Comparing HITRUST vs. ISO 27001

June 24, 2024

Failing to adequately protect your information systems can leave you paying an enormous bill. According to the CFO of UnitedHealth, John Rex, the total estimated cost for 2024’s major cyber breach will likely reach $1.4 to $1.6 billionby the end of the year. 

One of the best ways to avoid being faced with the consequences of successful cyber attacks is to achieve compliance with an established information security framework such as HITRUST or ISO 27001. 

Your organization may also be required to comply with one or both of these, depending on your industry. While similar in some ways, there are some key differences that are important to consider. Read on through our detailed comparison of HITRUST vs. ISO 27001 and discover which framework is right for your business. 

Defining The Details – HITRUST vs. ISO 27001

hitrust vs iso 27001

Understanding the differences in control requirements, complexity, and industry focus between these two certifications is essential for organizations looking to achieve compliance. Let’s dive in. 

What Is The ISO 27001 Framework?

ISO 27001 comes from the International Organization for Standardization and is part of the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards. The objective of ISO 27001 is to help guide organizations in building and implementing an information security management system (ISMS). 

ISO 27001 is a broad set of standards that can be applied to any organization, regardless of size or industry. However, the typical organization looking to get the ISO 27001 certification will likely be in finance, information technology, or government. 

There are many benefits to complying with ISO 27001. Firstly, it is an internationally recognized benchmark for information security management. Being ISO 27001-certified can send a message to your customers and stakeholders that your organization is passionate about security. Additionally, ISO 27001 provides a structured approach, enabling you to mitigate information technology risks as you grow. Finally, the ISO 27001 certification can help you meet various regulatory and legal requirements. 

Key Components of ISO 27001 Compliance

The central element of ISO 27001 is its emphasis on a holistic approach to managing information security risk, encompassing people, processes, and IT systems. The framework focuses on a continuous improvement process based on the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” (PDCA) model. 

The core of the standard can be found in Annex A, where 114 different controls are stipulated and structured across 14 different categories. Categories where you will need to implement controls include:

  • Access control
  • Cryptography
  • Physical and Environmental
  • Operations 
  • Incident Management

In order to achieve certification and maintain it over time, your organization will need to undergo a comprehensive audit by an accredited certification body. The certification process can take 2-3 months to complete.

What Is the HITRUST Framework?

The HITRUST framework is published and distributed by the Health Information Trust Alliance and is designed to be a robust, certifiable security and privacy framework. HITRUST focuses on helping organizations manage regulatory compliance and risk. 

Essentially, HITRUST takes all the stringent requirements of ISO 27001 and builds upon them, adding new controls and integrating multiple globally recognized standards, including HIPAA, NIST, and GDPR. 

Primarily developed for the healthcare industry, the HITRUST Common Security Framework, or HITRUST CSF as it’s commonly called, can be applied to any and all heavily regulated industries processing large amounts of sensitive data. 

Key Components of HITRUST Compliance

HITRUST places a significant emphasis on identifying, assessing, and managing security risks. It places its controls in 19 different domains, including:

  • Endpoint protection
  • Wireless protection
  • Vulnerability management
  • Remote access
  • Password management

Specific controls are mapped to regulatory requirements like HIPAA and GDPR, enabling organizations to understand where they stand when it comes to overall compliance. 

Certification requires rigorous assessments by certified HITRUST assessors. HITRUST assessments typically take between 6 and 12 months to complete. 

What Are The Differences Between HITRUST and ISO 27001?

What are the differences between hitrust vs iso 27001

HITRUST can be thought of as an extension of ISO 27001. However, this does not mean that the two frameworks are identical. In fact, there are several key differences to be aware of.

Control Requirements

HITRUST’s controls are highly specific and tailored to regulatory requirements and industry standards. ISO 27001’s controls, by contrast, are more flexible, enabling you to adapt them to your organization’s risk environment. The HITRUST CSF also has 135 individual controls, whereas ISO 27001 has 114 controls. 

Cost and Complexity

The complexity of a framework is typically directly tied to the cost of compliance. In this case, HITRUST CSF is a far more complex and detailed framework than ISO 27001. Typically, achieving HITRUST CSF compliance will require far more expenditure than ISO 27001. 

Industry Recognition

ISO 27001 is recognized as a global standard for any organization looking to maintain information security. HITRUST is primarily recognized as a standard within the healthcare industry, where regulations like HIPAA make it extremely important to maintain patient privacy and protect data.

Compliance with Regulations

Maintaining compliance with ISO 27001 can help you achieve compliance with a wide range of information security and data protection regulations, including the Payment Card Data Industry Standard (PCI DSS), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). However, the controls of ISO 27001 are not mapped to any particular regulation. This means that achieving an ISO 27001 certification will not necessarily mean you are now in compliance with these other regulations. You may need to add further controls to increase the security of your operations. 

HITRUST, in contrast, has controls specifically mapped to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and more regulations.  

Choosing Between HITRUST and ISO 27001

How do you choose between hitrust vs iso 27001

The specific compliance needs and requirements of different companies vary widely across industries. Consider the following companies as an example of how to choose the right framework for your organization. 

Company A chose ISO 27001. As a medium-sized enterprise, their security budget precludes advanced certifications like HITRUST. They do not face industry-specific regulatory requirements and are looking for a flexible solution to build an information security management system that meets their needs. ISO 27001 is also globally recognized and respected, enhancing Company A’s effectiveness and competitiveness, especially when bidding for international projects or clients. 

Company B, meanwhile, chooses HITRUST. Company B is a healthcare company processing private patient information and is required to comply with regulations like HIPAA. Rather than taking a piecemeal approach to compliance, Company B opts for HITRUST because it enables them to address all their requirements efficiently. 

HITRUST vs. ISO 27001: Ready To Achieve Compliance?

Understanding the differentiating factors when it comes to HITRUST vs. ISO 27001 is crucial to making the right decision for your business. Ultimately, whichever framework you choose, you need a way to achieve compliance that eliminates all the expensive, manual labor involved in traditional processes. You need Compyl – the powerful automated compliance platform. Unlock access to powerful tools that unlock the insights you need to streamline compliance across your organization. 

Ready to learn more about how Compyl can eliminate your compliance headaches? Request a demoto discover what Compyl can do for you! 

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