Every Information Security Management System (ISMS) should be aiming for ISO® 27001 compliance. Not only does it build trust among clients and partners, but it also helps protect your organization from potentially costly data breaches.
However, the process of implementing the ISO® 27001 framework isn’t always straightforward – especially if you’re not sure what the exact procedures are.
Fortunately for you, the ISMS Connect team has put together this easy-to-follow ISO® 27001 checklist covering all the requirements you need to be aware of as you prepare for audits on the road to certification.
But before we dive into the checklist, let’s discuss ISO® 27001 in more detail.
ISO® 27001 is an international standard for ISMS that centers around how companies should structure their security management systems. It’s a wide-ranging set of rules and regulations designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.
To be certified, companies must prove that their ISMS meets the requirements of ISO® 27001. That means showing that their procedures and systems are adequate, secure, and well-documented.
In 2022, the average cost of a security breach increased to $4.35 million. Achieving ISO® 27001 compliance helps you avoid these costly security breaches through the systematic implementation of a range of security best practices.
The ISO® 27001 certification is recognized globally. This means achieving compliance could help your business expand to different regions — companies from different countries will recognize the value of ISO® 27001 compliance and be more likely to work with you.
The ISO® 27001 standard ensures your ISMS stays compliant with all legal regulations surrounding data protection and information systems. Rather than worrying about becoming compliant with each changing regulation, you can rest assured your organization has a process in place to stay compliant with them all.
Passing the ISO® 27001 certification allows you to build better rapport with your partners or shareholders — it shows them that you’re taking extra measures to improve your information security. Clients will be more willing to trust their data with you if they see that you’re following such high-level procedures and policies.
Plus, since the ISO® 27001 certification requires renewal every three years, it’s seen as a long-term commitment that proves your dedication to information security.
The ISO® 27001 certification is not specific to any one industry. Many sectors that deal with online data can benefit from improved information security.
Some examples of industries that partake in ISO® 27001 certification include:
- IT (Information Technology)
Determine what key roles or tasks are involved in your ISMS implementation or management. Note down all the roles required and assign different responsibilities and access permissions. Make sure to document this step clearly and concisely so everyone understands what tasks they’re in charge of.
A gap analysis will help you identify areas where your current ISMS is not meeting ISO® 27001 requirements. Start by pairing up each ISO® 27001 requirement with existing policies, processes, and procedures. Document any areas where you need further development or improvement.
Once you’ve performed a gap analysis, it’s time to start implementing ISO® 27001 policies and procedures in your ISMS.
Develop or change aspects of your security management system to make them satisfy ISO® 27001 requirements. Document your ISMS (including records, policies, and procedures) and keep the information up-to-date as you improve your information security.
When building or changing an ISMS, it’s crucial that you closely monitor who is accessing your data and when they’re accessing it to prevent security breaches.
Perform a risk assessment to see if any vulnerabilities in your information security system need to be addressed. Determine which assets need to be protected and prioritize fixing vulnerabilities that put those assets at risk.
When assessing security threats, you should analyze how likely they are to cause problems and how big their impact would be. This will help you develop appropriate risk treatment plans for these issues.
Here’s a list of things to consider when conducting your risk assessment:
- Identify all threats that could impact your company.
- Create a probability scale to estimate the likelihood of threats.
- Create a financial impact scale to estimate the cost of threats.
- Identify other potential impacts.
- Assess the severity of each risk (taking probability and impact into account).
- Define acceptable and unacceptable risk.
A Statement of Applicability (SoA) helps outline which security controls from the ISO® 27001 standard you’ve chosen to implement or omit from your company’s ISMS. Keep your statement concise and easy to understand since you’ll need this document for your official ISO® 27001 audit process.
Your SoA must include the following:
- Identify which security controls you’ve used in response to certain risks.
- Discuss why you chose to use those specific controls.
- Go through all the security controls and state whether you’ve implemented or omitted them. If you’ve omitted some, explain why you made that decision.
- Make sure each security control has its dedicated entry so you can write in detail about everyone. If you’ve actively used any control to mitigate security threats, link to the relevant document (where you discuss how you implemented the control).
If you’ve yet to implement any security controls, note down which ones you plan to use in the future (refer to your risk treatment plans).
Decide which security controls are best suited to handle your identified risks and implement them into your ISMS. Check whether they’ve been implemented properly by running regular tests and assessments, and use this opportunity to assess their effectiveness in mitigating threats.
Remember to update your procedures and policies accordingly after implementing new controls in your system. Your team should be made aware of these changes and alter the way they handle risks or data in the future.
Your employees must be well-trained in information security procedures and the ISO® 27001 standard. Create a security awareness program to teach your employees ISMS best practices, risk mitigation, and ISO® 27001 requirements to help them perform to a high standard.
Review the quality of your ISMS regularly by conducting internal audits. Make sure a qualified auditor is running these assessments so you’re better prepared for the official ISO® 27001 audit. Whenever you make big changes to your ISMS, perform an audit to test its efficiency and identify faults in your system early on.
Here are some questions to keep in mind when conducting an internal audit:
- Are your security controls functioning as expected?
- Are there any major weak points in your ISMS?
- Are security threats dealt with efficiently?
You can also use a service like ISMS Connect to gain instant access to unlimited guidance via chat and video calls. Our experts can answer questions and comment on concerns that arise in your internal audits. This ensures that you have the right advice and information to help your organization pass its official audit with flying colors.
Once you’ve deployed your ISMS and met all the necessary ISO® 27001 requirements, it’s time to undergo the official external audit and get certified. Find an accredited certification body that performs audits for ISO® 27001 and contact them.
Try to hire an auditor who hasn’t been involved in the creation of your ISMS. This way, there’s no bias clouding their judgment during the audit. Afterward, the auditor should inform you of any changes needed to reach ISO® 27001 compliance.
After achieving ISO® 27001 certification, continue to maintain and improve your information security system – you’ll need to renew every three years.
Continuously perform risk assessments and audits to find new ways of mitigating risks and implement new controls into your ISMS to stay up-to-date with the latest threats. You should also continue training employees on how to manage new vulnerabilities to ensure everyone stays well-informed.
Consistently track and measure the performance of your ISMS to gauge its effectiveness. For example, you can monitor the number of security incidents reported within a given time and how quickly controls were used to counteract them (and whether they succeeded in resolving the issue).
Set up a regular monitoring system using the following activities:
- Outline what aspects of your ISMS require monitoring (consider security threats and their impact on business assets).
- Form a team and have each member monitor a different part of your ISMS to avoid overlap.
- Decide how your ISMS will be monitored and what metrics to use (refer to existing policies or standards you already have implemented).
- Outline your requirements
- Search for ISO® 27001 consultants to find potential hires
- Assess their skills and experience to see if they match your requirements
- Evaluate their methodology
- Negotiate prices
- Conduct interviews or a meeting to test the waters
- Consider long-term support
ISO® 27001 certifications can vary in price depending on the following:
- The size of your company
- Your risk profile
- The complexity of your ISMS
- The certification body
On average, certification costs range from $6,000 to $40,000. You’ll also need to pay for the yearly surveillance audits (they ensure you’re still meeting ISO® 27001 standards), which cost around $5,000 to $20,000.
Aside from official audit costs, you need to consider the cost of preparing for the certification. This includes consultant fees ($10,000+), employee training (up to $15,000/session), gap analyses (approx. $5700), and so on.
Here are some key factors to look out for when preparing for the ISO® 27001 certification:
- Certification audit stages & scope
- Certification body credibility
- ISO® 27001 requirements
- Readiness assessment or internal audits
- Surveillance audits
- ISMS maintenance
- Team communication
Receive expert advice on ISO® 27001 certification with ISMS Connect. We provide you with a range of resources that help you better understand information security management and prepare you for ISO® 27001 compliance.
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Before you can start preparations for ISO® 27001 certification, you need the approval of your company higher-ups (including shareholders) and colleagues. To achieve compliance, you will need the support of many people.
Research the benefits of ISO® 27001 implementation and find a way to present to your peers why your company should get certified.
When trying to implement ISO® 27001 into your business workflow, it’s best to stay organized by creating a roadmap of activities. This will also help everyone involved keep track of their tasks.
Define the scope of your ISO® 27001 preparation project. Consider all the different stages involved in the process (e.g., employee training, risk assessment, etc.), who will be affected by these procedures, and what assets require protection. This should give you an idea of how long the project will take to complete.
Create a policy that outlines all the rules and requirements surrounding your information security, so your employees know what they can and cannot do. Remember to include details about your ISMS procedures and objectives.
If you need help with writing up an information security policy, ask a colleague who specializes in the area or look for templates online.
Implementing ISO® 27001 into your business can be quite complex if you’re unfamiliar with the process, so it helps to have an ISO® 27001 checklist to follow.
You can also turn to companies like ISMS Connect to find step-by-step guides on the ISO® 27001 standard, along with unlimited access to an expert team of consultants.
Ready to fast-track ISO® 27001 certification? Subscribe to ISMS Connect today and benefit from expert advice and a range of time-saving resources.