ISO 27001 certification is the internationally recognised standard for information security and sets out the requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS). The standard was developed 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 data breach resilience
  • Improves company security culture and processes
  • Win new business and gain competitive edge

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 help implemente the information security standard:

1. Choose someone to lead
To help your organisation achieve ISO 27001 certification timely and efficiently select someone to lead the project. This could be a consultant, this is useful for organisations who have limited resources and time, or someone internal, but remember this is a business wide project and someone from IT is not necessarily the best candidate. It is best to use someone with ISO 27001 experience or has had training in implementing ISO 27001.

2. Preparing for Certification
The first step to implementation is to familiarise all staff with the standard and establish the weaknesses within your organisation’s information security, known as gap analysis. Management needs to have an understanding of the standard, what is required and the various controls which can be selected for implementation.

It is vital to have management and staff buy-in to help improve information security in the business.

3. Establishing scope and objectives
Scoping the ISMS will 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. The scope can be increased  over time. Defining the scope of your ISMS is a crucial step to ensure the necessary areas of your business are included and no information is exposed, also the scope size for the project needs to be controlled, if too large it will make the ISMS complex and difficult to manage.

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

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 tolerance and criteria for assessing risks also needs 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.

5. Create a 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 description of how they will be implemented.

6. Implement the controls
With the appropriate controls, you have to implement the processes that will manage them. As well as new processes, there could be new technology and a change to workplace culture. Which could mean some resistance to change, this is why this is a key step in the process.

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, otherwise data breaches and security incidents can be a result, which can impact operations and the business reputation.

7. Training and awareness programmes
For successful implementation of ISO 27001, you should communicate to all employees why new changes and processes are necessary, 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, there is a risk for the project to fail.

8. Measure, monitoring and reviewing
Regular measurement and reviews of your ISMS  is essential because you will not be able to prove it is working. Internal ISO 27001 audits will need to be conducted regularly to identify non-compliance with ISO 27001, and used to constantly improve the ISMS and take any corrective actions needed. Auditors for ISO 27001 will check back the previous 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.

Do not be daunted by these steps. It can be a major project but if planned correctly and the whole organisation supporting you it will be very satisfying and create a lot of opportunities for improvements in the organisation.