As a start up or small business owner, you’ll be asked again and again about your information security certifications. One of the most internationally recognised certifications is the ISO 27001 information security certification which requires the creation of an information security management system (ISMS). While you may pursue certification in order to please potential customers, the benefits of ISO 27001 extend beyond a checkbox exercise, supporting the organisation to become more secure overall.
While ISO 27001 in itself does not make you more secure, it provides the framework for the organisation to better understand the risks in your technical environment and operational model and from there to manage security more effectively.
Following the ISO 27001 framework can provide you with an assessment of the overall security posture, direction for information security policies, and the tasks required to secure the organisation and build a security culture. We explore these benefits of ISO 27001 for organisations.
ISO 27001 encourages an understanding of the business
The process of gaining ISO 27001 certification as well as the requirements of the certification itself will require the business to understand how and where information security fits in with the business.
ISO 27001 guidance requires organisations to assess their business risks before creating policies and implementing information security controls. The process of identifying and assessing those risks will help the organisation gain a better understanding of what is important to the business, what is vulnerable to attack, and what needs to be protected.
The outcomes of the risk assessment combined with preparation against the controls in ISO 27001 will help the organisation take stock of the security protections in place, including visibility into any that need to be changed or updated. The overall view of the security posture and annual cycle of audits and reviews ensure that the benefits of ISO 27001 continue through regular evaluations of the business’s information security posture.
ISO 27001 supports improving processes and strategies
ISO 27001 is policy driven, requiring the creation and establishment of a set of information security policies. While policies are only as good as the paper they are written on, and they need to be followed in order to be effective, they also set out the statement and vision for how the organisation wants to secure itself. This direction is crucial for building a security culture in the organisation, and for providing important evidence for customers who want reassurance that their suppliers are an asset rather than a security liability.
A further benefit of ISO 27001 are the requirements for a clear framework to consider information security risks, management processes, and IT operations. The ISO 27001 controls are comprehensive, requiring clearly documented processes codifying security requirements in security areas including access controls, enforcement of the principle of least privilege, provisions for secure working, information classification, secure development, and more.
These clearly defined security controls provide direction and instructions to all employees, ultimately supporting both them and the organisation to be more security conscious.
The ISO 27001 framework is a proactive approach against attack
The ISO 27001 framework supports the organisation with forward planning based on risk assessments. The evidence is then used to create policies, processes, and security controls which address the organisation’s vulnerabilities and ultimately protect it against cyber attack.
The ISO 27001 framework considers all aspects of security, including business continuity planning and incident response. The organisation is encouraged to prepare for attacks, again based on risk assessments and known vulnerabilities, and ensures that the organisation is prepared to address any form of attack.
Furthermore, the annual audit cycle encourages continuous improvement to the organisation’s cybersecurity protections, and ensures that the organisation can keep up with latest best practices.
ISO 27001 includes employees in security efforts
The ISO 27001 framework includes a strong emphasis on employee training and responsibility designed to create a security culture in the organisation.
Throughout the ISO 27001 framework there are requirements for the organisation to define employee roles and responsibilities, not just within security teams or management, but for all employees across the entire organisation. Several controls in the ISO 27001 framework specify employee training and responsibilities, and the requirement on management to support employees through policies, education, and information. Combined, these controls provide the foundations for a security training programme.
Ensure you gain the full benefits of ISO 27001
Done properly, the process of gaining and maintaining ISO 27001 certification can have benefits that extend beyond ticking the box on a customer’s checklist. Using the ISO 27001 framework will support the organisation to build a security programme that is based on an assessment of business and security risks, and the policies, procedures, controls, and company cultures required to mitigate those risks.