Comparing SOC 2, ISO 27001 and GDPR compliance

July 8, 2024
Hot topics 🔥
Tech Insights
Dmitry Ermakov
Comparing SOC 2, ISO 27001 and GDPR compliance

Businesses are increasingly required to adhere to several compliance standards to ensure the security and privacy of their data. Among these standards are SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR – crucial benchmarks for digitally charged organisations.

However, navigating the compliance overlaps between SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR can be a daunting task. Each standard has its own scope, compliance processes, and requirements. By understanding the overlaps and synergies between these standards, you can streamline your compliance efforts and enhance your business’s overall security posture.

Here’s a breakdown of a multi-standard compliance strategy to bolster your compliance efficiency.

Overview of SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR: an overview

Before delving into the intricacies of compliance processes, it’s essential to understand the scopes of SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR.


SOC 2 focuses on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data. It is relevant for service businesses that handle sensitive customer information, such as data centres, cloud computing providers, and SaaS companies.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001, part of the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards, is an internationally recognised framework for information security management systems (ISMS). It provides a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information, ensuring its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. ISO 27001 applies to organisations of all sizes and industries.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data protection law designed by the European Union (EU) to safeguard the privacy rights of individuals within the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). GDPR imposes strict requirements on businesses that collect, process, and store personal data, regardless of their location. It aims to protect people’s fundamental rights and freedoms concerning the processing of their personal data.

SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR compliance processes: A comparison

While SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR share the common goal of protecting data, their compliance processes differ in terms of focus, methodology, and assessment criteria.

SOC 2 compliance process

SOC 2 compliance involves several key steps, including:

  • Defining scope: Businesses must identify the systems and processes relevant to the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data.
  • Risk assessment: Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risks to the security of customer data.
  • Implementation of controls: Implementing appropriate security controls and safeguards to mitigate identified risks and ensure compliance with SOC 2 requirements.
  • Monitoring and testing: Continuously monitoring and testing the effectiveness of security controls to detect and address any vulnerabilities or weaknesses.
  • Independent audit: Engaging a third-party auditor to perform an independent examination of your business’s controls and processes against SOC 2 criteria.

ISO 27001 compliance process

The compliance process for ISO 27001 follows a similar framework but with certain differences, including:

  • Gap analysis: Conducting a gap analysis to assess your business’s current state of information security and identify areas requiring improvement to meet ISO 27001 requirements.
  • Risk assessment and treatment: Identifying and evaluating information security risks, followed by implementing controls and measures to mitigate or manage these risks effectively.
  • Documentation and implementation: Developing and implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS), which includes policies, procedures, and controls aligned with ISO 27001 requirements.
  • Internal audit: Performing regular internal audits to assess the effectiveness of the ISMS and ensure compliance with ISO 27001 standards.
  • Certification audit: Using an accredited certification body to conduct a formal certification audit, verifying that your ISMS complies with ISO 27001 requirements.

GDPR Compliance Process

GDPR compliance involves a series of steps aimed at protecting individuals’ privacy rights and ensuring lawful processing of personal data:

  • Data mapping and inventory: Identifying and documenting the personal data processed by your business, including sources, purposes, and lawful basis for processing.
  • Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA): Conducting DPIAs for high-risk processing activities to assess the potential impact on individuals’ privacy rights and identify measures to mitigate risks.
  • Privacy by design and default: Integrating privacy considerations into the design and development of products, services, and processes to ensure data protection by default.
  • Data subject rights: Establishing processes to facilitate data subjects’ rights, including the right to access, rectification, erasure, and data portability.
  • Data breach response: Implementing procedures to detect, report, and investigate data breaches promptly, along with notifying supervisory authorities and affected individuals as required by GDPR.

Overlaps and synergies between SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR compliance

While SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR have distinct requirements and objectives, there are significant overlaps and synergies that you can leverage to streamline your compliance efforts and enhance your overall security and data protection.

Common themes and objectives

Despite their different focuses, SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR share common themes and objectives related to data security, privacy, and risk management. These include:

  • Data protection: All three standards emphasise the importance of protecting sensitive data against unauthorised access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction.
  • Risk management: SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR require organisations to identify, assess, and mitigate risks according to confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data and systems.
  • Compliance framework: While each standard has its own set of requirements and controls, they are all based on established frameworks for ensuring compliance with industry best practices and regulatory requirements.
  • Continuous improvement: SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR promote a culture of continuous improvement by requiring businesses to regularly review, update, and enhance their security and privacy measures.

Synergies in compliance efforts

By understanding the overlaps and synergies between SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR, you can adopt a more holistic approach to compliance that drives efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Integrated risk management: Businesses can leverage common risk assessment methodologies and frameworks across SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR to identify and prioritise risks consistently.
  • Unified control framework: Establishing a unified control framework that aligns with the requirements of SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR enables you to implement and manage controls more efficiently.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: Promoting collaboration between different departments such as IT, legal, and compliance facilitates a coordinated approach to compliance efforts across multiple standards.
  • Technology enablement: Leveraging compliance automation tools and technologies can streamline the assessment, monitoring, and reporting processes for SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR compliance.

How to manage compliance across multiple standards

Managing compliance across multiple standards can be challenging, but with the right strategies and tools in place, your business can navigate this complexity more effectively using the following steps:

  • Prioritise requirements: Identify common requirements and prioritise them based on their significance and impact on your organisation’s operations and objectives.
  • Streamline processes: Streamline compliance processes by leveraging common frameworks, templates, and tools across SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR. Compliance automation offers streamlined compliance measures that can save you time and money.
  • Centralise documentation: Centralised documentation and record-keeping ensure consistency and accessibility for auditors, regulators, and internal stakeholders.
  • Invest in training and awareness: Educate employees about their roles and responsibilities in ensuring compliance with SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, and other relevant standards.
  • Continuous monitoring and improvement: Keep up to pace with evolving threats, technologies, and regulatory requirements.

Comply to thrive

Understanding compliance overlaps between SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR requires a comprehensive understanding of each standard’s scope, compliance processes, and requirements. By identifying common themes, synergies, and best practices, your business can streamline its compliance efforts, enhance its security posture, and demonstrate its commitment to protecting data privacy and security.

With the right strategies, tools, and mindset, you can effectively manage compliance across multiple standards and stay ahead of regulatory requirements in today’s dynamic business environment.

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Dmitry Ermakov

Dmitry is our our Head of Engineering. He's been with WeAreBrain since the inception of the company, bringing solid experience in software development as well as project management.

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