October 6, 2023

    Why You Should Choose A SOC 2 Type II Certified MFTaaS Provider

    Learn all the steps it takes to achieve and maintain SOC 2 Type II compliance, and why it's a valuable certification for any of your cloud solutions providers, including the platform (like Sharetru's) you choose for file transfers and file sharing. By the end, you'll see why being certified is no small feat, and the many ways it ensures we're taking the utmost care in protecting the proprietary data of our platform users.

    Understanding SOC 2 Type II Compliance

    SOC 2 Type II compliance is a set of standards developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) that focuses on data security and privacy. SOC is a security framework that stands for System and Organization Controls. Type II compliance is a rigorous process that evaluates a company's controls and procedures over time to ensure the protection of customer data.

    Becoming compliant is no easy feat. It requires cloud service providers (CSPs) like Sharetru go through a rigorous assessment and certification process to meet specific criteria related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy that could last over a year even if you're diligently pursuing it. By complying with these standards, cloud service providers can demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding customer data and maintaining a high level of data security.

    One of the key aspects of compliance is the requirement for cloud service providers to have effective policies and procedures in place to protect customer data. This includes implementing access controls, regularly monitoring systems for unauthorized activity, and conducting regular security audits.

    In addition, becoming compliant also requires providers like Sharetru to have a comprehensive incident response plan in place. This ensures that in the event of a security breach or data incident, the business is able to respond quickly and effectively to minimize any potential damage.

    Overall, compliance with SOC 2 Type II is critical for MFTaaS providers' data security as it helps establish trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders.

    Identifying the Importance of SOC 2 Type II Compliance

    SOC 2 Type II compliance is of utmost importance for all Cloud Service Providers, especially those that handle sensitive customer data, such as Managed File Transfer-as-as-Service (MFTaaS) companies (like Sharetru). In today's digital landscape, where data breaches and cyber threats are on the rise, customers have become increasingly cautious about sharing any information -- whether personal or business-related. By achieving certification, a provider like us can provide assurance to their customers that their data is being handled securely.

    The trust and confidence that comes with SOC 2 Type II certification requirements can have a significant impact on a business's reputation. When customers know that their data is protected, we become a trusted vendor because they know we're taking their data security seriously. This increased trust for CSPs that are SOC 2 Type II certified can result in higher customer loyalty and peace of mind -- it proves a CSP cares about your data and are taking the necessary steps to protect it.

    Moreover, compliance is not only important for customer trust but also for legal and regulatory compliance reasons. Many industries, such as defense and aerospace, healthcare, and finance, have specific regulations and requirements related to data security and privacy. By complying with SOC 2 Type II standards, MFTaaS providers can ensure they are meeting these legal obligations and avoiding any potential penalties or legal issues for their customers.

    Additionally, adherence to SOC 2 Type II can help streamline internal processes and improve overall security posture. Through the implementation of the necessary controls and procedures, organizations can identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities or risks. This proactive approach to data security reduces the likelihood of security incidents and data breaches, which can have severe consequences for a business's reputation and financial stability.

    In summary, SOC 2 Type II compliance is not just a checkbox exercise; it is a critical component of a comprehensive data security strategy. By achieving and maintaining compliance, businesses can establish trust with customers, meet legal and regulatory requirements, and enhance overall data security. This, in turn, strengthens the reputation of a SOC II Type 2 certified company with its customers and can lead to higher satisfaction, and business success.

    How a Business Prepares for SOC 2 Type II Compliance

    When a company like Sharetru prepares for SOC 2 Type II certification, it can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is necessary to ensure the security of our customers' business data. Here are the steps involved when an organization prepares for SOC 2 Type II compliance and certification:

    1. Assess current security controls and procedures: Evaluating existing security measures and identifying any gaps or areas that need improvement is critical. This assessment should include a thorough review of network infrastructure, data storage and transmission protocols, user access controls, and incident response procedures. By conducting a comprehensive assessment, a cloud service provider identifies any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in current security measures and addresses them before pursuing SOC 2 Type II compliance.

    2. Define scope: A company must determine which systems, processes, and data are within the scope of SOC 2 Type II certification audit. This helps them focus efforts and resources on the areas that are most critical to the protection of customer data. For example, you may need to assess your customer database, payment processing systems, or cloud infrastructure. By clearly defining the scope, a cloud service provider can ensure that they are targeting the right areas for becoming compliant and avoid wasting time and resources on unnecessary assessments. As an example, when Sharetru defined the scope of our company level audit, we included our Advanced Security and Compliance Platform. We did not include our Standard Security Platform which is only SOC 2 Type II certified at the Infrastructure (IaaS) layer.

    3. Develop policies and procedures: Create comprehensive policies and procedures that align with the SOC 2 Type II requirements. These should cover areas such as access controls, data classification, incident response, and employee training. A MFTaaS provider pursuing SOC 2 Type II certification should have policies and procedures that clearly communicate the steps that employees need to follow to ensure the security and privacy of customer data. It is important to involve key stakeholders from different departments in the development of these policies and procedures to ensure that they are practical and effective.

    4. Implement security controls: A MFTaaS provider should put in place the necessary security controls to protect systems and data. This may include firewalls, encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular vulnerability scanning. Each of these security controls plays a vital role in safeguarding customer data and preventing unauthorized access. It is important to carefully select and configure these controls based on specific business needs and risk profiles. They should regularly review and update security controls to ensure they remain effective and up to date.

    5. Conduct regular audits and assessments: The MFTaaS provider should continuously monitor and assess security controls to ensure they are effective and compliant with SOC 2 Type II standards. Regular audits and assessments help you identify any gaps or weaknesses in security measures and take corrective actions. They should engage an independent third-party auditor to conduct these assessments, as they can provide an unbiased evaluation of their compliance efforts. Additionally, providers should establish a schedule for regular internal audits to ensure ongoing adherence and continuous improvement.

    The steps for preparation are extensive, but taking time to effectively prepare for SOC 2 Type II compliance enhances the overall security posture for customers' data. Additionally, the work does not stop after the audit is complete. Maintaining the certification of compliance is an ongoing process that requires ongoing commitment and dedication to ensure the security and privacy of customer data.


    Implementing Security Controls for SOC 2 Type II Compliance

    Implementing the right security controls is crucial for achieving SOC 2 Type II compliance for Managed File Transfer-as-a-Service (MFTaaS) providers like Sharetru because our customers are transferring proprietary data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year across nearly every industry. Here are some key security controls that providers implement when pursuing SOC 2 Type II certification:

    1. Access controls: Access controls are essential for ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive systems and data. This can be achieved through the use of strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and role-based access control. Regular access reviews should also be conducted to ensure that access privileges are up-to-date and appropriate.

    2. Encryption: Encryption is a critical security control for protecting sensitive data both at rest and in transit. By encrypting data, organizations can prevent unauthorized access and ensure that even if data is intercepted, it remains unintelligible. Encryption algorithms and secure communication protocols should be implemented to provide robust protection for data. Sharetru, for instance, uses benchmark encryption modules to ensure the safety of our customer data. We encrypt data at AES 256 encryption at rest, and use TLS 1.2 encryption in transit with FIPS 140-2 authorized encryption modules.

    3. Incident response plan: A comprehensive incident response plan is essential for effectively addressing and mitigating security incidents. This plan should outline the steps that need to be taken in the event of a security breach or data incident, including detecting, containing, and recovering from incidents. It should also include procedures for notifying affected parties, such as customers or regulatory bodies. Regular testing and updating of the incident response plan should be conducted to ensure its effectiveness.

    4. Employee training and awareness: Employees play a crucial role in maintaining SOC 2 Type II compliance, as they are often the first line of defense against security threats. It is important to educate employees about the importance of data security and their individual responsibilities in protecting sensitive information. Regular training sessions should be provided to keep employees updated on best practices and emerging threats. Promoting a culture of security awareness throughout the organization can help ensure that everyone remains vigilant and proactive in maintaining compliance.

    5. Regular monitoring and testing: Continuous monitoring and regular security assessments are vital for identifying and addressing vulnerabilities or weaknesses in systems and processes. By implementing monitoring tools and conducting regular assessments, MFTaaS providers can leverage years of expertise to proactively detect and remediate any potential security issues for their customers. This ongoing monitoring and testing help ensure that security controls remain effective and compliant with SOC 2 Type II certification standards.

    By implementing these security controls, MFTaaS providers like Sharetru can enhance their data security and meet the requirements for SOC 2 Type II standards. These controls not only provide protection against security threats but also demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding customer data. With SOC 2 Type II compliance, providers can establish trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders, ultimately gaining a competitive advantage in the market.

    How To Maintain SOC 2 Type II Compliance

    Maintaining SOC 2 Type II compliance is crucial for MFTaaS providers like Sharetru to ensure the ongoing security and protection of their customers' data. It requires continuous effort and dedication to stay up to date with evolving security threats and industry best practices. Here are some key practices that MFTaaS providers need to implement to maintain compliance:

    1. Regular audits and assessments: Conducting regular internal audits and assessments is essential to ensure that security controls and procedures are still effective and in line with SOC 2 Type II standards. This allows them to identify any potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses in their systems and processes and take corrective actions promptly.

    2. Monitoring and logging: Implementing robust monitoring and logging mechanisms is important for tracking user activity and detecting any suspicious or unauthorized behavior. By monitoring their systems and networks, they can quickly identify and respond to any security incidents or breaches, minimizing their impact on your business.

    3. Incident response drills: Regularly testing and updating their incident response plan through simulated drills and exercises helps ensure its effectiveness. By practicing how to handle security incidents, providers can identify any gaps or areas that need improvement in their response procedures. This enables them to effectively and efficiently mitigate the impact of any security incidents that may occur.

    4. Employee training and awareness: Providing regular training sessions and reminders to employees is crucial to maintaining SOC 2 Type II compliance. It helps keep them informed about the latest security practices and the importance of data protection. By educating employees on their individual responsibilities in safeguarding sensitive information, they create a culture of security awareness throughout their organization.

    5. Stay updated with industry trends and best practices: It is essential to stay informed about the latest developments in data security and privacy. By staying updated with industry trends and best practices, MFTaaS providers can adapt their policies and procedures accordingly. This ensures that their security measures remain effective and compliant with SOC 2 Type II standards, even as new threats and challenges emerge.

    By following these practices, MFTaaS providers that are SOC 2 Type II certified like Sharetru can proactively maintain compliance with their data security measures and effectively protect their customers' sensitive information. Ongoing commitment to SOC 2 Type II adherence not only demonstrates a dedication to data security but also helps MFTaaS providers build trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders. Ultimately, maintaining compliance contributes to a strong brand reputation and positions providers for long-term success in today's data-driven world.

    Why SOC 2 Type II is Important for a MFTaaS Company

    Selecting a Managed File Transfer (MFT) service that holds a SOC 2 Type II certification is a critical decision for any company that values data security and compliance. 

    By choosing such a certified service provider like Sharetru, a company ensures that its sensitive data, whether financial records, confidential files, or personally identifiable information, is handled with the utmost care and protection. This not only bolsters data security but also enhances client trust, as it provides concrete evidence of the provider's dedication to safeguarding information. At Sharetru, we understood this and it's why we have invested the effort and resources to become SOC 2 Type II certified. We place our customers' data security as the most important element of our business and solutions.

    Here's a few reasons you should ensure your File Transfer provider has a SOC 2 Type II certification:

    1. Data Security: File Transfer service providers handle sensitive data as part of their service, often including confidential files, financial records, and personally identifiable information (PII). SOC 2 compliance helps demonstrate that the provider has implemented robust security controls to protect this data from unauthorized access, breaches, or data leaks.

    2. Credibility: SOC 2 Type II compliance is a recognized industry standard for assessing and assuring the security of File Transfer service providers. Having passed a SOC 2 Type II audit can enhance the provider's credibility and trustworthiness among potential clients, as it demonstrates a commitment to data security and compliance. This also gives you additional credibility with your own clients when they know you're taking the extra steps to ensure your partners take data security as seriously as you do.

    3. Customer Expectations: Many customers, particularly those in regulated industries like healthcare, finance, and legal, require their File Transfer service providers to be SOC 2 compliant. Meeting your company's data security requirements can be a key factor in earning and retaining business.

    4. Risk Mitigation: SOC 2 compliance helps the File Transfer provider identify and mitigate security risks. SOC 2 Type II requires ongoing monitoring and testing of security controls, helping File Transfer providers identify vulnerabilities and security risks. By addressing these issues proactively, providers can reduce the likelihood of data breaches or security incidents, which can save them from significant financial and reputational damage.

    5. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Depending on the nature of the data being transferred and the industries served, there may be legal and regulatory requirements that mandate a certain level of data security. Many industries have specific regulations and compliance requirements related to data protection and security, such as HIPAA in healthcare or GDPR in Europe. SOC 2 Type II aligns with these regulations and can help File Transfer providers meet their legal obligations, reducing the risk of fines and legal repercussions.

    6. Operational Efficiency: The process of achieving and maintaining SOC 2 Type II compliance involves documenting and formalizing security policies and procedures. This often leads to greater operational efficiency and better internal security practices, which can further enhance the quality of service for organizations like yours.

    7. Incident Response Preparedness: SOC 2 compliance also evaluates how well an organization can respond to security incidents. This helps File Transfer providers establish incident response plans and procedures, which can be critical in the event of a security breach.

    8. Third-Party Assurance: SOC 2 reports can be shared with customers and other stakeholders to provide you with assurance that the File Transfer provider has undergone an independent assessment of its security controls.

    How Managed File Transfer Providers Use SOC 2 to Protect and Manage Customer Data in All Three States

    When assessing managed file transfer providers, it is critical to know how they protect and manage their different states of data. Data has three states: in-use, in-transit, and at-rest. When data is no longer within the "operating environment," such as when it is being shared with external parties or stored in remote servers, it becomes vulnerable to unauthorized access and potential breaches. Thankfully, SOC 2 Type II has controls for that. For example, to ensure the utmost security and protection of data during these stages, Sharetru must employ robust encryption measures for data in transit and data in storage for our customers.

    During the in-transit phase, where data is being transmitted from one location to another, Sharetru implements encryption to safeguard it from any interception or unauthorized access. When managed file transfer providers encrypt their customers' data in transit, the tunnel the information is flowing through can't be accessed by anyone without the proper decryption key, effectively preventing any potential data breaches during transmission for our customers.

    Likewise, when data is stored in remote servers or cloud environments (at-rest), the service provider should be encrypting the data to secure it from any unauthorized access. This ensures that even if someone gains unauthorized access to the storage system, they will be unable to decipher the encrypted data without the necessary decryption key.

    The following table explains the different states of data further while giving a comprehensive overview of the considerations a managed file transfer provider that's SOC 2 Type II certified (like Sharetru) must take to protect it:

    Aspect

    Data at Rest

    Data in Transit

    Data in Use

    Relevant SOC 2 Type II Control Family

    Definition

    Data stored on a physical or digital medium, typically on a server, storage device, or in a database.

    Data actively moving between two or more devices or networks.

    Data actively being processed or accessed by an application, user, or system.

    N/A

    State of Data

    Data is in a static or dormant state. It is not actively being transmitted or processed.

    Data is in motion, traveling across networks or communication channels.

    Data is actively being utilized or manipulated, often by applications or users.

    N/A

    Examples of Data

    Database records, files on a hard drive, archived emails, backup tapes, cloud storage data.

    Emails in transit between mail servers, files being uploaded/downloaded, video streams over the internet.

    Data being edited in a document, data processed by an application, data in a computer's RAM during computation.

    N/A

    Security Focus

    Encryption, access controls, authentication, and strong data retention policies.

    Encryption, secure protocols (e.g., HTTPS, VPNs), and access controls during transmission.

    Access controls, authentication, real-time monitoring, and auditing of user interactions.

    Control Environment (CE)

    Security Concerns

    Unauthorized access, data breaches, physical theft, data retention compliance.

    Interception, eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, data integrity during transmission.

    Unauthorized access, insider threats, data leakage, and security during processing.

    Control Environment (CE), Access Control (AC), and Monitoring (MON)

    Data Protection

    Encryption at rest, secure erase procedures, access controls, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems (IDS).

    Encryption during transmission (e.g., SSL/TLS), secure communication channels, VPNs.

    Access controls, encryption in memory, application-level security, and runtime monitoring.

    Encryption and Key Management (EN), Access Control (AC), and Monitoring (MON)

    Common Technologies

    Disk encryption, file permissions, data masking, data loss prevention (DLP) tools.

    SSL/TLS encryption, VPNs, secure file transfer protocols (e.g., SFTP), secure email gateways.

    Application-level encryption, runtime access controls, encryption libraries, secure coding practices.

    Encryption and Key Management (EN), Access Control (AC), and Monitoring (MON)

     

    When SOC 2 Type II certified managed file transfer providers like Sharetru employ encryption during the in-transit and at-rest phases, we ensure that our customers' data remains protected at all times, regardless of its location or the potential threats it may face. This commitment to data security aligns with the SOC 2 Type II requirements and further enhances the overall data protection measures implemented by Sharetru.

    When a cloud service provider has a comprehensive approach to data security, businesses can have peace of mind knowing that their sensitive information is safeguarded throughout its lifecycle. Whether it is in-transit or at-rest, Sharetru's data encryption measures provide important layers of protection and contribute to maintaining SOC 2 Type II compliance.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, achieving and maintaining SOC 2 Type II compliance, or only working with cloud service providers who are certified, is essential to protect your data and ensure the trust of your customers, partners, and stakeholders. By partnering with an MFTaaS provider can establish effective security controls, implement robust policies and procedures, and continuously monitor and assess your compliance efforts. Being SOC 2 Type II compliant not only helps businesses meet legal and regulatory requirements but also enhances your overall data security posture for your business and/or your clients.

    Do you need a SOC 2 Type II certified MFTaaS provider? Sharetru's SOC 2 Type II certified file-sharing solution is your shield against costly data breaches, protecting your data and your bottom line. Contact us today to learn more, or start a free trial to see what you could be missing out on.

    Arvind Mistry

    Arvind, Sharetru's Director of Compliance, brings 11+ years' experience in cloud solutions for Federal Govt. & public sector from esteemed companies.

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