ISO 27001 vs SOC 2: Choosing a Compliance Framework

In a previous blog post, we discussed the differences between SOC 2 vs ISO 27001. In this post, we will look at the factors affecting the decision of choosing which  of the two compliance frameworks best aligns with the business needs of a high growth technology or SaaS firm.

Client Expectations

The choice to adopt a compliance framework is often driven by client expectations. Clients may stipulate in contracts that their vendors must comply with a certain framework. It is important to listen to these client needs and understand their ultimate goals.


Certain frameworks have a limited geographic scope. For instance, SOC 2 is governed by the American Institute of CPAs and thus is primarily limited to the US. If you have international clients looking for security assurance, ISO 27001 will likely be the better option.

If you currently serve US-based customers but have plans to expand internationally, getting ahead of the curve with ISO 27001 may be the best option.


A SOC 2 report is information system-focused and usually describes a specific product/service offered by a company. See the section “SOC 2 vs ISO 27001 Design” of the previous post referenced in the introduction. ISO 27001 looks at the organization as a whole and will typically have a larger scope than a SOC 2 report.


Choosing a right-sized approach for your compliance initiatives is critical. Overburdening employees with compliance requirements can cause frustration, leading to ineffective security programs.

A high-growth technology company that is looking to provide assurance to customers and reduce hurdles in client acquisition may opt for a SOC 2 report over a full ISO 27001 implementation. SOC 2 reports are more customizable and allow a company to leverage pre-existing processes to design right-sized security controls to meet the SOC 2 criteria.

On the other hand, ISO 27001 certification requires the adoption of a full Information Security Management System and is an excellent way to showcase a mature security program.


SOC 2 report costs for high-growth technology companies often range from $25,000 – $40,000+. This price will depend on the scope of the report and the firm conducting the SOC 2 examination/issuing the report.

With an ISO 27001 certification, you can expect a 2-3x cost commitment due to the implementation complexity, internal audit requirements, and external audit requirements.

Other Frameworks

Many of our clients have elected to pursue third-party compliance validation of both SOC 2 and ISO 27001. Meanwhile, other clients have pursued alternatives that better align with their target market. HITRUST and PCI are common examples of this.

HITRUST was initially designed for the healthcare industry. Today, the HITRUST CSF has been mapped to other compliance and regulatory requirements. As such, HITRUST may be applicable to companies with international regulatory requirements, and healthcare-heavy client-bases.

PCI contains very strict requirements and is most applicable to companies that store, process, or transmit credit card data. This framework is typically scoped down to just the ‘cardholder data environment’ of those companies.

PCI can be adopted as an organization-wide security framework, but this is typically not recommended, due to the prescriptive and comprehensive set of control requirements.


Choosing a compliance framework is not an easy task. Organizational and industry context, client needs, and future company goals all play a part in your decision.

With the right team of experts, you can gain important insight into the decision criteria and ultimately build a security program that leaves no doubt. Reach out to us here and we will be happy to assist you in your compliance journey!

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