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ISO 27001 is an international security standard to regulate information security across an organization. It is a part of the ISO/IEC 27000 series that deal with information security. Read on to learn more.

The facts in a nutshell 

  • The ISO 27001 standard provides the framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system (ISMS) to help organizations secure their information assets. 
  • An information security management system (ISMS) is a framework of policies and procedures to minimize risk incidents and ensure business continuity by mitigating the impact of a security breach. 
  • Adopting the international security standard, ensures best security practices and strategies to tighten information security in an organization. 

In this article 

What exactly is ISO 27001? 

When talking about the norm in an everyday business setting, it is commonly referred to as ISO 27001. The full name, however, is: “ISO/IEC 27001: 2013 Information technology – Security techniques –Information security management systems - Requirements” 

The ISO 27001 is the leading international standard for information security, jointly published by the International Standardization Organization (ISO), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It’s part of a set of standards of the ISO/IEC 27000 series that all deal with the greater topic of information security.   

What is the purpose of ISO 27001? 

In short, the ISO 27001 is meant to provide organisations of all sizes and industries with a framework of policies, procedures and controls to mitigate the risk for information security breaches. Those risks include but are not limited to:  

  • Physical hazards such as server room fires 
  • Dangers posed by employees such as willful data theft or errors due to lack of training as well as negligence 
  • System and process hazards such as outdated software 
  • Threats from cybercrime such as ransomware attacks 

In its framework, the norm includes all the risk controls (physical / technical /legal) and ensures that security controls are implemented to safeguard data and information. 

Why is ISO 27001 significant? 

The significance of ISO 27001 is twofold: Firstly – as explained above – it helps organizations to define the necessary measures to safeguard valuable information assets.  

Secondly, organisations have the option to get their ISMS certified against ISO 27001. In some industries, such a certification is vital for securing large contracts. At the very least, a certification can increase trust and thus drive business opportunities. 

How do you define an ISMS & what are the 3 ISMS security objectives? 

Even though many a business would appreciate a ready-made blueprint for implementing information security, the ISO 27001 is vague and abstract. And for good reason: It is meant to help organisations of all shapes and sizes. The goal isn’t to achieve “100 % security”, so to speak. Instead, each organization must assess its risks and mitigate them according to their individual risk appetite.  

Success of the ISMS can be measured through KPIs – which are again self-defined – promoting continuous improvements. 

Otherwise known as the CIA triad, the 3 ISMS security objectives are: 

  • Confidentialitysecuring information so that only authorised persons are allowed access. 
  • Integrityensure that all data is authentic and reliable.  
  • Availabilityinformation should be available when needed. 

Who should implement an ISMS? 

An ISMS is a good idea for any business or organisation that wants to keep its company information safe. Since the scope in which the ISO 27001 framework is implemented is customizable, even small businesses can benefit from its guidance.  

Any company should know…   

  • which information it owns,  
  • what risks that information is exposed to, 
  • and what financial impact it would have if these risks were to materialize.  

Based on this knowledge, management can decide to what extent risks should be reduced by an ISMS. An ISMS is not least an instrument for financial risk management.   

An ISMS is particularly important for companies that are strongly software-driven and work digitally as well as companies from industries with a high need for regulation. Take the healthcare market, for example: Here, strict minimum standards must be met in terms of information security - for example, to ensure medical confidentiality.   

What are the advantages of an ISMS? 

There are four essential business benefits that a company can achieve with the implementation of this information security standard: 

Reduced costs – The proactive risk assessment approach of ISMS prevents security incidents from occurring, therefore saving a great deal of money. Additionally, it cuts down on the amount of money organizations would otherwise have to invest in defensive technology that may be inefficient. 

Overall security – An ISMS continuously adapts itself to the evolving security risks and provides security to all your information irrespective of which form it is in or storage location, whether it is in digital or paper-based form, stored locally on in the cloud. With the implementation of aISMS, an organization increases its resilience against security attacks or data breaches. 

Better Company Culture- An ISMS's systematic approach covers the entire organization, not just IT, thereby enabling employees to easily understand risks and adopt the security controls implemented in their everyday work. A key feature of ISO 27001 is the requirement of Senior Management commitment.  This top-down approach demonstrates across an organisation the importance of the security controls and clarifies employee’s personal responsibility to participate.   

And once certified, an ISMS can mean a significant competitive advantage over competitors who have no proven system for ensuring information security. 

What does ISO 27001 certified mean? Is a certification mandatory? 

Obtaining certification through an accredited certification body provides proof to your customers, business partners and investors, that you manage information security in accordance with international best practices.  

Although a certification makes a lot of sense once a company has gone through the long process of establishing an ISMS, it is not mandatory for compliance purposes. The certification mostly helps in demonstrating that the organization is in compliance with the globally recognised best practices for information security management.  

Also, from the legal perspective organizations can define compliance with ISO 27001. 

ISO 27001 Implementation Roadmap

Who is eligible for ISO 27001 certification? 

An ISO 27001 certification is widely accepted across all industries. Businesses of any size or industry are eligible and any organization aiming for improving its information security posture can take a step forward towards ISO 27001 certification. 

What are the ISO 27001 controls, exactly? 

ISO 27001 is NOT a prescriptive standard and therefore does NOT describe in great detail what an organisation needs to do in order to meet the requirements for successful certification.  This would be impossible taking into consideration all the different types of organisations across the world.  ISO 27001 provides a framework within which an organisation can decide on their own appropriate protection. This is done through performing risk assessments and implementing risk treatment plans.  

ISO 27001 has a set of 114 controls recognizing, treating, and managing information security risks.  

What does risk assessment mean within the ISO 27001 standard? 

One of the integral parts of implementing ISO 27001 identifying and managing risks to information security. According to the international standard, the risk assessment process helps in identifying, analysing, and evaluating within the information security framework of an organization. And all of these helps in determining the risks and weaknesses in the organization structure and addressing them with the best possible defence solutions. 

Does implementing an ISMS according to ISO 27001 help with GDPR compliance? 

Unfortunately, not great deal. That’s because data privacy and information security come from two different vantage points. Data privacy laws such as the GDPR are meant to protect people – the people behind the data. Information security is supposed to protect businesses from certain risks.  

However, there is some overlap between the two. For instance, both GDPR and ISO 27001 call for the implementation of technical and organizational measures. Envision a big data breach caused by a cyber-attack, for instance. If personal data such as email-addresses, birth dates, or – god forbitd– passwords are lost and potentially sold, this hurts the company and can also hurt the people the personal data belongs to. Preventing such a disaster is both in the interest of data privacy as well as information security.  

Therefore, the Data Protection Officer (DPO) and the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – or whoever handles the information security of an organisation – can benefit greatly from joining forces. 

How ISO 27001 Certification can be an advantage for an organization? 

Apart from the general advantages that come with having a robust ISMS in place (as outlined in the respective chapter above), a certification through an accredited certification body brings one major additional advantage: Enhanced Reputation.  

The international standard conveys an assurance to the business world that you are a credible and trustworthy organisation. The certification boosts customer confidence through its demonstration of commitment to information security and compliance requirements. An organisation becoming ISO 27001 certified provides a competitive advantage helping an organization gain new business contracts and staying ahead of competitors who may not be certified. 

Conclusion 

An ISO 27001 certification makes it easier to comply with legal requirements, highlights the trustworthiness of your business towards your partners and proves commitment on meeting the highest standards of information securityIt definitely adds to your brand value which inevitably leads to win-win outcomes. Check out our ISO 27001 roadmap and gain insights on the complete documentation for ISO 27001 certification. 

Need help navigating the world of information security, or in preparing for a certification audit? We’re happy to help – get in touch with one of our information security experts today. 

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