ISO 27001 and SOC 2 are two widespread and useful standards.

They contribute to the protection of your company and communicate to your market that you’re serious in your approach to managing and safeguarding data.

But which is right for your company? To answer this question, we have to delve into the similarities and differences between these two standards.

Our teams have prepared an overview of the ISO 27001 and SOC 2 standards, of their differences and of some elements that could lead you to choose one over the other.

Overview of ISO 27001 and SOC 2

What is the ISO 27001 standard?

The ISO 27001 standard allows a company to obtain a certification that validates the effective deployment of an Information Security Management System (ISMS).

This notion is at the hear of this norm.

It validates the enactment of a series of concrete steps to ensure the availability, integrity and confidentiality of the data processed by the company (and especially sensitive data like financial information, employee data, intellectual property or third party data), with a scope that covers IT infrastructure, teams and software used.

The standards of the ISO 27001 norm, taken as a whole, constitues a set of good practices to ensure the secure management of data, along 3 principal themes:

  • Availability: The data is accessible for authorized users
  • Integrity: Only authorized users can edit data
  • Confidentiality: Only authorized users can access the data

What is the SOC 2 certification ?

SOC 2, for “Systems and Organizations Controls 2” is a standard relative to the security controls that an organization has put in place to to protect the data of its clients.

These controls are built around 5 “Trust Services Principles” (TSCs):

  • Security: Protection of systems and data against theats
  • Availability: of systems and data
  • Processing integrity: Reliability of the way the systems work
  • Confidentiality: Only authorized users can access data
  • Data privacy: Appropriate processing of data containing personal information

It’s worth noting that there are two types of SCO2 certifications. SOC2 Type 1 and SOC2 Type 2.

In both cases, compliance is reached after an audit by an independent auditor. Type 1 and Type 2 relate to one another in the following way:

  • SOC2 Type 1: The audit assesses the conception and deployment, at a specific point in time, of security measures
  • SOC2 Type 2: The audit assesses the operational effectiveness of your internal controls over a longer period (at least 6 months but potentially up to a year)

What are the differences between ISO 27001 and SOC2?

A study has shown that the ISO 27001 and SOC 2 standards share almost all of the same security controls. However, there are some noteworthy differences between these two standards:


There are several differences between ISO 27001 and SOC2 but the main one is scope.

  • ISO 27001: this standard focuses on the deployment and maintenance of an ISMS, a broad framework for the management of practices related to data protection. In order to secure ISO 27001 compliance, one has to conduct a risk analysis, identify and deploy the relevant security controls, and regularly assess and review their effectiveness.
  • SOC2: in contrast, SOC2 ids more flexible. As mentioned above, it is built around 5 principles (the TSCs) of which only the first (Security) is mandatory. Companies can therefore decide whether or not to implement internal safety controls related to the four other TSCs if the wish to, but it is not required as part of the certification process.

To summarize, ISO 27001 is built around the operational effectiveness through time of the data protection measures implemented and the rigorous control of identified procedures, where SOC2 is an audit of these measures at a specific point in time but with less focus on their effectiveness through time.

Consequently, ISO 27001 requires more work to achieve certification.


ISO 27001 is an international and formal security standard where SOC2 compliance is a set of audit reports conducted by independent auditors. This means there are differences between both:

  • ISO 27001: This certification is prescriptive, on the basis of universal standards specific to each industry and geographic location. This means that the elements to implement are very clearly and precisely identified and must be respected.
  • SOC2 : On the contrary, SOC2 is much more flexible. A SOC2 compliance does not specify which controls and measures need to be implemented to address a given security criteria but rather that these controls and measures be effective given the nature of the company’s operations. This provides more room for choice in the elements implemented.


While both standards are recognized in the entire world, there is a regional specificity.

SOC2 is more closely linked to Northern America. In this region, both the SOC2 and ISO 27001 standards are common, whereas outside of Northern America, and in particular in Europe, the ISO 27001 standard is more popular.

Project length

The compliance project is similar for the ISO 27001 and SOC2 standards, with 3 steps to complete:

  1. Definition of the missing elements in order to achieve compliance, based notably on the security goals
  2. Definition of the specific security measures which need to be implemented depending on the company to address the identified needs. Documentation and definition of a process for review and improvement
  3. Audit by an independent auditor for certification

However, the length of the project varies depending on the standard.

Typically, a SOC2 implementation will take 2 to 3 months, whereas 6 to 9 (or more) will be needed for ISO 27001.

The cost of the project also tends to reflect this difference with higher costs for an ISO 27001 certification.

Which standard should you pick for your company?

To conclude, which standard should you choose for your company? We’ve mentioned a number of elements that could help guide your choice:

  • SOC2: You’re looking for a flexible standard, that can be deployed quickly and enjoys particular recognition in Northern America
  • ISO 27001: You’d rather take your time and follow a less flexible standard, built around the implementation of an ISMS that will be effective through time, and that is popular in Europe

However, the bottom line is that these two standards are complementary. A company taking its first steps can start with a SCO2 certification (first Type 1 then Type 2) before converting the measures and enriching them as part of a ISO 27001 compliance project.