In collaboration with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for standardization (ISO) has written a grouping of standards designed to help organizations protect their information security assets.
This ISO/IEC 27000 series provides businesses of various types with a framework of guidelines that they can use to ensure the security of human resource records, financial details, intellectual property, proprietary information and records that they are responsible for managing on behalf of partners, customers or other third parties. Although all of the components of the 2700 series are important, two are particularly worthy of note: ISO 27001 and 27002.
The Benefits of ISO Compliance
ISO certification is a tangible way to demonstrate to investors, customers, vendors, management and other stakeholders that your business has made cybersecurity related technology, procedures and practices one of your highest priorities.
Your ability to successfully pass an audit and obtain certification might even make your organization attractive to potential customers, causing an uptick in profits. Just as critical, testing your controls and implementing any necessary corrective measures can enhance your IT team’s competence and confidence as you navigate the treacherous and constantly evolving landscape of information security threats.
ISO 27001 Defined
ISO 27001 is the framework that outlines the details of best practices for an organization’s overarching information security management system (ISMS) and can be used by organizations of all types, including for-profits and nonprofits, governmental agencies and private companies of all sizes. This standard provides any of these entities with a methodology for developing and setting their ISMS into motion. In brief, implementing this framework consists of the following steps:
- Minimize chaos in your security infrastructure by determining all endpoints that are to be found in your environment. These interfaces include routers, personnel, equipment and processes and are considered to encompass your ISMS scope. Eliminate from consideration any external dependencies such as third-party vendors, consultants and other service personnel.
- Once you determine your ISMS scope, perform a risk assessment of those elements. Using all tools at your disposal, do your best to predict and detect any vulnerabilities contained in your system.
- Now that you understand the scope of your ISMS, the controls you have put in place to protect it and the risks it faces, work with your team to create policy and procedure guidelines that will keep your ISMS in compliance with industry standards.
- Next, delegate important ISMS tasks to staff members who understand the scope, risks and vulnerabilities of your system as well as the guidelines contained in ISO 27001 best practices.
- Be sure to appoint one manager as the main information security contact person so that all stakeholders in your organization know who to get in touch with when the need arises.
- Conduct internal and external audits regularly. Although they can be time-consuming, auditors can provide you with vital information enabling you to remain in ISO 27001 compliance.
Receiving this regular feedback can help you to detect red flags before they become full-blown problems that may affect your company’s compliance status.
ISO 27002 Defined
In effect, the ISO 27002 standard furnishes organizations with guidelines that they can use to shape their information security management best practices, particularly when it comes to addressing risk. To that end, the standard covers best practices that companies can use when choosing, setting up and managing their security controls. Specifically, it discusses a total of 114 controls that fall into 14 different content sections:
Since a great deal of flexibility is allowed with ISO, your business can determine which specific components of your ISMS scope should be considered in ISO 27002 compliance.
ISO 27001 vs ISO 27002
Exactly what is the difference between ISO 27001 and 27002, and which one is right for your business? The answer can be confusing since, on the surface, ISO 27001/27002 seem so similar. To address this conundrum, it may help to think of ISO 27001 as a foundation upon which your ISMS framework rests. By contrast, ISO 27002 provides a blueprint of best practices and requirements that can help you in designing your own controls and management protocols.
A better way to approach the question is to think of combining the advantages of ISO 27001 and 27002 into a fully functional, compliance-friendly bundle. When you do, you pair the defined scope of 27001 with the focus on controls such as penetration testing found in 27002 to minimize risk and create security protocols that will safeguard your data and comply with industry requirements. Certification is conducted by an expert lead auditor who is certified in ISO 27001 and is employed by an ISO validated registrar. Provision of a certificate by ISO means that a company’s controls have been found to effectively guard against security risks.
Another question that may come to mind is why ISO has not chosen to simply marry ISO 27001 and 27002 to form one streamlined standard. In short, the result would be too clumsy and confusing. In the end, it would prove impractical and would not yield the same quality results as its individual parts do. Although it might seem a bit clumsy at times, it is far better to view ISO 27001/27002 individually at first and then together by beginning with the framework of 27001 and fleshing it out with the controls and other details available in 27002.
Ultimately, the credibility your organization garners when its documentation and cybersecurity practices meet or exceed the requirements of the ISO 27001 standards will be well worth the investment. Your team, stakeholders, partners and potential investors will be able to see irrefutable evidence from an accredited provider that your systems are secure.