How Can a SOC 2 Bring Value to MSPs?

by Sarah Harvey / January 21st, 2019

As vendors, managed service providers (MSP) are sought out to help entities create and maintain a strong security posture – they shouldn’t bring more risk into their clients’ environments. When organizations engage with MSPs, they want to know how secure their organization really is and will often ask that the MSP undergo a SOC 2 audit before engaging with their services. So, while you may think that your services are secure, will an auditor? Will a malicious hacker find vulnerabilities to exploit? Let’s take a look at how a SOC 2 audit could bring value to MSPs’ reputations, marketing initiatives, and competitive advantages.

What is a SOC 2?

It’s no secret that engaging with vendors increases the risks that organizations must account for, which is why more and more organizations have asked that their MSP receives a SOC 2 attestation before doing business with them. But what is a SOC 2 audit and how can it benefit an MSP? It’s simple: a SOC 2 audit is a perfect fit for MSPs that want to reassure their current and potential clients that their information is secure, available, and confidential. For MSPs that are looking to continue partnerships with their clients or gain a competitive advantage, a SOC 2 audit is a great place to start.

A SOC 2 audit addresses third-party risk concerns by evaluating internal controls, policies, and procedures that directly relate to the AICPA’s Trust Services Criteria. This means that a SOC 2 audit report focuses on a service organization’s internal controls as they relate to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of a system. When determining which Trust Services Criteria apply to your organization, consider the following questions:

  • Security – Is the system protected against unauthorized access?
  • Availability – Is the system available for operation and use as agreed?
  • Processing Integrity – Is the system processing complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized?
  • Confidentiality – Is the information that’s designated as confidential protected as agreed?
  • Privacy – Is personal information collected, used, retained, disclosed, and destroyed in accordance with the entity’s privacy notice?

Typically, an MSP will choose to be evaluated against the security, availability, and confidentiality categories. If a client can’t be assured that you have reliable, secure processes for protecting the information systems they’ve entrusted you to manage, why would they choose or continue to work with you?

Benefits of SOC 2 Compliance for MSPs

When an MSP undergoes a SOC 2 audit, it demonstrates that they are invested in providing secure services and ensuring that their clients’ information security assets remain protected. MSPs’ reputation, business continuity, competitive advantage, and branding all depend on the quality and security of their systems and can benefit from SOC 2 compliance.

As a vendor, MSPs depend on trust. If a client can’t trust your services, why would they choose to use it? If your organization suffers from a data breach, the negative impact on your reputation would be a ripple effect. Once your organization has been successfully attacked and customers’ information systems exposed, you’ve put your organization on a path full of obstacles and fragmented security. Your reputation will be permanently changed. Clients will stop trusting you, prospects will stop inquiring about your services, and lawsuits and fines will begin to surface. The continuity of your business depends on securing your systems and proving that you are, in fact, a secure MSP.

If you do pursue SOC 2 compliance and achieve attestation, you will have a new branding tool that will help you better position yourself as a reliable, secure MSP. There are so many possible ways to incorporate your compliance into branding methodology. We always recommend that our clients leverage their compliance as marketing material, and we strive to help them find ways to do so.

When you partner with an auditing firm that educates you and performs a quality, thorough audit, you gain a valuable competitive advantage. Does your competition have a SOC 2 audit report? If not, you’re ahead of the game. Even if they have gone through a SOC 2 audit, was it a quality audit? You want to be educated on what a quality audit looks like so you can explain to prospects why your SOC 2 audit report holds more value than a competitor’s. Having a SOC 2 audit report from a licensed, quality-driven firm also opens you up to a whole new marketplace of prospects who are knowledgeable about security and are looking for a vendor with SOC 2 compliance.

Even with all of these benefits, you may be wondering what the penalties are of not pursuing SOC 2 compliance. These questions may help you understand the scope of implications if you don’t invest in SOC 2 compliance:

  • How would your organization’s reputation be damaged if you suffered from a data breach?
  • Would your clients stay loyal to you if they know that your organization couldn’t secure their information?
  • What future sales would you lose if your managed services suffered from a data breach?
  • How are you validating that your security and privacy practices are in place and effective?
  • How happy would your competition be if you suffered from a data breach?
  • What’s your potential exposure to lawsuits if you suffered from a data breach? What fines would you pay?
  • How much would it cost to investigate a data breach and notify clients who were impacted?

The potential loss of business from a breach far outweighs the cost of compliance. Our Information Security Specialists want to be your audit partner, your second set of eyes validating that your security and privacy practices are effective. Let’s start planning your SOC 2 audit today.

More SOC 2 Resources

SOC 2 Academy

Understanding Your SOC 2 Report

SOC 2 Compliance Handbook: The 5 Trust Services Criteria