SOC differences and similarities
SOC 2 Type 1 audit vs. Type 2 audit: What’s the difference?
Getting a SOC 2 can help you earn trust with customers and partners, expand into new markets and regions, and implement strong information security controls and practices. To get a SOC 2 you’ll need to set up the appropriate controls, then hire an auditor who will investigate them and create a report of their findings and assessment against the SOC 2 framework. You’ll share this document with the customers, prospects, and partners who ask to see your SOC 2, likely after you’ve had them sign an NDA.
There are two types of SOC 2 reports you can get: SOC 2 Type 1 or SOC 2 Type 2. Both reports will assess the same criteria, but have some key differences that impact the length, cost, and thoroughness of your audit. It’s important to know which one you need before you start your SOC 2 compliance journey. In this guide, we’ll cover the differences between a SOC 2 Type 1 and a SOC 2 Type 2 and how to decide which one is right for you.
What is a SOC 2 Type 1?
During a SOC 2 Type 1 audit, your cybersecurity controls will be assessed at a single point in time, usually shortly after they’ve been implemented. This type of report assesses the design of your systems, tools, and strategies for keeping your data and your customers’ data safe. However, a SOC 2 Type 1 report won’t cover how effective your controls are given that they’re not tested during this type of audit.
Of the two types of SOC 2 audits, a SOC 2 Type 1 is generally the less expensive and less time-intensive option.
What is a SOC 2 Type 2?
A SOC 2 Type 2 report details your security controls and tests their effectiveness over a period of time, usually between three and twelve months. The key difference is that a SOC 2 Type 1 report will detail the controls you have in place while a SOC 2 Type 2 report will provide additional insights about how effective those controls are. For this reason, a SOC 2 Type 2 is more comprehensive and shows the reliability of your systems.
Because your controls will be tested over a longer period of time during a SOC 2 Type 2 audit, the audit process will take longer and likely be more expensive than a SOC 2 Type 1 audit.
SOC 2 Type 1 vs. SOC 2 Type 2: Which is right for you?
Because there are major differences in the amount of time, budget, and level of detail between these two reports, it’s important to figure out which one meets your organization’s needs.
While there are pros and cons to both reports, there are three factors to consider as you decide which one is right for you:
- Strength of the reporting: How detailed and thorough you need your SOC 2 report to be.
- Speed: How quickly you need to get your SOC 2.
- Cost: How much money a SOC 2 report will cost your organization.
Strength of reporting
A SOC 2 Type 2 report is the better option if you want a report that demonstrates your strong security posture. Because a SOC 2 Type 2 audit monitors your security controls over several months, it’s a more comprehensive report and will show how effective your infrastructure is at keeping your data and your customers' data safe. This is especially important for organizations who handle confidential or highly sensitive data for their customers.
Comparatively, a SOC 2 Type 1 report will detail the controls you have in place during your audit, but your auditor will not be able to attest to how your controls are holding up over time. Since your controls are monitored and tested over a period of time during a SOC 2 Type 2 audit, it demonstrates a stronger security posture and provides confidence to your stakeholders that your controls will continue to protect their data.
There are certain occasions where the lack of a SOC 2 report can block a sales deal. This is a common issue among early-stage companies that are looking to sell to larger accounts or expand into new regions and markets. If you need a SOC 2 report quickly, a SOC 2 Type 1 audit is likely a better choice. While you’ll still need to implement the controls, your audit timeline will be much shorter than a SOC 2 Type 2.
If there is less urgency around getting your SOC 2, you can choose to skip getting your SOC 2 Type 1 and go straight to a SOC 2 Type 2. A SOC 2 Type 2 is commonly accepted by customers and prospects who ask to see your SOC 2 Type 1 report. You can also start with a SOC 2 Type 1 to get your first report back quickly, and later progress to a SOC 2 Type 2 so that you have a stronger display of your security controls as your business grows.
For a SOC 2 Type 2, you determine the length of your audit window. Your options are three, six, nine, or twelve months, with three months being the minimum. The longer your audit window, the stronger your security posture will be. In many cases, organizations start with a shorter audit window and then progress to longer audit windows as their business grows.
Between a SOC 2 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2 report, a SOC 2 Type 1 will be cheaper. This is because the audit window is shorter and your auditor will charge less for their services. Keep in mind that the implementation costs for both types of reports are similar since they assess the same controls and practices.
It’s also important to consider the long-term costs of your SOC 2 compliance. If you start with a SOC 2 Type 1 report, you may be asked for a Type 2 report from other prospects — which will result in additional audit costs. If you know that you’ll need a SOC 2 Type 2 report, it may be more cost-effective to skip getting your SOC 2 Type 1 altogether.
How to automate SOC 2 compliance
Both types of SOC 2 audits can be expensive and time-consuming. However, you can save your organization time and money on your SOC 2 with compliance automation.
With Vanta’s trust management platform with compliance automation capabilities, you can streamline your SOC 2 audit. Here’s what an automated SOC 2 process can look like:
- Connect your infrastructure to the Vanta platform with our built-in integrations.
- Assess your risk holistically from one unified view.
- Identify areas of non-compliance with in-platform notifications.
- Get a checklist of actions to help you make the needed changes.
- Automate evidence collection and centralize all your documents in one place.
- Find a Vanta-vetted auditor within the platform.
- Streamline reviews by giving your auditor the documents and evidence they need.
- Complete your SOC 2 in half the time.
Learn how you can automate your SOC 2 by requesting a demo.