HITRUST vs SOC 2: Key differences and which to choose

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HITRUST and SOC 2 are two security frameworks commonly used in the world of cybersecurity to protect sensitive customer data, comply with regulations, and provide a baseline for effective risk mitigation. The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) Common Security Framework (CSF), initially created to address HIPAA compliance, is now industry agnostic—both HITRUST and SOC2 are compatible across various industries. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of these two programs by exploring their essential differences, benefits, and common pain points so that your organization can make a well-informed decision. 

Key takeaways

  • HITRUST and SOC 2 are two different security frameworks
  • Organizations must consider the costs, benefits, and challenges of each framework when selecting the best option for their specific needs
  • Pursing HITRUST and SOC 2 provides a comprehensive security program that satisfies multiple customer and regulatory requirements while also demonstrating a strong commitment to customer data protection

High level: Understanding HITRUST and SOC 2

HITRUST CSF and SOC 2 are two security frameworks widely used in the cybersecurity landscape, aiming to safeguard customer data, ensure regulatory compliance, and facilitate effective risk mitigation. 

HITRUST: A comprehensive security framework for (mostly) healthcare 

The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) is a comprehensive and certifiable framework that provides healthcare organizations with a set of security and privacy controls. These controls are designed to safeguard and manage sensitive information, such as protected health information (PHI), and mitigate the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.

HITRUST CSF Certification allows organizations to demonstrate their compliance with standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, ISO, COBIT, and NIST by first going through specific milestones related to safeguarding sensitive information, followed by an independent assessment. The goal of HITRUST is to provide a scalable and efficient approach for organizations to manage and secure health-related information.

The framework is historically tailored to the unique needs of the healthcare sector in order for them to tackle third-party supply chains while adhering to industry best practices when it comes to security. However, organizations in other industries may also choose to adopt the HITRUST CSF to enhance their overall information security and risk management practices.

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SOC 2: A trust-based cybersecurity compliance framework

SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2) is a flexible framework for managing and securing data that is designed primarily for technology and cloud computing organizations. It is part of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) SOC framework, which includes several types of reports intended to provide assurance about the controls in place at a service organization.

SOC 2 specifically focuses on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data handled by service providers. The framework is relevant for organizations that store customer information in the cloud or manage sensitive information for their customers.

This framework provides an auditable level of risk management by evaluating how well organizations adhere to the applicable trust services criteria, or TSC – Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy. By following these standards, SOC 2 allows companies to demonstrate effective measures protecting their customer’s data while adhering to industry regulations at the same time.

HITRUST and SOC 2 at a glance


Governing body

HITRUST Alliance




Risk-based approach to protect data and ensure privacy, especially Protected Health Information (PHI)

Controls defined by

HITRUST Alliance

Best for

Healthcare organizations, but can be any industry

Assessed by

HITRUST External Assessor


Depends on the type: 

e1 – Every year

i1 – Every year, with the second year having the option for rapid recertification

r2 – Two-year cycle, with the second year being an interim assessment


Governing body





Five controls: Privacy, Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Processing integrity

Controls defined by

The organization

Best for

Applicable across various industries, including B2B, finance, and startups. 

Assessed by

Certified public accountants


Every ~1 year

Key differences between HITRUST and SOC 2

Both HITRUST and SOC 2 are frameworks that address information security and privacy, HITRUST has a specific focus on the healthcare industry and is more comprehensive in scope, while SOC 2 is more general and applicable to a broader range of industries. The choice between the two depends on an organization’s industry, regulatory environment, and specific compliance needs.

Let’s explore some key differences between HITRUST and SOC 2:


Industry focus

Primarily designed for the healthcare industry. It specifically addresses the unique challenges and requirements related to protecting health information, making it well-suited for healthcare organizations and their business associates.


Covers a wide range of domains, including information security, privacy, business continuity, and more. It consolidates various existing standards and regulations into a single framework.

Certification process

Offers a certification program where organizations undergo a thorough assessment based on the HITRUST CSF. Certification is achieved if the organization successfully implements and adheres to the framework.


Particularly relevant for organizations in the healthcare industry, where the protection of health information is crucial. However, organizations in other industries may also adopt HITRUST for a comprehensive security and privacy program.

Focus on privacy

Includes a focus on privacy controls within its framework, addressing the handling and protection of sensitive information.

Global applicability

Originally developed with a U.S. focus, it has gained some international recognition. It is increasingly being considered by organizations globally.


Industry focus

Applicable to a broader range of industries, including technology, cloud computing, and various service organizations. 

While SOC 2 doesn’t focus specifically on healthcare, it is widely adopted in the tech and service sectors.


Primarily focuses on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data. It is more specific in its scope compared to HITRUST.

Certification process

Involves an independent audit conducted by a third-party assessor. Organizations receive a SOC 2 report after successfully demonstrating adherence to the criteria specified in the SOC 2 framework.


Widely adopted across various industries, especially in technology, cloud computing, and service sectors. It is not industry-specific and can be applied more broadly.

Focus on privacy

Includes a privacy component, but the primary focus is on the security, availability, processing integrity, and confidentiality of data.

Global applicability

Widely recognized and adopted internationally. Many organizations outside the U.S. seek SOC 2 compliance for its reputation and assurance benefits.

Costs compared: HITRUST framework vs SOC 2

The costs of HITRUST and SOC 2 can vary significantly depending on factors such as: 

  • Organization size and complexity
  • Assessment scope 
  • Level of assistance 

Both frameworks aim to ensure effective data protection regulations while at the same time varying in cost efficiency according to industry demands for secure handling of sensitive information.

Organizations must critically consider both the benefits and financial implications before selecting a suitable framework, taking into account aspects like regulatory requirements related to security measures.

As long as these elements are weighed carefully, it will be possible for businesses looking into either one or both options (HITRUST/SOC2) to make an informed decision based on what best suits them.

Benefits and challenges of each framework

Both HITRUST and SOC 2 offer a variety of benefits, yet organizations must consider the challenges before deciding which compliance framework is suitable for them. 

Especially in healthcare organizations that handle sensitive data, meeting regulatory requirements can be hard-pressed through HITRUST’s comprehensive security framework specifically designed to do so. Meanwhile, SOC 2 facilitates trust-based cybersecurity for multiple industries, emphasizing safeguarding information privacy and integrity.

Both frameworks strive to improve an organization’s security stance but also come with challenges.

Advantages of HITRUST Common Security Framework

The choice between HITRUST and SOC 2 depends on various factors, including the specific needs and industry of the organization. Here are some advantages of HITRUST over SOC 2:

  • Healthcare-specific focus: HITRUST is specifically tailored for the healthcare industry. It considers the unique challenges and regulatory requirements that healthcare organizations face, including those related to protected health information (PHI). If an organization operates in the healthcare sector, HITRUST may be more aligned with its specific needs.
  • Comprehensive framework: HITRUST provides a comprehensive framework that consolidates various standards and regulations into a single set of controls. This can be advantageous for organizations looking for an all-encompassing approach to managing security, privacy, and other risk domains.
  • Privacy focus: HITRUST includes a strong emphasis on privacy controls within its framework. This focus on privacy aligns with the increasing importance of protecting sensitive information, especially in the healthcare industry, where patient privacy is paramount.
  • Certification recognition: HITRUST certification is recognized within the healthcare industry and is increasingly gaining recognition in other sectors. It can serve as a badge of assurance for healthcare organizations and their partners.
  • Integration with other standards: HITRUST integrates and aligns with various existing standards and regulations, such as HIPAA, NIST, and ISO. This can make it easier for organizations already complying with these standards to adopt HITRUST.
  • Risk management emphasis: HITRUST places a strong emphasis on risk management, helping organizations identify, assess, and manage risks effectively. This can be particularly beneficial in the complex and risk-sensitive healthcare environment.
  • International recognition: While HITRUST originated with a U.S. focus, it has gained some international recognition. Organizations with global operations may find that HITRUST meets their compliance needs across different jurisdictions.

It’s essential to note that while HITRUST has these advantages, SOC 2 is a widely adopted framework with its own set of strengths, and the choice between the two depends on factors such as industry, regulatory requirements, and organizational priorities. Some organizations may choose to pursue both certifications if their operations span multiple industries. Ultimately, the decision should align with the organization’s specific goals and compliance needs.

Advantages of SOC 2 over HITRUST

While HITRUST and SOC 2 share similarities, SOC 2 has its own advantages that make it a more suitable choice for certain organizations and industries. Here are some advantages of SOC 2 over HITRUST:

  • Industry neutrality: SOC 2 is not industry-specific, making it suitable for a broad range of organizations, including technology, cloud computing, and various service providers. It can be applied to industries beyond healthcare, unlike HITRUST, which is primarily focused on the healthcare sector.
  • Broader applicability: SOC 2 is widely recognized and adopted across various industries globally. It is not limited to a specific sector, making it a more versatile choice for organizations operating in diverse fields.
  • Flexibility in implementation: SOC 2 provides a more flexible framework, allowing organizations to tailor their controls to meet their specific needs and risk landscape. This flexibility can be advantageous for organizations with unique business models or risk profiles.
  • International recognition: SOC 2 is recognized and accepted internationally. Many organizations outside the U.S. seek SOC 2 compliance as a way to demonstrate their commitment to information security and privacy, making it suitable for organizations with global operations.
  • Emphasis on trust service criteria: SOC 2 focuses on the Trust Service Criteria, which include security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. These criteria are relevant to a wide range of industries and provide a comprehensive framework for managing and securing sensitive information.
  • Third-party validation: Similar to HITRUST, SOC 2 involves a third-party audit by an independent assessor. This external validation provides assurance to customers and stakeholders that the organization has implemented effective controls for information security and privacy.
  • Cost and resource considerations: For organizations that do not have a specific focus on healthcare or do not require the comprehensive coverage of the HITRUST framework, SOC 2 may be a more cost-effective and resource-efficient option.
  • Focus on key security and privacy areas: SOC 2 focuses on key areas of information security and privacy, allowing organizations to address critical aspects without the comprehensive scope of HITRUST. This can be advantageous for organizations looking for a more targeted approach.

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Ultimately, the choice between SOC 2 and HITRUST depends on factors such as the industry, specific compliance requirements, and organizational goals. Some organizations may find SOC 2 to be a more practical and flexible solution, especially if their operations span multiple industries.

The best of both worlds: Combining HITRUST and SOC 2 for enhanced security

Organizations can gain a more comprehensive security and compliance program by pursuing both HITRUST and SOC 2. This combination leverages the strengths of both frameworks to offer better assurance and streamline assessment processes, showcasing an organization’s dedication to data protection. 

While each framework has its specific focus and strengths, leveraging both can provide a more comprehensive and tailored approach to meet the organization’s specific needs. Here’s how HITRUST and SOC 2 can be used in combination:

SOC 2 + HITRUST Reporting

In this scenario, an organization uses both SOC 2 and HITRUST frameworks for assessing and reporting on its security and privacy controls.

  • SOC 2: This refers to the Service Organization Control 2 framework, which focuses on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data within service organizations.
  • HITRUST Reporting: This typically involves the completion of a HITRUST assessment or self-assessment against the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF). Organizations may generate a HITRUST CSF assessment report based on their self-assessment results.

SOC 2  and HITRUST Certification

This scenario involves a more comprehensive approach, where the organization undergoes a third-party audit for both SOC 2 and HITRUST. HITRUST certification is achieved through the formalized audit process, providing a higher level of assurance to stakeholders.

  • SOC 2: Refers to the Service Organization Control 2 framework, as mentioned earlier, focusing on security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
  • HITRUST Certification: If the organization successfully passes the HITRUST audit, it may receive official HITRUST certification. Certification is a formal recognition that the organization has implemented controls in accordance with the HITRUST CSF requirements.

Assessing your organization’s needs

When considering which compliance framework is the best for your company, take into account factors such as industry type, data security, and legal obligations. For instance, healthcare organizations dealing with digital health records may deem HITRUST to be their ideal choice, while entities providing services over multiple industries or subject to certain regulations like those applicable to financial institutes or government institutions could see SOC 2 as most fitting.

By assessing these components thoroughly with regard to what your business requires, you can select a standard that fulfills all relevant laws, offers suitable support, and enables adherence efficiently within set policies.

Choosing the right compliance partner

Finding the ideal compliance partner is essential for smoothly helping your company through its HITRUST or SOC 2 journey. When selecting a compliance companion, look for one that can: 

  • Provide guidance and aid throughout this process. 
  • Has familiarity with conducting independent third-party assessments on both certifications. 
  • Understands the criteria of control objectives as well as associated healthcare regulations/security procedures. 

They should be accustomed to Trust Services Criteria and able to deliver an extensive report when needed. By choosing a qualified partner who knows about HITRUST and SOC 2 rules thoroughly, companies have more assurance in navigating these complexities confidently and effortlessly.

How Thoropass can help

Thoropass is the end-to-end solution for HITRUST Validated Assessment and Certification.  With Thoropass, you’ll take the fastest path to certification with smart automation, expert guidance, and a dedicated HITRUST External Assessor.

Alternatively or additionally, we can also take the frustrating and complicated experience of a traditional SOC 2 audit and turn it into a seamless, predictable journey ending in a quality report that you can feel confident sharing with stakeholders.

HITRUST is a certification standard that outlines particular requirements and controls, while SOC 2 acts as a reporting framework that establishes standards for an audit but does not specify what exact controls should be examined.

SOC 2 is aimed at decreasing financial and image damage by closing any possible security openings in internal operations, while HIPAA compliance concentrates on shielding patient information.

HITRUST is a certifiable standard, while SOC 2 stands for the standards used in audit assessment. It acts as a reporting framework rather than just well-defined controls as HITRUST does.

The primary objective of the HITRUST and SOC 2 frameworks is to minimize risks related to data privacy through appropriate secure measures. This aims to ensure that confidential information remains protected.

When selecting a compliance partner, organizations should seek out one who can provide expert assistance throughout the certification process and has sufficient expertise in executing independent third-party assessments. Also important is knowledge of relevant control objectives as well as criteria pertaining to them.

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