Greetings, fellow information security warriors! 

I’m Stuart Barker, founder of High Table, Information Security expert and ISO 27001 Ninja. POW!

Today, we’re diving into the worlds of ISO 27001 and SOC 2. You might think, “Hey, ISO 27001 Ninja! Aren’t these just a couple of boring frameworks that nobody needs?” 

Well, think again, my friends! If you give a Fiddler’s about your information security, then you need to know about ISO 27001 and SOC 2 – they’re kind of a big deal. These two contenders are duking it out for the title of information security champion, and I’m here to explore what they are, how they differ, and report back on who deserves the crown.

Who will smash standards and help you achieve the best information security posture? Let’s cut the cr*p, scrap the jargon, and get down to business… DING DING!

Round 1: What’s the difference between ISO 27001 and SOC 2?

What’s ISO 27001?

In the blue corner, hailing from the international arena…

Published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in partnership with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), we have ISO 27001 (AKA ISO/IEC 27001) – a rock-solid framework for developing and maintaining a sh*t hot Information Security Management System (ISMS). An ISMS is a structure of policies, procedures and controls designed to monitor and protect an organisation’s sensitive information via effective risk management.

An ISMS guarantees the confidentialityintegrity, and availability of information by identifying and mitigating security risks within organisations.

It’s all about systematically managing information security like a well-oiled machine and building a cyber-resilience like no other. BOOM!

What’s SOC 2?

In the red corner, representing North America …

We have SOC 2 (AKA Service Organization Control 2) – a more flexible auditing standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) that focuses on five Trust Services Criteria (TSCs): securityavailabilityprocessing integrityconfidentiality, and privacy.

The first one (Security) is mandatory, but the other four are up to the organisation to decide. Talk about customisation!

Round 2: How to achieve ISO 27001 certification and SOC 2 certification

Both ISO 27001 and SOC 2 require an external audit, but they differ in who conducts them. The prize for winning? In the blue corner: an ISO 27001 certificate of compliance. In the red corner: a formal SOC 2 attestation. 

Let’s dive into the processes…

The ISO 27001 certification process

For ISO 27001, an accredited certification body must carry out the audit.

ISO 27001 can be a bit of a marathon, taking 6-12 months to achieve certification.

Here’s the accreditation process from the top: 

  1. Identify the information assets that need protection and the processes that need to be included in the Information Security Management System (ISMS).
  2. Identify the risks to the information assets and evaluate their impact. This helps to prioritise which risks to address first and what controls to implement.
  3. Once the controls have been identified, the organisation needs to implement them.
  4. Conduct internal audits to make sure that the ISMS is operating properly and meets the ISO 27001 standard.
  5. Conduct a management review of the ISMS to make sure it’s meeting the organisation’s goals and objectives.
  6. An external certification body will perform an audit to determine whether the ISMS meets the ISO27001 standard. If it does, ISO27001 certificate granted. Done and dusted.

How to reach SOC2 compliance

For SOC 2, a licensed Certified Public Accountant must perform the audit.

SOC 2 is more like a sprint, taking around two to three months to implement.

Before you start the process, you need to decide what type of SOC 2 attestation report your organisation requires:

  • SOC 2 Type I: This type of audit checks the design and implementation of a company’s controls at a specific point in time. It’s about determining whether the controls are adequately designed and in place to meet the Trust Services Criteria.
  • SOC 2 Type II: A type 2 audit is a more comprehensive assessment that checks not just the design of the controls, but how effective they are over a period of time of 6 months or more.

Here’s a breakdown of how to achieve SOC 2 attestation:

  1. Understand the Trust Services Criteria that define SOC 2 compliance. These criteria focus on securityavailabilityprocessing integrityconfidentiality, and privacy of data.
  2. Clarify the scope and identify the systems, processes, and data that are part of your compliance efforts. Establish what services you provide and the infrastructure involved.
  3. Conduct a risk assessment and assess potential vulnerabilities in your systems and processes. This will help you prioritise controls to reduce those risks.
  4. Create policies and procedures that are clear, well-documented, and address the Trust Services Criteria. These should cover data management, system availability, access controls, incident response, and employee training.
  5. Implement security controls to protect data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. This includes access controls, encryption, network security, secure coding practices, and incident response plans.
  6. If you work with third-party vendors, manage them to ensure that they meet SOC 2 requirements. Assess their compliance, review contracts, and monitor their performance.
  7. Perform regular audits and assessments. Hire an independent auditing firm to assess your controls and provide an opinion on your compliance. Regular audits are necessary to maintain SOC 2 compliance.
  8. Address issues, fix any deficiencies or gaps identified during audits or assessments, and put plans in place to ensure you meet all requirements.
  9. Keep an eye on your systems and processes, update policies as needed, and regularly review and strengthen your security controls to continuously monitor and improve.
  10. Get your attestation, and away you go! 

As you can see, the certification process for each framework is similar. In fact, according to the Onetrust blog, they share 96% of the same security controls.

ISO 27001 and SOC 2: what’s the difference?

The main difference between the structures is scope. ISO 27001’s aim is to provide a framework for how companies should manage their data with a sh*t-hot ISMS in place. Whereas SOC 2 is more about ensuring that the company has the right information security controls. ISO 27001 is about creating, maintaining and continually improving an ISMS, whilst SOC 2 audits the controls that the company already has in place. Simple!

Round 3: ISO 27001 or SOC 2 – which should I choose?

Ah, the million-dollar question! Which one can you trust to send that security posture through the roof? 

They’re two of most popular information security and risk management frameworks in the world, and each has its advantages. But the truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. With all great races, it’s not just about speed – it’s about doing it right, and that will completely depend on your business need. Here’s a roundup of pros and cons to help you decide…

Advantages of SOC 2

  • SOC 2 attestation is quicker to achieve
  • SOC 2 attestation is less expensive
  • Complying with all five TSCs gives organisations a competitive edge, especially in industries with higher compliance standards, BUT not all of them are required to achieve certification

Disadvantages of SOC 2

  • SOC 2 is a less demanding process
  • A SOC 2 audit can only perform an audit on the security controls already in place
  • In terms of market applicability, SOC 2 is mainly associated with North America

Advantages of ISO 27001

  • ISO 27001 offers greater protection against security threats and cyber attacks
  • In terms of market applicability, ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised standard
  • ISO 27001 offers data integrityconfidentiality and availability
  • ISO 27001 offers company-wide protection

Disadvantages of ISO 27001

  • ISO 27001 is more labour-intensive and stricter
  • ISO 27001 can take longer to get certified and prove expensive

Think of it like choosing between a trusty katana and a swift shuriken (that’s a ninja star for you non-ninjas out there). Both are effective, but it depends on your organisation’s requirements, resources, and goals.

Final Round: Is it worth having ISO 27001 and SOC 2? 

Why not double the protection, you ask? You absolutely can! With ISO 27001 certification and SOC 2 attestation under your belt, your organisation will be an unstoppable information security powerhouse. You’ll ensure regulatory compliance across borders and make your clients feel extra secure.

ISO 27001 vs SOC 2: it’s a draw!

And there you have it, folks! The ultimate showdown between ISO 27001 and SOC 2 ends in a tie. The real winner? Your organisation, for taking information security seriously and choosing the right framework (or both) to protect your precious data. So, go forth, my fellow ninjas, and may the information security force be with you!

ISO 27001 certification: faster, cheaper and easier

In this blog, we’ve identified that it can take longer and prove expensive to achieve ISO 27001 certification. Unless you join forces with High Table. Want to save time, money, and effort? (Who doesn’t, right?)

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With a little help from the ISO Ninja, you can get certified the easy way. Your ISO 27001 certification solution is just a click away… You’ll find the ISO 27001 Toolkit here.

If you’re not sure whether you need to implement ISO 27001, SOC 2, or both, book your free strategy session with your information security maestro, and I’ll help you work it out.