HITRUST e1 Assessments vs. SOC 2 Examinations—What’s the Difference?

February 7, 2024 | HITRUST, SOC 2

In today’s cyber-focused business landscape, many organizations across industries are intent on continuously improving their information security practices. Among the compliance solutions available, two highly-regarded frameworks stand out—HITRUST e1 and SOC 2. 

Whether you’re a healthcare organization navigating the complex landscape of patient data or a service provider working to process and store data in a secure manner, HITRUST e1 Assessments and SOC 2 reports play a pivotal role in assuring clients, stakeholders, and partners that you’re taking information security measures seriously. 

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the HITRUST e1 and SOC 2 frameworks and which organizations might benefit from each of their unique attributes. 

What Is the HITRUST e1 Assessment? 

HITRUST CSF recently added a new assessment to their portfolio: the HITRUST e1 Assessment. Included in the HITRUST CSF v11 release, the e1 Assessment was designed to cover foundational cybersecurity practices. 

The HITRUST e1 Assessment is a low-effort yet reliable assessment that helps organizations focus on foundational cybersecurity controls and prepares them for the most critical cybersecurity threats. 

The e1 Assessment can serve as a stepping stone to more comprehensive and higher-effort assessments such as the HITRUST i1 Assessment or r2 Assessment. With only 44 controls, it is significantly more attainable than other cybersecurity assessments. 

The e1 Assessment is also more affordable than broader HITRUST assessments—only a third of the cost of an i1 Assessment. 

Similar to the i1 and r2 Assessments, the e1 Assessment is threat-adaptive, which means that as the threat landscape evolves, the requirements will also be updated to address future risks as they emerge. This includes mitigations for the most critical cybersecurity threats such as ransomware, phishing, brute force, and abuse of valid accounts.

Think of the e1 Assessment as the minimum level of cybersecurity assurance your organization can achieve. While it reliably demonstrates an organization’s commitment to the basics, it doesn’t provide coverage over regulations like HIPAA or other leading cybersecurity practices. 

The e1 Assessment is valid for one year from its issuance date. After that year, BARR experts recommend building on the established cybersecurity foundation with a higher level assessment. 

Who needs an e1 Assessment?

The e1 Assessment is an excellent first step for any organization looking for validation of essential cybersecurity controls that plan to progress to more robust assessments in the future. BARR experts recommend the e1 Assessment to startups or other organizations that are just getting started in their cybersecurity journey. 

The e1 Assessment may also provide the appropriate level of assurance for organizations with very low levels of cybersecurity risk that want a low-effort and reliable review of their foundational cybersecurity controls. 

What is a SOC 2 Examination? 

The SOC 2 examination reports on one or any combination of the AICPA’s trust services criteria—security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. It demonstrates an organization’s commitment to its consumer requirements and cybersecurity best practices.

SOC 2 reports meet the needs of a broad range of users that require detailed information and assurance about the controls at a service organization. The report can play an important role in oversight of the organization, vendor management programs, and internal corporate governance and risk management processes.

The duration for your SOC 2 report depends on the type you acquire. If your organization has previously documented your controls through an automation partner, Type I reports may be performed right away. Type I reports offer a point-in-time service, testing your design on a specific date. Type II reports are generally audited throughout a three to 12 month period. SOC 2 reports reflect your organization’s operating effectiveness during the course of a review period and provide a more detailed assessment of your controls. 

Who needs a SOC 2 report?

A SOC 2 report is typically relevant for service organizations that provide services involving the processing of sensitive customer information or data. This framework is particularly valuable for businesses that offer technology and cloud computing services, data hosting, managed IT services, Software as a Service (SaaS), and various other outsourcing services. While not industry-specific like some other compliance frameworks, SOC 2 is widely recognized and utilized across different sectors.

Both HITRUST e1 Assessments and SOC 2 examinations focus on information security controls. HITRUST is specifically designed for the healthcare industry and incorporates industry-specific requirements, while SOC 2 is more general and applicable across various sectors with a focus on trust service criteria. Organizations often choose the framework that aligns with their industry, regulatory requirements, and specific business needs.

Contact us today for more information on BARR’s HITRUST and SOC reporting services. 

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