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What Is the Difference between the NIST Framework and SOC 2?

by Trava, Cyber Risk Management

Unravel the key differences between NIST and SOC 2 compliance for SaaS providers. Optimize your security stance with Trava's tailored cybersecurity solutions.

In the realm of compliance for SaaS (Software as a Service) providers, understanding the nuances between various frameworks is crucial. One such comparison often sought after is the difference between the NIST framework and SOC 2. Compliance for SaaS is a multifaceted landscape, and grasping the distinctions between these frameworks is essential for ensuring robust security measures and regulatory adherence.

What Is the Difference between NIST and SOC 2 in Cybersecurity?

Among the different cybersecurity frameworks that apply to SaaS companies, distinguishing between NIST and SOC 2 is paramount. While both aim to strengthen an organization’s cybersecurity posture, they operate in different capacities.

  • The NIST cybersecurity framework, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, provides a comprehensive set of guidelines and best practices to enhance cybersecurity resilience across various industries.

  • By contrast, SOC 2 (short for Service Organization Control 2) is a framework designed specifically for service organizations like SaaS providers, focusing on controls relevant to data security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. These are commonly known as the five Trust Services Criteria.

ISO 27001 vs SOC 2 vs NIST: At a Glance

Another set of standards often mentioned in the same context as SOC 2 and the NIST framework is ISO 27001. Here’s how the three differ:

  • NIST: A framework that provides a flexible and customizable approach to cybersecurity risk management, suitable for organizations in various industries.

  • SOC 2: Tailored to address the challenges of SaaS environments, with an intense focus on the security and privacy of customer data.

  • ISO 27001: A comprehensive framework for managing information security risks, applicable to organizations of all types, sizes, and industries.

You can learn more about the distinctions between ISO 27001, SOC 2, and NIST, in this related blog post.

What Is NIST vs ISO 27001 Mapping?

Managing compliance to multiple sets of standards can be challenging, yet necessary, for many organizations. While these standards all share the same broad cybersecurity objectives, they each have their own applicability criteria.

Since these standards weren’t developed by the same organizations, however, comparing their language and requirements can be like comparing apples to oranges. NIST vs ISO 27001 mapping describes a process by which organizations work to find alignment between the standards and ensure their overall compliance.

Is SOC 2 a Standard or Framework?

While it’s not necessarily a complete distinction, SOC 2 is more accurately categorized as a framework rather than a standard. Unlike standards like ISO 27001, which offer a strict set of requirements for establishing an Information Security Management System (ISMS), SOC 2 provides a flexible framework for evaluating and reporting on controls relevant to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

Does SOC 2 Cover NIST 800-53?

When assessing the coverage of SOC 2, particularly concerning NIST 800-53, it's important to understand the scope of each framework.

SOC 2 focuses on controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy, tailored to the specific needs of service organizations. And while there may be overlap with NIST 800-53, which offers a comprehensive catalog of security and privacy controls, SOC 2 does not directly cover NIST 800-53 requirements.

Is NIST Part of SOC?

NIST guidelines and frameworks provide valuable insights into cybersecurity best practices—NIST itself is not a component of SOC frameworks, however. Still, organizations may leverage NIST resources, such as the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), to bolster their cybersecurity posture in alignment with SOC requirements.

What Is the Difference between NIST 80053 and SOC 2?

Here’s how to distinguish between NIST 80053 and SOC 2 compliance requirements.

  • NIST 80053 outlines a comprehensive set of security and privacy controls applicable to federal information systems and organizations.

  • Conversely, SOC 2 focuses on controls relevant to service organizations, emphasizing security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

You should also be aware of another related set of standards, NIST 800-171. These standards address specific requirements for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in non-federal systems and organizations.

Understanding the differences between the NIST framework and SOC 2 is pivotal for SaaS providers navigating compliance landscapes. NIST offers comprehensive cybersecurity guidelines, while SOC 2 provides a tailored framework for evaluating and reporting on controls specific to service organizations. By grasping these distinctions, organizations can enhance their cybersecurity resilience and demonstrate commitment to regulatory compliance.

Are you ready to ensure your SaaS platform meets compliance standards? Trava provides a robust and in-depth toolset to meet a wide range of cybersecurity and compliance challenges—including data privacy, risk management, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about navigating the complexities of cybersecurity frameworks.