. 

  • What are the consequences if an organization fails to implement SOC 2 controls?

If an organization does not meet SOC 2 standards, the auditor will issue a report indicating deficiencies. This adverse report highlights the urgent need to address these issues to improve security controls for future evaluations.

  • Are all Trust Service Criteria required for SOC 2 compliance?

Not all Trust Service Criteria need to be selected to get SOC 2 compliance. Organizations should choose relevant criteria based on the services they provide and their customers' requirements. Of the five TSCs, security is mandatory. 

  • How often should SOC 2 compliance be reassessed?

SOC 2 compliance typically requires annual reassessment to ensure continuous adherence to the selected criteria and security controls. This ongoing evaluation helps identify any new risks or gaps in control measures, and maintain compliance

  • Can small businesses benefit from SOC 2 compliance?

Yes, even small businesses can benefit from SOC 2 compliance. It enhances trust and credibility with customers by demonstrating a commitment to security, which can be particularly valuable in competitive or sensitive market sectors.

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