With the growing emphasis on data protection, more and more companies are exercising caution when selecting third-party vendors and seeking evidence of tight security controls. ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are two popular information security frameworks that businesses can use to demonstrate the validity of their security posture to attract clients or meet regulatory requirements.

But, it can be a challenge for most businesses to evaluate both frameworks and decide whether to pursue ISO 27001 or SOC 2 compliance.

In this blog post, we will explore the similarities and differences between ISO 27001 and SOC 2 and provide guidance on how businesses can decide which security standard is right for them.

ISO 27001 vs SOC 2: Similarities

Both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are concerned with helping organizations establish adequate security controls and risk mitigation measures to ensure data integrity and confidentiality.

Besides sharing common focus areas, both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are also widely recognized evaluations that businesses can leverage to show prospective clients that they have policies and controls in place to maintain information security. Clients are looking to partner with vendors they can trust to adequately minimize the risk to sensitive data. Achieving either ISO 27001 or SOC 2 compliance can help businesses demonstrate this commitment to security.

Further, both assessments require an external, independent audit to verify compliance.

ISO 27001 vs SOC 2: Differences

ISO 27001 and SOC 2 most significantly differ in three areas – scope, market reach, and the final deliverable.

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Scope

ISO 27001 is geared toward businesses of any size, operating within any industry. The framework is primarily concerned with the design, implementation, and consistent improvement of an Information Security Management System (ISMS), which is intended to serve as the foundation of an organization’s risk management and data security practices.

SOC 2, on the other hand, is designed for service organizations, particularly those providing cloud and SaaS-based technology solutions. The audit involves a comparatively short-term evaluation of an organization’s adherence to five trust services principles – security, confidentiality, processing integrity, availability, and privacy. SOC 2 is mainly focused on the implementation of security controls to protect data as opposed to the development of an overarching ISMS.

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Market Reach

Although both assessments have global presence, SOC 2 is generally more favored in the United States given that it has been developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). ISO 27001 is broadly accepted in both international and domestic markets.

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Final Deliverable

An ISO 27001 audit must be conducted by an accredited certification body, whereas an SOC 2 audit is completed by a licensed CPA firm. So, a key difference between the two assessments is the final deliverable.

After completion of an ISO 27001 audit, businesses receive a certificate verifying compliance. The certificate is valid for three years, and businesses must perform regular internal and surveillance audits to maintain compliance.

SOC 2 audits generally conclude with either a Type 1 or Type 2 formal attestation report that evaluates and comments on the design, suitability, and, if applicable, the operational effectiveness of a business’ security controls. Both reports are considered valid for a one-year period.

Should Your Business Pursue ISO 27001 or SOC 2 Compliance?

When deciding whether to pursue ISO 27001 or SOC 2 compliance, it’s best to evaluate your customer base, services, and industry requirements.

For instance, if you do not provide data center solutions and services to customers, ISO 27001 may be better suited for your organization. In general, ISO 27001 is a cost-effective, globally accepted certification that lays the foundation for businesses to achieve compliance with SOC 2, HITRUST, and other security or regulatory frameworks, without significant additional cost or effort.

Ultimately, both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are industry-leading security frameworks that your business can choose to align with to inspire customer confidence in your data protection capabilities and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Need Assistance Preparing for ISO 27001 or SOC 2 Certification?

GraVoc offers Certification Gap Analysis and Readiness services for organizations looking to align their information security programs with industry-recognized frameworks such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2. Click below to learn more about our certification readiness services for your business.

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