ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2: Key Differences and Which To Choose

June 23, 2023

Data breaches present by far the most significant risk to businesses in the digital age. Each year, breach attempts become more numerous, grow more sophisticated and have greater financial consequences. Many organizations are not only compiling a comprehensive security plan but also seeking outside audits to verify that their company data is secure. There are many varieties of security plan attestation and certification. Every business should understand the key points of comparison between two prominent choices: ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2.

Why Use a GRC?

GRC represents a paradigm shift in risk management by providing an integrated framework for addressing governance, risk, and compliance concerns within a single platform. It offers several compelling reasons for organizations to adopt it:

  • What Are the Basics of ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2?

    Both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 use outside evaluators to verify a company’s data security measures and overall defenses against breaches. In addition, there are two types of SOC 2 evaluations: SOC 2 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2.

    Each of these evaluations requires different documentation and tests for different security requirements. Of all options, only ISO 27001 technically provides a certification. Both types of SOC 2 evaluations offer anattestation report, instead.

    ISO 27001

    The current international standard for data security measures is ISO 27001, a set of standards put forth by the International Organization of Standardization. ISO 27001 certification has steadily grown in prominence over the past five years as data breaches have become more common and costly. According to a 2021 analysis of over 900,000 websites,29.7%of firms advertised ISO 27001 compliance on their websites while 29.8% of firms referred to a partner that had achieved ISO 27001 compliance.

    The goal of ISO 27001 certification is a functional and complete Information Security Management System. Auditors require hard evidence that employees at all levels of a company follow security procedures. The company must base these procedures on written methodology They must also achieve measurable and specific goals that ultimately lower the risk of data breaches. ISO 27001 compliance is a lengthy process that involves creating a comprehensive, reliable and evidence-based security plan from scratch.

    SOC 2 Type 1

    ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 is mainly a question of scope and intensity. The goals of SOC 2 Type 1 attestation are much smaller in scope than ISO 27001 certification. SOC 2 Type 1 only evaluates data security at one moment in time. The long-term planning steps of ISO 27001 do not apply.

    SOC 2 Type 1 is also more flexible than ISO 27001. The five SOC 2 criteria are security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. Of those criteria, only security is mandatory. Most SOC 2 requirements vary based on the type of business and its data.

    Overall, SOC Type 1 is a simpler process that ensures a company has basic data security measures in place. SOC Type 1 is the least intensive data security audit option and also the least expensive. A certified public accountant conducts these audits, rather than an independent international auditor working for the ISO. SOC attestation is less useful outside of North America.

    SOC 2 Type 2

    The long-term variant of SOC 2 is Type 2. This audit evaluates plans on a time scale of six months to one year.

    The flexibility of SOC 2 Type 1 is also present in SOC 2 Type 2, as the CPA performing the audit takes the scope of the specific business into consideration rather than issuing blanket requirements. SOC 2 Type 2 evaluation is a clear and straightforward way to develop a security plan and prove that the plan is effective over time, though it is not a full international certification

Compyl ISO 27001 SOC 2
  • How Do the Processes Differ in ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 Compliance?

    The goals and scope of these three evaluations differ widely, and so do their preparation and audit procedures. Here are the basics of each process.

    ISO 27001 Process

    Preparing for an ISO 27001 audit involves months of work at all levels of an organization. The most efficient way to address all ISO 27001 clauses involves a set of six documents:

    1. An ISMS Scope Document that defines the assets the plan must protect
    2. A comprehensive Information Security Policy with hard evidence of security protocols’ effectiveness
    3. A Risk Assessment and Methodology Report that lists each data security risk, its priority and the logic used to evaluate each risk
    4. A Statement of Applicability that addresses 114 optional security concerns in Annex A
    5. A Risk Treatment Plan that uses specific, approved methods to address each risk
    6. A List of Security Objectives and data supporting how close the business is to meeting each objective

    An ISO auditor reviews this documentation, looking for an abundance of data, actionable security policies and proof that the policies work. Organizations that pass the audit receive ISO 27001 certification.

    SOC 2 Type 1 Process

    SOC 2 Type 1 evaluation tests that a company has basic data security measures in place. These include firewalls and two-factor identification. Businesses file a single report on security measures, rather than six documents, which is why ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 time commitments differ wildly. Auditors interview staff on policies and may tour physical offices before delivering an evaluation.

    SOC 2 Type 2 Process

    The SOC 2 Type 2 process is a more intensive version of Type 1. In addition to Type 1 steps, the auditor tests the business’s security measures for six months to a year and documents the test results. After the tests, the auditor delivers the testing data and an opinion on the business’s security.

    Which Is More Important for a Business: ISO 27001 Certification or SOC 2 Compliance?

    Any business with global aspirations should aim for full ISO 27001 certification. This broadcasts to consumers and partners around the world that the business has a robust and effective security system. SOC 2 compliance is a comparatively easier and less expensive process that is useful for checking security on an ongoing basis.

    Where Can a Business Find Help With ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 Compliance and Other Certification Questions?

    Weighing ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 is only the first of many steps to achieving compliance. Hard evidence is vital for both data security evaluations. At Compyl, our automated platform can make crafting an evidence-based cybersecurity plan easier than ever before.Request a demoto learn more about data security and continuous compliance.

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