SOC 2 Type 2: A Beginner’s Guide


by Adam Markowitz

August 17, 2021
Everything you need to know about SOC 2 type 2 reports—from what they are to some best practices to get ready for yours.

When a prospective client asks for a SOC 2 report, the first thing you need to know is this: Do they require a Type 2 or will they accept a Type 1 prior to completing a Type 2? Both reports will prove compliance with security best practices, but there are some key differences you’ll need to plan for.

Here’s everything you need to know.Need a refresher on what SOC 2 compliance is before you dive in? Our compliance guide has you covered.

SOC 2 Type 1 vs. Type 2

The key differences between type 1 and type 2 reports are timeline and the subject matter covered.

SOC 2 Type 1 is a point-in-time report that only covers the design of controls. This means you can start your audit the minute after you get your compliance program fully up and running. The key question here is: Are you compliant today and can you prove to an auditor that controls are appropriately designed?

SOC 2 Type 2, on the other hand, is a period-of-time report and covers both the design and operating effectiveness of controls. This means you have to show that you have been compliant every hour of every day for a period of time (usually between six months and a year).

The key question here is: Are you consistently compliant and can you prove to an auditor that your controls were designed appropriately and operated effectively?When it comes to security, consistency matters a lot. Which is why SOC 2 Type 2 is considered a more valuable report (and is requested more often).

SOC 2 Type 2 Timelines

Because SOC 2 Type 2 reports cover a period of time, it’s important to plan ahead. Not only will your teams need time to get the required controls in place, but once the compliance program is up and running, you’ll have to wait until the required period has passed before the audit can be performed.

For example, if it takes six months to get your compliance program ready and you need a six-month Type 2 report, that’s one year you’ll wait before you even start your audit (which will likely take another month, at least). If your prospective client is asking for a year-long audit, the wait gets even longer.

This is why it’s important to start on compliance now, even if you don’t have requests for reports yet.

SOC 2 Best Practices

So, what do you need to know and prepare for before you get your Type 2 report? What are the best practices you should be following in order to achieve and maintain compliance?

Active Management

As with any important program, if nobody owns it, it won’t be maintained. To ensure continuous compliance, someone needs to be assigned the responsibility of checking in and keeping track.Get specific about:

  • Who is in charge?

  • Who will get alerts if something goes wrong?

  • What should they check on regularly and how often is “regularly”?

  • What ongoing maintenance needs to happen for your compliance to stay up to date—and who is responsible for each aspect of that maintenance?

Continuous Monitoring

SOC 2 Type 2 means you are compliant every day, every hour for a long period of time. Which means to prove that compliance (and fix noncompliance ASAP), you need continuous monitoring in place. It simply won’t do to have your onboarding program go off the rails for three weeks while nobody’s looking.

This is where a partner like Drata can help flag risks before they become problems and help you get ahead of issues before they hurt your audit results.

Confirm Compliance

Once your compliance program is in place—and before the clock starts ticking on your Type 2 compliance period, we recommend confirming that your controls are meeting the high standards put in place by SOC 2.

The best way to do this is to get a Type 1 report as soon as the compliance program is ready. Because it’s a point-in-time report, you won’t have to wait three months or six months or a year. The report can tell you if you are compliant and would pass an audit right now.

This will help you identify any issues before you go into your 6+ month waiting period (because, trust us, you do not want to wait 6+ months and then find out you missed something important in your setup). Plus (bonus!) if a prospective client asks you for a report, you can use the Type 1 to show them you have a serious program in place and are working toward your Type 2.

If you don’t want to do a Type 1 report, you could do a gap analysis instead. But we love Type 1 reports because they’re still something you can hand to a prospective client to prove you’re on your way.

Get Ready for your Type 2 Report

Are you ready to get started on your compliance program and work towards that Type 2 report? We’d love to help. Drata automates evidence collection, security monitoring, and compliance operations across your SaaS services. It can be a real game-changer (trust us—we were trying to run these programs manually before we built the platform!). Schedule a demo today.

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Adam Markowitz
CEO and Co-Founder