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What Is ISO 27001? Everything You Need to Know

Published September 25, 2020

Written by: Jordan MacAvoy
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Jordan MacAvoy

Jordan MacAvoy is the Vice President of Marketing at Reciprocity Labs and manages the company’s go to market strategy and execution. Prior to joining Reciprocity, Mr.  MacAvoy served in executive roles at Fundbox, a Forbes Next Billion Dollar Company, and Intuit, via their acquisition of the SaaS marketing and communications solution, Demandforce. He brings to the team nearly two decades of marketing and business development experience helping to grow early-stage, venture-backed companies. Mr.  MacAvoy is a graduate of Boston University.

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Data security is a significant issue of concern for both small and large organizations. As an organization holds onto data collected from customers and vendors, it should be wary of the threat posed by cybercriminals. There are several standards that you should comply with when it comes to information security. ISO 27001 is one such standard.

ISO 27001 is an internationally-recognized standard for managing risks related to the data you hold. Compliance with this standard proves to your customers and other stakeholders that your data environment is secure. It provides a set of standardized requirements for establishing an Informational Security Management System (ISMS).

This information security standard results from a joint effort between the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It’s designed to help organizations across different industries protect their data cost-effectively and systematically.

How ISO 27001 Standard Works

This information security standard is intended to safeguard the integrity, confidentiality and availability of information in an organization. ISO 27001  seeks to establish potential issues that pose a risk to your data environment before defining what should be done to mitigate them. Therefore, risk management is the main idea behind ISO 27001 accreditation. When your organization gets certified, it will be easier to pinpoint risks and establish controls for keeping them at bay.

Why Should Your Organization Gain Certification?

Complying with ISO 27001 comes with a ton of benefits. The most obvious is that it proves your organization takes information security seriously. Here are some other benefits that you get to achieve by complying with this information security standard:

Gives You a Competitive Advantage

Suppose your organization attains ISO 27001 certification ahead of your business rivals. In that case, you will have a competitive advantage over them, especially clients who are sensitive about the security of their data.

Better Organization

Fast-growing companies rarely take time to define their business procedures and processes. Consequently, employees will end up not knowing what to do when disasters such as data breaches occur.

Implementing the ISO 27001 standard can help you resolve such situations since it encourages organizations to document their main processes and procedures, including those that aren’t security-related. This way, you can reduce lost time when a disaster occurs.

Lowers Operation Costs

The ISO 27001 standard is meant to prevent cyber threats from becoming security incidents. Every security incident, be it small or large, costs money. By preventing these incidents, your organization will save money. The best of all is that the investment that will go towards the compliance process is less than the cost savings you will achieve in the long run.

Ensures Compliance with Legal Requirements

New laws and regulations relating to data security get enacted every day. Complying with all of them can be a tall order, especially for small organizations that lack adequate resources. ISO 27001 certification makes it easier for you to comply with the ever-increasing regulations, laws and contractual requirements related to data security.

ISO 27001 Accreditation Process

The core data security requirements of the ISO 27001 standard is highlighted between clauses 4.1 and 10.2. These clauses address the controls that you should implement to get accredited. For your organization to get certified, you must meet all the core requirements of the ISO 27001 standard. The most fundamental core requirement is to have a framework for identifying, assessing, evaluating and treating your information security risks.

Some organizations often decide against taking the ISMS to certification. Instead, they choose to align their systems and processes with the ISO 27001 standard. Although this can help you address internal pressures, it delivers less value to the organization’s key stakeholders, who might be looking for the assurance that independently certified ISO 27001 offers.

It can take years before your organization gets accredited because the process involves both external and internal stakeholders. Compliance requires more than just filling out checklists and submitting them for approval. Before you even consider applying for certification, it’s best to ensure that your ISMS is mature and incorporates all potential areas of cyber risk.

The certification process is divided into three main phases:

  • Hiring a certification body to review your ISMS
  • The certification body conducts an audit to check the ISO 27001 standard’s individual components against your organization’s ISMS. This isto ascertain your procedures and policies are being followed as required.
  • Follow-up audits are conducted to ensure that the compliance process is kept in check.

Final Words

Regardless of the industry you operate in or the size of your organization, gaining ISO 27001 certification is a big win since it helps you secure your data environment. The process of getting accredited can be difficult and overwhelming, but the investment is worthwhile. You shouldn’t be put off by the costs and time that certification takes. With the proper tools and guidance, attaining accreditation is well within your clasp.

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