top of page

ISO 27001 vs SOC 2

Updated: Feb 2

In today’s world, data security is of the utmost importance. Organizations must ensure that their sensitive information is protected and that they are compliant with global security requirements. ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are two widely recognized certifications in the information security landscape, but what sets them apart, and how can businesses benefit from implementing both standards?


A man looking at security screens


In this blog post, we’ll explore the key differences, similarities, and benefits of adopting “ISO 27001 vs SOC 2”, helping you make informed decisions about your organization’s security posture.


Key Takeaways

  • ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are internationally recognized information security standards that require organizations to define their security objectives, implement controls, and review processes.

  • ISO 27001 is a certification focusing on information security while SOC 2 is an attestation report with annual renewal requirements.

  • Implementing both ISO27001 and SOC2 can provide competitive advantages in terms of bolstering overall security reputation.


Understanding ISO 27001 vs SOC 2

ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are notable information security standards designed to aid organizations in protecting sensitive data, showcasing their compliance, and assuring customers about the paramount importance of security. Both standards require organizations to:

  • Define their security objectives

  • Conduct a gap analysis

  • Implement security controls

  • Gather documentation

  • Establish a process for reviewing and continually improving security processes.


ISO 27001 Overview


ISO 27001 logo

ISO 27001 is an international standard that outlines the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS) to protect sensitive information and ensure compliance with global security requirements.


It provides a framework for how international organizations should manage their data and demonstrate that they have a fully functioning ISMS in place. Securing ISO 27001 certification allows organizations to assure their customers and stakeholders, including certified public accountants, of their commitment to data preservation and protection best practices.


Securing ISO 27001 certification is a resource-intensive process but offers benefits to organizations aiming for global expansion, customer satisfaction, or adherence to regulatory standards for safeguarding confidential data. The ISO 27001 certification process involves an external audit by an accredited registrar, examining the organization’s security controls and management system to ensure compliance with the standard.


SOC 2 Overview


SOC 2 logo

SOC 2 is a voluntary compliance standard developed by the AICPA that focuses on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of an organization’s system description and customer data, collectively known as the five trust services criteria. These criteria ensure that organizations have implemented the necessary security controls to protect sensitive data.


The result of a SOC 2 audit is an attestation report. This confirms that the organization has adhered to the SOC 2 standards. The attestation process involves an independent certified auditor evaluating the organization’s internal controls and issuing an opinion on whether the organization adequately meets the requirements of the SOC 2 standards.

Adopting SOC 2 reassures both the organization’s executives and stakeholders of its dedication to top-notch security practices, thereby instilling customer confidence in the effectiveness of the controls in place.


Key Differences Between ISO 27001 and SOC 2

One significant difference between ISO 27001 and SOC 2 is that ISO 27001 certifies organizations for meeting the standard requirements, while SOC 2 compliance is not a certification but an attestation report. ISO 27001 is a globally recognized standard for information security, whereas SOC 2 is more prevalent in the US market.


ISO 27001 is a set of standards that focuses specifically on information security. Separate standards for aspects such as privacy and business continuity also exist. It has seven mandatory requirements and 114 security controls grouped into 14 sections (Annex A). In contrast, SOC 2 audits have a narrower scope and are centered around the five trust services criteria. The approaches to control adoption differ slightly between SOC 2 and ISO 27001, with ISO 27001 requiring more extensive compliance measures to achieve certification.


Another notable difference is the cost and renewal requirements for each standard. ISO 27001 certification can cost between $10-50K, with certification renewal every three years. In comparison, SOC 2 compliance requires an annual renewal, and organizations must engage the services of a licensed CPA for the audit process.


Similarities and Overlaps Between ISO 27001 and SOC 2

ISO 27001 and SOC 2 both offer strategic advice on operationalizing and quantifying information security controls, thereby assisting organizations in achieving security standard compliance and enhancing their operating effectiveness. There is considerable overlap between the two frameworks, and implementing an ISO 27001 ISMS can be an effective way to establish SOC 2 controls.


Organizations can use these likenesses and overlaps as a leverage to simplify their compliance efforts and enhance their overall security stance. By understanding the commonalities between ISO 27001 and SOC 2, companies can optimize their resources and reduce the complexities associated with implementing and maintaining the same security controls across multiple security frameworks.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Between ISO 27001 and SOC 2

When deciding between ISO 27001 and SOC 2, organizations should consider factors such as their target market, customer requirements, and their existing security infrastructure. If a company operates primarily in North America or requires a more economical, less comprehensive audit, SOC 2 may be the better option.


On the other hand, if an organization has a global presence or needs to meet specific regulatory standards, ISO 27001 certification may be more suitable. It is not uncommon for SaaS companies to adhere to both SOC 2 and ISO 27001, but startups and smaller SaaS companies may prefer to prioritize their efforts and resources by implementing one compliance standard at a time.


Ultimately, the decision between ISO 27001 and SOC 2 will depend on the organization’s unique needs and goals. By carefully evaluating their specific requirements and the advantages of each standard, companies can make informed decisions that best align with their security objectives and customer base.


Benefits of Implementing Both ISO 27001 and SOC 2


security padlock icon

Adopting both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 signals a thorough dedication to information security, offering a competitive edge in the market. Organizations that pursue dual compliance can benefit from the clear path between the two frameworks, facilitating a more efficient certification and attestation process.


Compliance with both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 standards can bolster an organization’s security stance, foster trust among customers and stakeholders, and enhance adherence to international regulations. By showcasing a robust dedication to information security, companies can strengthen their reputation and position themselves as leaders in their industry.


The Certification and Attestation Process for ISO 27001 and SOC 2

The certification and attestation process for ISO 27001 and SOC 2 involves external auditors verifying that organizations have implemented the required security controls and are compliant with the standards. The estimated timeframe for achieving compliance with both standards can vary depending on the size and complexity of the organization, typically ranging between 6 and 12 months.


ISO 27001 certification and SOC 2 compliance both require renewal every three years. Companies can leverage tools and services like ISMS.online and Secureframe to expedite the compliance process, reducing the hundreds of hours of manual labor required to prepare for and complete either audit.


Tips for Streamlining Compliance with ISO 27001 and SOC 2


data map

For efficient compliance with ISO 27001 and SOC 2, organizations should set their objectives early, concentrate on comprehending their requirements, and focus on implementing security controls. This includes developing a security policy, monitoring data access, and conducting security awareness training. Engaging stakeholders throughout the organization is critical, as it involves incorporating compliance into regular business operations, maintaining senior management involvement, and forming an ISO 27001 implementation team with a clear plan. Conducting a risk assessment is an essential step in this process.


Utilizing automation can also help simplify the compliance process. Automated compliance technology can make the process more efficient by automating manual processes, optimizing workflow, and eliminating potential human errors.

By following these tips, organizations can achieve compliance with both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 more efficiently, ultimately improving their overall security posture.


Real-World Examples of Organizations Using ISO 27001 and SOC 2

Companies like:

  • High Table

  • XpertDPO

  • DRB Compliance

  • Advent IM

  • iStorm

  • Bridewell

  • Cognisys

  • Re-alitek

Studies have shown that organizations can feasibly pursue dual compliance with ISO 27001 and SOC 2, ensuring design and operating effectiveness in their information security systems. These organizations have successfully implemented both standards, showcasing the benefits of a comprehensive commitment to information security.


Adhering to both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 can offer advantages such as enhanced security, heightened trust, and improved compliance with regulations. However, it’s essential to consider the challenges associated with satisfying both standards, including the cost of implementation, the complexity of the process, and the need for ongoing maintenance.

By examining real-world examples of organizations that have implemented both ISO 27001 and SOC 2, businesses can better understand the benefits and challenges of pursuing dual compliance and make informed decisions about their security strategy.


Summary


a representation of the internet

In conclusion, ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are two prominent information security standards that help organizations protect sensitive data and demonstrate compliance. While there are key differences between the two, there are also significant similarities and overlaps that organizations can leverage to streamline their compliance efforts and improve their overall security posture.


When deciding between ISO 27001 and SOC 2, or considering implementing both, organizations should carefully evaluate their specific needs, goals, and customer requirements. By understanding the advantages and challenges associated with each standard, companies can make informed decisions that best align with their security objectives and ultimately strengthen their position in the marketplace.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does ISO 27001 cover soc2?

ISO 27001 and SOC 2 overlap and complement each other in many ways. For example, ISO 27001 is a great way to achieve effective SOC 2 controls. Some organizations even choose to implement both standards simultaneously for compliance.


Is SOC 2 Recognised in the UK?

SOC 2 is recognised in the UK, as audits for it can be carried out against ISAE 3000 and SOC 3 audits are like SOC 2 audits.


What is the difference between ISO 27001 and 27002?

ISO 27001 is the international information security management standard, and ISO 27002 provides guidance on how to implement the controls. Note that only standards ending in a “1” are certifiable.


What is the difference between ISO 27001 Stage 1 and Stage 2?

ISO 27001 Stage 1 is a documentation review, while Stage 2 is a comprehensive system audit with control testing.


What is the difference between ISO 27001 and SOC Type 2?

ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security applicable to organisations of all sizes and industries, while SOC 2 is a North-American specific control standard mainly applicable to service companies storing user data on the cloud.



People looking at data on screens

Articles

About the author

Hi, I'm Alan, and have been working within the IT sector for over 30 years.

For the last 15 years, I've focused on IT Governance, Information Security, Projects and Service Management across various styles of organisations and markets.

I hold a degree in Information Systems, ITIL Expert certificate, PRINCE2 Practitioner and CISMP (Information Security Management).

More...

Iseo blue logo
bottom of page