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5 min read

SOC 2 vs. ISO-27001

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If your organization isn't compliant, you won't be invited to the grown-ups' table and be part of the conversation. Why? Compliance criteria are established to provide assurance to stakeholders, customers, and business partners, regarding the security and privacy of the services provided by your organization. Therefore, no compliance? No trust. No deal. 

Among the frameworks, SOC 2 and ISO-27001 stand out as industry benchmarks. But you shouldn't pursue them just because everyone else is. After all, achieving and maintaining any framework means investing a lot of time, resources and manpower. 

You need to aim your efforts strategically and understand the distinctions between these compliance standards to identify the best fit, properly work towards it, and align your security practices with your business objectives. 

You might be wondering: why delve into ISO-27001 when SOC 2 compliance seems like a sufficient choice? Or why start with SOC 2 instead of tackling ISO-27001 head-on? Don’t get ahead of yourself; take it one step at a time, or should I say, read one section at a time and you’ll get your answers. In this article we will cover the following: 


What is SOC 2? 

SOC 2, short for Service Organization Control 2, is a framework developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to assess and report on the controls and processes related to data security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy within service organizations.  

It is designed for entities that provide services like data hosting, cloud computing, SaaS (Software as a Service), and other services that involve handling customer data. 

what is soc 2

SOC 2 audits are based on the Trust Services Criteria (TSC), which outline the principles and criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. 


What is ISO-27001? 

ISO-27001 is an international framework for organizations to establish, implement, maintain, and continually improve their information security management systems. 

The primary objective of ISO-27001 is to help organizations ensure the CIA Triad -confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their information, including financial information, intellectual property, employee details, and customer data.  

what is iso 27001

How do SOC 2 and ISO-27001 Compare? 

Choosing the right compliance framework is a strategic decision for any organization. Depending on your business goals and industry, focusing on achieving one standard over another may be the most advantageous path.  

Good news is the flexibility of these frameworks allows for what we call a 'mix and match' approach—you can pursue one framework initially and then expand to others as you see fit. That’s the case here: there's an impressive 80% overlap in criteria between SOC 2 and ISO-27001, making it feasible to achieve SOC 2 first and then pursue ISO-27001 as your business expands and your customers' demands increase.  

Think of it as having complementary degrees; just because you start with one specialization doesn't mean you can't broaden your expertise later.  how do soc 2 and iso 27001 compare

Time to Achieve 

One significant difference between SOC 2 and ISO-27001 is the formal requirement in ISO-27001 to set up an Information Security Management System (ISMS) before the audit. An ISMS is a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. It includes people, processes, and IT systems by applying a risk management process and gives assurance to company stakeholders that risk is being managed.  

Adding this step makes getting ISO-27001 compliance a longer and more complicated process. Other factors like your scope, the size of your business, whether you're checking the whole organization or just a department, and how ready you are—like if you already have rules and controls in place—affect how long it all takes. 

On average, it takes 6 to 18 months to get fully ISO-27001 certified and 3 to 12 months to get SOC 2 compliant, depending on which audit you're going for (Type 1 or Type 2). 

Teaming up with a managed compliance provider like BEMO can speed things up without compromising on security and efficiency. You'll save time, avoid expensive slip-ups, and have an expert making sure you stay on track with your compliance. 

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Cost of Audit 

SOC 2 audits typically range from $15,000 to $20,000*. In contrast, ISO-27001 audits often cost between $20,000 to $50,000*. The higher cost of ISO-27001 audits is due to factors such as the need for extensive documentation, greater involvement of stakeholders, and the implementation of risk management practices.

Additionally, ISO-27001 certification involves a more rigorous assessment process, including external audits by accredited certification bodies.  

Therefore, while SOC 2 audits may be more cost-effective initially, the investment in ISO-27001 reflects the comprehensive nature of its compliance requirements and the broader benefits it offers in terms of information security management. 

*Keep in mind that this reflects the cost of the audit alone. Pen tests, compliance automation software, implementing security controls and the onboarding of a compliance team are NOT taken into account, all of these make the bill go up.

Do your math and compare how much it would cost you to pursue a compliance framework on your own versus with BEMO by checking our calculators:   

Calculate My Cost for SOC 2

Calculate My Cost for ISO 27001


Target Market 

soc 2 vs iso 27001 marketSOC 2's focus on specific controls makes it well-suited for businesses catering to US-based clients seeking assurance regarding data security and privacy. 

On the other hand, ISO-27001 certification caters to a global market, as it provides a comprehensive framework applicable across various industries and regions. Therefore, if you are interested in doing business with international customers, you'll likely be required to provide an ISO-27001 compliance certificate. 


The Result is Accredited By... 

Remember SOC 2 is an attestation report, not a certificate like ISO-27001. Meaning that you’re not subject to a “pass or fail” outcome. This report is issued by independent auditors after evaluating the organization's internal controls, in it they state an opinion ranging from “adverse” to “clean”. 

For SOC 2, the accreditation body is a CPA firm, which must be registered with the AICPA’s Peer Review National Program. 

On the other hand, ISO-27001 is a certification, if you pass and you’re credited by ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board) and the International Accreditation Service (IAS), you receive your certificate! 


Renewal Time 

For SOC 2, you must reassess your controls and processes yearly to maintain compliance. In contrast, ISO-27001 certification renewal occurs every three years, but there are monitoring audits every year between the big recertification audits. 


Choose a Framework and Get Compliant 

After comparing SOC 2 and ISO 27001, you're now equipped to make an informed decision about which compliance framework aligns best with your business goals, needs, and budget. Consider which framework offers the most benefits for your organization's growth and customer trust.  



Remember, you can start with one framework and expand to others as your business evolves. 

Take BEMO as an example: We began with SOC 2 last year and got a clean report, leveraging the overlap between SOC 2 and ISO 27001, along with our expertise, we achieved ISO 27001 compliance just six months later!  

Want to know how we did it? Talk to us! Our team can provide insights and guidance tailored to your specific situation. We can also help you compare costs and determine the best path forward.  

Speak With a Compliance Expert

Book a meeting with us today and start your compliance journey. Trust us, a year from now, you'll be glad you started today! 





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