ISO 27001, also known as - ISO/IEC 27001- is a globally recognized and accepted information security standard as a part of the ISO/IEC 27000 family. With the joint efforts of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), ISO 27001 serves as an effective framework for information security by expanding and decentralizing its scope. ISO 27001 provides an effective framework for Information Security Management System -ISMS- as a systematic approach to information security that aims to organize, standardize and ultimately improve information security management systems (ISMS) across the world.
As the security threat landscape evolves and the challenges increase everyday, effective information security practices and procedures become critical for businesses. While organizations try to deal with the external security threats such as cyber attacks, the information security becomes even challenging when internal threats come into the play. With advancing technologies and digital transformation taking place, internal threats within the organization itself such as accidental data breaches or human errors resulting from lack of security information unfortunately represent huge risk for information security. Having said that ISO 27001 is designed to manage information security as a whole, it covers much more than the IT departments of the organizations. ISO 27001 provides international specifications for ISMS while adhering to relevant legal legislations such as General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and NIS Regulations as well.
ISO 27001 offers a systematic and holistic approach to protect and manage all information formats a business deals with, from written documents to the data held in the cloud. It puts people, processes and technology in its center all together to cover the whole organization. This approach aims to place security and compliance best practices to everyday working processes. The information is examined across 3 different aspects within the framework:
Information is expected to be available to only authorised people and entities and disclosed to others.
Information is expected to be complete, not including any inaccurate variances.
Information is expected to be easy to access and use when needed.
While other ISO/IEC set of standards -namely ISO/IEC 27002 offers code of conduct and guidelines for security practices- ISO/IEC 27001 only provides the specifications for a solid ISMS. The specific requirements provided by ISO/IEC 27001 are intended to help organizations implement their security practices continuously and effectively.
By its design, ISO 27001 standards are applicable to businesses of all sizes and all industries. Being compliant helps organizations to increase their resilience to cyber attacks and protect their sensitive information through their effective ISMS practices. Compliance with these standards help businesses to adapt their ISMS procedures to evolving security risks, as continuous practices and monitoring are required. The policies, procedures and controls (both physical and technical) required by ISO/IEC 27001 standards eventually leads to an integrated culture of security awareness across the whole organization. Moreover, the organization-wide approach to ISMS helps to reduce the efforts and cost of inefficient security management while keeping the information qualified.
As a risk management approach, ISO/IEC 27001 specifies controls for organizations and expects them to compare these with their existing control measurements and provide a reason for the missing controls if they are not applicable. With the latest version that was released in 2013, the ISO/IEC 27001 compliance provides 114 best practices controls in 14 control sets together with Annex A. These controls are also classified in 10 clauses to support implementation and maintenance of effective ISMS across the organization. These clauses are designed to cover every aspect of a business, including human resource security to information security incident management.
ISO/IEC 27001 helps businesses to continuously track their ISMS and take preventive actions against emerging risks when needed with the information security controls. The Annex A control sets cover all key areas of business operations as follows:
A.5 Information security policies
A.6 Organization of Information Security
A.7 Human Resources Security
A.8 Asset Management
A.9 Access Control
A.11 Physical and Environmental Security
A.12 Operations Security
A.13 Communications Security
A.14 System Acquisition, Development, Maintenance
A.15 Supplier Relationships
A.16 Information Security Incident Management
A.17 Information Security Aspects of Business Continuity Management
Once an organization meets the specified requirements, it can undertake an audit by an accredited external certification body.
Achieving compliance with ISO 27001 starts with a scope and requirement definition. Organizations are expected to conduct risk assessments to determine which controls are required within their business processes.
Organizations then undertake a third party evaluation of implemented required controls and documentation of each controls. At this point, staff training for security awareness and reporting of internal controls such as Statement of Applicability and risk treatment plans are important to prove and maintain compliance. The auditors formally test and check the compliance with requirements specified by ISO/IEC 27001. Auditors look for evidence of an effective information system through its design, implementation and its operation in organizational context to confirm that the organization’s ISMS comply with ISO/IEC 27001 standards.
Besides the official third party compliance review, ISO/IEC 27001 standards also expect organizations to continuously follow the specified best practices through monitoring, review and audits. Periodical re-assessments take place in order to ensure the certified organization remains compliant. To achieve continuous compliance with these standards, organizations are also expected to implement preventive or corrective measures when necessary.
Even though the certificate is not mandatory, ISO 27001 stands as a 3rd party validated proof that your organization adheres to international information security standards. ISO/IEC 27001 serves as a guideline for organizations to effectively manage and control their information assets, implement an organization-wide information security policy and constantly improve their attack resilience, while supporting relevant legislations as well. Last but not least, ISO/IEC 27001 leads organizations to improve their ISMS which eventually increase their trustworthiness and reputation in the mind of customers. Becoming ISO/IEC 27001 compliant is an appreciated effort to secure business information, protect data and deliver greater business value for the customers.
A fresh new graduate and specializing in marketing, Deniz is excited to learn and share her knowledge on business technologies and technology culture. With her experience in technology companies during her school years, she is always excited to learn more about how technology transforms businesses.
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