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The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) was designed to protect investors from fraudulent accounting practices at public corporations. While a win for investors, the act created an increased regulatory burden on businesses, requiring strict protections to guard against fraud. Because the cost of non-compliance with SOX can be high (e.g., reputational damage, stock drop, remediation costs, financial loss, etc.), companies must be extra diligent in keeping up with the compliance requirements. Thankfully, many SOX compliance software solutions have been created to aid in this goal. Here, we’ll go over some of the best software you can use to ensure your business doesn’t make headlines for failing a SOX regulatory obligation.

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SOX Compliance Requirements

Sarbanes-Oxley was written in response to several high-profile financial scandals. Enron Corporation, Tyco International PLC, and WorldCom were all embroiled in scandals related to faulty accounting practices, and investor confidence was shaken. Now, all publicly traded companies and their wholly-owned subsidiaries are required to comply with the SOX act, as are any accounting firms that do work for one of these companies.

The act is broken into several sections, some of which detail strict requirements beyond the scope of this post. The key takeaways from what are considered the most important sections of the act are listed below:

  1. Section 302: Corporate Responsibility for Financial Reports — Requires that all public companies file financial statements, including internal control structure, to the FEC regularly. Direct responsibility for the accuracy of these reports is placed on the CEO and CFO of the company.
  2. Section 404: Management Assessment of Internal Controls — Sets forth the requirements for an internal control structure. Requires both company management and an external auditor to attest to the accuracy of the internal accounting controls. This is one of the hardest parts of the law to comply with, as you must show that your internal control over your data is secure and that your monitoring practices match what you claim them to be.
  3. Section 409: Real Time Issuer Disclosures — Any material changes to the company’s financial condition must be reported in as close to real-time as reasonable. This is to ensure that investors promptly have the information they need to make informed decisions about the health of their investments.
  4. Section 802: Criminal Penalties for Altering Documents — Sets a criminal penalty of up to 20 years in prison for altering, destroying, mutilating, concealing, or falsifying any information with the intent of interfering with legal investigations.
  5. Section 906: Corporate Responsibility for Financial Reports — Assigns a criminal penalty of up to $5 million in fines and up to 20 years in prison for certifying misleading or fraudulent financial reports.

Top SOX Compliance Software Solutions

Presented below are 19 of the best tools for ensuring that your company stays compliant with SOX regulations. Most of these solutions are centered around securing your business with internal controls and providing the means to prove to an auditor that you have SOX compliant systems in place. For companies looking for a simpler solution, there are also some products with more basic functionality listed.

1. Pathlock

Pathlock homepage screenshot

The technology stack of a modern business involves a variety of financially relevant applications including SAP, Oracle, Workday Financials, and many more. Trying to keep them all in compliance with SOX can often be a nightmare. Pathlock helps enterprises to secure critical data in all of their enterprise applications and monitor that data for segregation of duties (SoD) exposures, business process exceptions or IT general control failures. You’ll see all internal control violations in one convenient interface, regardless of where the violation occurred.

Manual testing of internal controls introduces risk, because samples sizes are small and audits only occur once a quarter, at best. Automated, real-time solutions like Pathlock can take action immediately when it detects suspicious activity by blocking transactions, masking data, sending alerts, or ending sessions . It will track and log all suspicious behavior and use those logs to generate reports that satisfy the requirements of SOX or other internal control over financial reporting requirements.

Pathlock is the go-to automated SOX compliance solution for enterprises.

2. SolarWinds Security Event Manager

Security Event Manager by SolarWinds is a log management solution that can gather logs from various sources and use their data to create a centralized repository of important security-related information. It can generate customized reports automatically, so you’ll always have the information you need at regular intervals. These reports will help you not only with SOX compliance, but with HIPAA, DSS, PCI, and more.

The software monitors your logs 24/7 using advanced algorithms to detect and report threats quickly, so any fraud that could cause your company to run afoul of SOX regulations will be caught immediately so it can be dealt with. In keeping with the theme of automation, Security Event Manager can take action on your behalf when suspicious activity is indicated. This includes actions such as killing processes, revoking access, or blocking IP addresses.

3. LogicManager

LogicManager is an enterprise risk management tool, but the company goes one step further and pairs each customer with a team of expert risk management consultants to ensure that they get started on the right foot and are implementing an optimal risk management program. In addition to monitoring your own data for suspicious activity and taking steps to shut it down, LogicManager allows you to conduct due-diligence on third-party vendors to further reduce your risk.

For SOX specific features, LogicManager allows you to create step-by-step instructions for internal controls testing procedures so no required steps get overlooked. It also helps to standardize SOX compliance by providing you with templates that combine best practices with predefined scoring to streamline your workflow.

4. Onspring

Onspring is a governance, risk, and compliance platform that provides a well-rounded set of features. Its core features allow you to monitor and manage your policy and compliance processes in real-time and generate meaningful and accurate reports. Onspring also aids you in creating audit plans, automating IT workflows so that you can monitor them from a central location, and managing vendor risk with centrally located profiles, assessments, and other data.

Included in the platform is a compliance solution that will help you stay on top of SOX, and other regulatory requirements. It can automate tests, identify control gaps and implement mitigation plans, generate dynamic reports as Word or PDF files, and facilitate communication and coordination throughout your enterprise.

5. Netwrix Auditor

Netwrix Auditor focuses on helping you maintain data security in your unstructured data. It takes the approach that security is best achieved when it’s focused on the important data, rather than being bogged down by false positives that do not need attention. As such, the platform takes great care to classify your information consistently and accurately. Netwrix Auditor goes where you need it by working with data on premises or in the cloud.

The company takes helping you with SOX compliance seriously, and has provided a lengthy report of all the ways in which their software can aid you in the process. It provides internal controls by constantly monitoring for threats in common unstructured data stores like Office365 and automatically taking action if they are detected. It then provides you with the documentation you need to prove that those controls are in place and meet SOX requirements.

6. Galvanize ControlsBond

ControlsBond by Galvanize is a software dedicated to internal controls management. It is designed to help companies navigate the complexity of laws such as SOX, ITGC, ICRF, and OMB A-123 through the use of specially designed processes and automation. Pre-built templates and frameworks make it easy to get started. Real-time updates when compliance issues occur keep your staff ahead of the game and prepared for any audit.

In addition to providing you with powerful automation tools and detailed, accurate reports that will help keep you in compliance, ControlsBond prides itself on its ease of use. They designed a modern UI to be intuitive and easy to learn so you aren’t wasting time and money training your staff to use difficult software that hinders more than it helps in the early stages of its adoption.

7. Workiva

The Workiva cloud platform features internal controls management. By bringing all of your risks and controls into a single platform, Workiva allows you to automate the collecting, aggregating, and reporting of risks. It also provides you with complete transparency over your risk control management and allows for clear communication with team members. This transparency extends to evidence collection and control testing. Workiva can automate many of your tedious testing tasks and generate easy to understand dashboards that will put that information at your fingertips.

The automated and accurate report generation will keep stakeholders informed and keep you in compliance with SOX regulations. You can even automate the certification process so you’ll be able to establish an easily repeatable routine for signers and approvers to certify your reports.

8. ManageEngine Eventlog Analyzer

EventLog Analyzer by ManageEngine is a comprehensive log management solution. Like many other SOX compliance software products, Eventlog Analzyer will automate your log management process and help you generate reports that will keep you in compliance with the regulations set forth by Sarbanes-Oxley. It will also provide you with file and folder monitoring. With file integrity monitoring, you’ll know when someone has modified your financial records and can ensure that the person was authorized to do so and acting in good faith.

With support for over 700 log sources and the ability to process data at 25,000 logs/second, ManageEngine’s software has the power you need to stay aware of what is happening across your entire network and prove to SOX compliance auditors that you’re taking all the appropriate steps to protect your investors from fraud.

9. Auditboard

Auditboard is a web-based platform for audits, risk, and compliance management. It gathers data from all your relevant programs and collects it into an easy-to-access web platform built by audit experts. Auditboard includes four major components. The first is OpsAudit for audit management and reporting, next is RiskOversight for integrating and administering risk management programs. Third comes Compliance for managing compliance for SOC, ISO, NIST, PCI, FINRA, GDPR, and more.

SOX management is so integral to the Auditboard platform that it gets its own component, SOXHUB. This component allows you to automate administrative tasks, testing procedures, and certification processes so you can simplify your SOX reporting. It includes custom, role-based dashboard so everyone is seeing exactly the information that is most relevant to their role in the process.

10. Endpoint Protector

Endpoint Protector by CoSoSys is a comprehensive data loss prevention tool. It comes with four key components to keep your data secure. Device Control lets you monitor and manage devices. You can lockdown a device if it is being used inappropriately. Content-Aware protection monitors the file transfers on your system. Enforced Encryption is a password based system that automatically encrypts any data that is placed on a USB storage device from your computers. Lastly, eDiscover allows you to discover, encrypt, or delete sensitive data using a mixture of manual and automatic scans.

The software has multiple deployment options. It can be used as a virtual appliance, hosted in a Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud Platform account, or hosted in the cloud as a SaaS flavor. All features are available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, except for Enforced Encryption, which does not work on Linux.

11. RSA Archer

Archer is a regulatory and corporate compliance management tool created by RSA. It’s designed to reduce the cost and complexity of compliance by automating the audit process and consolidating information from several regulatory bodies into one easy to search location. This makes it easy for businesses to stay up to date on regulatory actions and changes, so they don’t get caught complying with the wrong set of rules.

By automating task assignments, creation of reports, and controls testing, Archer allows you to remove the error-prone human element of audit reporting and get faster, more accurate compliance. Archer gives you further control over compliance by providing you with a complete audit management system that improves governance and integrates with your risk and control functions. Because third-party vendors are a part of the risk assessment for any company, Archer gives you tools that provide you with an accurate picture of third-party risk.

12. BWise

BWise technology powers several Risk Intelligence solutions designed for companies of all sizes and throughout a range of deployment options. For SOX compliance management, the company offers Sox Compliance 2.0, which is a SaaS-based solution that is designed for easy onboarding, to minimize the time it takes your staff to get up and running. It accomplishes this through easy-to-use templates and pre-configured workflows.

The product offers you greater insight into how your internal control management is functioning through the use of configurable and intuitive dashboards. The dashboards are pre-designed for specific roles to make it both simple to get started and easy for everyone to access the information that is important to their job. SOX Compliance 2.0 comes pre-configured according to best practices developed over the company’s years of experience working on compliance with top companies.

13. Metricstream

MetricStream provides your business with a unified approach to risk and internal control management. By pulling in data from across your enterprise, you’ll be able to enable risk-aware decisions much faster through the use of a single integrated platform. The tool’s SOX compliance management system is highly configurable to meet the unique needs of each individual customer. The mobile-ready interface provides access to automated control testing and personalized dashboards even for busy professionals on the go.

Control automation allows you a great deal of freedom over the process, with the ability to define test owners, set schedules and frequency, and specify the scope of the test. Easily search and select controls for testing and assign them to a control owner. MetricStream also lets you easily manage your SOX certifications by creating and tracking plans, checklists, and schedules.

14. Resolver

Resolver is compliance management software that allows you to prioritize the regulations that you track. Because not every regulation is applicable to all companies, Resolver lets you spend more time on the ones that are, and to place the highest risk regulations further up in the stack. Then you’ll be able to more easily keep track of regulatory changes, which the software will automatically inform you about, and use it to assign them to requirement owners.

When there are multiple regulations to follow, there is often overlap. Resolver lets you link a single control to multiple regulations, reducing the time it takes to find relevant documents and respond to requests. Documents generated include standardized audit templates and accurate committee reports to aid in SOX compliance.

15. Pentana

Pentana is a collection of products by Ideagen that are designed to make risk management and regulatory compliance easier. The software collection consists of four products. Pentana Audit streamlines your internal audit procedures and gives you a paperless system that’s easier to search through. Pentana Risk monitors the risks that your company faces and delivers you real-time access to reporting. Pentana Compliance brings together all your regulatory requirements and provides a centralized location for managing them all. Finally, Pentana Disclose is a checklist tool to ensure that your financial disclosures meet all the requirements and accounting standards that they should.

16. DoubleCheck

DoubleCheck’s SOX Compliance Management is a web-based product that will help to automate your SOX workflow. The tool can leverage third-party frameworks such as COSO and CobIT. DoubleCheck believes that everything about the software you use should be specific to your firm and simple to implement. As a result, their software is highly configurable, from the dashboards of individual users to the process used to automate your SOX compliance workflow.

With DoubleCheck SOX Compliance Management, reports are automatically generated and delivered to the stakeholders in your company and tailored to their role. It’s easy to add other GRC functions such as risk or audit management through upgrades to other DoubleCheck software, so the tool can grow along with your business.

17. HelpSystems Powertech

Powertech by HelpSystems is suite of cybersecurity products that can help you quickly gather data for SOX auditors, provide documentation that your security policy meets the strict requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, and keep your IT infrastructure secure at the same time.

Primarily designed for the IBM i platform, Powertech includes many different products. Most useful for SOX compliance is Powertech Compliance Monitor, which will monitor your systems for compliance issues in real-time and generate the reports you need to show in case of an audit. Also of use are Powertech Policy Minder and Powertech Security Auditor.

18. SOX Expert

SOX Expert is a little different from the other products on the list. Rather than being a web-based SaaS, or natively ran standalone solution, SOX Expert is built on Microsoft Excel. By letting Excel do the heavy lifting, the software is able to offer a more cost effective solution for businesses who don’t need or want more advanced software. Because it is based on Excel, anyone who understands how to use that basic office product will be able to pick up the new software quickly.

SOX Expert integrates standardize templates for risk control and test planning and automatically alerts users when it detects a problematic data entry. If your business is already based on Excel and looking to get your feet wet with SOX compliance software, SOX Expert could be a good place to start before moving on to more expensive and robust systems.

19. Thycotic Secret Server

Thycotic Secret Server is a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution that works on-premise and in the cloud. The software doesn’t handle automation of compliance tasks or monitoring of all your applications. For aiding in SOX compliance, it’s a much simpler solution that instead focuses on providing well-documented and enforced control over who has access to your systems. With the ability to generate audit logs, record access sessions, and create automated access reports, Secret Server can provide the documentation you need to demonstrate your compliance with SOX section 404.

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