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ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are both popular information security standards, and both are used to help organisations protect customer data and mitigate the risk of data breaches. Choosing which of the two to work towards – or whether to achieve both – can be a significant decision for an organisation.

In this article, we’ll look at the similarities and differences between ISO 27001 vs SOC 2, and how you can choose the right standard for your business, goals and market.

ISO 27001 summary

ISO 27001 is an international standard featuring 10 clauses and 93 controls under four categories: organisational controls, people controls, physical controls and technological controls. However, not every clause or control is applicable to every organisation.

The current version of ISO 27001, which was released in 2022, provides these standardised requirements for an information security management system (ISMS) to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of key information. Building and maintaining a resilient ISMS is crucial to achieving ISO 27001 certification.

To successfully achieve ISO 27001 certification, your organisation’s ISMS must be audited by a certified external auditor.

SOC 2 summary

SOC 2 is a set of controls relevant to your organisation’s security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy, based on Trust Services Criteria (TSC). Unlike ISO 27001, SOC 2 results are delivered in a report completed by an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

There are two types of SOC 2 report: SOC 2 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the Type 2 report, which looks at your organisation’s controls over a six to 12 month period and describes what your organisation is doing to protect customer data.

Differences: ISO 27001 vs SOC 2

ISO 27001

SOC 2

Territory

International standard

Primarily used in North America

Industry

Relevant for all industries

Relevant for service organisations in any industry

Controls/Criteria

93 controls in 4 categories

64 criteria

Certification length

Certification is valid for three years with an annual audit

Renewed annually

Audit process

External audit undertaken by certified ISO 27001 auditor

External report delivered by Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Purpose

To create and maintain an effective information security management system that can be improved over time

To qualify your organisation’s security posture against static principles

Timeline to audit-readiness

12 months

12 months

Timeline to audit-readiness using Hicomply

5-8 months

5-8 months

Key considerations

Your customers

Keep the needs of your customers in mind when choosing between ISO 27001 and SOC 2!

If your organisation is routinely engaging with prospects or customers in the United States, you may find that they require their vendors or partners to be SOC 2 compliant. However, if you have a range of customers across the globe, ISO 27001 certification may be more routinely requested. This may also vary depending on the industries you work with.

Your resources, timeline and budget

The resource your organisation has available is a key factor to consider when choosing between ISO 27001 and SOC 2. ISO 27001 requires that you build and maintain an information security management system, which can take a significant amount of time and budget to successfully implement.

By contrast, only the security criteria of SOC 2 TSC are mandatory – the other TSCs are entirely optional, and the audit process is much less in-depth when compared to an ISO 27001 external audit.

Achieving ISO 27001 and SOC 2 with Hicomply

Hicomply is an all-in-one platform designed to help your organisation achieve information security compliance quickly and easily.

The platform features:

  • A powerful, customisable dashboard
  • A built-in ISMS scoping tool
  • Automated task management, policy management, risk management and more.

Getting certified is the fastest and easiest it’s ever been – meaning your organisation can get ISO 27001 or SOC 2 certified in months, not years.

Continue your learning

Learn more about the cost of ISO 27001 certification.

Discover the six steps to ISO 27001 success.