What Is The ISAE 3000 And How It Can Help Your GDPR Work

Emilie Mongstad Grenth
By: Emilie Mongstad Grenth GDPR | 18 February

Today, most organisations use services from external service providers to process data. When personal data is being processed organisations must comply with the GDPR, and here an ISAE 3000 report will come in handy. The report verifies that the data is being kept private and secure during processing while that data itself is possible to access at all times. Continue reading to know why ISAE 3000 reports are good for building trust and credibility between organizations.

Short Summary

  • ISAE 3000 is a report that proves that your organization treats data correctly and in compliance with the GDPR. 
  • It's a good idea for companies that provide outsourced services to have an ISAE 300 report. This includes, e.g., asset managers, SaaS providers, pension service providers, cloud hosting providers, data center providers, and platform as a service providers.
  • Having an ISAE 3000 report benefits companies in terms of risk, trust, credibility, and breach notification.


Here you will read about:

What is ISAE 3000?

Who needs an ISAE 3000 report?

Who issues an ISAE 3000 report?

Benefits of having an ISAE 3000 report

Considering an ISAE 3402 report or ISO 27001 certification

What is ISAE 3000? 

You’re probably wondering, “what is ISAE 3000?”. To explain it formally it is a standard for assurance over nonfinancial information issued by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). The report is an internal control report that focuses on controls at a service provider relevant to security, availability, processing integrity, and privacy. A simpler explanation is that it is a stamp of approval for your organisation saying you and the systems you use are treating data correctly and in compliance with the GDPR.  

ISAE 3000 recognizes two types of reports.  

  • The type 1 report proves that your organisation have the correct controls and procedures. An Auditor will report that the controls you have fits their operations. 

  • The type 2 report has an auditor check that your organisation are also following the procedures and controls from report 1. So, organisations often start out with a report 1 and then a report 2 afterwards. 

An example of a control can be secure data destruction. The control would describe how the company’s routines for deleting data are. How they need to be able to give the owners full control over their data. How old data is deleted and not possible to retrieve afterwards and destruction of physical versions. Maybe your company chooses to outsource this task? Then it is important to know the data destruction is being performed accordingly to the GDPR, and the company you’re outsourcing to having an ISAE 3000 report would make an assurance of this. 

Who needs an ISAE 3000 report? 

You’re probably thinking “when do I need an ISAE 3000 report?”. Well, you should think about getting an ISAE 3000 if your organisation is a supplier and other organizations are outsourcing significant tasks to you where the processes need to be compliant with the law for data processing. Organisations want the companies that they outsource to have proper drift procedures, logs, backups and change management that works. An ISAE 3000 report is an insurance for them that an organisation have security measures that work efficiently.  

ISAE 3000 is right for companies that provides outsourced services such as: 

  • Asset managers 

  • Pension service providers 

  • SaaS providers 

  • Infrastructure as service providers 

  • Platform as a service provider 

  • Data Centre providers 

  • Cloud hosting providers 

Who issues an ISAE 3000 report? 

The ISAE 3000 report is made by an external audit. The audit is from a third party which is a professional audit firm that make sure that the procedures follow the GDPR. This is good because this means it is not the firm itself that organizations are buying services/systems from that are the ones making the report, and this gives the report credibility. And the reason you want to make sure your services and systems uphold these standards is to assess whether your company lives up to the responsibility of being a data processor. 


Benefits of having an ISAE 3000 report 

If an organisation holds an ISAE 3000 report, they are sending out a message that their organisation treats data with integrity and confidentiality. Data they process are being documented so they can catch potential risks. Being able to show that your company takes care of personal data in compliance with the GDPR through a third party. This is good for customers and gives them the assurance that systems and services being used have high security standards, assess risks accordingly and excellent quality control.  


When you enter into an agreement with a company that has an ISAE 3000 report, your relationships foundation will be built on trust, because you know they have a third party overseeing them.  


There is an external audit that revise, so it isn’t the company itself that makes the report, and that gives the report credibility. The report holds all the information you need to understand and how your data is being processed. There will be an exact description of how the data is being processed within regulations, and with what purpose which is all documented by a qualified third party. 

Breach notification:  

When you are working with data there will be a risk of data breaches. There may be events where your data is accessible to people who shouldn’t have access to it. When breaches like this happen, a company must follow a set of guidelines to restore and fix the data. An ISAE 3000 report assures this because you can’t get the report if you don’t have a set of procedures which are checked regularly. 

The standard is set:  

All companies and organisations must follow the same standards, but that doesn’t mean everyone does. With an ISAE 3000 report you know there is a third-party audit that makes sure that they are following a standard. You will also know if there any changes to processing activities which will be notified to customers. You will always be up to date to changes and always know what is going on because the ISAE gives transparency into the controls and processing. 

Considering an ISAE 3402 report or ISO 27001 certification 

ISAE 3000 isn’t the only way to show that you are following the GDPR. Maybe you need to find out if you want an ISO certification or if you want an audit report, and which kind of audit report. Even though ISAE 3000 is the most GDPR specific report, organisations also look towards the ISAE 3402 report and ISO 27001 certification.  

  • The ISAE 3402 report about the processes and physical conditions, making sure there is no downtime on servers, there are backups and procedures for backups, logging, power and more. Compared to ISAE 3000 the ISAE 3402 is focusing on financial transactions and making sure the daily operations and deliveries in IT is being done correctly.  

  • ISO 27001 is a standard to secure valuable and personal data to again create a strong information security. The ISO 27001 certification has more requirements for documentation and daily operations than an audit report needs, and often bigger organisations aim for a full certification. 

I know this can be a lot to take in with the many kinds of audits and reports, but if you want to learn more in-depth you can look at CyberPilots comprehensive guide on what ISO 27001 and ISAE 3402 are.

A woman trying free awareness courses on her computer


The ISAE 3000 report gives assurances for you and others that data is being processed correctly and that GDPR is being followed. There is given routines for breaches. The report is unbiased because there is a third party making the report. If you’re either looking to outsource tasks or are a part of an organization that others outsource too ISAE is a stamp of approval you should take into consideration.