ISO 27001: What It Is And How To Get Certified

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Get your ISO 27001 certification.

Security is a vital part of business operations today. That said, securing your digital assets can’t be an isolated activity. Instead, it has to be a collective effort that follows best practices and established principles in the respective industry. This is where standards like ISO 27001 come in. ISO 27001 is an international security framework that helps you to secure your company’s assets. To get the certification, you need to follow multiple steps. Typically, it takes 6 to 12 months to get it.

Several renowned individuals from the international community created ISO 27001 and, in doing so, they set certain standards to avoid confusion and encourage cooperation and interoperability. Join me as I explain ISO 27001 in-depth and how to get a certification.

What Is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 is an international auditable standard of an Information Security Management System (ISMS). What does this mean exactly? As the name suggests, this standard is relevant worldwide. You can also leverage its benefits no matter where your business is located. Auditable means regular audits evaluate your efforts against a set of established goals. Every audit shows where you are concerning your goals. You can then take corrective action to boost your company’s security. 

ISO 27001 is more of a framework to help your company protect its resources. It recommends a set of practices to protect confidential data. These practices include using multifactor authentication, antimalware software, having a strong password policy, and more. These practices also help you protect your data from unauthorized access and manage your company’s information security.

Now, I’ll explain more about this framework’s 3 main goals.

The Top 3 Objectives of ISO 27001 

ISO 27001 is a framework that helps address 3 main objectives of information security:

  1. Availability: Only authorized people have access to the information. This goal ensures data is only available to those who need it for their work. 
  2. Integrity: Only authorized people can edit/change information. This goal ensures no one mishandles data. It also provides accurate data to the authorized people.
  3. Confidentiality: Only authorized people can view information. This goal limits access to sensitive data. It also decreases the chances of data loss or theft.

Before we go into how you can get a certification, let’s briefly look at how ISO 27001 fits into your company’s ISMS. I’ll explain next what ISMS is, so you can better understand the role of ISO 27001.

What Is an ISMS?

ISMS is a set of security controls that protect a company’s data. Companies often design, implement, manage, and maintain an ISMS to reap its benefits. ISMS also benefits your company since it:

  • Identifies data risks
  • Secures information in all forms
  • Enables quick response to evolving threats
  • Provides a centrally-managed framework for better control
  • Helps with compliance and internal audits
  • Protects data integrity and confidentiality
  • Reduces security costs
  • Improves productivity

You can implement an ISMS in many ways. That said, most companies follow the best practices of ISO 27001.

Now that you know what ISO 27001 is, are you wondering if you even need it in the first place? The answer is an overwhelming yes. I’ll explain why next as I give you 4 benefits.

4 Benefits of ISO 27001

ISO 27001 offers many benefits to your company. Here are 4 of them:

1. Complies with Laws

Governments around the world implement laws and regulations to enforce data security and privacy. Many governments also mandate contractual obligations for companies operating in some areas, like banking and insurance. 

These laws and regulations can be difficult to follow. They may also require a lot of business resources, making them expensive for you. In effect, ISO 27001 helps your company comply with all these regulations with its built-in security and privacy mechanisms

2. Reduces Costs

The costs of a data breach are high. They’re also likely to happen often, especially if you don’t have any security controls in place. Before you know it, you’ll spend a ton of money on fixing breaches.

Why handle costs when preventing them is much easier and cheaper? ISO 27001 greatly reduces the chances of a breach. Its security controls and best practices can also add multiple security layers to your company. This, in turn, helps you catch security weaknesses early and fix them. 

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3. Identifies Risks and Vulnerabilities

To stay ahead of cybercriminals, you’ll need a systematic approach. This isn’t easy or cheap, though. 

ISO 27001 achieves this for you. Its approach includes identifying the risk areas, mitigating them, and implementing controls to prevent them in the future. A concerted approach like this also helps you fix problems before cybercriminals find and take advantage of them. 

4. Adds to Your Reputation

In light of today’s international operations, you will need a standard to comply with the laws of all countries. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending a lot of resources on just legal and compliance matters. This also drains resources away from where you need them the most—your core business.

ISO 27001 is an international standard, so most business partners and customers know what it is. When you follow these principles, your customers will trust you with their data worry-free. 

The question is now, how do you tell the world that you follow these best practices? You need to get an ISO 27001 certification. I’ll guide you on how you can become ISO 27001 certified next.

10 Steps for Your Businesses to Become ISO 27001 Certified

ISO 27001 certification is an important asset for your business. You need to follow a series of steps to get your certification. Typically, it takes about 6 to 12 months for a mid-sized company to get a certification. This can vary though, depending on the company’s size and the nature of its operations.

I’ll explain the 10 steps you need to follow for your business to become ISO 27001 certified below.

Step 1: Understand the ISO 27001 Certification

Your first step is to read about ISO 27001 and understand what it’s all about. Talk to experts; you can also take a foundational course. Read more about the white paper about the standards. Many companies appoint an ISO 27001 champion. An ISO 27001 champion is someone with enough training and is your go-to person for any doubts or questions. Understanding the certification will provide you with a background on what it is and its requirements.

Step 2: Establish the Objectives

Before starting ISO 27001 implementation, get the objectives right. You want to identify, for example, what your specific goals are. What are you expecting from this standard? Find answers to these questions. Based on your answers, you should always do a security analysis to identify the gaps, so you know where this standard can help

During this phase, decide on the team members who’ll implement and manage this standard. You also have to define the scope and decide if it applies to a single department or if it will be a company-wide standard. This step will help you maintain control of the entire project. It also saves you time from any confusion later.

Step 3: Create a Framework

Based on your objectives, create a framework to implement ISO 27001. Start with a list of processes you need for implementing ISO 27001. Then, create a schedule for carrying these processes through. Ensure you have an auditing process for each stage. This process helps to confirm you’re on track. It can also save your company time and money. 

Step 4: Do A Risk Assessment

After creating your framework, do a thorough risk analysis of the department/company. Identify the risks and their possible causes. Note that ISO 27001 recommends a risk assessment process, but it’s not a formal one. In other words, you can also have your own process to identify risks. 

In addition, this process must be meaningful and must cover all areas of your operation. You should also research some of the common fault points in your industry. Finally, check if your company has these faults and fix them right away. When done with this step, you’ll be able to set a clear plan on how to move forward.  

Step 5: Mitigate the Risks

Once you identify the risks, establish the controls required to mitigate them. For example, you can streamline access to files and machine ports, use multifactor authentication for remote logins, and so on.

At the same time, document the new risks you find and the controls/actions you’re taking to address them. ISO 27001 also requires you to generate two important reports—Statement of Applicability (SoA) and Risk Treatment Plan (RTP). This is crucial since the auditor will want to check your risk responses when you apply for the certification.

Step 6: Apply Regular Training 

Conduct regular training for your employees and document the date, time, attendees, and place. These training sessions aim to improve awareness about potential security risks in your company. This is also a good way to educate your employees to identify and report potential security problems.

Some companies create a company-wide course and mandate all employees to take it. This also falls under ISO 27001’s training requirements.

Step 7: Use Documentation

Documentation is the key to getting your business ISO 27001 certified. Therefore, ensure you note down everything—every assessment, action, training, and anything else you do to improve your company’s security. You can take advantage of many ISO 27001 templates for a fee. You can also use them to fill in your content. You’ll require this documentation to support the necessary ISMS process, policies, and procedures.

Here’s a list of possible documents you need to get an ISO 27001 certification.

  • Informational security policy of your company 
  • Well-defined ISMS scope
  • Detailed security risk-assessment process
  • Secure mitigation plan
  • Clear Statement of Applicability
  • Direct operational planning and control
  • Final assessment, mitigation, and control results
  • Well-documented internal audit process
  • Final management review results
  • Clear evidence of corrective action and their impact

Step 8: Monitor and Review

ISO 27001 recommends you continue improving your process. That means you should continue to analyze, review, measure, and monitor risk levels. Ensure you also document this process. This step aims to prove the effectiveness and compliance of your certification.

Step 9: Do an Internal Audit

ISO 27001 requires you to do periodic internal audits. Stick to the recommended schedule and follow the process. In this respect, the person doing the audit must demonstrate good knowledge of the audit process. If you don’t have someone already, ensure you appoint an expert. This will also help facilitate the process of getting your certification

Step 10: Register for Certification

Finally, you’ve got 2 audit stages to make. In the first stage, the auditor will evaluate your documentation. The auditor will then decide if it meets the requirements. If not, they’ll ask you for some changes like adding more documents, recording other information, etc. 

After this, you’ll be ready for the second stage of the audit where you apply for the certificate. The ISO 27001 panel will then evaluate your documentation and certify your company if everything meets the standards.

Once you get the ISO 27001 certificate, showcase it to the world, and leverage its competitive advantage for your business! 

Final Words

An ISO 27001 certification will give your company a strong competitive advantage. The certification process is elaborate, but you can achieve it with a systematic approach. Make sure to document every action you take though. 

In this article, I provided you with all that you need to know about ISO 27001. I also explained the certification’s goals and benefits to know if they align with your own company’s goals, benefits, and expectations.

Finally, and most importantly, I detailed the 10 steps you need to follow to get a certification for your company. This will definitely come in handy when you’re aiming to get the ISO 27001 certification.

Have more questions about ISO 27001? Check out the FAQ and Resources section below.

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FAQ

Is ISO 27001 certification an international standard?

Yes, the ISO 27001 certification is an international standard. It’s also known as the international standard for information security. This standard lays down the specifications for an ISMS, which is a set of security controls that protects your company’s data. 

Is ISO 27001 mandatory for all companies?

No, you’re not obliged to get an ISO 27001 certification. That said, it offers significant benefits for your company. For example, it helps you cut costs and use your resources effectively. It creates a better sense of trust among your partners and customers. This certification also provides you with a competitive advantage

What’s the duration to become ISO 27001 certified?

It can take any time from 6 to 12 months to get an ISO 27001 certification. The exact duration depends on your company’s size, nature of the industry, and complexity of operations. You have to follow a series of steps to apply for certification. These steps include risk assessment, mitigation, establishing controls, and documenting your steps. You can also check out other top IT certifications for your company here.

What does ISO 27001 encompass?

ISO 27001 is a framework that gives broad guidelines to help you manage your security. It includes all the physical, digital, and legal controls you need to protect your confidential data from cyberattacks. For example, you can have USB drive locks to ensure no one can install malware through a USB device. This control will also prevent insider attacks as displeased employees can’t copy sensitive information on a removable drive.

Do I need ISO 27001 certification?

Yes. Though it isn’t mandatory, your company will benefit greatly from an ISO 27001 certification. It provides you with a competitive advantage in your market, and in the long run, the certification will instill trust and confidence among your business partners and customers.

Resources

TechGenix: Guide on Improving the Relationship between IT and IT Security

Understand the relationship between IT and IT security in a post-COVID-19 world here.

TechGenix: Article on the Biggest Security Breaches of 2021 

Read this article to know the biggest security breaches of 2021 and how you can avoid them and learn from them. 

TechGenix: Article on Data Lifecycle Management

Learn about the policies and procedures to boost security and compliance here.

TechGenix: Guide on Most Widely Used IT Frameworks and Standards

Click here to get an idea of the most widely used IT frameworks and standards for IT pros.

TechGenix: Article on GDPR across Borders

Learn all about GDPR across borders in this article.

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