Both SOC 2 and ISO27001 are similar in that they are designed to instill trust with clients that you are protecting their data. If you look at their principals, they each cover important dimensions of securing information, such as confidentiality, integrity and availability.
When Tugboat Logic mapped these two certification frameworks to over 150 security controls, it proved they share 96% of the same security controls. The good news you can draw from this comparison is that both frameworks are broadly recognized certifications that prove to clients that you take security seriously. The great news is, if you complete one certification, you are well along the path to completing the other.
The main difference between SOC 2 and ISO27001 is that SOC 2 is focused mostly on proving the security controls that protect customer data have been implemented, whereas ISO27001 also wants you to prove you have an operational Information Security Management System (ISMS) in place to manage your InfoSec program on an ongoing basis.
This adds several controls around proving this management system is in place and regularly reviewed for conformity to the ISO27001 standard. With Tugboat Logic, if you do the SOC 2 certification first, we have already done the work for you to map controls to policies so you essentially get an ISMS for free when you implement the control in the first place.
Technically speaking, SOC 2 is meant to be an annual assessment whereas ISO27001 is meant to be a quarterly assessment. This is because ISO27001 demands planning and preparation for an assessment prior to each cycle. This complicates the ISO27001 program with additional tasks that could tip the scales for small organizations. SOC 2 does not require planning ahead of an audit, which makes it easier to manage for small organizations. This means the information security program is flexible, so it makes it easier for small organizations to adjust to the new framework without added operational burdens.
Finally, the biggest difference between these two certifications is the way they are accredited. ISO27001 accreditation is being accredited by a body called the International Accreditation Service (IAS).
This is truly an international body that is independently audited and accredited by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). In contrast, SOC 2 is published by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) so it is solely a US certification that is accredited by the US Federal Government – the AICPA, for the accountancy profession in the US, is the primary regulator of SOC 2. Being accredited by the US Federal Regulators makes it a more attractive choice for US firms because US clients expect auditors to be licensed by the Federal Government.
There are several similarities and some distinct differences between the two certifications. At the end of the day, the benefits of both ISO27001 and SOC 2 certifications are that they both are widely recognized and they help you instill trust with clients. Some of the benefits for selecting SOC 2 are that it is less expensive than ISO27001, it has more frequency flexibility, and it does not require preparation prior to every audit.