“ISO reports a 78% year-on-year increase in US-based ISO 27001 certifications,” according to IT Governance USA.
There are some solid reasons that are supporting this strategic decision. The advantages of an ISO 27001 certification is just as salient for U.S. businesses as they are for international corporations.
Growing U.S. Compliance with International Standards Outlined by ISO
In the past five years, we have noted a significant increase in the number of American-based organizations seeking ISO certification. And we aren’t the only ones in the industry to spot this trend. According to a survey by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), more U.S. companies are obtaining certification each year.
Though ISO 27001 was developed as an international standard, more and more companies operating in the U.S. are recognizing its benefits. Certifying the strength of one’s information security management system has proven to be a valuable undertaking for companies in industries such as IT, transportation, communications, and healthcare.
Why Would a Company Want to Be ISO Certified?
ISO 27001 is a specification for an information security management system (ISMS) published by the International Organization for Standardization. An ISMS is a framework of policies and procedures that includes legal, physical, and technical controls involved in an organization’s information risk management processes.
None of the ISO standards are mandatory for U.S. businesses. So, you may be wondering what the advantages are. Because it is an international best-practice standard for information security, there are some clear results that would make it worth the effort. For starters, ISO certification shows clients, investors, employees, trustees, third parties, and other stakeholders that you take information security seriously.
No matter what the size of your organization, how you spend your money is an important decision. ISO 27001 certification is not mandatory, so why should you do it?
4 Valuable Advantages of Getting ISO 27001 Certified
Whether you need to convince people in the C-Suites or whether you are trying to convince yourself it is worth it, here are some reasons why an ISO 27001 certification may be right for your organization.
1. ISO27001 Supports Regulatory Compliance.
While each of these regulations has distinct requirements of their own, all of them require a process for managing information security and data protection. Implementing an information systems management system will give you a head start on ISO compliance with these and other regulations.
2. It Helps Protect Your Organization’s Data and Reputation.
Data breaches are expensive, but the longest lasting costs are those that are difficult to estimate, including reputation damage and customer loss.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), along with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), developed this family of standards to protect information assets. The ISO/IEC 27000 series is a full suite of standards specifically designed to keep help businesses keep data assets secure as more and more people and businesses become a part of the technological framework.
To achieve ISO 27001 certification, your organization needs to show that it has clear security processes in place. Roles and responsibilities need to be defined. And your organization needs to demonstrate controls to manage risk and breach management procedures if one is detected.
3. It Provides a Competitive Edge.
This comprehensive industry-respected family of standards can help your IT team in their efforts to manage the security of assets associated with employee details and human resources, financial information, intellectual property and trade secrets, and any information placed in your care by third parties.
Getting ISO 27001 certification shows that your business is serious about protecting stakeholders’ data and that can help you win their trust. Being able to say that your organization has independent verification of its security measures may be an advantage over competitors. Plus, it’s an international standard for managing information security that is globally recognized, which is important if you do business with companies outside of the United States.
4. It Combines Data Privacy & Cybersecurity.
ISO 27001 is the perfect tool to weave together the challenges of maintaining privacy and implementing cybersecurity measures necessary protection for customer data. This management standard provides a general framework that helps to protect information relating to privacy.
What Is the Best Way to Start Implementing ISO Standards?
When you look at this family of standards, you may be initially overwhelmed. However, there is a simple six-step process to implementing ISO 2700 standards and qualifying for certification.
Step One: Define your information security policy.
At this stage, you will look at how a robust security policy will support your business objectives. Talk to management and get their support for moving forward.
Step Two: Decide what you wish to have covered by ISO 2700 standards.
Take a close look at your existing information security management procedures and system. How does this compare to the latest requirements and recommendations for ISO’s information security standards? You should also make decisions about which departments, units and systems you wish to bring up to these standards.
Step Three: Do a risk assessment.
Look over your inventory of data that needs to be protected. You should rank your data assets according to both value and the level of risk you face.
Step Four: Manage your risks.
What risks did step three bring to light? Address those risks by identifying appropriate management strategies, resources and priorities. You should make specific people responsible for specific tasks associated with protection. You will also need policies in place to mitigate your risks in the future.
Step Five: Choose the controls that will be put into place.
Formalize your decisions into a Statement of Applicability (SoA). This document lays out the security procedures that will be applied and how they’ll be implemented. This should be done whether you are creating your procedures for your organization’s internal benefit or if you are seeking ISO certification. This can be an internal document used to make your procedures clear.
Step Six: Put your plan into action.
By implementing the controls that you identified in step five, you can begin protecting your business and keeping you and your customers’ data more secure.
What Is Involved in an ISO Audit?
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:
- Document Review – the certification auditor reviews the business’s prepared documentation to see if it is ISO 27001 compliant.
- Main Audit – determines 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.
What Is Required for ISO 27001 Certification?
The ISO27001 standard has a good deal of flexibility however there are some hard and fast requirements:
- Define the scope of your information security management system in a statement of applicability.
- Develop security policies.
- Implement a risk assessment/risk treatment process.
- Assess the skills required and the competency of resources.
- Conduct training and maintain records of training.
- Conduct audits of your information security management program.
Why Some Companies Choose Not to Adopt ISO 27001
While voluntary, one-third of organizations that are aware of ISO 27001 do adopt the constantly refreshing set of standards to help stay on track and not miss a beat to protect sensitive company data at all times and to prepare for audits. It may seem odd that so few organizations would reach out to such a comprehensive standard, but SC Magazine provides a few compelling primary reasons that companies might avoid striving to join companies that have adopted ISO 27001:
- Management worries about the perception of their company if they do not receive certification
- The ongoing costs of maintaining certification to receive updates
However, what these companies often fail to realize is that, with the amount of employee time and resources, the costs are often similar to those of becoming certified and maintaining certification. All that work, and the companies lose valuable time they might spend attending to regular daily tasks to further the goals of the company on a more active level. With ISO 27001 certification, CIOs and IT teams can simply refer to a readily available collection of verified standards within a certified framework if any questions or concerns arise from management or third-parties.
Build a Solid ISO 27001 Strategy with I.S. Partners
If you need more information about ISO 27001 and how it can help your business, I.S. Partners, LLC. can help. We can perform an ISO 27001 risk assessment to reveal the status of your system’s current information security policies and systems management processes, compared to the ISO 27001 framework. Once we determine any gaps or other inconsistencies, we can start working toward alignment with ISO 27001 standards.
We will work with you on project planning, facilitating interviews with process owners, analyzing the reports and much more.