What’s the difference between SAS 70, SSAE 16 and SOC?
SAS 70 is the old standard that was never designed for certain service organizations that offer colocation, managed dedicated servers or cloud hosting services. It was initially established to provide auditors information and verification about data center controls and processes as it relates to the data center user and their financial reporting.
A SAS 70 audit does not set any standards for data center excellence; it merely verifies that the controls and processes set in place by a data center are actually followed. Additionally, no certification exists for SAS 70, only an auditing process. The problem arose that the data center service industry required some type of certification of excellence.
The SSAE 16 (Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16) goes beyond SAS 70 by not only verifying the controls and processes, but also requiring a written assertion regarding the design and operating effectiveness of the controls being reviewed.
The SSAE 16 audit will result in a Service Organization Control (SOC) 1 report. This report focuses on internal controls over financial reporting. A SOC 1, Type 1 report focuses on the auditors’ opinion of the accuracy and completeness of the data center management’s design of controls, system and/or service. A SOC 1, Type 2 report includes Type 1 and an audit on the effectiveness of controls over a certain time period, normally between six months and a year.
SOC 2 and SOC 3 provide pre-defined, standard benchmarks for controls related to the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, or privacy of a system and its information.
A SOC 3 report is for general use, and provides a level of certification for data center operators that assure data center users of facility security, high availability and process integrity. While a SOC 2 report includes service auditor testing and results, a SOC 3 report provides only the system description and auditor opinion.
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