What Is a SOC 2 Bridge Letter? With Examples!

Richa Tiwari

11 Oct 2023

Picture this: you’re a service organization that has aced your SOC 2 audit, and now your prospects are becoming customers at record speed as you prove your commitment to data security. But what happens in the interim period between one SOC report and the next? Enter the SOC 2 Bridge Letter, which fills the gap and keeps your compliance game on point.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the world of bridge letters, exploring their significance, components, and responsibilities. We’ll also discuss the differences between a bridge letter and an actual SOC report, and share some valuable tips for requesting and providing one. So buckle up and let’s build that bridge to compliance!

Understanding the Bridge Letter

A SOC 2 Bridge Letter, affectionately known as a gap letter, is that missing piece of the compliance puzzle that connects the last SOC 2 audit report date and your fiscal year-end, typically no more than three months. It’s assurance that your organization’s security posture remains strong and that no major changes have been made to the internal controls, which would impact the original SOC 2 report findings. A bridge letter lets prospects and customers know you are still adhering to the SOC 2 framework, and prevents any hiccups during a security review. 

So, how do these magical documents work? Let’s explore their role in the world of SOC 2 compliance, including the importance of a SOC examination.

The Role of Bridge Letters in SOC 2 Compliance

Bridge letters play a crucial role in maintaining security and compliance standards during the interim period between SOC 2 reports. Service organizations issue these documents to assure their customers that the organization is totally compliant with the requirements of the SOC 2 report for the time between those two reports, including the operating effectiveness of the organization’s controls.

An ideal bridge letter includes:

  • A description of the service organization’s internal control environment
  • An overview of the service organization’s security measures
  • A guarantee that the service organization is in line with the SOC 2 report

Remember, bridge letters relate solely to the period between the end of the previous SOC 2 report and fiscal year-end, and the service organization is responsible for making sure the bridge letter is on-point and current.

There are a few bits of information a bridge letter should include, including the previous audit period and material changes to controls. 

Components of an Effective SOC 2 Bridge Letter

  1. The start and end dates of the last SOC 2 report’s audit period
  2. An update on any internal control adjustments
  3. A declaration of no material changes since the recently completed SOC report

These components ensure the operating effectiveness of the organization’s controls during the gap period between SOC 2 reports.

Remember, a bridge letter is not meant to cover a period of longer than three months. Instead, it’s just a helpful tool to maintain compliance confidence to your clients between audits. 

Material Changes & Their Impact

Material changes in a bridge letter refer to significant alterations in the control environment that may impact the organization’s security posture. Think updates to systems, processes, or controls that may impact the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, or privacy of the organization’s systems and data.

A bridge letter should communicate any material changes that have occurred during the gap period between SOC 2 reports. These changes can really rock the boat when it comes to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, or privacy of the organization’s systems and data, so it’s essential to keep your customers informed and maintain their trust.

Duration & Coverage of a Bridge Letter

Bridge letters typically cover a limited time between the report end date and the customer’s fiscal year-end, usually no more than three months. This duration ensures that customers receive continuous compliance assurance during the interim period between SOC 2 reports.

However, it’s important to note that bridge letters are not a one-size-fits-all solution. The duration and coverage of a bridge letter will depend on the specific circumstances of each service organization and its customers, so it’s essential to tailor the bridge letter to the unique needs of your organization and clients.

Issuing a Bridge Letter: Responsibilities & Limitations

Organizations create their own bridge letters—not auditors—because they have the full understanding of their internal controls and any changes that have occurred since the last audit. Management will sign the bridge letter and have it sent directly to customers, and are also responsible for ensuring bridge letters fully communicate any changes and are responsible for any oversights.

Bridge Letter Limitations

A bridge letter is just a statement from an organization that communicates continuance (or changes) to SOC compliance since the last assessment. It is not a replacement for an actual SOC assessment and is more of a temporary stopgap measure until the next assessment is completed.

SOC 2 Bridge Letters are an essential component of maintaining continuous compliance and trust between service organizations and their customers. By understanding their role, components, and responsibilities, you can craft an effective bridge letter that keeps your organization on the straight and narrow path to security compliance.

So, go forth and build that bridge to compliance, knowing that you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools to keep your organization’s security posture strong and your customers’ trust intact. After all, when it comes to security and compliance, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Example Bridge Letter

Here’s an example of a real-life, anonymized Bridge Letter:

Thank you for your request for information related to our [product].

On [Date], the independent public accounting firm of [firm] issued its report on its examination of [company name]’s description of  its [product] (the “description”) based on the criteria set forth in DC 200, 2020 Description Criteria for a Description of a Service Organization’s System in a SOC 2® Report (AICPA, Description Criteria),  (the “description criteria”) and the suitability of the design and operating effectiveness of controls described therein to meet the criteria for the Security criteria set forth in the AICPA’s Trust Services Principles (“TSP”) section 100, Trust Services Criteria  for Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality and Privacy (AICPA, Trust Services Criteria),(“applicable trust services criteria”) throughout the period [Date] to [Date].

The report includes a review of the controls placed in operation and tests of operating effectiveness for [company’s product] for the period [Date] to [Date].

[Company] recognizes the need to maintain an appropriate internal control environment.  As of the date of this letter, there have been no material weaknesses in our internal controls that would require corrective action. In addition, there have been no significant changes to our internal controls and, to the best of our knowledge, all controls are operating effectively.

This letter is not intended to provide you with a certification of our [product] or to suggest that [company] performed a separate evaluation of its internal controls for the purposes of producing this letter. In order to review the effectiveness of the internal controls related to [product], you should review the SOC 2® report.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the SOC bridge letter?

The SOC bridge letter provides assurance that no material changes have been made to the internal controls between the last SOC 2 audit and the customer’s fiscal year-end. It serves as a safeguard to ensure continuity and reliability for the customer.

Who provides bridge letters?

Bridge letters are issued and signed by an organization’s management, not the CPA firm that conducted the SOC audit. So if you need a bridge letter, look no further than your own management team!

Bridge letters are a great way to provide assurance to customers and other stakeholders that the organization’s systems and processes are secure and compliant. 

What is a SOC 1 report and bridge letter?

A SOC 1 report and a bridge letter provide a way to bridge the gap between the service organization’s report date and the user entity’s year-end. Both SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports require this bridge letter for completion.

What is the coverage period of a bridge letter?

A bridge letter usually covers a period of up to three months between the last SOC report end date and the user entity’s year-end.

What is a SOC 2 Bridge Letter?

A SOC 2 Bridge Letter, otherwise known as a gap letter, is a document that provides customers with an assurance of ongoing compliance and builds trust by connecting the last SOC 2 audit report date and the customer’s fiscal year-end.

It is an important document for customers who need to ensure that their service provider is compliant with the latest security standards. It also helps to build trust between the customer and the service provider, as it demonstrates that the service provider is committed to maintaining their security posture.