If you’ve gone through a SOC 2 audit or you run your compliance program manually, you know it can be time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating.
This is why—as SOC 2 compliance becomes required earlier and more often by many industries—fast-growing companies are turning to compliance automation software to help them get (and stay) compliant without all the headaches of doing it manually.
There is no magic solution that will make your company instantly compliant. However, good SOC 2 automation software can help you understand what you need to do to become compliant, and great software can automate the monitoring and evidence collection of that compliance posture over time, instantly alerting you when gaps form or your posture is at risk.
Keep reading for a breakdown of SOC 2 compliance software, its benefits, top features to look for, and what your journey to compliance can look like with automation.
What is SOC 2 Compliance Automation Software?
SOC 2 automation software helps you stay SOC 2 compliant via 24-7 security control monitoring across your SaaS services.
A good automation tool should give you control across your security program and instant visibility into your compliance and security posture. It should also eliminate the complicated headaches of manual monitoring, evidence collection, and compliance audits—saving your team significant time and money.
10 Features to Look for in a SOC 2 Automation Tool
What should you look for in your automation tool?
The answers boil down to ease of use, depth and breadth of integrations, and features that take the burden of compliance off your team as much as possible.
The best tools are built by companies who practice what they preach. Look for companies with in-depth security and compliance experience, and their own solid SOC 2 compliance program. After all, if your vendor’s security is messy, how can they keep yours sharp and aligned with industry standards?
As for features, we recommend looking for a solution that has:
1. Single-Tenant Database Architecture
Single-tenant DB architecture means your data is never stored with another customer’s data in the same database. It means you have your own tenant database where only your company’s data lives. This mitigates risk, ensures confidentiality, and allows you more customization options within your tool (since your data isn’t connected to anyone else’s).
Currently, the only SOC 2 automation software on the market with a single-tenant database architecture is Drata. We built it this way because we believe strongly in walking the walk and earning the trust of our customers by not taking shortcuts when it comes to protecting their data.
2. Continuous Control Monitoring
Spot checks are no longer enough.
You need a system that will monitor your compliance continuously and alert you quickly if your security is at risk. For example, systems should alert you if contractor access isn’t terminated at the end of a contract, if a new employee skips part of the security onboarding process, or a new customer database that was created isn’t encrypted at rest—now extrapolate across hundreds of controls!
3. Automated Evidence Collection
Doing away with complicated spreadsheets, folders full of screenshots, and other manual compliance tracking hassles is the point of automation software. If the tool you’re looking at doesn’t automatically collect evidence and generate real-time, sharable reports upon request, run in the other direction.
The automation platform you choose should be able to scale as your organization and compliance program grows. Look for a platform that can help you achieve compliance for multiple frameworks and regulations and give you full visibility into the progress you have made towards fulfilling their requirements.
5. Employee Onboarding and Offboarding
Trackable, consistent employee onboarding and offboarding is a key part of SOC 2 compliance. Look for a system that lets you automate the process, track security training, get employees to read and sign off on procedures, and flag issues before they arise. For example, flagging if security training is due by tomorrow and hasn’t been completed.
6. Vendor Management
Getting your own internal security ducks in a row is important, but your compliance also relies on your vendors. This is why any good automation software should include vendor management.
7. Auditor-Approved Security Policies
Keeping up with the latest security policies is a hefty task. The best automation software gives you a head start by providing auditor-approved security policies you can use as a foundation to develop your compliance program.
8. Simple and Straightforward Tools
Your new software should be easy to use and configurable. This means custom controls, a straightforward dashboard, and intuitive interfaces. It should also mean great customer support whenever you have questions about the tool or want to suggest a new feature.
9. Compliance Experts On Call
Most tools will offer you some tech support, but the best of the best will also offer you support from compliance experts. In-app messaging and support can make the difference between a good system and one truly set up with customer success top of mind.
10. Trust and Transparency
Last but not least, look for a compliance automation partner that prioritizes trust and transparency at every level of your security and compliance program. A platform that provides continuous monitoring and in-depth integrations for the most accurate data—while ensuring processing integrity—will further promote trust to your auditor and customers.
Key Benefits of Automating SOC 2
From time sayings to improved and streamlined relationships with your auditors, here are just a few of the benefits you can expect from implementing SOC 2 compliance automation software.
If you’re running your compliance program manually, you’re likely devoting a significant amount of time to tedious tasks like manipulating spreadsheets and pivot tables, organizing screenshots and other evidence in shared folders, and manually tracking incidents, assets, and vendors.
One of the main benefits of SOC 2 automation software is that all those tasks pretty much disappear. The system handles evidence collection, onboarding and training for personnel, tracking of vendors and assets, risk assessment, and control mapping. It provides reports on demand. And it offers simple dashboards where you can check status in an instant.
Keeps You Report-Ready
When a prospective customer asks for assurance, the manual process of answering security questionnaires can take a long time. With an automated system, real-time reports can be generated to answer security questionnaires and auditors can download available control evidence with only a few clicks. This is simpler for your team, for your prospective customers, and for the auditors.
An advanced platform will enable you to publicly display the daily security and compliance measures your business is taking. Share continuous, real-time control monitoring, certifications, attestations, policies, and more on your page.
Time is money, as they say, so if your teams are spending hours, weeks, or even months getting your compliance program off the ground or back on track, you’re losing money and productivity. Not to mention any budget that goes to partners, consultants, or new tools. With SOC 2 automation software, you can eliminate many of those costs.
SOC 2 isn’t just about proving security, it’s about being secure. Having the right controls in place for customer data, confidential information, and system availability will keep your business running smoothly, give leadership peace of mind, and save you from potential legal issues and customer churn.
Automation software makes sure your security program is running smoothly once it’s established and in place—not only for audits, but to maintain a strong security posture.
Provides Key Insights
How can you improve security? Do your privacy protections need updating? Are employees playing fast and loose with your standards?
Automation software can help you get insights into how your security program is operating at any given point and where you can improve.
Reduces Risk of Human Error
15% of unplanned downtime is caused by human error. Automation can mitigate this risk by taking repetitive tasks off our to-do lists and completing them the same way every time, and by alerting us to changes in human behavior.
If, for example, an employee fails to complete the required security training, the system will notify you. If someone tries to access something they shouldn’t, it’ll trigger an alert. This mitigates not only the risk of a malicious attack on your systems or data, but also the risk of honest mistakes (like forgetting to finish a task) that could derail your compliance.
Makes Life Easier for Your Auditor
Good automation software means faster audits and happier auditors.
Instead of relying on spot checks and assuming compliance has been continuous, they can confirm continuous compliance via monitoring and reports.
Instead of collecting evidence from multiple sources and confirming through multiple avenues, they can pull evidence directly from your SOC 2 automation tool.
This means less back-and-forth between auditor and company, and a faster and cheaper process for both the auditor and the company. Win-win.
4 Steps to SOC 2 Compliance With Automation Software
So, you know you need automation software and a good compliance program. You understand what to look for. But what now? What are the next steps? Where exactly does your automation software come into the picture?
Here’s what your journey to SOC 2 compliance can look like with automation software:
1. Establish Your Security Program
If you’ve already purchased automation software, use your vendor’s expertise to help you get off the ground. If you haven’t, this is the time to develop your security program and evaluate the best software to help you get and stay compliant.
At this stage, you should be thinking about security processes, encryption, firewalls, and other best practices you want to put in place. You’ll identify the primary risks to your business and factor these into your early decisions about process, policies, what you’ll need to monitor, and when you’ll need alerts from your software.
2. Monitor, Gather Evidence, and Alert
Make sure you’ve got automated monitoring and evidence gathering set up and customize your alerts to give you a heads-up whenever compliance is at risk based on your specific activity (or inactivity).
3. Simplify Your Audits
Now that your security program is established and your automation software is providing continuous monitoring, utilize your software’s reports and evidence library to simplify the SOC 2 audit process.
4. Maintain Your Program
No security program is set-it-and-forget-it, no matter how good your automation software. Put someone in charge. Make sure they check in regularly, keep an eye on new developments (such as new privacy laws in the markets you serve), and update your automation software as needed.
Automation software should make compliance much less complicated and should take a lot of the busywork off your teams’ plates, but you’ll still need someone keeping an eye on your program and using the new alerts, reports, and monitoring to stay far ahead of any risks.
If you’re ready to check out a compliance automation platform that can do all of the above and more, book a demo with our team today.