Ensuring compliance with various regulations and standards is an essential part of this process. Among the several compliance standards that exist, HITRUST and SOC 2 are two of the most well-known. But understanding what each standard involves and which is right for your business can be a challenging task. In this blog, we’ll delve into the details of HITRUST vs SOC 2, providing a comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision.
- 1 Understanding Compliance
- 2 What Is HITRUST?
- 3 What Is SOC 2?
- 4 How To Differentiate HITRUST vs SOC 2?
- 5 What Is The Audit Process In HITRUST vs SOC 2?
- 6 Does HITRUST Include SOC 2?
- 7 Which One Is Right HITRUST vs SOC 2?
- 8 Conclusion
Compliance refers to an organization’s adherence to a set of guidelines, laws, regulations, standards, or specifications established.And this is to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data. It’s about ensuring businesses operate within the legal and ethical guidelines relevant to their industry. Particularly when dealing with sensitive data like personal information, financial data, and health records.
Compliance isn’t merely a legal necessity. In fact, it also plays a significant role in establishing trust between an organization and its stakeholders. By demonstrating compliance, companies signal that they prioritize and respect data security and privacy. It helps in building customer trust, protecting the company’s reputation, avoiding legal penalties, and even gaining a competitive edge.
What Is HITRUST?
HITRUST (Health Information Trust Alliance) is an organization that, in collaboration with healthcare, technology, and information security leaders, has established a comprehensive, certifiable framework. And this is to provide organizations a robust approach to regulatory compliance and risk management.
At the heart of HITRUST is the HITRUST CSF (Common Security Framework), a certifiable framework that provides a comprehensive, flexible, and efficient approach to regulatory compliance and risk management. The CSF consolidates numerous international and domestic standards. Including HIPAA, PCI, ISO, NIST, and others, into a single overarching security framework.
What Is SOC 2?
SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2) is a type of audit framework developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The SOC 2 standard is specifically designed for service providers storing customer data in the cloud. That makes it an important compliance measure in the era of extensive data digitization.
These are also known as the Trust Services Criteria.
- Security: The system is protected against unauthorized access.
- Availability: The system is available for operation and use as committed or agreed.
- Processing Integrity: System processing is complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized.
- Confidentiality: Information designated as confidential is protected as committed or agreed.
- Privacy: Personal information is collected, used, retained, disclosed, and disposed of in conformity with the commitments in the entity’s privacy notice.
How To Differentiate HITRUST vs SOC 2?
Differentiating HITRUST vs SOC 2 involves understanding their core focus, the industries they primarily serve, and the specific requirements and processes involved in each. Here are some key points to consider:
Scope and Focus
HITRUST CSF is a certifiable framework that integrates multiple standards, regulations, and business requirements. Including elements from HIPAA, PCI, ISO, and NIST. It provides a comprehensive and flexible approach to regulatory compliance and risk management. On the other hand, SOC 2 is an auditing procedure. That is specifically designed to assess the extent to which a company complies with one or more of the five trust principles—security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
HITRUST was originally developed with the healthcare sector in mind, focusing on organizations dealing with protected health information (PHI). However, its comprehensive and robust nature has led to its adoption in various other industries. SOC 2, while not industry-specific, is particularly relevant for service providers that store customer data in the cloud.
Both HITRUST and SOC 2 involve an evaluation process. But there are differences. HITRUST certification involves a self-assessment and then a validated assessment conducted by a HITRUST-approved assessor. SOC 2 requires a company to develop specific controls designed to address the principles, which are then audited by a third-party CPA or a service auditor.
HITRUST provides a risk-based approach and tailors its requirements to the organization’s specific risk factors, such as organization size and type of data handled. While SOC 2 also considers risks, its focus is primarily on controls over security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy at service organizations.
Recognition and Adoption
HITRUST CSF is widely recognized in the healthcare industry and is becoming increasingly adopted by other sectors. SOC 2 is recognized more broadly across multiple industries, especially among tech companies and any organization using cloud service providers.
Remember, the choice between HITRUST vs SOC 2 is often dependent on the specific needs, industry requirements, and business context of your organization. In some cases, organizations might find value in pursuing both certifications to demonstrate a wide-ranging commitment to data security and privacy.
What Is The Audit Process In HITRUST vs SOC 2?
Both HITRUST and SOC 2 require rigorous audit processes to verify that an organization meets their standards. Here’s a brief overview of the audit process for each:
HITRUST Audit Process
- Scoping: The organization first determines the systems, processes, and locations that need to be covered by the HITRUST assessment.
- Readiness Assessment: The organization performs a self-assessment to gauge its readiness for the formal HITRUST assessment.
- Formal Assessment: A HITRUST-approved assessor then conducts the formal assessment. The assessor reviews the organization’s self-assessment and performs further validation.
- Submission & Quality Review: The results of the assessment are submitted to HITRUST for a quality review. HITRUST may ask for further clarification or evidence.
- Certification: If the organization meets all the requirements, HITRUST issues a Letter of Certification.
SOC 2 Audit Process
- Understanding the Trust Services Criteria: The organization must first understand the five Trust Services Criteria and decide which apply to its services and operations.
- Pre-Audit Assessment: Often, organizations engage with an auditor for a readiness assessment to identify potential gaps and areas for improvement.
- Remediation: The organization fixes any identified gaps in its controls, which can take a considerable amount of time and resources.
- Type I Audit: The first formal SOC 2 audit (Type I) can then be conducted, assessing the design of controls at a specific point in time.
- Type II Audit: A Type II audit is performed over a period of time (typically six months to a year) to assess the effectiveness of those controls over that period.
- Report: After the audit, the auditor will issue a SOC 2 report detailing the auditor’s opinion on the organization’s compliance with the chosen criteria.
While both HITRUST vs SOC 2 have stringent audit processes, there are key differences in their approach and focus. Both provide valuable assurance to stakeholders about an organization’s commitment to data security and privacy.
Does HITRUST Include SOC 2?
HITRUST and SOC 2 are different standards. But the HITRUST CSF (Common Security Framework) does incorporate components from a variety of other standards. And that includes SOC 2, along with HIPAA, PCI, ISO, and NIST. This means that by aligning with HITRUST CSF, an organization is also aligning with a wide range of globally recognized standards.
However, it’s essential to note that while HITRUST certification may cover many SOC 2 requirements. Still, obtaining a HITRUST certification does not automatically result in a SOC 2 report or vice versa. Each framework has its own unique elements, focus, and certification process.
Which One Is Right HITRUST vs SOC 2?
Choosing between HITRUST and SOC 2 depends largely on the specific needs of your organization, industry standards, and what your customers expect. Here are some factors that might help you make the decision:
- Industry Requirements: HITRUST was initially developed for the healthcare industry and is often preferred or required by stakeholders within that field. If you’re in the healthcare sector or handle protected health information (PHI), HITRUST may be more relevant. On the other hand, SOC 2 is not industry-specific and is generally used by SaaS and cloud services providers across various sectors.
- Customer Expectations: If your clients specifically request one certification over another, that will likely guide your choice. Some customers might prefer a HITRUST certification because it consolidates various other standards. While others may ask for a SOC 2 report as it’s widely recognized and understood.
- Complexity and Cost: HITRUST certification can be more complex and costly due to its comprehensive nature. It also requires an annual renewal, which involves further costs. On the other hand, SOC 2 audits can be scoped to your organization’s specific services and needs, which might reduce complexity and cost.
- Geographical Considerations: HITRUST is widely recognized in the United States, particularly within the healthcare industry. If your organization primarily operates or intends to expand in this market, HITRUST may be more relevant. Conversely, SOC 2 has broad recognition across many industries and regions, making it a good choice if you have a diverse clientele or operate internationally.
- Compliance with Multiple Standards: If your organization needs to comply with multiple standards (like HIPAA, NIST, ISO), then HITRUST may be a more efficient route since it harmonizes many of these into a single framework.
In conclusion, both HITRUST and SOC 2 play vital roles in establishing an organization’s commitment to data security and privacy. They each offer unique benefits and cater to different industry needs. HITRUST, being a comprehensive and certifiable framework, is particularly prevalent in the healthcare sector but is also gaining traction in other industries due to its robust approach to regulatory compliance and risk management.
If you are looking to implement any of the Infosec compliance frameworks such as SOC 2 compliance, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and GDPR compliance, Impanix can help. Book a Free consultation call with our experts or email us at [email protected] for inquiries.