System and Organization Controls (SOC) 3
SOC 3 overview
System and Organization Controls (SOC) for Service Organizations are internal control reports created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). They're intended to examine services provided by a service organization so that end users can assess and address the risk associated with an outsourced service.
SOC 3 for Service Organizations: Trust Services Criteria for General Use Report is a short, publicly facing summary of the SOC 2 Type 2 attestation report for users who need assurances about service organization's controls but don't need a full SOC 2 report or aren't eligible under SOC 2 to receive one. Because SOC 3 reports are general use reports, they can be freely distributed.
A SOC 3 report contains a written assertion by service organization management regarding control effectiveness to achieve commitments based on the applicable trust services criteria, and service auditor's opinion on whether management's assertion is stated fairly.
Microsoft in-scope cloud platforms & services
Microsoft in-scope services are shown in the Azure SOC 2 Type 2 attestation report.
- Azure (for detailed insight, see Microsoft Azure Compliance Offerings or Azure SOC 2 Type 2 attestation report)
- Dynamics 365 (for detailed insight, see Azure SOC 2 Type 2 attestation report)
- Microsoft 365 Defender
- Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
- Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
- Microsoft Defender for Identity
- Microsoft Forms Pro
- Microsoft Intune
- Microsoft Managed Desktop
- Microsoft Stream
- Microsoft Threat Experts
- Nomination Portal
- Office 365, Office 365 U.S. Government, Office 365 U.S. Government - High, Office 365 U.S. Government Defense
- Power Apps
- Power Automate
- Power BI
- Power Virtual Agents
- Update Compliance
Azure, Dynamics 365, and SOC 3
For more information about Azure, Dynamics 365, and other online services compliance, see the Azure SOC 3 offering.
Office 365 and SOC 3
Office 365 environments
Microsoft Office 365 is a multi-tenant hyperscale cloud platform and an integrated experience of apps and services available to customers in several regions worldwide. Most Office 365 services enable customers to specify the region where their customer data is located. Microsoft may replicate customer data to other regions within the same geographic area (for example, the United States) for data resiliency, but Microsoft will not replicate customer data outside the chosen geographic area.
This section covers the following Office 365 environments:
- Client software (Client): commercial client software running on customer devices.
- Office 365 (Commercial): the commercial public Office 365 cloud service available globally.
- Office 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC): the Office 365 GCC cloud service is available for United States Federal, State, Local, and Tribal governments, and contractors holding or processing data on behalf of the US Government.
- Office 365 Government Community Cloud - High (GCC High): the Office 365 GCC High cloud service is designed according to Department of Defense (DoD) Security Requirements Guidelines Level 4 controls and supports strictly regulated federal and defense information. This environment is used by federal agencies, the Defense Industrial Base (DIBs), and government contractors.
- Office 365 DoD (DoD): the Office 365 DoD cloud service is designed according to DoD Security Requirements Guidelines Level 5 controls and supports strict federal and defense regulations. This environment is for the exclusive use by the US Department of Defense.
Use this section to help meet your compliance obligations across regulated industries and global markets. To find out which services are available in which regions, see the International availability information and the Where your Microsoft 365 customer data is stored article. For more information about Office 365 Government cloud environment, see the Office 365 Government Cloud article.
Your organization is wholly responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Information provided in this section does not constitute legal advice and you should consult legal advisors for any questions regarding regulatory compliance for your organization.
Office 365 applicability and in-scope services
Use the following table to determine applicability for your Office 365 services and subscription:
|Commercial||Compliance Manager, Customer Lockbox, Delve, Exchange Online Protection, Exchange Online, Forms, Griffin, Identity Manager, Lockbox (Torus), Microsoft Teams, MyAnalytics, Office 365 Customer Portal, Office 365 Microservices (including but not limited to Kaizala, ObjectStore, Sway, PowerPoint Online Document Service, Query Annotation Service, School Data Sync, Siphon, Speech, StaffHub, eXtensible Application Program), Office Online, Office Services Infrastructure, OneDrive for Business, Planner, PowerApps, Power Automate, Power BI, Project Online, Service Encryption with Microsoft Purview Customer Key, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business|
|GCC||Azure Active Directory, Compliance Manager, Delve, Exchange Online, Forms, Microsoft Defender for Office 365, Microsoft Teams, MyAnalytics, Office 365 Advanced Compliance add-on, Office 365 Security & Compliance Center, Office Online, Office Pro Plus, OneDrive for Business, Planner, PowerApps, Power Automate, Power BI, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, Stream|
|GCC High||Azure Active Directory, Exchange Online, Flow, Microsoft Defender for Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Advanced Compliance add-on, Office 365 Security & Compliance Center, Office Online, Office Pro Plus, OneDrive for Business, Planner, PowerApps, Power Automate, Power BI, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business|
|DoD||Azure Active Directory, Exchange Online, Microsoft Defender for Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Advanced Compliance add-on, Office 365 Security & Compliance Center, Office Online, Office Pro Plus, OneDrive for Business, Planner, Power Automate, Power BI, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business|
Office 365 audit reports
You must have an existing subscription or free trial account in Office 365 or Office 365 U.S. Government to download SOC 1 and SOC 2 attestation reports and any bridge letters as needed.
Frequently asked questions
How often are Office 365 SOC reports issued?
Microsoft commissions a full SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 examination of Office 365 annually. The auditor's reports on these examinations (also known as audits) are issued as soon as they're ready after that audit. The SOC 3 report, which is based on the SOC 2 examination, is issued at the same time.
Because Microsoft doesn't control the investigative scope of the examination nor the timeframe of the auditor's completion, there's no set timeframe when these reports are issued. The reports are usually issued a few months after the end of the period under examination. Microsoft doesn't allow any gaps in the consecutive periods of examination from one examination to the next.
Microsoft also commissions a mid-year SOC 1 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 1 examination of Office 365 for new Microsoft services that have been issued since the last SOC Type 2 audit. Type 1 audits don't look back over a period of performance.
Due to the sophisticated nature of Office 365, the service scope is large if examined as a whole. This can lead to examination completion delays due to scale. Microsoft organizes all the examinations described above into 2 categories: Core Services and Microservices. Microsoft issues reports scoped to each examination.
SOC Type 2 audits examine a rolling 12-month run window (also known as audit period or more formally period of performance) with examinations conducted annually for the period 1-October through 30-September of the next calendar year. The examination starts promptly after the period of performance is complete.
Microsoft also issues bridge letters (also known as gap letters). These are self-attestations by Microsoft, not reports based on examinations by the auditor. Bridge letters are issued during the current period of performance that isn't yet complete and ready for audit examination. Microsoft issues bridge letters at the end of each quarter to attest our performance during the prior three-month period. Due to the period of performance for the SOC type 2 audits, the bridge letters are typically issued in December, March, June, and September of the current operating period.
Where can I get the Office 365 SOC audit documentation including Microsoft's bridge letters?
For links to audit documentation, see the audit report section of the Service Trust Portal. You must have an existing subscription or free trial account in Office 365 or Office 365 U.S. Government to log in. You can then download audit certificates, assessment reports, and other applicable documents to help you with your own regulatory requirements.
Use Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager to assess your risk
Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager is a feature in the Microsoft Purview compliance portal to help you understand your organization's compliance posture and take actions to help reduce risks. Compliance Manager offers a premium template for building an assessment for this regulation. Find the template in the assessment templates page in Compliance Manager. Learn how to build assessments in Compliance Manager.
- Service Trust Portal audit reports
- AICPA SOC for Service Organizations
- SSAE No. 18, Attestation Standards: Clarification and Recodification (AICPA Professional Standards)
- SOC 2 Reporting on an Examination of Controls at a Service Organization Relevant to Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, or Privacy (AICPA Guide) (available for purchase)
- TSP section 100 (AICPA, 2017 Trust Services Criteria)
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