It is no secret that the issue of information security of enterprises is one of the most pressing in the business world. Companies have different approaches to solving issues related to the storage and processing of confidential data, and in this article we will talk about such a voluminous process as ISO 27001 certification.
What is ISO 27001 and how is this standard used?
ISO/IEC 27001 is an international standard that establishes certain requirements for the creation, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an information security management system (ISMS) of an enterprise, as well as for the ongoing assessment of information risks and risk management.
ISO 27001 certification is largely relevant for large organizations, but as technology advances, it is becoming an increasingly popular solution for small and medium-sized companies.
ISMS: definition and purpose
To one degree or another, information security risk management tools are present in any modern enterprise. Simply put, every company somehow takes care of the security of information assets, somehow protects access to its systems, etc. However, all these actions are rather fragmented, targeted and unsystematized. The ISMS aligns all elements of an organization’s information security system in such a way as to ensure that all system policies, procedures, and strategies operate as one entire system.
Why is standardization important for business? Benefits of ISO 27001 certification.
When your business meets certification requirements, there are many benefits. First of all, businesses and clients with whom you already do business or are just planning to do business will be aware that your organization takes information security seriously. Accordingly, you can be trusted with this or that confidential information, and in general, it is safer to do business with you than with your competitors. At the same time, the presence of an independent assessment gives this fact additional weight. However, it is still a pretty obvious benefit. Let us move on to more complex things.
1. Assets and reputation protection
ISO 27001 certification takes your company’s security to the next level. Using the recommendations of the standard, you improve the security policies of your enterprise, improve technologies and equipment, and train your staff. Accordingly, due to the fact that your security system will be modernized, and employees savvy in matters of cybersecurity, attackers will be less likely to penetrate your organization and cause damage to your business.
2. Pushing boundaries for business
Many countries have their own data protection standards, failure to comply with which can result in significant fines. For example, the European GDPR has a lot in common with ISO 27001. That is, having received a certificate, you can be sure that your company will not violate certain laws, and, accordingly, can safely conduct business in the selected country.
3. Increase the number of connections
As a result of improving the reputation of the enterprise, as we noted above, the following, no less important advantage follows — an increase in the number of potential customers and partners. Accordingly, your business can receive more income and grow and develop faster. It should also be noted that some companies, including large and serious business players, fundamentally do not do business with those who do not have ISO 27001 certificate. Thus, by standardizing a business, you transfer it to another league, where for your company new possibilities open up.
4. Improvement of processes in the company
ISO 27001 forces your enterprise to optimize many processes and actions of employees related to cybersecurity. That is, your staff will have a clear understanding of their information security responsibilities, as well as instructions and scripts for certain tasks, or in case of an emergency. The distribution of roles among employees, as well as their training, greatly increases the flexibility of your company, as well as ensuring business continuity.
5. Risks assessment
Specifying exactly which assets are exposed to certain risks allows you to optimize the consumption of resources, and spend them only where it is really needed. In addition, a clear understanding of the significance of each risk and their specificity allows you to create policies that are suitable for your company, which, accordingly, will be as effective as possible.
In this way, with certification, your organization can demonstrate to all stakeholders that it is doing its due diligence on information security, as well as maintaining confidentiality, integrity, and secure access to its information assets.
ISO 27001 certificate allows your company to attract the attention of partners or customers, and is also an additional competitive advantage.
In addition, periodic audits under the standard will help you identify potential risks in a timely manner and respond to changes in the regulatory environment.
How to prepare a company for ISO 27001 certification?
Becoming ISO 27001 certified just for show is a very dubious undertaking, since this is a complex task that includes different types of work, requires the involvement of a large number of people and long, expensive preparation. Therefore, it is so important to draw up a detailed work plan at the very beginning: what people will work on, on what tasks, when it will happen, and what is the deadline for the project.
To better understand how to prepare for certification, you need to take a closer look at the standard itself. ISO 27001 has two parts:
- Body — a kind of strategy, the main part of the standard;
- Annex A — a list of 114 potentially applicable controls.
Your enterprise must comply with all parts of the Body, and selectively with some controls. But the choice of controls, of course, needs to be justified. That is, if you cannot apply some of the controls from ISO 27001, you will have to explain why you cannot do this, or come up with some kind of alternative solution.
You must understand that ISO 27001 is a set of requirements and conditions for the information security management system itself and the processes in your company. This standard does not offer solutions. You yourself must decide what you will write in your policies, and what exactly to implement in your company in order to comply with the requirements of the standard.
A sample plan for preparing for ISO 27001 certification:
- Purchase of the current text of the standard on the official website of the International Organization for Standardization. Studying the standard.
- Choice of a certifying body.
- Hiring some certification consultants who, based on their experience, will help with all parts of the standard, strategy development.
- Assessment of company risks.
- Working on policies, writing their texts, working with all documentation.
- Correction of internal processes.
- Information training and education of the company’s employees.
- Resolution of all issues related to the modernization of software, technics and equipment.
- Waiting for evidence of the functioning of policies.
- Passing a certification audit.
It is very important to involve experienced consultants who will have references from the certifying authorities and will really be able to work with your company thoroughly. Please note that ESKA provides qualified ISO 27001 certification preparation services. During the preparation process, we communicate a lot with the client and use automated solutions from Vanta, which speed up and reduce the cost of certification.
Also note that ISO 27001 standard is related to a number of related standards, including:
- ISO 22301 — Business continuity management systems.
- ISO 31000 — Risk management. Guidelines.
- ISO 27003 — Security techniques. Information security management systems.
Perhaps, specifically for your company, it will be relevant to familiarize yourself with an additional number of standards. However, familiarity even with these standards will allow you to more thoroughly approach the preparation of policies. Alas, their texts will also have to be purchased.
By the way, ISO 27001 certification cost is not something that can be accurately predicted, since it depends on so many factors: from fees to the certifying body and consultants to the cost of equipment upgrades, software upgrades, travel expenses and much more. Even if you calculate the approximate cost, it would be better to budget a certain reserve.
Conducting an audit as part of certification
The main document with which the auditors will work is the Statement of Applicability. There are 114 controls that we have already mentioned are specified here, and it is written how they apply or do not apply in your company. All controls are usually tied to documents and policies that describe how and with what they are implemented. The auditor checks everything that is written in the SoA, how it complies with the ISO 27001 standard, and whether it is actually observed.
Evidence of adherence to policies is provided by the records that the company collects before the audit within a few months after the implementation of new policies and rules. If you refer to certain standards in your documents, their texts should be attached to the policies.
It turns out that at first the auditors work with all documents. And then they look at how these documents are implemented in the company itself, in its daily life and work processes. The second stage can be very time-consuming, and depends on the size of your company, as well as the amount of equipment and additional services that you use.
In any case, the preparation for the visit of auditors should be as thorough as possible. Because if it turns out that you did not take into account something, the whole process will have to be curtailed, then correct the shortcomings and start the audit again.
ISO 27001 compliance automation
As we have already noted, we work with solutions from Vanta. Using which, when preparing documentation, you can automate about 80% of the work. At the same time, you do not lose quality, since the templates are customized for your specific conditions and tasks. Accordingly, policies and procedures will be tailored to your needs as much as possible. And you can save time and money on preparation. Moreover, many auditors are already familiar with the automation platform we use, so the audit process will be easier. Which in turn will result in less time and money.
As a final word, we note that ISO 27001 certification of an enterprise is a useful undertaking both for the business itself and for satisfying the needs of customers and business partners. If you have a need for standardization, ESKA experts will guide you all the way to certification.