Choosing Between SOC 2 and ISO 27001 Audits

by Sarah Harvey / March 13th, 2020

So you’ve completed a SOC 2 audit, how prepared does that make you for an ISO 27001 audit? How do you know whether your organization needs a SOC 2 attestation or an ISO 27001 certification? For organizations working toward security compliance, deciding between these two audits depends on a few factors. While these audit frameworks are different in many ways, they also share some core similarities that make it difficult to decipher which audit may meet your organizational needs. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you decide when you should complete a SOC 2 audit, ISO 27001 audit, or both.

How SOC 2 and ISO 27001 Audits are Similar

SOC 2 and ISO 27001 audits are similar in that they both test an organization’s approach to information security and its ability to mitigate risk. Many of the same controls are tested for each framework; controls like context of the organization, asset management, access control, physical security, business continuity. When you complete one audit, it does put you closer to compliance with the other. Both have value for building customer loyalty, new business, your reputation, and better information security practices.

While there are many similarities between ISO 27001 and SOC 2 audits, you can also learn about the differences in our previous blog post, SOC 2 vs ISO 27001. Still, with all these commonalities, it makes sense that you might be wondering which audit is best for your organization. The answer to that question starts with an evaluation of what your clients ask of you, your customized compliance needs, and your security goals.

When to Choose SOC 2

If your client is asking for a SOC 2 audit report, the decision of whether to complete a SOC 2 audit is made for you. You should always complete the audit that your clients are requiring from you. Testing your processes against any of the Trust Services Criteria – security, confidentiality, availability, processing integrity, and privacy – will result in a SOC 2 report that you can give to your clients for assurance of your security practices. The AICPA specifically requires that CPA firms perform SOC 2 audits. Why a CPA firm? To name just a few reasons: integrity, independence, and accountability. There are so many different types of CPA firms, though – bookkeeping, forensic, risk, tax, full-service, and audit firms. You want to choose a qualified CPA firm who specializes in information security auditing.

When to Choose ISO 27001

For organizations that do business internationally, it’s important to note that ISO 27001 is the only internationally-accepted standard for governing an organization’s information security management system (ISMS). This fact may make an ISO 27001 audit or certification more valuable than a SOC 2 to international organizations.

Once you’ve decided that you need a ISO 27001 audit more than a SOC 2 audit, there’s a second decision to make: do you need an ISO 27001 certification? Organizations may choose to perform an internal audit against the ISO 27001 standard and pursue certification, but they could also just do the audit if it will satisfy client requirements. Like other frameworks, certification is possible but not mandatory.

Why Not Both?

The value of a multi-audit process, like KirkpatrickPrice’s Online Audit Manager tool, is that you can complete both the SOC 2 and ISO 27001 audits in the same project engagement. If you’ve already completed a SOC 2 audit and are looking to prove to clients that you have a holistic approach to information security instead of just meeting the lower-level requirements, you can exceed expectations by completing both audits.

A multi-audit approach would save your time as some of the qualifying questions and scoping information needed to complete SOC 2 and ISO 27001 audits overlap, such as details on security training and management role. That means you can spend less time in the weeds of completing an audit and more time showing your clients, investors, and employees that meeting security goals is a top priority.

If you’re ready to learn more about your information security audit options, contact KirkpatrickPrice today, receive a quote, and get started on your compliance journey.

More Resources

ISO 27001 FAQs

What Type of Compliance is Right for You?

Using the Online Audit Manager to Complete Multiple Audits