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What is ISO 27001 Compliance? A Complete Guide

Jason Coggins
| Read Time 6 min read | Updated On - January 22, 2021

What is ISO 27001 Compliance? A Complete Guide

What is ISO 27001?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) consists of representatives from various national standards organizations. With the exception of acronyms, they develop and publish international standards for pretty much everything. ISO 27001 is the international standard for information security management systems (ISMS).

Who does ISO 27001 apply to?

One might assume that it only applies to IT companies, such as software companies and cloud service providers. However, it’s important to note that ISO 27001 is about protecting sensitive data, and since most companies collect, process, and store sensitive data in some way or another, ISO compliance can benefit all companies regardless of their size or industry. For example, we often see pharmaceutical companies, health organizations, and government bodies adopting the ISO 27001 standard.

What are the benefits of ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 compliance gives consumers, business associates, and stakeholders, confidence in your ability to protect the sensitive data you are entrusted with. This can help to give your company a competitive advantage.

With the global average cost of a data breach now standing at $3.86 million, having a robust data security strategy is no longer optional. Were you to experience a notable data breach, it’s not just your company’s reputation that is at stake

There are costs associated with investigating and eradicating security incidents, costs incurred by the loss of business, perhaps due to disruption caused by system downtime. There are costs associated with notifying customers and any relevant stakeholders.

In some cases, businesses will offer some form of compensation to those affected in order to maintain their loyalty, which might include product discounts or free credit monitoring services. And let’s not forget the legal ramifications of a security incident, which might include costly lawsuits and fines.

How do you achieve ISO 27001 compliance?

Assemble an implementation team

Firstly, you will need to appoint a project manager, whose job is to oversee the implementation of the ISMS. They should have a deep understanding of data protection principles, as well as the ability to communicate clearly and with a sufficient degree of authority.

They may at times be required to present a persuasive argument to company executives to ensure that they have the resources necessary to achieve their goals. The next step would be to assemble a team of security personnel, who will be required to create a project mandate, which defines the goals of the ISMS and outlines the resources that are required to fulfill them.

Establish an implementation plan

Using the project mandate, the implementation team can create a set of detailed policies that outline the rules for its continual improvement. They should outline the roles and responsibilities of employees and provide instructions that describe how employees should adhere to the policies. They will need to develop policies that deal with acceptable use, password management, and incident response, including the protocols for internal and external communication.

Define the scope of the ISMS

You will need to ensure that you have a detailed inventory of all relevant assets and resources. For example, you need to ensure that you know exactly what sensitive data you have (both digital and physical), and where it is located. You will also need to ensure that you have an inventory of all hardware and devices that are a part of your network.

Establish a security baseline

A security baseline is the minimum level of security required to ensure that your business is able to operate securely. The best way to establish your security baseline is to carry out an ISO 27001 risk assessment.

Establish a risk management process

A risk management process is what you use to identify, analyze and evaluate risks. This includes detailing the threats that exist, the likelihood of them occurring, and the potential damage they will cause were you to fall victim to them. A common method for evaluating the potential impact of risks is to use a scoring system, whereby the biggest threats have the highest score. You will also need to define a threshold, to ensure that any threats above a certain score are dealt with immediately.

Implement a risk treatment plan

A risk treatment plan will include the specific means by which you address certain risks, which may include applying security controls, transferring the risk to a third-party, or avoiding the risk entirely.

Monitor and review your ISMS

You will need to review your ISMS on a regular basis (annually at the very least). You will need to keep track of the evolving risk landscape and carry out regular internal audits of your data. The results from your internal audits will be used as the inputs for your continual improvement process.

Certify your ISMS

When you are confident that you are able to satisfy the ISO 27001 compliance requirements, you may decide to get your ISMS certified. Bear in mind that the certification process can be costly and time-consuming, so you will need to make sure that you are ready for an external audit before going ahead. There are many certification bodies to choose from, however, you should check that the certification body you choose is a member of the IAF (International Accreditation Body). It might also be a good idea to use a certification body that has experience working with your industry.

How can Lepide help you comply with ISO 27001?

In practical terms, the first step towards complying with ISO 27001 is to define the scope of your ISMS. To do this, you need to ensure that you know exactly what data you have, and where it is located. Real-time security solutions like Lepide Data Security Platform, provide a built-in data classification function, which can automatically discover and classify a wide range of data types.

Using the built-in pre-sets, you can classify your data according to specific regulations and standards, including ISO 27001. Knowing where your sensitive data resides will also help you to apply the relevant security controls.

After you have established a security baseline, it helps to be able to detect deviations from the baseline in order to know when and how to respond to anomalous events. Lepide Data Security Platform uses advanced machine learning algorithms to learn typical usage patterns.

Then, when an event (or series of events) occurs which deviates from these patterns, a response can be triggered, which might include an alert that is sent to the administrator, or in some cases, a custom script can be executed to thwart the potential incident in real-time.

For companies seeking ISO 27001 certification, Lepide’s reporting console will enable them to quickly produce pre-defined reports that are customized to meet the compliance requirements of the ISO 27001. This can help to reduce the time (and thus the cost) of the certification process.

To see how Lepide can help you achieve and maintain ISO 27001 compliance, schedule a demo with one of our engineers or start your free trial today.

Jason Coggins
Jason Coggins

Jason Coggins came to Lepide directly from the UK government security services, and now leads the UK & EU sales team at Lepide. Based in Lepide’s UK office, Jason has a practical and ‘hands-on’ approach to introducing Lepide to customers and channel partners globally.

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