The effort that most organizations need to put into protecting customer information, as well as their own business information, may seem anywhere from overwhelming to overkill.
Small businesses may look at the potential for a data breach and wonder if they can afford to take the risk on cutting corners to keep to their limited budget.
On the other end of the spectrum, large organizations may experience growth too quickly to realize they have outgrown their last solution, or they simply scoff at the thought of needing to revisit recently covered information security matters.
At either extreme, and for every sized-company in between, it is important to find tools, standards, regulations, frameworks and anything else possible to safeguard customers’ information. Thankfully, one crucial standard for customer information protection is ISO 27001.
What Is the ISO 27001 Standard?
The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) developed a series of information management standards, in cooperation with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), created the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards to help organizations protect various information assets.
The set of standards intends to guide organizations in managing the security of all assets, including customer data, employee details, organizational financial information, intellectual property, and data related to or entrusted to the organization by third parties.
ISO 27001 is an important standard in the ISO/IEC 27000 series, focusing on the protection of sensitive information gathered from customers that an organization collects, stores, transmits, or processes. This standard lists auditable requirements related to Information Security Management Systems (ISMS).
While ISO 27001 is not required for organizations, it is highly recommended to help businesses establish a set of security controls and objectives, based on the organization’s specific operations intended to manage the risk of the information.
It is a reliable and widely adopted standard—with organizations from all industries and from around the globe that are ISO 27001 certified—that serves as a roadmap for businesses.The ISO 27001 fills gaps between a company’s own information security policies and systems management processes and the controls connected to the latest version of the official ISO 27001 framework.
What Is ISO 27001 Certification?
ISO 27001 certification goes beyond drafting an information security document that details security controls and objectives. Documentation is just the beginning of achieving and maintaining ISO 27001 certification. The follow-through to that documentation a, so it is important that IT leaders verifiably implement all the activities detailed in the prepared documentation.
Once it is time for ISO 27001 certification, an 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 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.
Why Is ISO 27001 Certification Important?
There are many safeguards available to protect the information technology industry: firewalls, antivirus programs and backups were all designed to protect systems and networks. However, even with these types of security elements in place, data breaches still happen and, worse, they still wreak havoc.
Technology on its own is not enough to protect confidential data.
Businesses need a more tangible and practical means of safeguarding customer information on a daily basis. The reasons for this need for protection beyond technology are two-fold:
- Employees do not necessarily know how to use the available technology in the most secure possible way.
- Technology has limitations when it comes to preventing or stopping an insider attack.
Who Needs ISO 27001 Certification?
Businesses of all sizes, and in all industries, benefit from obtaining and maintaining ISO 27001 certification since a data breach can happen to any business that collects, stores and processes customer data.
Even if a business does not perform sales or business transactions online, it still likely houses customer information, intellectual property and other confidential information that can be compromised via daily online work, email-based attacks or remote network access from employees working off-site.
With that, any business working with customer records, or anything else they want to safeguard, should consider learning more about ISO 27001 certification and how to obtain it.
What Are the Benefits of ISO 27001 Certification?
There are many benefits that accompany achieving ISO 27001 certification, including the following:
- Maintained budget, thanks to avoiding costly incidents, such as data breaches.
- Improved brand reputation with customers, clients and invested third parties, thanks to the receipt of the auditor’s Seal of ISO 27001 Certification.
- Reduced risk of encountering negative incidents that require expensive emergency public relations damage control.
- Stabilized and smooth operations allow employees to work more peacefully and calmly since they understand protocols and procedures.
- Provided with the ability to catch issues early and work to find short-term and long-range improvements to benefit employees, customers and third parties.
How does a Business Become ISO 27001 Certified?
Business leaders ready to obtain ISO 270001 certification may wonder how to begin the process, wondering if they should start working on the Document Review right away and on their own. While that is not necessarily a fully incorrect approach, there are better ways.
Take a look at some key steps that will get businesses up, running and on the way toward ISO 27001 certification:
Decide on the Right Time for Compliance.
Whether a business has experienced a recent data breach, or has simply looked at the facts about risks facing today’s organizations, the decision to commit to ISO 27001 certification is the first and most important step.
Hire or Appoint an ISO Manager or Representative.
This specialized standard needs someone in-the-know, so whether it is an IT person with an ISO and ISMS emphasis, or someone whose career focuses on ISO, be sure to have someone committed to overseeing this important, ongoing project.
Perform a Gap Analysis and a Risk Assessment.
Performing a gap analysis then a risk assessment can help organizations find threats, vulnerabilities, risks to data assets. The results of these testing functions validate the scope of the implementation and the functional and operational boundaries.
Introduce Employees to the Process.
It is important to include employees in the process as early as possible to inform them of the importance and value of obtaining ISO 27001 certification. Let employees know how invaluable their interest and commitment to protecting customers’ data is to the health of the business.
Documentation is an essential factor in ISO 27001 certification. Remember that the Document Review is Stage 1 of the audit, so keeping records of all issues, concerns and risks, as well as individuals controls, is vital.
Schedule and Perform an Internal ISO 27001 Audit.
The ISO 27001 Audit consists of an auditor reviewing and assessing the risk, noting controls, issues, and remediation to highlight any recommended improvements required. Although an in-house auditor can perform both stages of the audit, a trusted external auditing firm can help an organization move through the process relatively quickly and with far less stress and confusion. He or she can also provide experience-based insights to help businesses achieve a better outcome for each certification period and long into the future.
Proceed with the ISO 27001 Certification.
Now is the point where all the other steps pay off: the opportunity to pass the ISO 27001 certification audit. The independent assessor who performed the audit issues a certificate stating that the business has met the ISO 27001 controls and requirements for the auditing period.
Are You Ready to Do What It Takes to Achieve ISO 27001 Certification for Your Organization?
ISO 27001 certification does take a good deal of dedication and hard work from you and your team, but you will love the results. If you are wondering where to start, our ISO 27001 team at I.S. Partners, LLC. is here to help.