SOC 2 vs. ISO 27001 compliance: Why you need both
Cybersecurity is a major concern for any business today, and there’s no wondering why. A single data breach, whether the target is your own system or the system of a vendor or partner, can cost thousands or millions in expenses and even more in the loss of business that can come from breaking their customers’ trust. It’s no surprise, then, that many of your large clients or potential business partners will want to know the state of your information security.
Whether your organization is still emerging or your company is well-established, you’ve probably been asked for a SOC 2 attestation, an ISO 27001 certification, or both. While these are both information security reports, they aren’t interchangeable. In fact, let’s take a look at their similarities and differences and why your business needs both.
SOC 2 vs. ISO 27001: Similarities and differences
As you engage with new clients and partner with other businesses, you’ll find that most of them will request either SOC 2 or ISO 27001 compliance, but rarely if ever will you find someone who requests both of them. That’s because both of these security standards are effective ways to keep your data safe in similar ways, but they have several differences that set them apart too.
Similarity: Use cases
SOC 2 and ISO 27001 are designed with the same general purposes in mind. First, they’re both meant to guide you toward implementing crucial best practices for your information security so your data (and your customers’ data) is safer. Second, these protocols are designed to allow you to document your security protocols and practices so that you can give clients and partners a clear picture of how you’re protecting your sensitive information and theirs.
In addition to having similar intentions, SOC 2 and ISO 27001 actually have a lot of overlap between the security controls they include. This isn’t surprising because so many of these controls are best practices that are widely agreed upon by today’s top information security experts.
Difference: Compliance requirements
While there is a lot of overlap between the security controls outlined in SOC 2 and ISO 27001, the two standards take different approaches to determining how many of those controls you actually need to implement to be compliant.
Both of these standards indicate that you only need to use the controls that are relevant to your business. However, ISO 27001 requires you to meet a rather wide range of the criteria and implement a large number of the security controls before you are considered ISO 27001 compliant.
SOC 2, on the other hand, is less rigid. It breaks up the security controls into five categories, and only one of the categories is truly mandatory for you to be compliant. For the four other controls, your SOC 2 report will indicate the controls that you have in place and they will make your SOC 2 report more attractive to clients and partners, but they aren’t mandatory.
Difference: Locations for use
SOC 2 and ISO 27001 are both very well-known in the security industry and in the technology industry. But each one is more commonly requested and more highly regarded in different geographical locations.
SOC 2 is generally the go-to security compliance attestation in North America, so if you are doing business with organizations in North America, expect to be asked for a SOC 2 report. ISO 27001, on the other hand, is more popular throughout the rest of the world, so if you want to scale your business with organizations outside North America, you’ll need to have your ISO 27001 certification.
Why you need both SOC 2 and ISO 27001 compliance
Most people would consider SOC 2 and ISO 27001 to be more alike than they are different, so why do you need both? There are multiple reasons why having both of these compliance reports will benefit your organization.
1. Expand your business’s potential
As we noted, most organizations you’ll do business with will want either a SOC 2 or an ISO 27001 certification. In North America, you’ll get requests for SOC 2 while you’ll get requests for ISO 27001 in most other parts of the world. But when an organization asks for one security report, they typically won’t accept the other one.
While there is a lot of overlap between the two standards, most organizations have an established and extensive vetting process for high-level vendors and partners. This vetting process has been carefully planned, and they aren’t likely to change their criteria because you have a different security report than the one they want.
2. Strengthen your security
SOC 2 and ISO 27001 don’t just exist as arbitrary paperwork. Following these standards will genuinely make your information security management system safer and more protected. When you’re implementing security protocols that make you compliant with both SOC 2 and ISO 27001, your system will be better guarded than it would be if you only focused on one of the two. That means you have a lower risk for a costly data breach.
How to jumpstart your SOC 2 and ISO 27001 compliance
If you want to protect your organization and open new doors by becoming SOC 2 compliant and ISO 27001 compliant, it is beneficial to use an automated compliance platform. Even more important is using a platform that can manage and automate both standards, so you don’t have to do double the work.
Vanta compliance automation is specifically designed for each of these standards to assess your compliance, give you access to simple templates and resources, and guide you along the way to being compliant with both. Learn more about getting SOC 2 and ISO 27001 certified.
PCI Compliance Selection Guide
Determine Your PCI Compliance Level
If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.
When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.
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Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level
The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.
Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:
A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.
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A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.
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A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.
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A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).
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