SOC 2 vs. ISO 27001: Which One Do You Need?

SOC 2 vs. ISO 27001: Which One Do You Need?

SOC 2 and ISO 27001 audits are similar in intention; they both help organizations protect the data that they are responsible for. How are they different, though, and which one meets your organization’s needs?

What is a SOC 2 Audit?

A SOC 2 audit evaluates internal controls, policies, and procedures that directly relate to the AICPA’s Trust Services Criteria. This means that a SOC 2 audit report focuses on a service organization’s internal controls as they relate to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of a system. The Trust Services Criteria are relevant to the services of organizations in these ways:

  • Security – Is the system protected against unauthorized access?
  • Availability – Is the system available for operation and use as agreed?
  • Processing Integrity – Is the system processing complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized?
  • Confidentiality – Is the information that’s designated as confidential protected as agreed?
  • Privacy – Is personal information collected, used, retained, disclosed, and destroyed in accordance with the entity’s privacy notice?

The result of a SOC 2 audit is a report validating the organization’s commitment to delivering high quality, secure services to clients. This compliance can be a powerful market differentiator.

What is an ISO 27001 Audit?

ISO 27001 is the only internationally-accepted standard for governing an organization’s information security management system (ISMS). The ISMS preserves the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information by applying a risk management process and gives confidence to interested parties that risks are adequately managed.

The ISO 27001 standard regulates how organizations create and run an effective ISMS through policies and procedures and associated legal, physical, and technical controls supporting an organization’s information risk management processes. An ISMS preserves the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information by applying a risk management process and gives confidence to interested parties that risks are adequately managed. It’s vital that an ISMS is integrated with the organization’s processes and overall management structure, and that information security is considered in the design of processes, information systems, and controls.

Sections four through ten of the ISO 27001:2013 requirements provide the core guidelines for compliance with the standard.

  • Section 4: Context of the Organization
  • Section 5: Leadership
  • Section 6: Planning
  • Section 7: Support
  • Section 8: Operation
  • Section 9: Performance evaluation
  • Section 10: Improvement

Organizations may choose to perform an internal audit against the ISO 27001 standard and not pursue certification. Like many other frameworks, certification is possible but not mandatory. If an organization wants a professional, independent auditing firm to perform the ISO 27001 audit, be sure to perform due diligence to verify they have the knowledge and expertise to do so. ISO 27001 certification does require an accredited certification body to issue certification. Undergoing an ISO 27001 audit, even if certification isn’t pursued, can be an effective way to meet the requirements of your international business partners.

What Type of Compliance Do I Need?

No one wants to work with an at-risk vendor. Do you want to give consumers a reason to trust your services? Both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 compliance can help your organization maintain loyal clients and attract new ones, operate more efficiently, avoid fines for non-compliance or from breaches, and most importantly: assure clients that their sensitive data is protected. But which one meets your organization’s needs?

It all comes down to who your clients are, where your clients are, and what they require of you. If you are proactively pursuing compliance and the majority of your client base is in the United States, we recommend starting with a SOC 2 audit. If you are operating internationally or have a specific requirement from a client to undergo an ISO 27001 audit, then that internationally-accepted standard would be a better fit for your organization.

Both of these audits provide a competitive advantage that is priceless in today’s threat landscape. If you need help deciding which audit meets your organization’s needs, we are here to help. Contact us today.

More Assurance Resources

ISO 27001 FAQs

What’s the Difference Between SOC 2 Type I and SOC 2 Type II?

SOC 2 Compliance Handbook: The 5 Trust Services Criteria

What Type of Compliance is Right for You?

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