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For enterprise businesses, information security can be difficult to address. But when your organisation has thousands of employees working from locations spread across the globe, it’s important that you get information security right: it can be the difference between preventing a data breach and losing sensitive customer information.

Preventing and proactively responding to security incidents is critical for enterprises. The reputational and monetary repercussions associated with a data breach are significant - and stolen data can have a huge impact on both your clients and partners. Information security standards like ISO 27001 are designed specifically to help you protect your data by requiring your organisation to build an information security management system, or ISMS.

As well as the reputational benefits of certification, being certified to a standard like ISO 27001 or SOC 2 can also be a key differentiator when your organisation is tendering for new business.

What is ISO 27001 certification?

The ISO 27001 standard is globally recognised and was developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation and the International Electrotechnical Commission, which is why the title is also written as ISO/IEC 27001. It was last updated in October 2022.

Having an ISO 27001-certified ISMS confirms that your business has successfully fulfilled the the confidentiality, integrity and availability (or CIA) best practices and has a framework in place to safeguard your customers’ information assets. This reduces the risk of data breaches and means that, in line with ISO 27001 requirements, your organisation has policies and procedures in place to respond and limit damage should a breach be successful.

To become ISO 27001 certified, your business needs to attain a successful external audit, undertaken by a certified independent auditor or auditing body. Accomplishing ISO 27001 certification shows your customers and prospective customers that you take information security seriously, and can manage and protect the information you hold.

How does ISO 27001 certification improve your information security?

Clear policies and procedures

As businesses collect more and more sensitive data as part of their operations, it’s become crucial that everyone in an organisation fully understands and accepts their role in protecting that data. An ISO 27001-certified ISMS will include policies and procedures that help keep data and information assets secure, including a clear desk policy, a password policy, an access control policy, an ISMS security policy and more.

These policies are required for successful ISO 27001 certification and ensure that everyone in the company knows their role in protecting information and reducing risk.

Supply chain protection

ISO 27001 control A.15, supplier relationships, requires that you agree information security requirements to mitigate the risk associated with each supplier’s access to your organisation’s assets.

Your supplier agreements should have data protection elements integrated into them, including incident management, legal regulations, staff screening and more. Implementing controls to monitor and audit your supplier service delivery regularly, vastly reduces risk to your organisation and strengthens your supply chain.

Risk management

Thorough risk assessments and risk treatment plans associated with each of your organisation’s assets are key in ISO 27001 – and the process helps you to reduce impact to your organisation should a risk scenario occur.

For example, malware and ransomware can be considered a risk to employee laptops, which may have access to sensitive business and customer information. To alleviate this risk, you can apply detection, prevention and recovery controls to protect against malware.

In addition, you could combine this with user awareness training, and establish and implement rules regulating the installation of software by users, which would reduce the residual risk score to ‘tolerable’.

What are the steps to ISO 27001 certification?

There are six key steps to successful ISO 27001 certification:

Step 1: ISMS scoping

Step 2: Asset register creation

Step 3: Risk assessment and treatment

Step 4: Creating policies and procedures

Step 5: Creating your Statement of Applicability (SoA)

Step 6: Internal audit

Once these steps have been completed and you’ve addressed any findings from the internal audit, you’re ready for your external audit and to become fully ISO 27001 certified!

Learn in more depth about the six steps to ISO 27001 certification in our blog post.

How long does it take to get ISO 27001 certified?

The traditional route to ISO 27001 certification generally involves wading through hundreds of spreadsheets and policy documents, locating evidence, assigning tasks manually and more. Using this route, it can take a year or more to prepare for an external audit and certification.

For businesses using Hicomply, audit-readiness can be achieved in two to three months. The platform’s ISMS scoping tool, automated asset register, task management tool, policy and procedure library and third-party integrations are designed to make the process as quick and simple as possible – and Hicomply clients have a 100% audit pass rate.

Building a digital ISMS using an auditor-friendly platform designed and consistently updated with auditor suggestions (that’s us!) could be the solution you need.

Final thought

Team Hicomply has helped hundreds of users on the journey to ISO 27001 compliance, and we work with many organisations in the financial services sector.

Discover the cost of ISO 27001 or book a demo to find out more about how your organisation can achieve ISO 27001 quickly and easily.