A Closer Look at the Importance of ISO 27001
The growing value of your sensitive data is appreciated by corporations and criminals alike. They know what it’s worth, and what it means to you. That’s why the importance of ISO 27001 is so central to data safety and information security management systems.
With new cyber threats and security risks popping up as often as a bodybuilders’ biceps, these threats can be difficult to manage. ISO/IEC 27001 helps ensure companies know what the potential risks are, and how to patch any weaknesses.
In this blog we’ll go over what ISO 27001 is and its value in and around data security.
Understanding ISO 27001: A Brief Overview
ISO/IEC refers to the International Organisation for Standardization. IEC refers to the International Electrotechnical Commission. Usually, it’s called ISO 27001.
It’s basically the best formula for doing something, and is put together by industry specialists.
This can be managing a process, creating a product, or delivering a service. There are a range of ISO codes and they all follow a certain template. Here are a few examples:
- Quality management systems – ISO 9001
- Environmental management systems – ISO 14001
- Information security, cyber security and privacy protection – ISO/IEC 27001
As you may have gathered, we’re focusing on Information security, cyber security and privacy protection.
What does the International Organisation for Standardization do?
Quite simply, they help create and set the global standard for many different things.
They do this by bringing independent technical experts together and working with them to develop a draft based on market needs.
Think of it like a composer directing an orchestra. They aren’t actively involved in playing the instruments, but without them there’d be no direction for the artists.
A standard takes about three years to be finalised on average, from the first proposal to final publication.
Like we mentioned earlier, the purpose of ISO 27001 is a systematic approach and formal standard for cyber security. In today’s digital age, this is of course massively important.
The Importance of International Standards
On a quick glance it may seem like ISO doesn’t matter too much, but it plays a pivotal role for businesses and consumers alike.
Setting a benchmark that companies and industries across the globe can follow means anyone can hold a product or service to account.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of ISO.
Benefits of ISO
- Globally accepted benchmark for quality – A standardised benchmark means you can buy a product from an ISO 27001 compliant vendor in South Africa or China, and either would be high quality.
- More trust amongst business partners and customers – If a customer sees a business is ISO compliant, they know the product is up to scratch. Customers, and any future business partners would know there’s a commitment to quality. This improves trust, and grows into brand loyalty.
- Consistent high-quality practices – To remain ISO complaint businesses need to, quite obviously, remain ISO compliant in their process. To continue wearing the ISO shirt, consistently adhering to the standard is non-negotiable. This encourages high-quality practices across the board.
- Streamline processes for multinational companies – Any potential business partner can take one look at the ISO 27001 compliance and know if a company is up to task.
Why Does ISO 27001 Specifically Matter?
Now that we’ve created some context for why ISO is a vital component of human activity worldwide, let’s go over ISO 27001.
More businesses and institutions are moving to the web every day. Cyber criminals know this and have set their sails to body not just the businesses trying to stay afloat, but the established enterprises as well.
Oftentimes, however, it’s the customers and clients enjoying the surf that get caught up in the tide. This is due in part to the large increase in cybercrimes.
The financial pressure businesses experience when they’re the victims of these kinds of crimes can be enough to sink them. If a business does manage to survive, their reputation takes a big hit.
That reputational knock may end up being the hole that sinks the ship. So, cybercrimes are something any company would do well to avoid. A good start to avoiding them is to adopt and implement ISO standards.
ISO 27001 standards can help your organisation identify, manage, and reduce information security risks. Specifically, it can help you:
- Reduce your vulnerability to cyber attacks and security breaches
- Have a better response to data breaches and evolving security risks
- Ensure that confidential documents like financial statements, intellectual property, employee data stay undamaged and available when it’s needed
- Offer up a centrally managed framework that will secure your information in a single place
- Secure any kind of information, including physical, cloud, and digital
- Save money by improving efficiency and lowering ineffective practices.
Key Components of ISO 27001
These are the key features of the ISO 27001 certification. They’re not hardware and software, but more processes, systems, and ways of thinking.
A simple hardware or software change has a limited lifespan since technology is always evolving. A cyber security method of thinking is something that lasts regardless of the technology.
Risk assessment and management
This means every time you implement or suggest a notable change you need to do a security risk analysis. This way you understand how the change will impact risk and you’ll be able to better prepare for it, and possibly squash it altogether.
Security policy and objectives
This relates to sturdy security policies and objectives being adopted by you and senior management.
It’s the responsibility of top management to hold themselves and others accountable. This means top management should lead by example and make sure other staffers attend and understand the security objectives.
The total number of predicted DDoS attacks worldwide this year (2023) is 15.4M.
Organisational and technical security controls
Organisational and technical controls refer to the resources and software that allows protection from cyber security attacks.
This means each employee should have the software to protect themselves from a cyberattack, and the know-how to implement it. This goes for security staff as well as upper management.
Continuous improvement and the PDCA cycle
The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle is a system for continuously improving your current security system. The name describes the process quite simply and following it will ensure you snuff out any security issues as your business grows and changes.
Benefits of ISO 27001 on Your Data’s Safety
Besides the goal of being protected against cyberattacks, ISO 27001’s impact on your data sends a strong signal that you take security standards seriously.
Weaving the protocols into your business of course means you’re less susceptible to unauthorised access and breaches. Less breaches and better preparation for cyberattacks will improve confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.
A quick Google search will show that not everyone can meet this standard or make a promise to value security this intensely for various reasons. Unfortunately, some businesses pay the ultimate price because of it.
It also demonstrates to stakeholders that the organisation prioritises a serious approach to information security. Along with this your business will also bag compliance benefits like meeting regulatory and contractual requirements.
That’s definitely a badge that would set your business apart from any other.
Challenges in Implementing ISO 27001
If every company could be ISO 27001 certified they certainly would. Unfortunately, there are some challenges in carrying through with this standard. Not least of which is the cost involved.
Initial costs and resource investments
Tightening up security means getting the necessary resources that would allow security to be tight. That can include things like:
- Cyber security software
- Biometric access
- Security personnel on site
- Training courses for staff.
Besides allocating funds for resources, employees and management would need to be on board with the change.
Potential resistance to change within the organisation
Having the best security measures in place would have little effect if only half the staff makes use of it. This introduces a different challenge – changing the mindset and habits of staff.
They’d need to be willing to adopt the ISO standard. This is because cyber security is not the role of a single systems administrator in a high tower. Any staffer not paying attention to security could unknowingly allow a cyber criminal access to private data.
The challenge then would be shifting to a security-based mindset. And that would need to include everyone.
Maintaining the standard
Consistency, as you know, is key. Once ISO 27001 measures are taken and in place, keeping it that way would be the next goal.
Holding a high standard is much harder than reaching it. For you and your staff to overcome this challenge you’d need to form new habits and practices.
This will of course take a while, but pays off in the long run. A good way to help implement an ISO 27001 change is to automate as much as possible.
Artificial intelligence provides the most concrete cost mitigation in data breaches, saving organizations up to $3.81M per breach.
We trust we’ve made clear how important cyber security is, and how its value will continue to soar as we trek further into an online world.
Cyber security and crimes will always be at odds with one another. To give your business the edge, investing in cyber security early on will keep you going for longer.
A short-term solution is obviously not realistic, but working towards an ISO 27001 certification will pay for itself in the long haul. And certainly, associating with businesses that take security seriously and have ISO 27001 certifications can only improve your own standing.
In a time when any business can topple overnight due to cybercrimes, sure your footing and invest in ISO 27001 standards.