ISO 27001 is the de facto standard for information security for companies worldwide. It was released by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and it gives companies guidelines to protect their systems from cyber threats. Companies are not legally required to follow this standard, but most major clients and vendors need them to adopt it before they can enter into a partnership agreement.
Why Businesses Need ISO 27001
ISO 27001 teaches businesses of all sizes how to safeguard their data in a structured and cost-effective manner. It also helps them develop, implement, and operate an Information Security Management System (ISMS). Businesses can get certified for compliance with ISO 27001, which communicates to their clients, vendors, partners, and customers that they protect their sensitive data in the best possible way.
Business leaders can also be individually ISO 27001 certified if they take a course from a reputable institution and pass the exam. The course will teach them how to implement or audit an ISMS in their organization. According to the ISO 27001 framework, the goal of an ISMS is to uphold these three data principles in a company:
Confidentiality: No one besides authorized parties should be permitted to access sensitive data.
Integrity: Only authorized personnel should be allowed to change data in a company’s system.
Availability: Relevant data should always be available to authorized personnel whenever they need it.
Benefits of ISO 27001
When businesses implement ISO 27001 into their practices, they benefit in the following ways:
Compliance with data protection laws
Government regulators mandate businesses to protect their customers’ personal information and adopt certain security measures in their operations. Fortunately, many of these requirements overlap with the ISO 27001 framework. When businesses implement ISO 27001, they will also be complying with data protection laws and avoiding sanctions.
Reduced security-related costs
All security incidents are costly to resolve, so it is best to prevent them. ISO 27001 is designed to help businesses avoid security incidents, so implementing it in a company will help it save money. Moreover, it costs less to invest in ISO 27001 than to resolve the security issues that would occur otherwise.
If a business is ISO 27001 certified and has competitors that are not, they may be a better option to consumers because of their commitment to keeping sensitive data safe.
Improved organizational structure
Some businesses that rapidly scale up tend to lose structure, and many employees will not have defined roles. This can cause security lapses that cybercriminals can potentially exploit. Developing and implementing an ISMS that is ISO 27001-compliant can restore structure to such businesses. The Information Security Management System will define everybody’s role in upholding security and conducting other business functions, thereby increasing productivity.
How to Implement ISO 27001 and its Controls
ISO 27001 is designed to uphold the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of a company’s data. You can start implementing it by conducting a risk assessment to determine the potential security incidents that can compromise the data. Following this assessment, come up with possible solutions to prevent those incidents.
In summary, the ISO 27001 framework is built on a process for managing cybersecurity risks in an organization. It requires you to identify and eliminate those risks by implementing security controls. There are 114 controls under the ISO 27001 framework, but companies are only expected to use the ones that address the identified risks.
However, ISO 27001 demands that companies list the controls they intend to use. These controls are security practices that minimize the risks they face to levels that are easy to handle. They are divided into 14 domains and could be human-related, organizational, technological, or physical.
To implement human-related controls, businesses must give their employees the knowledge, skills, education, and guidance to perform their daily tasks responsibly and securely. They can do this by making their employees attend ISO 27001 internal auditor training and awareness training workshops and other programs that teach them how to be security-conscious.
Organizational controls can be implemented by creating security policies and rules for employees. Business leaders should also outline the behaviors they expect from their employees when they use company equipment, software, and other components of their IT infrastructure.
Companies can implement technological controls by installing hardware, software, and firmware components like firewalls and antivirus programs to their IT systems. Lastly, they can implement physical controls by installing objects that strengthen their security systems, like alarms and CCTV cameras.
What it Means to Be ISO 27001 Compliant
For a business to be ISO 27001 compliant, it must abide by the requirements outlined in the standard. Part of these requirements is for a company to write and manage documents that detail the plans, policies, and activities they will use to bolster their cybersecurity posture. See the full requirements list here.
What it Means to Be ISO 27001 Certified
Being ISO 27001 certified is different from being compliant. Once a business has fulfilled all the requirements of the standard, it can invite an accredited certification body to audit it. After a successful audit, the certification body will issue them an ISO 27001 certificate that verifies their compliance. It is worth noting that the International Organization for Standardization does not issue compliant certificates; they only publish standards.
Is ISO 27001 Certification Mandatory for Businesses?
Most countries do not mandate businesses to adopt this standard. However, some might have regulations for companies in specific sectors that require them to implement it. You should consult local legal experts before setting up a company.
Besides the legal ramifications from the government, some private companies may require you to be certified before they can work with you. This is mainly because they want to avoid the security incidents that can occur because of negligence, and the resulting legal action and reputation damage.
Businesses that value cybersecurity should ensure they are ISO 27001 compliant because the standard provides in-depth guidance on protecting them from cyber threats. Once they are compliant, they can ask a certification body to audit them and issue a certificate they can present to business partners and consumers to affirm their commitment to operating safely and securely. Cybersecurity incidents come in different forms, and organizations that are unprepared to deal with them can suffer severe damages that can put them out of business.
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