ISO 27034: How you can improve your application security practices

Application security is a trending topic in data protection—due to the volume of data being stored, it has become necessary for organisations to protect their information from hackers and other parties who seek to steal it or misuse it.

To do this, many organisations have turned to ISO 27034, which specifies best practices for application security management. This standard was developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), and it provides a framework for organisations to follow when managing their applications' security concerns.

In this article, learn about what ISO 27034 is, its benefits, objectives, core concepts, and why it is important for organisations to comply with it.

What is the ISO 27034 standard?

The ISO 27034 standard is a comprehensive set of guidelines for application security in data protection. It sets out the process for organisations to develop, implement, and maintain an effective application security program.

Data protection is one of the most important aspects of IT security. It involves the protection and safekeeping of data and computer files. The ISO 27034 standard was created to help organisations implement complex application security solutions. The standard specifies how organisations should safeguard sensitive data by identifying, assessing, and implementing controls on applications that store or use it. 

The purpose of ISO 27034 is to help organisations meet their legal obligations to protect sensitive information, including personal data, financial records, medical records, and other personally identifiable information (PII).

The first step to ensuring that your organisation is using ISO 27034 is to educate yourself about what the standard entails and how it can help you improve your application security practices. Once your organisation understands what it takes to meet these standards, you can start implementing them in everything from building new applications to testing existing ones.

Why should you care about ISO 27034?

There are many reasons why you should care about ISO 27034, but the most important one is application security in data protection. The reason for this is that it provides a clear framework for how to ensure your applications are secure and compliant with regulations like GDPR, while still allowing you to be agile and quick to react to new threats.

Let’s start with the basics: What exactly is application security? Application security is the practice of guarding against unauthorised access to your data through software and hardware measures. It can be as simple as putting anti-virus software on your computer, but it can also involve more complex measures like encryption and biometric scanning.

If you want to protect your organisation from data loss or theft, then it is important for three main reasons:

  • It limits the risk of theft or loss of data by lowering the likelihood that someone will be able to get into your system without authorization.
  • It makes it harder for criminals (or even just regular employees who might want to steal information) to get access to confidential information that could cause damage if exposed inappropriately.
  • The IT security of your own devices and systems may be strengthened by identifying and implementing best practices, which ISO 27034 can assist.

Ensuring security through ISO 27034 also allows you to be more agile when responding to changes in regulations or threats such as hacking attempts against websites or financial services organisations (such as banks).

What are the benefits of Application Security?

Application security is the practice of protecting software applications from attacks that are aimed at disrupting, destroying, or gaining unauthorised access to them. It is an important part of information security and involves the design and implementation of various controls around the application.

Application security can provide a number of benefits:

  • It can protect sensitive data and information that could be valuable to malicious attackers.
  • It can make it more difficult for attackers to steal or misuse data.
  • It can help ensure that users do not misuse applications.
  • It can help ensure that applications are not vulnerable to attack.
  • It can reduce the cost of compliance with regulations.

Who is ISO 27034 for?

As the world becomes more and more interconnected, it is imperative that organisations take precautions to ensure that they are not putting their clients at risk. This can mean multiple things, including ensuring that they are following current regulations on data security.

ISO 27034 is for anyone who wants to know how to keep their organisation’s information safe. 

For example:

  • Project managers, IT security managers, and software application managers 
  • Teams of technical experts, including system administrators, software architects, software developers, and testers 
  • Software buyers
  • Service providers who create and/or offer software and are required to ensure its security

It is also for people who want to make sure that the data they collect and store is secure, and that it can not be stolen or used against them in some way.

What are the objectives of ISO 27034?

The objective of ISO 27034 is to ensure that applications are properly secured. This includes protecting data in transit, during storage and at rest. ISO 27034 has to make sure that all applications and software are used securely and consistently across all platforms. This means making sure that all users have access only to authorised data and systems. 

Finally, it is to make sure that both the application and its environment are secure by preventing unauthorised access or use of either.

The following objectives are also included:

  • To provide a consistent framework for accreditation, certification and registration which reduces cost and enhances flexibility.
  • To define an internationally recognized standard which can be used by all countries, organisations and individuals involved in the testing process.
  • Identify the risks that can be associated with the application and identify the security measures that can be applied for mitigating those risks.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive risk management plan that is aligned with your organisation's overall security strategy.
  • Implement a process for monitoring, measuring and controlling your organisation's application security environment.
  • Perform periodic reviews to ensure that your organisation's application security environment is operating as intended.
  • Supply ideas, tenets, and procedures.
  • Help organisations define risk-based IT security needs.

What are the core concepts of ISO 27034?

ISO 27034 process involves identifying risks and vulnerabilities, implementing controls and monitoring progress. It is important to note that ISO 27034 is not just about application security. It is applicable to a variety of information systems, including organisational processes, workflows and information exchange networks.

Application Security Control (ASC)

Application Security Control (ASC) is a control that prescribes a set of steps to be followed when creating or updating an application and prevents security weaknesses within an application. These steps ensure that the information in the source code is not modified by anyone other than the creator of that code.

ASC has four main components:

  • Identify and describe the application's security requirements.
  • Define the application's security boundaries.
  • Develop and implement a control structure that meets these requirements.
  • Test, monitor, and maintain the effectiveness of the control structure.

There must be a verification measurement for each ASC. To confirm that every connection with a database complies with the rule, the verification for "binding variables in SQL statements," for instance, can involve auditing all source code. As an alternative, it can involve using a program to scan for SQL injection vulnerabilities.

Application Level of Trust

The Application Level of Trust is the trust that is placed in an application or application component. It is the level of confidence one has in the data contained within an application or application component.

The real level of trust is shown when the application has been assessed. These two are supposed to be equivalent in principle. Application developers could occasionally fail to correctly integrate controls, though. Because of this, the application's degree of trust is really lower than expected.

Your organisation must make sure that all applications use the same level of security and that they update that security whenever they change their base code, whether it is through updates or through new features being added to the system. This helps ensure your data remains protected even after an attack has been blocked.

Organisation Normative Framework (ONF)

The ONF is an organisation-wide archive of application security controls and procedures. An ASC Library, a central library that is a component of the ONF, may be used by the organisation to store and update ASCs. The ONF also outlines the circumstances under which an application development project should use a certain security activity, such as running a penetration test.

Organisations should specify the following at the ONF level:

  • The steps involved in IT security
  • Roles and duties involved
  • Best practices for all
  • Measures library (Application Security Control Library – ASC Library)

Application Normative Framework (ANF)

Application Normative Framework (ANF) is a framework for defining application security requirements. It provides a set of normative statements that can be used to ensure that the application security requirements are met. 

The framework defines a set of requirements that are grouped into three categories:

  • Application-specific - These are the requirements that are specific to the application, such as data protection and access control.
  • Information - These are the requirements that affect information, such as integrity and confidentiality.
  • Environment - These are the requirements that affect the environment, such as availability and resource access control.

Application Security Verification Process

The application security verification process involves verifying if the code has been properly written and if it has any vulnerabilities that could lead to a successful hack. 

The process involves many steps such as:

  • Initial assessment - The application is assessed for security vulnerabilities, including buffer overflows, SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).
  • Patching -  The application is patched to remove any security vulnerabilities identified during the initial assessment.
  • Product verification - The product is tested to ensure that it has not been altered after being patched. This may require reconfiguration or re-testing by an independent party of the software's functionality.

The Application Security Management Process

The application security management process is a methodology for ensuring that applications and systems are secure, reliable, and resilient. It includes a set of steps to be followed by everyone who has access to an application or system. The goal of these steps is to reduce the likelihood that a malicious user exploits vulnerabilities in the application or system.

It may include the following steps:

  • Define application security management processes and procedures.
  • Implement a process for evaluating and improving the security of applications.
  • Design an application security test plan that allows you to verify your applications' security levels according to criteria established by your organisation's security policy and procedures.

Protocols and application security control data structure

Protocols and application security control data structure is a method of ensuring that the applications that are part of an organisation are secure. It involves the use of XML and other software to create a structured database that can be used to store information about the protocols and applications in use within the organisation. This ensures that all necessary information is stored in one place, which makes it easier for all levels of staff within an organisation to access it.

The protocol and application security control data structure is split into three parts:

  • Data Format (DF), which specifies the way that data is stored in memory.
  • Data Encoding (DE), which describes how data is converted from a string to binary or other representations.
  • Data Validation (VD), which describes how information should be verified before being used.

Assurance prediction framework

The assurance prediction framework in application security is an approach to the development of software that uses data about a project's current state to predict how the software behaves under different conditions. The goal of this framework is to provide developers with a more accurate way of predicting the behaviour of their code so that they can make informed decisions about what changes they should make and when they should make them.

The tool is based on three fundamental principles: all source code written by a developer, all test cases written by testers and analysts, and all production environments. Each of these sources are used to generate predictions about how the system will perform under different conditions. 

These predictions are then combined into a single report. The report will show how the different changes would affect the system's behaviour and why they occurred.

This approach has been shown to produce significantly more accurate results than traditional static analysis techniques like unit testing or static analysis tools like FindBugs or PMD.

Application Security Life Cycle Reference Model

The Application Security Life Cycle Reference Model is a step-by-step process used to help organisations develop applications that are secure, maintainable, and scalable.

The model begins with an assessment of the application security posture of an organisation. It then uses that assessment to develop an action plan for improving application security. After implementing the plan, the next step is to measure its effectiveness and adjust it as needed. The final step is to repeat this cycle until there is no more room for improvement.

What is the difference between ISO 27034 and ISO 27001?

ISO 27034 only outlines the security requirements of an application or software while ISO 27001 guides organisations on how they can manage their information security systems effectively as a whole.

ISO 27034 was specifically designed to meet the needs of organisations that have been exposed to risks in applications and software, while ISO 27001 includes guidelines on how they should deal with breaches and other problems in their systems.

ISO 27001 also provides guidance on how organisations can make sure their employees know what they need to do when something goes wrong with their computer system or another piece of technology used by their organisation.

The ISO 27034 standard is completely compatible with ISO 27001 and other international standards and frameworks for ISMS.



In summary, the ISO 27034 standard is used to evaluate the effectiveness of an application or software security controls. If an application does not meet the standards set by ISO 27034, then it may be a target for hackers. In most cases, this results in your organisation losing money and clients.

The ISO 27034 standard is a great place to start if you are looking to bring your organisation's safety and security practices up to speed. The standard provides an easy-to-follow set of best practices for application security and it also includes some great resources to help you implement them.

If you are interested in learning more about other information security standards, check out our article on ISO 27001.

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