ISO 27001 is the leading international standard which focuses solely on information security and to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. It is commonly used by organisations in an information security management system to assist in the management of the security of assets such as financial information, intellectual property, employee details or information entrusted by third parties. ISO 27001 formally specifies an Information Security Management System (ISMS), a suite of activities concerning the management of information risks and identifies, analyzes and addresses its information risks. The ISMS ensures that the security arrangements are fine-tuned to keep pace with changes to the security threats, vulnerabilities and business impacts. This is done by finding out what potential problems could happen to the information (i.e., risk assessment), and then defining what needs to be done to prevent such problems from happening (i.e., risk mitigation or risk treatment). Therefore, the main philosophy of ISO 27001 is based on a process for managing risks: find out where the risks are, and then systematically treat them, through the implementation of security controls (or safeguards).
The ISO first released its family of standards in 2005 and since then has made periodic updates with its latest major changes released in 2013. The standard covers all types of organizations (e.g. commercial enterprises, government agencies, non-profits), all sizes (from micro-businesses to huge multinationals), and all industries or markets (e.g. retail, banking, defence, healthcare, education and government).
Why is ISO 27001 important?
The ISO 27001 is necessary to provide companies with the know-how for protecting their most valuable information and assure to its customers and partners that it safeguards their data. Because it is an international standard, ISO 27001 is easily recognized all around the world, increasing business opportunities for organizations and professionals.
Generally speaking, most organisations and businesses will have some form of controls in place to manage information security. These controls are necessary as information is one of the most valuable assets that a business owns. However, the effectiveness of such a policy is determined by how well these controls are organised and monitored. By implementing ad hoc security policy will only address certain aspects of IT or data security and can leave valuable non-IT information assets like paperwork and proprietary knowledge less protected and vulnerable. The ISO/IEC 27001 standard was introduced to address these issues. You should aim to build an ISMS that improves your overall business condition by increasing your ROI and helping you stand out in the crowd, so you need to implement it perfectly.
What are the 3 ISMS security objectives?
The basic goal of ISO 27001 is to protect three aspects of information:
- Confidentiality: only the authorized persons have the right to access information.
- Integrity: only the authorized persons can change the information.
- Availability: the information must be accessible to authorized persons whenever it is needed.
What is an ISMS?
An ISMS is a holistic approach to securing the confidentiality, integrity and availability of corporate information assets. It is a set of policies, procedures and other controls involving people, processes and technology that a company needs to establish in order to:
- identify stakeholders and their expectations of the company in terms of information security
- identify which risks exist for the information
- define controls (safeguards) and other mitigation methods to meet the identified expectations and handle risks
- set clear objectives on what needs to be achieved with information security
- implement all the controls and other risk treatment methods
- continuously measure if the implemented controls perform as expected
- make continuous improvement to make the whole ISMS work better
This set of rules can be written down in the form of policies, procedures, and other types of documents, or it can be in the form of established processes and technologies that are not documented. ISO 27001 defines which documents are required, i.e., which must exist at a minimum.
Why do we need ISMS?
There are many essential business benefits that a company can achieve with the implementation of this information security standard:
Benefits gained from implementing an ISMS
- Credibility, trust and confidence of your customer
- Greater awareness of security
- Compliance with legislation
- Securing confidentiality, integrity and availability
- Prevention of confidentiality breaches
- Prevention of unauthorized alteration of critical information
- Prompt detection of data leakage and fast reaction
- Competitive advantage – deciding differentiator in contract negotiations
- Meeting international benchmarks of security
How to Become ISO 27001 Certified
Receiving an ISO 27001 certification is typically a multi-year process that requires significant involvement from both internal and external stakeholders. It is not as simple as filling out a checklist and submitting it for approval. Before even considering applying for certification, you must ensure your ISMS is fully mature and covers all potential areas of technology risk.
The ISO 27001 certification process is typically broken up into three phases:
- The organization hires a certification body who then conducts a basic review of the ISMS to look for the main forms of documentation.
- The certification body performs a more in-depth audit where individual components of ISO 27001 are checked against the organization’s ISMS. Evidence must be shown that policies and procedures are being followed appropriately. The lead auditor is responsible for determining whether the certification is earned or not.
- Follow-up audits are scheduled between the certification body and the organization to ensure compliance is kept in check.
The information security management standard lasts for three years and is subject to mandatory audits to ensure that you are compliant. At the end of the three years, you will be required to complete a reassessment audit in order to receive the standard for an additional three years.