Digital cyber security background.
Mike Mariano
Listen to: "Optimize Your Organization’s Information Security Management System"

Regardless of the size of your organization, your computing system is vulnerable to a long list of threats, including data breaches and viruses. In June 2016, Security Intelligence referred to a Ponemon Institute study that found the average consolidated cost of a data breach spirals to $4 million for cyber-attacks and other system intrusions targeted at medium and large sized companies.

Those numbers are daunting, but you can lead your team to success – while avoiding financial and reputational risk, as well as a dip in company morale—by developing, implementing and enforcing effective tools like an Information Security Management System (ISMS).

What Is an Information Security Management System?

An Information Security Management System provides IT leaders with a standardized set of policies and procedures to systematically manage information security and other related IT risks. An ISMS’s focus on precisely designed and coordinated activities within your organization arms you and your team with an effective information security strategy.

When thoughtfully developed, implemented and enforced, an ISMS streamlines your efforts to protect all aspects of your company’s information security for ongoing confidentiality, integrity and availability.

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) describes ISMS as being part of an overall management system, working from a business risk approach. “The goal of ISMS is to establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and improve information security, according to the International Organization for Standard (ISO) definition,” per the IIA’s ISMS Overview.

Who Is Involved with ISMS in Your Organization?

TechTarget points out that the fundamental goal of an ISMS is to minimize risk and ensure business continuity. IT leaders often develop ISMS teams that comprise IT staff, board members and managers. Together, you will all design, implement and maintain a set of policies, in compliance with ISO 27001. With commitment and practice, you can turn ISMS compliance into an integral part of your company culture, which focuses on your organization’s collective duty toward maintaining strong information security at every level.

What Role Does ISO 27001 Play in an ISMS?

ISO 27001 is a family of international standards, developed by the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), to support efforts to keep information assets secure. While adhering to ISO 27001 is voluntary, it is the industry standard when it comes to guiding companies toward ways to enhance and comply with their ISMS.

The PDCA Cycle Is the Formal ISMS Approach Recommended by ISO 27001

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a four-stage repeating model that focuses on continuous improvement (CI), as defined by TechTarget’s PDCA is sometimes called the “Deming Circle” or “Deming Wheel,” in honor of American engineer and statistician W. Edwards Deming, who developed this unique approach to management systems. Deming’s major focus in his work revolved around processes. More specifically, he continually worked for ways to improve processes and documenting his own results, organically adhering to his own process.

Take a moment to look at what exactly is involved with Deming’s PDCA model:

  • Plan. Sit down with your ISMS team to define your organization’s problem. Next, collect relevant data that might help you discover the source of your information security issue.
  • Do. Develop and launch a solution. Remember to create a control measurement to gauge the effectiveness of your solution.
  • Check. Perform a side-by-side comparison of the issue before you implemented your solution and after, using your control measurement.
  • Act. Document the results of your solution before informing your team members about the process changes. Make notes about any potential changes that need to be made during the next PDCA cycle.

While you may not use this specific model, you will probably use some variation of it since it epitomizes the process of ISMS and often aligns with the process of an internal auditor’s risk assessment approach.

What Benefits Are Commonly Associated with ISMS?

Anytime you can help steel your information security, there are benefits. ISMS is teeming with benefits that include:

  • A Transparent Process. Everyone in your organization has a stake in your information security with ISMS. From the executive board to every employee who works with confidential company and customer information, you can look at the clear chain of data handling. The process provides a monitoring and reporting model that reveal operational details for management review and presentation.
  • Confident Compliance. Combined with risk management controls, an ISMS helps you to ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability of your organization’s information.
  • A Common Purpose That Leads to Success. The common set of goals and the structured approach to protect organizational data integrates people, the process and technology to provide enterprise information security.
  • A Full IT Security Management Framework. The extensive framework allows your team to manage information security compliance on a daily basis so little comes as a surprise.

What Types of Businesses Need Information Security Management Systems?

Any size company in any sector that electronically collects, stores, transmits, or processes data related to customers benefits from strong Information Security Management Systems.

What Does an ISO 27001 Risk Assessment Entail?

When performing an ISO 27001 Risk Assessment—or calling in an experienced and trusted auditing team to objectively perform this review to ensure ISMS effectiveness—your goal is to uncover gaps between your current information security policies and processes compared to those related to the ISO 27001 framework. With a thorough risk assessment, you will end up with a phased roadmap that drives you directly toward closing any gaps.

Start Planning Your Next ISO 27001 Risk Assessment to Solidify Your ISMS

Whether you plan to tackle your next ISO 27001 Risk Assessment on your own, or you need an objective perspective for this assessment, I.S. Partners, LLC. can help. Contact us to learn more about our ISO 27001 approach, the benefits of an assessment, our Seal of Excellence upon completion, or anything else on your mind.

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