Top 8 steps to achieving ISO 27001 Certification

ISO 27001 certification is the internationally recognised standard for information security and sets out the requirements for an ISMS (Information Security Management System). The standard was first developed in 2013 to establish, implement and maintain information security processes within organisations to help protect data and ensure security risks are cost-effectively managed. An ISO 27001 certification can bring many benefits to a business and help to gain competitive edge when it comes to gaining new business such as government and business tenders. The certification helps to boost company reputation and demonstrates to customers or clients that data breaches and information security is taken seriously.

The main benefits of an ISO 27001 certification are:

  • Increases cyber-attack and data breach resilience
  • Win new business and gain competitive edge
  • Preventing fines related to information security and protecting your reputation
  • Improves company security culture and processes

How to implement ISO 27001?

There is no simple and easy way to implement ISO 27001 into an organisation, it is important to remember that it has to be implemented and maintained over time in-line with your organisations processes to ensure compliance.

To help you get to grips with ISO 27001, we’ve put together a list of our top eight steps you should follow to aid you in implementing the information security standard:

1. Choose an experienced consultant

To help your organisation achieve ISO 27001 certification timely and efficiently, it is wise to bring in an expert who can help you throughout the process. This is useful for organisations who have limited resources and time. ISO 27001 consultants will be able to provide you with the advice and expertise you need to improve your information security efforts and achieve compliance.

CS Risk Management have a team of experienced ISO 27001 consultants who are able to assist your organisation from start to finish, whether it be establishing or expanding the ISMS scope, conducting risk assessments or conducting regular internal ISMS audits on your behalf.

2. Preparing for Certification

The first key step to ISO 27001 implementation is to prepare and familiarise all staff with the standard and establish the current weaknesses within your organisation’s information security. A project leader should be appointed, along with management support to gain overall understanding of the standard, what is required and the various controls which can be selected for implementation.

It is vital to gain management and staff buy-in and gain commitment from all parties to help improve information security in all aspects of a business.

3. Establishing scope and objectives

The next step is to establish the scope for your ISMS to define the level of reach it will have throughout your business operations. Many organisations start by only including certain areas of the business in the scope for ISO 27001. However, business needs and external commercial factors may mean that the scope for ISO 27001 may need to be expanded to new business locations or different departments within your organisation over time. Defining the scope of your ISMS is a crucial step to ensure all necessary areas of your business is included and no information is left exposed, also ensuring the scope for the project is not too large as this will make the ISMS complex and inefficient to manage.

4. Conducting risk assessments

The overall objective when implementing ISO 27001 is to identify any information risks within your organisation, and address these with the appropriate Annex A controls set out in the standard. This makes risk management a core part of the process.

Risk assessments will need to be conducted within the organisation, looking at the risks presented to different assets or during specific situations in the business. Risk appetite and criteria for assessing risks will also need to be identified, along with the assets that require protection due to the vulnerabilities that may pose a threat. After a risk assessment has been carried out initially, steps will need to be put in place to treat the risks and minimise impact on the business. Our consultants are able to advise on suitable control implementations in-line with the controls stated in Annex A to address the threats.

5. Write up the Statement of Applicability

After the risk assessment process, you will have established which controls you will need to implement from the Annex A list of controls. This document should list the controls which you have selected and are applicable to your organisation, the objectives for the controls and a detailed description of how they will be implemented.

6. Implement the controls

You’ve chosen the most appropriate controls – now time to implement them! This is a lot easier said than done, because this usually means the adaption of new processes, technology and workplace culture – where some employees may resist the change.

The most important part about this standard is to address and implement the information security risks which you have discovered during the risk assessment stage. If these risks are not addressed effectively, costly data breaches and security incidents can be a result, which can seriously impact your reputation and business operations.

7. Employee training and awareness programmes

To ensure successful implementation of ISO 27001, it is important to gain staff and management buy-in to continually support the implementation of the ISMS. You should communicate to all employees why new changes and processes are necessary, and train staff to adapt and make changes to ensure information security is a company priority. Without everybody in your organisation working towards the same goal, it is likely for the project to fail. People generally resist change, so it is important to deliver training and spread awareness regularly to avoid this from happening.

8. Measure, monitoring and reviewing

Regular measurement and reviews of your Information Security Management System is essential because otherwise, you will not be able to indicate whether it is working. Internal ISO 27001 audits will need to be conducted regularly to identify non-compliance with ISO 27001, and can be used to constantly improve the ISMS and take any corrective actions needed.  Auditors for ISO 27001 will check back in each year to ensure you still comply to the standard, so it is important to ensure you are keeping on top of everything and following the new processes you set out when establishing your objectives.

Get in touch!

CS Risk Management have a team of experienced ISO 27001 consultants, who are ready to help with project implementation. Our consultants have delivered Information Security Management Systems considered ‘best in class’ by industry certification bodies. We can assist you with design and implementation of the ISMS, defining scopes, regular internal audits or overall project implementation. Looking to become ISO 27001 certified or need some help and guidance throughout the implementation process? Contact us today!

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