Vulnerability Assessments vs Penetration Testing For SOC2- A Tell-All Guide

Last updated: June 9, 2022


When running a company, one understands the utmost relevance that needs to be given to keeping their consumers’ data safe. You may also be aware of the SOC2 compliance standard, which is a set of regulations that help businesses protect their customers’ data. One common question that business owners have is whether vulnerability assessments or penetration testing is the best way to achieve SOC2 compliance.

When it comes to ensuring the security of your company’s data, you may be wondering what the best option is- vulnerability assessments or penetration testing? Both are important methods of assessing and securing your systems, but they have different purposes.

In this article, we will discuss vulnerability assessment vs penetration testing for SOC2 compliance, and explain why vulnerability assessments are often a better option for SOC2 audits.

Vulnerability Assessment- Definition

A vulnerability assessment refers to the evaluation of your systems for known vulnerabilities. This can be done manually or through automated tools, and usually involves looking at things like software updates, passwords, and user permissions.

What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a form of security test that seeks to identify flaws in your system that an attacker may use to exploit you. This can include things like trying to guess passwords or finding ways to bypass security measures.

Brief History Of SOC2 Compliance

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants developed the SOC (Service Organization Controls) standard for security measures. Initially published in 1992, it has undergone several rounds of updates since then.

The most recent version of the SOC standard is SOC for Service Organizations: Trust Services Criteria, which was released in April 2010.

The SOC standard is divided into three parts: SOC I, SOC II, and SOC III. SOC I focuses on financial reporting, while SOC II and III focus on security and privacy controls.

SOC II was first released in 2011 and was designed to help service organizations protect their customers’ data. SOC III was released in 2016 and is a voluntary extension of SOC II.

Why Is SOC2-Compliance Important?

Being SOC2 compliant simply means that your company meets the requirements of the SOC2 compliance standard. This standard is designed to help businesses protect their customers’ data, and ensure that they have proper security measures in place.

The SOC standard is designed for service organizations, such as cloud providers, that handle sensitive customer data. However, any company that handles sensitive data can choose to be SOC compliant.

Vulnerability Assessment vs Penetration Testing For SOC2 Audits

When it comes to SOC2 compliance, vulnerability assessments and penetration testing are two of the most common methods of assessment. But what’s the difference between them?

Vulnerability assessments are typically less invasive than penetration tests and can be done more frequently. They’re also less likely to disrupt your business operations, as they don’t involve trying to break into your systems.

Penetration tests are more thorough and can find vulnerabilities that may be missed by a vulnerability assessment. However, they’re also more disruptive to your business, as they involve trying to break into your systems.

So, which is better for SOC2 audits and subsequent compliance? In general, vulnerability assessments are a better option, as they’re less disruptive and can be done more frequently. They’re also less likely to miss any potential vulnerabilities in your system. However, penetration tests may be necessary in some cases, such as if you’re required to do one for SOC2 audits.

Companies That Provide Vulnerability Assessments And Penetration Tests For SOC2 Audits

There are a number of companies that provide vulnerability assessments and penetration tests for SOC compliance. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Astra’s Pentest Suite
  • RapidFire Tools’ Network Detective
  • Qualys’ Vulnerability Management
  • Tenable’s SecurityCenter Continuous View
  • RapidSeven’s Nexpose Vulnerability Manager

These are just a few of the many options available, and the best one for your company will depend on your specific needs.

Steps In A SOC2 Audit

There are several steps that are involved in a SOC-compliant audit. First and foremost, you’ll need to collect all of the required paperwork, such as your company’s security policies and procedures. Next, you’ll need to conduct a risk assessment to identify any potential risks to your systems.

You’ll need to carry out either a vulnerability assessment or a pentest. After that, you’ll need to produce and submit a vulnerability assessment report to the auditors. Finally, you’ll need to follow up with the auditors to ensure that all of their requirements have been met.  


In conclusion, SOC-compliant audits are important for any company that handles sensitive customer data. Vulnerability assessments and penetration tests are two of the most common methods of assessment, but vulnerability assessments are generally a better option. We hope this article has been informative regarding choosing vulnerability assessments over penetration testing for SOC2 audits.

About The Guest Author

Ankit Pahuja is the Marketing Lead & Evangelist at Astra Security. Ever since his adulthood (literally, he was 20 years old), he began finding vulnerabilities in websites & network infrastructures. Starting his professional career as a software engineer at one of the unicorns enables him in bringing “engineering in marketing” to reality. Working actively in the cybersecurity space for more than 2 years makes him the perfect T-shaped marketing professional. Ankit is an avid speaker in the security space and has delivered various talks in top companies, early-age startups, and online events.

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