As more companies outsource IT infrastructure to third-party providers and adopt cloud-based collaboration tools, the need for partners that deliver strong protection and peace of mind is essential.
If you’re a cloud service vendor, you should be prepared to answer this question from your customers: How can you prove your security and privacy practices are truly secure?
An external review validates your existing security practices
There are many certifications out there that can confirm you have security measures in place. For example, the System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type II attestation is a rigorous, evidence-based audit that confirms a company’s practices meet the strict information security and privacy standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
This audit is conducted by an independent firm that reviews all aspects of your security and privacy operations — from software and infrastructure to communications and monitoring — to confirm high-level and reliable data security measures are in place when handling highly sensitive customer information.
To simplify, the SOC 2 audit is like taking your newly purchased used car to a mechanic to confirm that it’s in good working condition. The mechanic can not only assure you the car has all the necessary parts, but that they are in great shape. In this case, instead of car parts, SOC 2 reviews five trusted service criteria: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
Strong security certification is a differentiator
If you are an organization that provides systems and services such as Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service, and cloud computing, the SOC 2 attestation is one of the most important compliance verifications that you can provide to your customers to give you an edge. But that is just one example – there are also ISO 27001 certifications and national authorizations like FedRAMP in the United States and the Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) in Australia (among many others).
The cloud market is predicted to double in size from 2022 to 2025, and Gartner predicts spending on public cloud services to exceed $480 billion in 2022. If you want a piece of the pie, you need to differentiate yourself from competitors.
It’s important to remember that your customers’ sensitive data is in your hands, so it’s only natural that they be wary of your systems. Customers give themselves peace of mind by limiting who they do business with to vendors who are certified by various external parties. This gives them the comfort of knowing that a vendor has security controls and practices in place to ensure the safety of their data.
In fact, many customers in regulated industries require verifications like SOC 2, ISO 27001 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to do business with a software vendor.
Compliance is complicated, but it’s well worth the effort
External, third-party validation does not come easily. Many audits will put your company and products under a microscope to ensure you do what you say and can prove it. Completing the process might sound like a headache. However, there is value beyond the obvious benefits — brand reputation, customer demand, and competitive edge among them — that makes the effort and expense of the audit worthwhile: your own peace of mind.
We all think we have sound security and measures in place, but assurance from an independent reviewer can dissolve any lingering doubt. If there are any holes in your security, the independent auditors will find them, allowing you to fix the issue before it becomes a real problem. Even if you aren’t on the verge of a calamity, the reviewers might provide suggestions for making processes stronger, and who can pass up free advice?
You can “walk the walk” when it comes to security
My mantra is “Say what you do, do what you say, and be able to prove it.” As a privacy and information security professional, there’s no better feeling than clearing an external audit. It’s your time to prove that the business practices what it preaches and delivers the highest standard of security and privacy measures.
If you’re ready to begin, first check yourself. Develop a list of security controls your company should follow and determine if you are. Implement new practices until you can say you do every item on the list. Then, you are ready for your audit.