Consumer data has become one of the most valuable global commodities. However, when it is not managed properly, it can become costly for an organization. In 2023, the global average cost of a data breach was $4.45 million dollars.1
For organizations handling customer data, SOC 2 compliance is a critical benchmark. This standard, focused on data security and privacy, is essential for organizations. Selecting the right SOC 2 compliance auditor is not just a formality; it’s a crucial decision that impacts the integrity and security of your business.
In this blog post, we’ll cover:
- Current data breach statistics.
- The SOC 2 compliance auditor’s role.
- The risks of hiring an inexperienced SOC 2 compliance auditor.
- Three questions you should ask your SOC 2 compliance auditor.
- Essential qualifications of a SOC 2 compliance auditor.
- Evaluating a SOC 2 compliance auditor’s credibility, approach, and reputation.
Current Data Breach Statistics
In the first three quarters of 2023, the United States witnessed 2,116 reported data breaches and leaks, setting a new record for the year with one quarter still remaining.2
According to ITRC (Identity Theft Resource Center), which monitors publicly disclosed breaches in the US, there were 733 instances of “data compromises” in the third quarter of 2023, marking a decrease of 22% compared to the second quarter. Nevertheless, this downturn was still significant enough to push the annual total beyond the previous highest record of 1862 breaches, which was established in 2021.
The SOC 2 Compliance Auditor’s Role
An auditor’s task is to assess an organization’s adherence to SOC 2 standards. They examine the company’s systems and controls to ensure they meet the stringent criteria set forth in the SOC 2 framework. The assurance provided by these auditors is invaluable, offering stakeholders confidence in the organization’s data management practices.
The Risks of Hiring an Inexperienced SOC 2 Compliance Auditor
Selecting an inexperienced SOC 2 compliance auditor poses significant risks to an organization, primarily in terms of compliance and security. An inadequate audit can lead to a false sense of security by failing to accurately assess the organization’s adherence to SOC 2 standards. This oversight increases the risk of non-compliance, which can have severe legal repercussions, including penalties and fines, especially if a data breach occurs.
3 Questions You Should Ask Your SOC 2 Compliance Auditor
When looking for an auditor, there are 3 questions you can ask that will help you get started determining whether they are the auditor you want to work with.
- What Other Assessments or Certifications Do You Do?
This can give you a better understanding of their broader expertise and capabilities.
- What Industries Do Your Customers Primarily Come From?
This question helps gauge their experience and suitability for your specific industry.
- How Much Do You Charge for a SOC 2 Audit?
Discuss the cost structure and ensure it balances with the quality of service provided.
Next, we break down in more detail what you should be looking for in the answers to these questions.
Essential Qualifications of a SOC 2 Auditor
Credentials and Certifications
When selecting a SOC 2 compliance auditor, it’s crucial to consider their qualifications. Confirm the auditor’s affiliation with professional bodies like the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), which is crucial for ensuring they are up to date with the latest audit standards and practices. Look for certifications like Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA). These certifications are not mere titles; they represent a deep understanding of compliance and auditing standards.
Industry Experience and Expertise
An auditor with experience in your specific industry can offer insights and services tailored to your unique needs. Check their track record and seek feedback from previous clients. Their expertise in navigating complex IT environments and understanding the intricacies of different systems is invaluable. This specialized knowledge allows them to conduct thorough and relevant evaluations of your compliance status.
Evaluating a SOC 2 Compliance Auditor’s Credibility, Approach, and Reputation
Background and References
Researching an auditor’s professional background is essential. Look for their history in the field, and seek feedback from their previous clients. This information can give you a sense of their reliability and effectiveness. Additionally, check their affiliations with professional bodies to ensure they are recognized in the field of compliance auditing.
Communication and Transparency
An effective SOC 2 compliance audit relies on clear and open communication. The auditor should be willing to discuss their findings in detail and provide comprehensive reports. Transparency throughout the audit process not only helps in understanding their evaluations but also in implementing their recommendations effectively.
Cost and Time Considerations
While cost is an important factor, it should not be the sole criterion for choosing an auditor. A balance between cost-effectiveness and quality service is essential. Discuss the expected timeline for the audit to align it with your business needs.
Related Reading: Unlocking Audit Success: Your Guide to Choosing the Perfect Auditor
Choosing the right SOC 2 compliance auditor is an important decision for your business. It requires careful consideration of their qualifications, experience, approach, and the value they bring to the process. A qualified auditor not only ensures compliance but also contributes to the overall security and trustworthiness of your organization.
Contact us to learn more about how our independent, high-quality audit services can safeguard your data and showcase your dedication to compliance!