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Preparing for ISO 27001 Certification: What Do Organizations Need to Do?

The effort that organizations need to put into protecting customer information, as well as their own business information, may seem like overkill. Small businesses sometimes weigh the potential risk of a data breach and the costs associated with proper preventative measures. Some are tempted to cut corners on security in favor of other budget items.

On the other end of the spectrum, large organizations may experience quick periods of growth and realize they have outgrown their latest solution. They may also struggle to see the benefit of reevaluating recently implemented information security measures.

At both extremes, and for companies of every size in between, it is important to identify, implement, and regularly evaluate the tools, regulations, and frameworks intended to safeguard customer information. This is exactly why the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) developed the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards.

What Is Involved in the ISO Audit Procedure?

ISO 27001 certification goes beyond drafting an information security document that details security controls and objectives. To achieve ISO 27001 certification, a business works with an auditor to perform two-stage audit:

Stage 1 Audit

A Stage 1 audit is also known as a Document Review. Here, the certification auditor reviews the business’s prepared documentation to see if it is ISO 27001 compliant.

Stage 2 Audit

Also referred to as the ‘Main Audit,’ a Stage 2 audit checks to determine whether a business’s activities are compliant with both the prepared documentation and ISO 27001.

At the end of a successful main audit, the auditor certifies that the organization has maintained an effective and stable ISMS at a certain point in time, and has adhered to the ISO 27001 management standard.

ISO Audit Preparation

Business leaders ready to obtain ISO 270001 certification may be unsure of how to begin the process, wondering if they should start compiling documents right away and if they can handle it on their own. It can be challenging to determine the best way to approach this project.

Here are some key steps that will get businesses up, running and on the way toward ISO 27001 certification:

1. Decide on the Right Time for Compliance.

Whether a business has experienced a recent data breach, or is simply considering the risks facing their organization, committing to ISO 27001 certification is the first, and most important step.

2. Document Everything.

Documentation is an essential factor in ISO 27001 certification. Remember that the review of documentation comprises the first stage of auditing, so keeping records of all issues, concerns, and risks, as well as individual controls, is vital.

3. Familiarize Employees to the Process.

It is important to include employees in the process as early as possible to highlight the value of obtaining ISO 27001 certification. Set the tone for the organization by explaining its commitment to data security, protecting customer privacy, and improving the health of the business.

4. Hire or Appoint an ISO Manager or Representative.

This specialized role requires someone with specific know-how. It can be filled by an internal IT manager who has experience with ISO and ISMS procedures, or an external advisor whose focus is ISO risk assessments and certification. It’s imperative that this ongoing project be led by someone dedicated to overseeing it through to success.

5. Conduct Annual Management Reviews of the Management System.

A good place to start when planning for ISO certification is with your organization’s yearly review of the quality management system. Top management should be involved in looking over the polices, updating the objectives, reviewing any new potential risks, and recent regulation changes, as well as highlighting critical points for remediation. At this point, they can also determine a schedule for performing more in-depth gap analysis, risk assessment, and internal auditing.

6. Perform a Gap Analysis and a Risk Assessment.

Performing a gap analysis, then a risk assessment, guides organizations in identifying threats, vulnerabilities, and risks to data assets. The results of these testing processes validate the scope of the implementation and the functional and operational boundaries.

Gap analysis and risk assessment should be performed during the early stages of compliance. These work as internal benchmarks to help the organization understand where there is room for improvement as it develops and begins to implement a quality management system.

7. Request an Internal ISO 27001 Audit.

An ISO 27001 internal audit involves an auditor reviewing the risk, controls, security vulnerabilities of a fully developed quality management system. The goal is to identify and remediate any serious non-conformity issues prior to beginning the external audit. It also gives personnel the opportunity to go over the ISO 27001 internal audit questions and prepare for interviews conducted during the ISO assessment.

Although an in-house auditor can do this, a trusted external auditing firm ensures that the process is clear, smooth, and managed efficiently. He or she can also provide experience-based insights to help the business achieve a better outcome at each step in the certification process and save time on future assessments.

8. Address the Gaps.

Once the internal audit has highlighted the issues that need to be remediated, your team should develop a corrective action plan. Take the time to ensure that each step is followed through to fix any recurring non-conformity problems. If these issues are addressed before the external audit, it could delay the certification process and require last-minute solutions to be developed and implemented.

9. Track Progress.

At each point, progress reports should be provided for the top management involved. Keep them informed on the security team’s progress toward objectives and findings from gap analysis, risk assessments, and internal audit procedures. Documenting progress is also important because auditors expect to see improvement over time.

10. Prepare to Make a Good Impression.

You want your company to make a good impression on auditors and have workspaces organized before embarking on the ISO certification process.

Are You Getting Ready for ISO 27001 Certification?

ISO 27001 certification does take a good deal of dedication and hard work from you and your team, but the results are worth it. If you are wondering where to start, the ISO 27001/27002 experts at I.S. Partners, LLC. are here to help.

Call us at 215-675-1400, or fill out the quote request form to talk about what you need to obtain ISO certification.

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