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A Guide to ISO-27001 for Small Business Enterprises

For small business enterprises, information security can be difficult to address. However, when your company has 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 for small business enterprises are designed specifically to help you protect your data by requiring your organisation to build an information security management system – or  ISMS.

Along with 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.

In this article, Hicomply explains the importance of ISO 27001 for small business enterprises.

What is ISO 27001 certification?

Recognised globally, the ISO 27001 standard was developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation and the International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC). It was last updated in October 2022. Having an ISO 27001-certified ISMS confirms that your business has successfully fulfilled 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 the requirements for ISO 27001 for small business enterprises, your organisation has policies and procedures in place to respond and limit damage should a breach be successful.

To comply with ISO 27001 for small business enterprises, your organisation 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 will ISO 27001 for small business enterprises improve your information security?

ISO 27001 compliance for small businesses offers a range of benefits for your information security systems and networks. These include: 

Clear policies and procedures

As businesses collect more and more sensitive data as part of their operations, it’s become crucial that each member of 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 to 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 to ISO 27001 for small business enterprises – and the process helps you reduce the impact on 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 six steps to ISO 27001 for small business enterprises?

There are six key steps to successful ISO 27001 certification. These are:

Step 1: ISMS scoping

The first step of ISO 27001 for small business enterprises is to define the scope of your ISMS to determine how this will suit your organisational needs. Your scope process must account for the following:

  • Business size 
  • Complexity 
  • Any legal and regulatory requirements 
  • Any external and internal issues. 

Step 2: Asset register creation

You will also need to create an asset register to record and manage your business’ assets. This should include your organisation’s:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Information
  • Infrastructure.

Step 3: Risk assessment and treatment

By implementing solid risk assessment and treatment practices, your organisation can display that you understand the impact that risks may have on the business and that you can mitigate these risks if they come to fruition.

Step 4: Apply policies and procedures

You will then need to document the policies and procedures put in place to protect your data. The number of policies required for ISO 27001 for small business enterprises varies based on several factors, including company size, sector, and industry-specific laws and regulations that need to be complied with.

Step 5: Creating your Statement of Applicability (SoA)

You will also need to create an SoA, in which your business must indicate each clause, control ID, and evidence supporting your decision to include or exclude each control in the scope of your ISMS. You must also include the process owner and any other information – for example, any risks identified and mitigated.

Step 6: Internal audit

Your business will also need to conduct an internal audit to ensure that your ISMS meets all the requirements for ISO 27001 for small business enterprises. By completing an internal audit, you will place your organisation in a better position when you need to bring in an external auditor. Check out our ISO 27001 internal audit checklist for more information on the process.

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 for small business enterprises 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.

Compliance as you work with Hicomply

As an ISO 27001 consultant for small business enterprises, team Hicomply has helped hundreds of users on the journey to security compliance. We work with many organisations in the SME 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.

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Whether you want a complete walkthrough of Hicomply, or just want to chat to our team about your needs — we’re here to help and guide you on your journey to information security compliance.

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