ISO 27001 vs SOC 2

What is the difference between ISO 27001 and SOC 2?

ISO 27001 and SOC 2 have the same objective; to help ensure 99.9% security of your informational assets. ISO 27001 is, however, an international standard accepted almost everywhere and has a vast scope. On the other hand, SOC 2 was developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and is mainly accepted within the USA.

The two data protection standards have striking similarities but are slightly different. This article will help you understand their similarities and differences to decide the most suitable one.

ISO 27001

It requires businesses to develop and successfully implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS) to ensure that the company’s information assets, whether stored or shared, are 100% secured. ISMS consists of a framework of policies and procedures that a business has to follow to prevent/minimize the loss (financial as well as reputational) related to data leaks/misuse.

ISO 27001 ensures that the data is available without any restriction but only to authorized persons. It is an international standard with much credibility.

Benefits of ISO 27001

  • Reduces the risk of data breaches
  • Reduces the financial losses
  • Helps avoid legal risks and penalties
  • Improves your business structure
  • Reduces the need for frequent internal audits
  • Protects the reputation of a business
  • Helps build a solid brand reputation which in turn may help you get more business


Developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), SOC 2 is not exactly a certification.

Rather it is a kind of attestation report that states that the auditor has audited the data security system of a business and has concluded that it has adopted the necessary measures to ensure 99.9% protection of the data.

Unlike ISO 27001, it doesn’t provide any comprehensive guidelines, policies, or requirements. Instead, it only lists some general criteria that businesses may selectively follow as per their needs to ensure that the risks are mitigated.

Benefits of SOC 2

  • Helps minimize the chances of data breaches and misuse of information
  • Can prevent legal issues
  • Improves your business processes so you can provide better services
  • Helps strengthen your brand’s reputation
  • Provides you a competitive advantage
  • SOC2 compliance can increase your credibility and help you get more business

ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 – Market reach

SOC2 has a localized outreach. It works mainly in North America but still holds credibility in other parts of the USA.

ISO 27001 is an international standard recognized by all countries and applicable to all businesses, no matter how small they are or what kind of products and services they provide.

Both certifications are highly reputable. However, if you have a global business, ISO 27001 may be more suitable because your target audience may not value SOC 2 certification.

ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 – scope

Although the frameworks of these two standards overlap to a large extent, their scope varies widely.

ISO 27001 mandates you to implement an extensive Information Security Management System (ISMS). It has detailed policies and procedures, so there is no need for brainstorming. The ISMS is so overarching that it leaves almost no scope for errors. Adherence to ISO 27001 indicates that the business follows the latest and most advanced information security system.

SOC 2 is not that extensive and doesn’t provide you with exact guidelines and policies that you need to follow. Being flexible, it enables organizations to implement their own controls and principles. This makes it easier for businesses to get and maintain their SOC2 certification. The major problem with this flexibility is that the internal processes and principles followed by the companies may not be 100% reliable. They may not be up to date with industry standards. They may lack innovation.

ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 – Validity and renewal

SOC 2 attestation is valid only for a year, after which you will have to renew it. ISO 27001 certification has a validity period of three years. However, auditors will conduct an annual survey during the validity period to ensure that you comply with all the necessary regulations.

ISO 27001 vs. SOC 2 – ease of obtaining the certification

As mentioned above, SOC 2 doesn’t provide any specific policies and procedures. Businesses can choose their own. They only have to ensure that the policies they adopt are effective enough to ensure 99.9% protection of their data assets. Achieving this is much easier than complying with ISO 27001 standard with a clearly defined framework of policies and procedures, leaving no scope for brainstorming or customization.

Which one should you choose?

If you are a company with global reach, ISO 27001 may be more suitable because SOC 2 is not given much importance anywhere except in North America.

Compliance with ISO 27001 standard demonstrates that your company is a responsible business that genuinely cares about protecting the information your clients have shared with you (and vice versa). It holds more weight for stakeholders and other interested parties.

SOC2 may be a better choice for small, North America-based businesses that do not feel the need to get ISO 27001 certification to prove their credibility. It is a cheaper alternative to its counterpart. It may work if your customers and stakeholders are in a limited geographic region.