SOC 2 Readiness Assessment: Frequently Asked Questions

A SOC 2 readiness assessment is an important first step if your organization is thinking about obtaining SOC 2 compliance. Think of the readiness assessment as a health check for your security practices – it’s meant to help you get everything you need completed before the formal audit. 

In this FAQ, we’ll tackle some of the most common questions we hear about SOC 2 readiness assessments – why you might need one, what it costs, how long it takes, who should be involved, and more. This will give you a clear picture of what to expect and help you understand what your organization needs before undergoing an external audit.

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What Is A SOC 2 Readiness Assessment?

A SOC 2 readiness assessment is a pre-audit process that helps organizations prepare for their official SOC 2 audit. It identifies gaps in your current security controls and SOC 2 policies and procedures compared to where you need to be. 

The first step is to select an external consultant. Your consultant will conduct a thorough review of your existing security controls (security measures, documentation, operational procedures, and more) to identify areas where you may not be meeting SOC 2 standards. 

The assessment entails several key benefits, allowing you to: 

  • Have a third-party opinion of your SOC 2 audit preparedness
  • Pinpoint gaps and weaknesses in your existing controls
  • Obtain ideas on how to strengthen your processes and procedures

Testing your current controls and finding areas where remediation is needed is important to do in preparation for your audit. 

How Much Does A SOC 2 Readiness Assessment Cost?

The cost of a SOC 2 readiness assessment can vary. The following factors impact cost: Organization size, the complexity of your IT infrastructure, the consultant you work with, the Trust Services Criteria you selected, the use of project management or GRC tools, and other factors that vary from consultant to consultant.

Readiness assessment estimates start at around $7,000 – $15,000. For a small startup with a straightforward infrastructure, costs typically start at the lower end. For larger organizations or for those with complex systems, costs can increase significantly, potentially reaching tens of thousands of dollars. 

Some firms offer fixed-price packages that bundle the SOC 2 readiness assessment into the overall cost of obtaining SOC 2 compliance. Others charge based on the time and resources required to complete the assessment. Obtaining detailed quotes from multiple providers can help you understand the potential costs for your organization. 

How Long Does A SOC 2 Readiness Assessment Take?

The timeframe to complete a SOC 2 readiness assessment varies. For large organizations or for those with more complex IT environments, it can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks. For smaller organizations with less complex environments, it can take as little time as several days to a week.

During this period, key activities include evaluating your existing security controls, identifying any deficiencies, and creating a plan to address those gaps. Another factor that impacts the time frame is how quickly your organization can make changes and remediate gaps.

Who Should Be Involved From Your Team?

A SOC 2 readiness assessment requires involvement from several key members of your team. These typically include:

1. IT and Security Personnel, as they have the best understanding of your technical infrastructure and current security measures.

2. Compliance Officers (If Applicable): Whomever at your organization is responsible for ensuring adherence to regulatory and industry standards should be involved.

3. Operations Managers: Personnel who oversee the processes and controls related to daily business activities can help make sure daily operations adapt to and are impacted as little as possible by any new security measures.

4. HR Personnel can provide information on employee onboarding, training, and access controls.

5. Executive Leadership: Executives are responsible for allocating resources and ensuring changes to the organization’s security posture are communicated down the line. (Note: An emphasis on the role of executive leadership and governance in cybersecurity is increasingly being seen across other cybersecurity standards, including under the recently added NIST governance function). 

Involving all of these specialized roles allows you to speed things up and facilitates an effective assessment. Using compliance automation software can also help fast-track the process by providing a centralized location where all involved parties can access and track pertinent information. 

Does Your Organization Need a SOC 2 Readiness Assessment?

Whether your organization needs a SOC 2 readiness assessment depends on your circumstances and goals. It’s particularly useful if you’re new to SOC 2 or if you have not previously undergone a SOC 2 audit. It serves to make the entire SOC 2 process easier, as assessments are highly tailored to your organization’s unique needs. 

Not every company should follow everything under the SOC 2 standard. Choosing the right Trust Services Criteria is an important step in your journey. A readiness assessment allows you to identify the security controls and practices that you actually need to implement. 

Can You Fail A SOC 2 Readiness Assessment?

No, you cannot technically “fail” a SOC 2 readiness assessment. The assessment is a preparatory step that identifies gaps and recommends improvements before your formal audit. It serves as a diagnostic tool to help you understand which areas need to be addressed to meet SOC 2 requirements. 

What Happens If Gaps Are Found During The Assessment?

If gaps are found it means your organization has some work to do before pursuing the official audit. That’s the purpose of the readiness assessment: to highlight and correct issues in advance. 

The controls you may need to remediate depend on which Trust Services Criteria you selected. For example, if you selected the Security Trust Services Criteria and are not currently conducting measures like regular phishing training for employees, you may need to implement stronger controls to protect against unauthorized access and disclosure of data.

Readiness Assessment: Employee Training

Who Performs A SOC 2 Readiness Assessment?

The assessment is typically performed by experienced third-party firms that specialize in compliance and security audits. This includes:

1. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) with IT specializations have the expertise needed to understand both the technical and compliance aspects of SOC 2.

2. IT Consulting Firms that focus on cybersecurity and compliance, and are experienced in assessing and improving IT controls.

3. Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) offer a range of security services and can conduct readiness assessments as part of their broader security offerings.

These options all provide an external expert perspective, enabling you to identify gaps and act on expert recommendations to effectively meet SOC 2 requirements. 

What Are The Most Frequently Found Gaps In SOC 2 Readiness Assessments?

At Rhymetec, we have worked with hundreds of companies on their SOC 2 readiness. Some of the most common gaps we see companies have include the following:

1. Access Controls: We often see gaps related to inadequate controls over user access to systems and data. This includes weak password policies, lack of multi-factor authentication, and improper user permissions.

2. Security Monitoring: Many organizations lack up-to-par monitoring based on SOC 2 guidelines if this is an area they haven’t previously paid much attention to. Under SOC 2 requirements, systems and networks should be monitored for suspicious activities or unauthorized access.

3. Data Protection: There is often room for improvement in areas like data encryption. Our security experts have helped many organizations improve their data backup and recovery procedures in preparation for their audit.

4. Vendor Management: A lot of organizations don’t realize how much oversight of their third-party vendors and service providers is required under SOC 2. We help organizations identify any gaps in due diligence, contract management, and vendor review & risk assessments.

5. Incident Response: Organizations often need to create a documented incident response policy and accompanying procedures. At Rhymetec, we craft detailed incident response plans tailored to our clients’ individual industries and needs.

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Addressing these common gaps is not only critical for achieving SOC 2 compliance, but also for better protecting your organization’s (and end users’) data and systems.

Interested in reading more on SOC 2? Check out our other content: 

About Rhymetec

Rhymetec was founded in 2015 as a Penetration Testing company. We offer a range of penetration testing services to include:

After seeing a gap for broader security support in the market, Rhymetec grew to offer managed compliance services for frameworks like SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, HITRUST, NIST and more. Since then, we have served hundreds of SaaS businesses globally in all their cybersecurity, compliance, and data privacy needs. We’re industry leaders in cloud security, and our custom services align with the specific needs of your business. If you want to learn more about how our team can help your business with your security needs, contact our team for more information.