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Why Should Travel Companies Become SOC 2 Compliant
Now that the travel restrictions are starting to ease up around the world, the travel industry is starting to get back on its feet. As travel companies start to reopen and vie for the attention (and booking) of customers, it’s important to assure prospective clients that your company offers the best service.
One way of gaining an edge over the competition is through compliance with various national and international standards. Among these standards is the System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations 2 or SOC 2 compliance. While this is not required by law, it adds credibility to your travel company and boosts confidence for your clients.
To better appreciate, here are a few more details about SOC 2 as well as reasons why travel companies should pursue compliance with this standard.
A voluntary compliance
The System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations 2 was developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). SOC 2 sets criteria that guides organizations on how to handle and manage customer data based on the Trust Services Criteria of security, processing integrity, availability, privacy, and confidentiality.
SOC 2 reports are adapted to each business’ practices, and allows them to design process control measures that can help them adhere to these principles of trust. There are two types of reports under SOC 2 compliance efforts:
- Type I makes a summary of the company’s existing systems and whether it complies with the identified trust principles.
- Type II describes the operational efficiency of the systems detailed in the Type I report.
Advantages of having an SOC 2 compliance.
Having an SOC 2 compliance is greatly beneficial for a company, especially those in the travel industry. Travel companies regularly handle sensitive and confidential customer data including dates of birth, full names, and even credit card details. Being SOC 2
1. Customer protection
Protecting customer data should be paramount for all companies because having your business targeted by external attacks will cause customers to lose confidence in your business, not to mention your liabilities should they face danger or inconvenience because of their leaked data.
Additionally, SOC 2 compliance is a testament to your company’s commitment to secure customer data and gives you a competitive edge over other companies that do not have the same compliance. Between a company that has something to show for its ability to protect its customer data and another that doesn’t, customers are more likely to go with the company that offers more value for their money.
2. Professional assurance
With an SOC 2 compliance under your belt, you can rest assured that your networks and your systems are secure enough to handle and manage customer data. This assurance extends to your employees and their jobs and to even to your business and industrial partners. Additionally, using SOC 2 compliant software adds confidence that your systems are built on similarly secure software.
Additionally, it also helps assure that your travel company is prepared to meet security standards that might be required by the federal government. Travel companies regularly coordinate with federal agencies. Some government branches require the use of security protocols to protect their transactions on top of customer data.
3. Boosts compliance efforts
The criteria and requirements to secure an SOC 2 compliance largely overlaps with other data security frameworks such as ISO/IEC 27001 or the international standard for information security management. It also dovetails with the standards as outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which outlines the management and protection of sensitive patient health information–some of which are also handled by travel agencies.
If you’re looking to boost your travel company credentials by complying with various data management standards, working out how to become SOC2 compliant at the beginning could make other compliance efforts easier.
4. Save on cybersecurity costs
To put it straight, working on an SOC 2 compliance will require you to update your systems and probably upgrade your existing equipment. This is even before the audit, which will also cost your company. However, all these will pale in comparison if your company becomes the target of a data breach.
According to IBM, 2021 posted the highest average cost of data breaches in 17 years at $4.24 million. This figure is expected to rise even higher in the following years. Keeping your systems updated and compliant to SOC 2 standards can help provide your travel agency with the protection it needs from the rapidly-evolving cybersecurity attacks.
Regardless of whether you're working for an international travel company or operating a small business in the same industry, you should start considering applying for an SOC 2 compliance certification. Not only does it give you something to brag and market about, it actually prepares your systems for the rigors and challenges of cybersecurity today. Additionally, it gives you a peace of mind knowing that you’re doing right by your customers. An SOC 2 compliance helps build confidence in your business and prevent data breaches that can cost your company a lot.