Jointly published in 2005 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), ISO27001 is an internationally recognised standard for establishing and maintaining a robust information security management system. Having undergone several revisions since its inception, ISO27001 is the leading global information security management standard, with certification to the standard considered the benchmark of information and data security management best practice.
What is an Information Security Management System (ISMS)?
The vast majority of businesses implement a range of controls designed to protect the integrity, confidentiality and security of information. Often these are introduced in a haphazard, fragmented way, with little to no overarching policy guiding their deployment. Businesses are often inconsistent with the protections used to safeguard information, often prioritising digital information at the expense of physical data. The result is a patchwork of protections, protocols and measures that adequately safeguard some data, leave much partially protected and leave much out with the scope of any meaningful form of protection.
An information security management system provides a comprehensive framework for implementing and managing a range of controls, procedures and policies designed to protect an organisation’s sensitive information across all formats.
ISO27001 contains three key information security principles…
Using the ISO27001 framework, businesses across all sectors can construct an ISMS that allows them to govern and safeguard the information they hold in a consistent and methodical way.
At the centre of ISO27001 are three key principles that define the main objectives the ISMS should seek to achieve. These are as follows:
This principle dictates that sensitive information should only be accessed by authorised individuals with a legitimate usage need.
The integrity principle requires that information be protected against unauthorised modification or corruption in order to ensure its ongoing accuracy and reliability.
This principle demands that information be readily available to authorised individuals when they need it. Data backups and failover systems designed to ensure information access continuity are critical to upholding the availability principle.
What are the business benefits of implementing ISO27001?
Creating an ISO27001-compliant ISMS carries numerous business benefits. Some of these are unlocked through certification against the standard, whilst others are gained simply by undertaking the process. These include:
Gaining ISO27001 certification can be useful in helping organisations demonstrate compliance with a number of UK laws and regulations that pertain to information security, including GDPR, the UK data protection act 2018, PCI DSS and the Network and Information Systems Regulations 2018.
Gain a competitive advantage
ISO 27001 certification demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to information security best practice, which can provide a tangible competitive advantage in industries where the presence of highly sensitive information makes data security a top priority.
In some sectors, ISO27001 certification is almost compulsory in order to win contracts, with healthcare, finance, medical research and telecommunications some of the fields where compliance with the standard is most often stipulated.
The standard can also be helpful when tendering for contracts that require Cyber Essentials certification, as many aspects of ISO27001 are strongly aligned with the requirements of the Cyber Essentials scheme.
Reduce the threat of cyber breaches
By taking a comprehensive and diligent approach to information security, ISO27001 can mitigate against the threat of cyber breaches by ensuring all data is under the protection of appropriate technical and organisational measures. With risk management integral to the ISO27001 process, consideration is given to the risk status of data and the types of threat it may be subject to. ISO27001 can protect organisations from the financial harm that can often accompanies security incidents, such as legal costs, loss of sales and the lingering effects of reputational damage.
Avoid fines and sanctions
The information commissioner’s office (ICO) has the power to impose fines and sanctions on organisations that fail to comply with the requirements of the GDPR/UK data protection act 2018. One such requirement of GDPR, known as the ‘security principle,’ requires organisations to protect personal data by means of ‘appropriate technical and organisational measures.’ Establishing an ISO27001-compliant information security management system can help an organisation demonstrate compliance with this principle by showing that a systematic and proactive approach to information security was in operation at the time of any incident, thus preventing fines and sanctions being imposed.
Inspire confidence in existing and prospective clients
IS027001 is a widely recognised and understood standard that is often considered the quality benchmark of information security management. Obtaining certification can help an organisation provide assurances to existing and prospective clients that their data is/will be in safe hands. This can often translate to new custom and improved client retention in an age where information security is a primary concern among businesses and consumers alike.
Ongoing information security posture improvements
ISO27001 requires that organisations continually evaluate their information security posture and look for ways to make improvements in response to evolving threats. This helps to ensure information security measures remain commensurate with the risk landscape, and avoids the onset of complacency.
We hope this article has served as a useful and concise introduction to information security management systems and the benefits of creating and operating one to ISO27001 standards. If this has piqued your interest, why not read our next article where we take a look at what’s involved in the ISO27001 accreditation process.
Interested in ISO27001?
Here at Defence Logic, we help businesses like yours tackle information governance and security challenges head on. With our tried and tested framework, we can help you develop an ISO27001-compliant information security management system quickly and efficiently, with minimal impact on your business’s operations. Get in touch today to find out more about our services.