If you’re running a SaaS organization, you’ve probably heard of SOC 2 Type 2 Certification. It is the most comprehensive and highly-regarded of either SOC 2 certification type. The AICPA developed the standards for the SOC 2 Type 2 audit to evaluate the efficacy and trustworthiness of an organization’s services and controls. This usually equates to a thorough assessment of a SaaS company’s ability to securely collect, store, and manage user data. While this sounds like a reasonable security solution, you’re probably asking yourself about the price. So, what is the SOC 2 Type 2 Certification cost?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the question of SOC 2 Type 2 Certification costs. To know the true costs of getting certified, you have to first understand the process of a SOC 2 Type 2 audit. Why? Because you cannot simply purchase SOC 2 Type 2 Certification. To get certified, you must have the necessary controls and procedures in place to pass the audit. Investing in security controls is the first and most important “cost” of achieving SOC 2 Type 2 Certification.
Truthfully, there is almost no point in getting a SOC 2 Type 2 audit if your organization is not prepared. Your business won’t get certified, which means that you’ll have wasted time and money on a SOC report. The only positive results you can glean from a failed SOC 2 Type 2 audit are the recommendations of the auditor regarding how to improve and eventually pass a future audit. While you can certainly take this route, you could save a lot of time and money by simply adhering to a SOC 2 compliance checklist before contacting an auditor.
First, you need to develop administrative policies that outline a top-down model for your company’s cybersecurity. This model should address several key factors that will be evaluated during the audit, including:
-System Access — Who has the authority to access sensitive data? How is access granted or revoked? How are limits set on system access — both inside and outside of your organization?
-Risk Assessment — How does your organization assess risk? If and when risk factors have been identified, how does your security team proceed to resolve the issue(s)?
-Internal Security Roles — Who is tasked with managing system and data security within your organization?
-Security Training — How does your organization keep your security team (and anyone with access to sensitive data) informed and updated about the proper security procedures?
-Disaster Recovery — In the event of a breach or data loss, how does your organization back up information? How are your disaster recovery processes implemented and tested?
-Disaster Response — What is the process for individuals to report or resolve security incidents?
As you can imagine, it’s hard to put a price tag on creating an internal security system that can address all of the questions above. However, once you have an organization-wide system in place, you can begin to look at more specific, technical security requirements for SOC 2 compliance. At a minimum, your organization should develop controls to address all of the following technical areas:
-Network Security and Firewalls
-Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)
These controls are more concrete than developing overarching administrative policies, which should make it easier for you to create your budget.
Once you’ve developed administrative security policies and implemented technical security controls, it’s time to make the final audit preparations. This will largely involve collecting the necessary documentation and evidence of your organization’s compliance with the standards outlined above. Documents may include your organization’s administrative policies (in written form), any existing certifications, service agreements, as well as vendor contracts.
Getting ready for the audit puts your organization in a much better position to get certified. While “passing” the SOC 2 Type 2 audit the first time will save a lot of time and money, it doesn’t take away from the cost of the audit itself. Much like the costs of investing in a secure business, the costs associated with the SOC 2 audit will vary based on the size of your organization and the scope of your security controls. That said, the cost of a SOC 2 Type 2 Certification audit could be anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000.
Why is the SOC 2 Type 2 audit so expensive? Because it can take months for an auditor to evaluate your controls and documents. While a SOC 2 Type 1 audit is much quicker, the Type 2 audit is very thorough. Rather than simply judging how your organization’s controls look on paper, the auditor must evaluate how they work in practice. They will also have to ensure that proper security protocols are being practiced across your entire organization, which can take up a great deal of time and resources.
While it’s always great to get SOC 2 Type 2 Certification, this doesn’t mean that you can become lax with your security standards afterward. There’s no exact timeline for getting recertified, but the industry standard is one SOC Type 2 audit per year. This ensures that your organization is continually staying up-to-date with the latest security protocols. Additionally, you should consider getting an audit done whenever you make any significant changes to your administrative policies or security controls.