Should you get a SOC 2 report or ISO 27001 certification?
Which is a better fit for your company — SOC 2, ISO 27001, or Both?
Both SOC 2 and ISO 27001 strengthen customer confidence in your organization's security practices. The short answer is that it really depends on your customers. The most important factor for deciding between SOC 2 and ISO 27001 will come down to what your target market expects and requires. In order to make your decision, you’ll want to consider a number of factors including target market, the scope of controls, cost, and project timeline.
SOC 2 and ISO 27001 Target Markets
If you’re based in the United States and a majority of your customers are also based in the US, you should opt for undergoing a SOC 2 Audit. Since launching in 2011, the SOC 2 Type II has become the industry standard framework for third-party reports when it comes to information security compliance in the US.
If a majority of your customer base is headquartered outside of the US, you may want to opt for completing an ISO 27001 audit. An ISO 27001 certification is the gold standard for information security compliance outside of the US.
Ultimately, this decision comes back to what your customers are requesting and what they would ultimately accept during their vendor due diligence. There are many US companies that would accept an ISO 27001 certification, and there are many companies outside of the US that would accept a SOC 2 Report.
As your company grows, you will likely opt to complete both audits in order to have full coverage across your customer base.
Scope of Controls - SOC 2 vs ISO 27001
SOC 2 and ISO 27001 may have around 70 - 80% overlap depending on how specific controls are written. ISO 27001 is much more prescriptive than SOC 2. ISO 27001 requires a predefined set of controls and also requires exact language to be used in many policy documents as part of the company’s Information Security Management System (ISMS).
Unlike ISO 27001, SOC 2 controls are usually defined by the company in accordance with the SOC 2 Trust Services Criteria and COSO Principles.
The process for a SOC 2 report and ISO 27001 certification varies slightly from auditor to auditor. Generally, you can expect the below processes for undergoing a SOC 2 or ISO 27001 audit.
If you want your audit completed sooner rather than later, you’ll likely opt for completing a SOC 2 Type I which is a point in time assessment versus a SOC 2 Type II which is over a period of time, typically between 3 to 12 months. Traditionally, companies pursue a SOC 2 Type I prior to pursuing a SOC 2 Type II.
For a SOC 2 Type I report, audit readiness typically takes an average of 3 months of preparation work. Once audit ready, it takes a total of 2 months to conduct the audit and receive the report in hand for both. For a SOC 2 Type II report, it can take an average of 4 months to get audit ready. Once ready, the audit assessment can take between 3 to 12 months depending on your desired audit window. Once the audit window has finished, it can take an additional month to address any follow-ups and receive a report in hand.
For an ISO 27001 certification, audit readiness takes an average of 4 months. Once audit ready, it takes an average total of 6 months to complete Stage 1 and Stage 2 audits (addressing any weaknesses in between) and receive your report. Both SOC 2 and ISO 27001 require a substantial amount of time upfront in order to build and implement the right policies, processes and controls for your company.
Because of the overlap between SOC 2 and ISO 27001, you may save an enormous amount of audit time if you opt to do both at the same time.
SOC 2 and ISO 27001 Cost
Cost tends to vary from auditor to auditor. Generally, ISO 27001 certification tends to be more costly than a SOC 2 report. You may receive a substantial discount if you opt to complete both audits with the same auditor.
We summarize the differences between a SOC 2 report and ISO 27001 certification below: