Key Takeaways

1. ISO/IEC 42001 guides organizations looking to manage their creation and use of AI-based systems.

2. The ISO/IEC 42001 standard helps address the main privacy and security risks of AI-enabled systems.

3. I.S. Partners is fully equipped to help service organizations comply with ISO 42001. From gap analysis to performing audits for certification, our professionals can help you.

What is ISO/IEC 42001?

ISO/IEC 42001 is a globally recognized standard that provides guidelines for AI-powered tools and technologies. The standard was designed for organizations using, providing, or developing AI-powered services.

ISO/IEC 42001 was published in December 2023 to address the growth of AI for business. Its focus is on promoting the responsible, transparent, and accountable development, provision, and use of AI systems. The standard provides guidance for developing and implementing an integrated program for managing AI throughout the organization.

isoiec 42001

Who Needs ISO/IEC 42001?

Companies utilizing, developing, or providing AI technology-powered services would benefit most from the ISO/IEC 42001. Every company can benefit from implementing an AI management system like that described in ISO/IEC 42001. 

However, the standard is optional, so companies can decide whether their exposure to AI risk warrants doing so.

Some of the common reasons why companies may choose to implement the standard include:

  • Creation of Responsible AI Systems. ISO/IEC 42001 is the first international standard for implementing responsible AI for companies developing AI systems. Approximately 52% of Americans are more concerned than excited about AI’s potential, and embracing ISO/IEC 42001 can enhance the brand image by demonstrating a commitment to responsible AI development.
  • AI-Enhanced Product Integration and Development: Most SaaS providers and other software vendors are exploring how AI can improve their product offerings. ISO/IEC 42001 offers a framework for these organizations to manage the risks associated with AI integration — such as hallucinations, bias, and poor training data — to their products and customers.
  • AI-Enabled Product Users: Today, most individuals and companies probably use at least one product with built-in AI, whether they know it or not. Implementing ISO/IEC 42001 can help organizations manage their adoption of AI-based solutions, including both authorized and unauthorized use of AI in the workplace.

What are the Potential Security Risks of AI, and How Does ISO 42001 Help?

AI has the potential to improve business processes across many different industries. However, it also poses significant potential risks to an organization. 

Some of the most common risks of using AI include:

  • Data Leakage: An organization’s employees may enter sensitive information into AI-enabled solutions, or a product may use AI to analyze data already at its disposal. These systems may use this information for training purposes as well, potentially resulting in it being exposed to other users.
  • False Positives: AI systems are trained to build an internal model that enables them to classify data, make decisions, or respond to questions. However, this doesn’t mean that the AI system will always be right. Incorrect responses from an AI system could result in a business making poor business decisions or missing a cyberattack that the AI relied upon to detect and block.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Companies are subject to various data privacy laws that limit the collection and use of customers’ personal data. The use of this data in AI systems or the use of AI to make certain business decisions may violate regulatory requirements.

ISO/IEC 42001 helps to manage these risks of AI by providing the organization with visibility into and control over its use of AI. With full knowledge of its AI usage, the organization can define policies and security controls to protect against data breaches, implement defense-in-depth to manage the risks of AI errors, and ensure that all AI usage is compliant with applicable regulations.

Benefits of ISO/IEC 42001 Certification

By adopting ISO/IEC 42001, an organization gains control over its use of AI, enhancing corporate cybersecurity and ensuring responsible use of the technology. 

Some other benefits of the standard, according to the organization, include:

  • Responsible AI. The main purpose of ISO/IEC is to manage the creation, implementation, and use of AI systems. An organization promotes responsible and ethical use of AI technology by implementing a management framework for these systems.
  • Reputation Management. The AI news cycle oscillates between the potential benefits of the technology and the risk that it might be what destroys humanity. Implementing an AI management system demonstrates that an organization understands and manages the risks while reaping the benefits of AI.
  • AI Governance. The use of AI can create uncertainty about an organization’s compliance with various regulations. For example, using human-like intelligence to process sensitive data may violate requirements to manage access to protected health information (PHI) and similar information. An AI management system helps to ensure that an organization’s use of AI is aligned with regulatory requirements.
  • Practical Guidance. With AI-enabled products in their infancy, the risks associated with the use of these systems can be difficult to determine. ISO/IEC provides practical guidance on how organizations can effectively manage these risks.
  • Identifying Opportunities. AI has the potential to reshape businesses and enhance productivity across many industries. ISO/IEC promotes AI usage and innovation while ensuring responsible, ethical usage and risk management.

Impact of ISO/IEC 42001 on ISO/IEC 27001 Compliance

ISO/IEC 42001 and 27001 are two management standards with overlapping focus areas. If an organization chooses to implement both standards, controls from one might impact an organization’s approach to another.

ISO/IEC 27001 is one of the most famous ISO/IEC standards in existence. It defines practices for developing information security management systems (ISMS). Companies worldwide seek out ISO/IEC 27001 compliance to demonstrate that they protect their customer’s data and corporate systems against potential cyber threats.

ISO/IEC 42001 and 27001 have different areas of focus — AI vs. information security — which lead to differences in the types of policies, processes, and controls that they recommend. For example, ethical considerations are a central component of ISO/IEC 42001 due to the potential for bias or abuse of AI-based systems.

That said, significant overlaps also exist between the two standards. Introducing AI into an organization’s business operations introduces various new security threats, including the potential for data breaches and incorrect decisions created by AI.

When implementing ISO/IEC 42001 and 27001, organizations must consider the overlaps between the two and should develop an integrated approach to both information security and AI management. For example, a complete inventory of the AI-enabled systems in use, their applications, and potential associated risks should feature prominently in a risk assessment for ISO/IEC 27001 compliance.

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How Long Does ISO/IEC 42001 Certification Take?

The duration of the ISO/IEC 42001 certification process can range from 6-10 months for SMBs and longer for larger organizations. This estimate can significantly vary depending on other factors. 

Some factors that affect the length of the certification process include:

  • Organizational size and complexity
  • Industry
  • Existing AI usage

Since the majority of this process is the organization’s responsibility, the time to compliance depends on how long an organization takes to design, implement, and document its AIMS. Once this is complete, the audit should take a couple of weeks, depending on when the documentation and certification audits are scheduled and if anything goes wrong.

How Much Does ISO/IEC 42001 Certification Cost?

ISO 42001 certification requires an audit by a certified auditor who sets their prices for the audit, which can vary for many of the same reasons as the duration.

However, the cost of the audit isn’t the only cost of certification. An organization must also achieve and document compliance with the standard before the auditor enters the picture. 

This also has its costs, whether in terms of in-house personnel training on and implementing the standard or the organization contracting with a third-party provider to develop, implement, and document the required controls.

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The Future of ISO/IEC 42001 AI Management System

From a compliance perspective, ISO/IEC 42001 and similar regulations and standards will likely evolve to define better what is and isn’t an acceptable use of AI. While some laws — such as the GDPR — limit the use of “automated decision making” for certain purposes, more explicit guidance on evaluating AI risks or explicitly banning the use of AI in certain contexts is likely to emerge.

AI regulation — and AI technology — is still in its relevant infancy. For example, in March 2024, the United Nations adopted a resolution on the responsible usage of AI, and many countries are following suit, releasing their own AI roadmaps and laws designed to regulate its usage. However, since the technology is relatively new and evolving, these regulations are likely to change significantly in the future.

ISO/IEC 42001 is a pioneer in the AI regulation space, defining best practices for organizations to manage their AI footprint. These focus mainly on defining leadership, policies for the responsible and safe use of AI, and resources for supporting the organization’s AI management system.

Over time, as AI systems evolve and become more ubiquitous. The ISO/IEC 42001 standard is likely to evolve into or be augmented by another standard focused on more AI-specific security controls and more closely aligned with evolving data privacy and AI regulations.

Critical Preparation Steps for ISO/IEC 42001 Compliance

During the AI boom, ISO/IEC 42001 compliance can help differentiate an organization and demonstrate its commitment to responsibly using technology. Some key next steps for ISO/IEC compliance include:

  1. Become Familiar with the Standard: ISO/IEC 42001 is a public standard available for purchase from the ISO website. Acquiring and reviewing a standard copy provides insight into best practices for AI management.
  2. Audit AI Compliance within the Organization: An organization may operate as an AI provider, producer, customer, or any combination of the three, and mapping out the organization’s current and planned exposure to AI aids in determining how the standard applies and the benefits of compliance.
  3. Develop a Plan for Compliance: Bringing all of an organization’s AI-related activities under centralized management can be a complex process, especially if an organization is fulfilling multiple roles (producer, provider, or consumer). A phased rollout may be necessary when developing and tailoring processes and controls to meet the company’s needs.

I.S. Partners can help your organization to achieve and demonstrate compliance with various regulations, including ISO/IEC 42001. Learn more about starting your ISO/IEC 42001 compliance journey today.

See ISO/IEC 42001 Compliance Through the Lens of the Industry Experts – I.S. Partners

I.S. Partners has been at the forefront of the compliance game. Our team has already adapted to the use of AI in compliance, making sure that we can cater to all service organizations – with or without the help of this technology.

ISO/IEC 42001 may be a new standard, but our professionals from I.S. Partners can help you through the certification process and help you comply. Build and implement responsible and transparent AI management systems in your business today. 
Contact us today and schedule a free demo to understand how we can help you.

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