ISO 27001 compliance is one way to determine if your organization is keeping up with industry standards. It is a complex standard, so achieving compliance is not a simple process. Before we go further, let’s unpack why ISO 27001 compliance is a worthwhile goal.
Three Reasons Why ISO 27001 Compliance Matters For Your Company
There are many different IT security standards in the market. For example, GDPR in Europe requires certain security safeguards. In the U.S., the GLBA Act has security requirements for banks and certain financial services companies. However, traditional laws and regulations generally do not provide detailed technical guidance for IT security. That’s where ISO 27001 comes into play.
1) Maintain IT Security Credibility With Customers
IT security breaches are embarrassing for everybody, including your customers. If you are gathering or processing important data from customers, then they are going to ask how you protect that data. Offering a detailed explanation of your company-specific cybersecurity standards is not smart since those procedures are proprietary. Instead, it is better to state that your IT security is compliant with leading standards like ISO 27001.
2) Identify Your IT Security Blindspots Compared To A Major Standard
When you are deep in the details of day to day cybersecurity work, it is tough to spot problems. You are used to your processes and may not see anything wrong with them. Therefore, comparing your company’s approach to a global standard like ISO 27001 is powerful. It helps you make a comprehensive self-assessment against one of the world’s major standards.
3) Increase Your Company’s Acquisition Prospects
If you are pursuing a company goal to be acquired, IT security is critical. No acquiring company wants to purchase a company filled with IT security weaknesses. To pass the due diligence process, your IT security processes need to be top-notch. What better way to demonstrate that you are keeping up than aligning your IT security program with ISO 27001?
Now that you know why ISO 27001 compliance matters, let’s move on to a few practical ways you can achieve compliance.
ISO 27001: Four Ways To Prove You Are Compliant
Due to the complexity of the ISO standard, we cannot cover every expectation here. Instead, let’s focus on the most significant features of the standard. By reaching compliance with these expectations, you can demonstrate to your management, customers and other stakeholders that you are making ISO 27001 compliance a priority.
1. Risk assessment
Start by reviewing the risk assessment processes outlined in the standard. For example, you need to build a process to regularly identify and measure the IT security risks your company faces. Keep in mind that some industries, like banks, may face heightened IT security risks since they are regularly targeted by threat actors. As you build your risk assessment process, make sure you consider internal risks such as inactive user account risk.
To demonstrate compliance with this requirement, put in a formal process and schedule in place to regularly update your information security risk assessments.
2. Security policy
To achieve compliance with ISO 27001, your organization needs a comprehensive security policy. To help non-technical professionals understand the policy, consider using risk-based language. For example, point out that an IT security incident can harm the company’s reputation. Also, consider adding guidance on when to use specific security technologies like multi-factor authentication. For more guidance on this topic, check out our article: How to Update Your IT Security Policy With Multi-Factor Authentication.
To achieve compliance with this requirement, make sure your security policy is communicated across the company. Also, set up a process to update the document on an annual basis, or more frequently if needed.
3. Access control
Facilitating the right user access at the right time is a vital part of ISO 27001 expectations. Unfortunately, this is an area organizations tend to struggle with. For example, when people change jobs within your company, it is vital to change access control accordingly. To make this process easier, consider using an access management software solution.
Demonstrate compliance with access control by keeping detailed records of all access control changes. To avoid confusion, keep all access changes in one system so it can be reviewed easily by compliance and IT auditors. If these oversight functions cannot locate the appropriate records, you are likely to face a finding.
4. Information security incident management
Nobody looks forward to suffering an IT security incident. However, the damage from such an incident will be dramatically worse if you lack an incident management plan. In this plan, outline who is responsible for what activity. For instance, you may engage an outside communications firm to assist you with communicating with the public. You might also keep an IT incident response consulting firm on retainer if you lack this capability in-house.
To provide ISO 27001 compliance, clearly document responsibilities, key contacts and action steps your team will take to handle an information security incident whenever one occurs. By having an incident response program in place, your organization will stand a better chance of reducing the damage caused by incidents.
Additional ISO 27001 Compliance Areas To Review
In addition to the principles covered above, there are other ISO 27001 expectations you will need to cover. These include the following areas noted below.
● Organization of information security
● Asset management
● Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance
● Human resources security
● Physical and environmental security
● Communications and operations management
● Business continuity management
Why IT Security Software Tools Are Critical For ISO 27001 Compliance
Meeting the expectations of a complex IT security standard like ISO 27001 is difficult for the largest organizations. The greatest challenge lies not in achieving compliance but instead keeping your IT security program up to date over time. If you rely on manual processes such as documenting user account requests in a spreadsheet, it will be tough to find the time to stay current. By using IT security software, your staff will have more time and energy available to scan the environment for threats, develop IT security training, and manage security proactively.