More and more organisations are realising the benefits of achieving compliance with an international security standard, and more specifically the ISO 27001. It’s a standard that was first released in October 2005 so why is this still relevant today? – It continues to be largely driven by client requirements, the desire for a competitive advantage or simply wanting to ensure the most robust security practices for the company and its stakeholders.
What is ISO 27001?
ISO 27001, the international standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS), helps companies of all sizes, in any industry and virtually any country, implement and maintain an ISMS to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity and availability of their data and IT infrastructure.
ISO/IEC 27001:2022 – the newest version of ISO 27001 – was published in October 2022 and organisations that are certified to ISO/IEC 27001:2013 have a three-year transition period to make the necessary changes to their ISMS.
Why has ISO 27001 changed?
It now provides a more straightforward structure that can be applied throughout an organisation and can now also be used to manage a broader risk profile. This can include information security and the more technical aspects of physical security, asset management, cyber security, and the human resource security elements that come with privacy protection.
With more than 165 member countries, the ISO 27001 certification is globally recognised and sets a benchmark for international best practice. It quickly and easily identifies an organisation’s commitment to information security, providing assurance to stakeholders and a competitive edge over uncertified businesses.
ISO 27001 is a comprehensive framework of controls across people, processes, and technology that helps organisations to implement a coordinated and systematic approach to information security. The result of working within the framework not only safeguards data and provides assurance, but also manages and mitigates risk; controls damage, disruption, and costs in the event of a breach; and ensures legal and regulatory compliance.
The Benefits of an ISO 27001 certification to your business
Here we look in more detail at some of the key business benefits that ISO 27001 certification can deliver.
Information security – identify gaps and potential areas of vulnerability throughout the organisation, and implement appropriate controls to effectively manage, mitigate and/or remediate risks. With procedures and systems in place to help detect breaches and prevent attacks, their impact and any associated disruption to the business is minimised. ISO 27001 certification provides the highest level of assurance that data and infrastructure are safeguarded and handled with integrity.
Reputation – compliance with the required standard via independent, external auditing, gives clients and other stakeholders confidence in your security measures, building trust, and providing absolute peace of mind that their confidential and commercially sensitive data is secured.
Certification demonstrates a robust approach to cyber security, which can increase commercial opportunities and give your organisation the competitive edge when it comes to winning new business. ISO 27001 certification may also be mandated for suppliers and business partners in certain sectors, such as the UK government’s Minimum Cyber Security Standard.
Compliance – there are an increasing number of complex laws and regulations surrounding data protection and information security, including but not limited to the GDPR and Data Protection Act (2018). Any breach brings with it a very real threat of prosecution and potentially huge fines by the ICO for non-compliance.
British Airways for example was hit with a £20 million fine in 2020 when the ICO ruled that the company had inadequate security measures to protect customer data, which had enabled a hacker to steal the personal data of 400,000 BA customers. The rigid ISO framework helps organisations to effectively manage legal and regulatory requirements and ensure compliance.
Operational efficiencies – ISO 27001 certification requires policies and procedures to be documented, delivering one comprehensive and standardised set of security metrics across all processes, business functions and locations. This provides structure and consistency and allows for better communication of policies and objectives throughout the organisation.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities ensure accountability, streamline operations, and deliver efficiencies by eliminating duplication of effort, and ad hoc or unnecessary processes. Thorough planning also guarantees that in the event of a data breach or incident, the organisation has comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity procedures that will limit downtime and minimise service disruption to customers.
Staff awareness – the process of the ISO certification requires engagement at all levels of the organisation and promotes a widespread culture of security. Increased levels of staff awareness and appropriate training bring information security into sharp focus, putting it at the core of business. If staff think about security as an integral part of their daily working lives, they are more vigilant and alert to phishing scams and other social engineering attacks and less likely to click on suspicious links and websites.
With studies variously reporting that human error is the main cause of between 85-95% of cyber security incidents, the importance of education and awareness should not be underestimated in preventing data breaches.
Continuous improvement – ISO 27001 certification requires a holistic view of the organisation’s information security and a continual process of review and improvement. Performance evaluations monitor the effectiveness of your company’s ISMS to ensure ongoing adequacy as the cyber landscape evolves, more sophisticated threat vectors come to the fore and new regulatory and legislative requirements are introduced. Regular reviews enable you to identify nonconformities and address risks with corrective actions to continually strengthen your organisation’s cyber security posture.
How can we help?
Businesses often think that gaining the ISO 27001 certification is a huge undertaking that requires a large amount of effort, staff hours and documentation. However, the prospect of implementing a security governance program should not feel overwhelming, as there is a flexible and cost-effective alternative if you don’t have adequate internal resource and experience.
Integrity360 has a team of specialists who are experienced in delivering a wide range of ISO 27001 consultancy services from a gap analysis or risk assessment, to developing the framework and implementing the controls.
Integrity360 has helped numerous organisations to achieve certification and our involvement can be tailored to fit your specific requirements, giving you the flexibility to do as much or as little as you like, safe in the knowledge that our highly qualified experts are on hand to support your team throughout the entire process.