Safeguarding sensitive customer information is a growing concern for many businesses, especially for those that run their enterprise on sites like Shopify. Adhering to Service Organization Control Type 2 compliance — or simply SOC 2 — has emerged as a vital step towards enhancing the security posture of Shopify stores.
The SOC 2 compliance is a robust security standard designed to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer data. Adopting this framework and following a SOC 2 compliance checklist enables Shopify retailers to instill confidence and trust among their customers, ultimately leading to increased brand loyalty and a more secure shopping experience.
This article will explore the key steps that businesses can take to secure their Shopify stores and achieve SOC 2 compliance. Implementing these practices can help merchants strengthen their online presence, mitigate risks, and safeguard the sensitive data entrusted to them.
Understand the Requirements
Having a comprehensive understanding of SOC 2 compliance requirements enables Shopify merchants to effectively align their processes, controls, and practices with the expectations set forth by the SOC 2 framework
It allows them to identify the specific areas of their operations that require attention. By identifying and addressing potential security risks and vulnerabilities, merchants can mitigate the risks of data breaches, theft, or misuse.
Understanding SOC 2 compliance requirements also enables retailers to effectively select and vet third-party vendors, who may also handle sensitive customer data. Conducting their due diligence on vendor security practices helps merchants ensure they are only partnering with vendors that also meet SOC 2 requirements.
Conduct a Risk Assessment
Conducting a risk assessment helps businesses identify potential vulnerabilities, threats, and security risks within the Shopify store’s infrastructure, processes, and data handling practices. It also enables retailers effectively address these risks and aligns their security controls with SOC 2 requirements.
One key aspect of a risk assessment is identifying and fixing bugs or vulnerabilities within the Shopify store. Although they are not made intentionally, bugs can cause weaknesses in the site’s security that may allow unauthorized access or compromise the confidentiality and integrity of customer data.
Fixing these bugs ensures that the Shopify store’s software, plugins, and integrations are secure and compliant with SOC 2 requirements. Additionally, conducting thorough vulnerability assessments and penetration testing allow retailers on the site to proactively identify and patch any vulnerabilities or bugs in their systems.
Develop Security Policies and Procedures
Developing security policies and procedures provides a framework for implementing and maintaining effective security controls that align with SOC 2 requirements. Such documents also serve as a guideline for employees that outline expectations and best practices for safeguarding customer data and maintaining a secure environment.
An incident response plan should be present in these policies and procedures to ensure that businesses can respond promptly and effectively to security incidents. This document outlines the steps and actions to be taken in the event of a security incident or breach. It also defines the roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, containment measures, and recovery processes.
Implementing proper vendor management strategies should also be present in security policies and procedures. This is to ensure that third-party applications, services, and integrations meet the necessary security standards and adhere to SOC 2 requirements. It also helps in mitigating the risk associated with third-party access to customer data.
Limit and Monitor Access Controls
Another strategy online businesses on Shopify can adopt to achieve SOC 2 compliance is by limiting and monitoring access controls. These practices help protect customer data, prevent unauthorized access, and ensure that access to sensitive information is granted only to authorized individuals.
Restricting access to systems, databases, and sensitive data based on job roles and responsibilities ensure that employees only have access to the resources necessary to perform their tasks. Following this practice reduces the risk of unauthorized access and helps prevent potential data breaches or misuse of customer information.
Moreover, monitoring access controls helps in promptly identifying anomalies or unauthorized activities. This allows for timely investigation and mitigation of potential security incidents, aligning with SOC 2’s focus on maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of customer data.
Encrypt Your Shopify Data
Encryption involves transforming data into an unreadable format, making it unintelligible to unauthorized parties. Following this practice enables merchants on Shopify to prevent sensitive data such as customer information from falling into the wrong hands.
Encrypting Shopify data also aligns with SOC 2’s security principle since this strategy protects the confidentiality and integrity of customer data. It also helps in safeguarding sensitive information from unauthorized access, data breaches, theft, and loss whether such data is at rest in databases or transit during online transfer.
Train Your Employees
Employee training ensures that all individuals within the organization understand their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding customer data and adhering to the security practices required by SOC 2.
Implementing this strategy empowers staff members to gain awareness about the potential risks and threats associated with mishandling customer data, which leads to employees being more careful with their actions and increasing the likelihood of following security protocols.
Training employees also equip them with knowledge and skills to effectively implement security controls and help them easily recognize and respond to security incidents. This strategy also fosters shared responsibility for protecting customer data, creating a security-conscious mindset throughout the company.
Conduct Regular Audits
Auditing is a proactive measure that allows businesses to evaluate their security controls, identify areas of improvement, and ensure ongoing compliance with SOC 2 requirements.
This procedure also provides Shopify merchants with an opportunity to review their systems, processes, and policies to identify any gaps or vulnerabilities that may exist. Doing so enables them to determine areas that require remediation or enhancements to meet SOC 2 standards.
Utilizing specialized tools and services can streamline the audit process for Shopify merchants. HukCommerce’s Shopify site audit service offers a variety of tools such as technology auditing that will help businesses improve their pages and ensure that their site is responsive to the company’s needs — including data protection and management.
Businesses operating on platforms like Shopify have an inherent responsibility that comes with handling vast amounts of customer data, including payment information, personal details, and transaction histories. By adopting the strategies outlined above, merchants can protect the confidentiality of such sensitive information and effectively comply with SOC 2 compliance requirements.
One thing to keep in mind is that achieving SOC 2 compliance is an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring and continuous improvement. Companies that operate on Shopify should consider consulting with a qualified security professional or engaging a specialized firm to help them attain and maintain their compliance.