ISO 27001 Guide

ISO 27001 Guide

Are you wondering how and where to begin your ISO 27001 journey? Or how to enhance the level of security in your existing processes with ISO standards without disrupting ‘business as usual’?

While your ISO journey will be unique to your organization, we believe that understanding ISO 27001 will empower you to take steps in the right direction. This ISO 27001 guide is intended to support organizations of all sizes in understanding the structure of ISO 27001, the clauses and controls therein, the mandatory documents and records, and the path to becoming ISO 27001 compliant or seeking certification.

ISO 27001 is an all-inclusive, globally respected information security standard. It is designed and regulated by the International Organization for Standardization and is officially referred to as ‘ISO/IEC 27001’. It is part of the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards for information security management.

While ISO 27001 isn’t a legal mandate, organizations around the world look for B2B partners and vendors who comply with the controls listed under this standard and often demand proof of this through certification. As a result of its popularity, it is prioritized by businesses who want to secure contracts by proving their ability to protect the information they are entrusted with.

The ISO 27001:2013 standard, whether used alone or in conjunction with another management system, such as ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 22301 (Information Security), ISO 14001 (Environment), or ISO 45001 (Operational Health and Safety), provides guidance and direction for an organization, regardless of size, to implement information security.

ISO 27001 controls evaluate the strength of an organization’s Information Security Management System (ISMS).

What is the latest ISO 27001 standard?

The second official version of ISO 27001 was released in 2013 and it is the most recent standard. It is also referred to as ‘ISO/IEC 27001:2013’. No adjustments to this standard are necessary since the standard was last evaluated and verified in 2019. A revised version of ISO 27001 is due in October 2022. In this guide we refer to ISO/IEC 27001:2013 when we mention ISO 27001 – the terms are used interchangeably.

7 Benefits of ISO 27001

Pursuing the ISO 27001 Certification is proof of an organization’s dedication to information security. However, this may not be required in all cases, countries or businesses. Organizations have the choice between being compliant and pursuing certification to prove their compliance.

In several countries, B2B contracts and financial institutions mandate compliance with ISO 27001 controls and do not mandate getting ISO certified. Their prerogative is to ensure that potential threats remain at bay. However, there are several B2B deals that demand certification before a partnership is formalized and information is shared. This is done to ensure that annual audits and recertification is conducted at regular intervals by an independent third-party that is cognizant of the dynamic landscape of cyber threats.

Certified ISO Lead Auditors at databrackets support customers to meet both requirements – compliance and/or certification. Our mission is to ensure that your organization is able to fortify your security posture as per the ISO 27001 standards and enhance your competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

7 Benefits of ISO 27001 are:

1. Win business deals globally and grow your competitive advantage
2. Enhance your business reputation
3. Create a resilient and efficient Information Security Management System
4. Align business processes with information security & safeguard all types of organizational data
5. Avoid potential data breaches and penalties
6. Comply with legal, regulatory and contractual requirements
7. Receive an authentic and independent review of your security posture

Some of the key processes covered as part of the ISO 27001 Certification process are:
1. Risk assessment
2. Organizational structure evaluation
3. Information categorization
4. Access control
5. Implementation of various information security policies
6. Physical and technical protection of information

Creating an ISMS that meets ISO 27001 standards

To embark on the journey of creating an Information Security Management System (ISMS) that meets the ISO 27001 standards, we need to begin by understanding the process that precedes it and which influences its design. To achieve the highest level of information security, organizations need to begin with a Risk Management process where you identify the controls needed and then implement them using the ISMS. The organization’s risk acceptance levels need to be designed in the ISMS, to treat and manage risks effectively.

An Information Security Management System (ISMS) is a collection of policies, procedures, guidelines, related resources and activities that an organization collectively manages in order to secure its information assets. It is designed to safeguard all types of organizational data and protect against cyber assaults. Data loss, illegal access, and breaches are all issues that the ISMS architecture should be able to handle in the normal course of business. Hence, the controls in an ISMS need to be specified, implemented, monitored, reviewed, and improved to ensure that they integrate with business activities, meet specific information security needs and the organization’s business objectives.

An efficient, resilient and well-designed ISMS becomes a systematic strategy to enhance information security and fulfill the organization’s business goals and objectives. To ensure it is able to continually meet these benchmarks, the ISO/IEC 27001 standard defines the security standards and improvement criteria. Hence, the next step in planning an ISMS that meets the ISO 27001 standards is to understand these security standards.

Principles of ISO 27001

ISO 27001 adheres to the 3 principles of Information Security:

1. Confidentiality: only authorized personnel have the right to access information
2. Integrity: only authorized personnel are allowed to modify the information
3. Availability: information must be accessible to authorized personnel when they require it

Organizations need to begin their ISO journey with a Risk Assessment to understand where these principles of information security may be violated. This assessment exposes the vulnerabilities in their architecture and guides them as they re-structure it to ensure these principles are followed. This 2-step process enables them to identify the source of potential problems, work on risk mitigation strategies and ensure that security controls and safeguards are implemented effectively.

Structure of the ISO 27001 Standard

Clauses and Controls of ISO 27001

The structure of the ISO 27001 standard consists of two parts:
1. ISO 27001 Clauses
2. ISO 27001 Audit Controls: Annex A

1. ISO 27001 Clauses

The first part consists of 11 ISO 27001 Clauses (0 – 10). Clauses 0 – 3 set the introduction of the ISO 27001 standard. Clauses 4 – 10, refer to mandatory ISO 27001 requirements to be followed by organizations who comply with the standard.

ISO 27001 Clauses
Clause No.
Focus
Description
0
Introduction
The standard describes a process for systematically managing information risks
1
Scope
The scope of your Information Security Management System is critical because it informs stakeholders, including senior management, customers, auditors, and employees, about the areas of your organization covered in your ISMS
2
Normative references
Only ISO/IEC 27000 is considered essential to users of 27001: the remaining ISO27k standards are optional
3
Terms and definitions
The terms and definitions given in ISO/IEC 27000 apply
4
Context of the Organization
Understanding the organizational context, the needs, and expectations of ‘interested parties’ and defining the scope of the ISMS. Section 4.4 states “The organization shall establish, implement, maintain and continually improve” the ISMS
5
Leadership
Top Management must demonstrate leadership and commitment to the ISMS, mandate policy, and assign information security roles and responsibilities
6
Planning
Outlines the process of identifying, analyzing, and planning to treat information risks and clarify information security objectives
7
Support
Adequate, competent resources must be assigned, awareness raised, and Documentation prepared and controlled
8
Operation
Additional details about assessing and treating information risks, managing changes, and documenting things (partly so that the certification auditors can audit them).Documented practices to manage risks associated with your company’s scoped activities. All security controls must be examined and applied to reduce risks, which is a super high requirement.
9
Performance evaluation
Monitor, measure, analyze, and evaluate/audit/review the information security controls, processes, and management system, systematically improving things
10
Improvement
Address the findings of audits and reviews (e.g., nonconformities and corrective actions), and make continual refinements to the ISMS
ISO 27001 Clauses and the Stage of the ISMS
ISO 27001 Clause
ISMS Stage
Clause 4: Context of the Organization
Design
Clause 5: Leadership
Design
Clause 6: Planning
Implement
Clause 7: Support
Implement/Operate
Clause 8: Operation
Operate
Clause 9: Performance evaluation
Monitor/Improve
Clause 10: Improvement
Improve

2. ISO 27001 Audit Controls : Annex A

The second part, Annex A, provides a guideline for 114 control objectives and controls. These controls may not be mandatory but are chosen as part of the risk management process to support the clauses and their requirements.

Annex A is ‘normative,’ implying that a to-be-certified organization is expected to comply with the requirements. However, an organization is allowed to diverge from or modify it to handle their specific information risks.

Annex A has 114 controls across 35 control objectives among 14 domains (A.5 to A.18).

Mandatory Documents and Records for ISO 27001

The list below shows the minimum set of documents and records required by the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 revision, which was reviewed and confirmed by ISO in 2019. The list of these documents and records is currently valid and the standard allows any other documents to be added to improve information security.

No.
Focus
Description
A.5
Information Security Policies
Controls on how policies are written and reviewed
A.6
Organization of Information Security
Controls on how responsibilities are assigned; also includes the controls for mobile devices and teleworking
A.7
Human Resources Security
Controls prior to employment, during, and after the employment
A.8
Asset Management
Controls related to inventory of assets and acceptable use, information classification and media handling
A.9
Access Control
Controls relating to the access control policy, user access management, system and application access control, and user responsibilities
A.10
Cryptography
Controls related to encryption and key management
A.11
Physical and Environmental Security
Controls defining secure areas, entry controls, protection against threats, equipment security, secure disposal, Clear Desk, and Clear Screen Policy, etc.
A.12
Operational Security
Controls related to the Management of IT production: change management, capacity management, malware, backup, logging, monitoring, installation, vulnerabilities, etc.
A.13
Communications Security
Controls related to network security, segregation, network services, transfer of information, messaging, etc.
A.14
System Acquisition, Development and Maintenance
Controls defining security requirements and security in development and support processes
A.15
Supplier Relationships
Controls on what to include in agreements and how to monitor suppliers
A.16
Information Security Incident Management
Controls for reporting events and vulnerabilities, defining responsibilities, response procedures, and for collection of evidence
A.17
Information Security Aspects of Business Continuity Management
Controls aimed at business continuity planning, procedures, verification and reviewing, and IT redundancy
A.18
Compliance
Controls requiring the identification of applicable laws and regulations, intellectual property protection, personal data protection, and reviews of information security
ISO 27001 mandatory document list

Scope Of The ISMS
This document is typically a brief that is prepared at the start of the ISO 27001 implementation. It is often a stand-alone document. However, it can be incorporated into an information security policy.

Information Security Policy And Objectives
The information security policy is often a brief, high-level document that describes the main aim of the ISMS. ISMS objectives are often separate documents. However, they can also be incorporated into the Information security policy. In contrast to the ISO 27001 2005 revision, there is no longer a requirement for both an ISMS Policy and an Information Security Policy – only one Information Security Policy is required.

Risk Assessment And Risk Treatment Methodology & Report
These documents are to be created in the following order:
1. Risk Assessment and Treatment Methodology (4–5-page document)
2. Risk Assessment and Risk Treatment
3. The Risk Assessment and Treatment Report (Summary of outcomes)

Statement of Applicability
The Statement of Applicability (or SoA) is created based on the risk treatment findings – this is a key document inside the ISMS since it specifies which controls from Annex A are applicable and how they will be implemented in their present state. The Statement of Applicability can also be viewed as a document outlining your organization’s security profile.

Risk Treatment Plan
This is essentially an action plan for implementing the different controls indicated by the SoA – it is created based on the Statement of Applicability. It is actively utilized and updated during the ISMS deployment. It may be possible to incorporate it into the project plan.

Security Roles and Responsibilities
Contracts outline the security duties and obligations of third parties. The ideal technique is to define these accurately throughout all rules and processes. Some businesses may have increased paperwork if they begin by including them in the job description.

Inventory of Assets
If you didn’t have an inventory prior to the ISO 27001 project, the best approach to construct one is straight from the risk assessment findings. During the risk assessment, all assets and their owners must be identified and findings may be copied from there.

Acceptable Use of Assets
Just because the standard does not specify this control properly, it is frequently presented in the form of a policy, and such a document can cover a very broad range of issues. The following is probably the best approach: (1) postpone it until the completion of your ISMS deployment, and (2) cover all areas and controls that you haven’t covered with other papers and that affect all workers with this policy.

Access Control Policy
You may simply cover the business side of approving access to certain information and systems in this document. You can also handle both the business and technical sides of access control and set rules for either logical access or logical and physical access. You should only create this document once you have completed your risk assessment and risk treatment procedure.

Operating Procedures for IT Management
You may create this as a single document or as a set of rules and procedures – a smaller organization will likely have fewer papers. In most cases, you may cover all of the topics covered in sections A.12 and A.13 – change management, third-party services, backup, network security, harmful code, disposal and destruction, information transfer, system monitoring, etc. You should only create this document once you have completed your risk assessment and risk treatment procedure.

Secure System Engineering Principles
This new control in ISO 27001 that demands secure engineering concepts to be documented in the form of a process or standard, defining how to include security approaches in all architecture levels – business, data, applications, and technology. Input data validation, debugging, authentication mechanisms, secure session management, and so forth are examples.

Supplier Security Policy
This is a new control in ISO 27001, and it can cover a wide range of controls, including how to screen potential contractors, how to assess a supplier’s risk, which security clauses to include in contracts, how to supervise the fulfillment of contractual security clauses, how to change contracts, how to close access once the contract is terminated, and so on.

Incident Management Procedure
This critical method describes how security flaws, events, and incidents are reported, categorized, and managed. This approach also specifies how to learn from information security accidents to avoid them in the future. If an incident has caused a protracted interruption, such a technique can also be utilized to trigger the Business continuity plan.

Business Continuity Procedures
Business continuity plans, incident response plans, business recovery plans, and catastrophe recovery plans are examples of these (recovery plans for IT infrastructure). The ISO 22301 standard, the most widely used international standard for business continuity, best describes them.

Legal, Regulatory and Contractual Requirements
This list should be as feasible as early in the project because numerous papers will need to be created based on these inputs. This list should include the responsibility for meeting particular standards and the timeframes.

*Controls from Annex A can be excluded if an organization concludes there are no risks or other requirements that demand the implementation of control.

Records of Training, Skills, Experience and Qualifications
The human resources department usually maintains these records. In the absence of a formal HR Department, personnel who manage employee records should handle this role. Essentially, a folder with all the documents will suffice.

Monitoring and Measurement Results
The most straightforward way to describe how controls are to be measured is through policies and procedures that define each control – normally, this description can be written at the end of each document, and such a description defines the types of KPIs (key performance indicators) that must be measured for each control or group of controls.
Once you have established the procedure, you can complete the measurement process. It is critical to regularly submit these outcomes to those in charge of reviewing them.

Internal Audit Program
The internal audit program is a 1-year plan for executing audits. This program should specify who will conduct the audits, the audit procedures and audit criteria. For a smaller organization, this may just be one audit. However, for a larger organization, this may be a series of internal audits.

Results Of Internal Audits
The audit report, which includes the audit results, must be produced by an internal auditor (observations and corrective actions). Following an internal audit, such a report must be issued within a few days. In some circumstances, the internal auditor may need to verify that all remedial measures were carried out as planned.

Results of The Management Review
These documents are often in the form of minutes of the meeting, and they must include all items discussed and any decisions taken during the meeting. The minutes can be printed or saved digitally.

Results of Corrective Actions
Traditionally, these are included in Corrective Action Forms (CARs). Corrective Actions are similar to to-do lists with clearly defined duties, tasks, and dates.

Logs of User Activities, Exceptions and Security Events
These are often stored in two forms: (1) in digital form, which is created automatically or semi-automatically as logs of different IT and other systems, and (2) in paper form, where each record is manually recorded.

Procedure for Document Control
If you have previously implemented another standard, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or ISO 22301, you can apply the same approach. This is often a 2-3-page stand-alone process. This technique is sometimes best written as the first document of a project.

Controls for Managing Records
The simplest method is to define a record control in any policy or procedure (or other documents) that involves the creation of a record. These restrictions are often written at the end of each document in a table that indicates where the record is kept, who has access to it, how it is secured, how long it is archived, and so on.

Procedure for Internal Audit
This is often a stand-alone process that may be 2 – 3 pages long and must be developed prior to the start of the internal audit. The procedure for an internal audit which the organization may have used for other management systems like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or ISO 22301 etc. may be utilized.

Procedures for Corrective Action
This method should be no more than 2-3 pages long, and it may be prepared towards the end of the implementation project. Creating it sooner is recommended since it gives staff members an opportunity to become accustomed to it.

The ISO 27001 Certification Process

Flow chart of ISP process in databrackets

Receiving ISO 27001 certification requires extensive participation from both internal and external parties. It’s not as simple as completing a checklist and submitting it for approval. Before seeking certification, organizations need to ensure that their ISMS is completely developed and covers all potential areas of technological risk.

We recommend that organizations undergo a readiness-prep process with a consulting company that has ISO Lead Auditors. This empowers them to identify their level of compliance and work on any aspects that may not be sufficiently mature before the formal certification process.

The ISO 27001 certification procedure is usually divided into the following stages:

1. Pre-certification: The organization employs a certification body, which does the initial due diligence of the organization for ISO 27001 Certification.

2. Initial Certification: The certification authority conducts a more in-depth audit in which specific ISO 27001 components are compared against the organization’s ISMS. Evidence must be provided to demonstrate that policies and procedures are being followed correctly. The lead auditor determines whether the certification has been achieved or not. The Certifying Body issues the Initial Audit ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Certificate.

There are 2 stages in the certification process: Stage 1 & Stage 2 Audit

The ISO 27001 certification process involves two assessments: one to evaluate your existing processes and report on any areas of improvement, and a second to determine if those areas have been implemented and your ISMS meets the standards of ISO 27001.

2.1 Stage 1 Audit

The initial examination is referred to as a “Stage 1” audit. During this stage, the organization’s documentation and procedures are evaluated to assess how well the organization already meets the ISO 27001 criteria. The length of the evaluation is determined by the size of the organization and the industry in which it operates.
When the Stage 1 evaluation is completed, a closing meeting is held to summarize the findings. The ISO Lead Auditors submit a report outlining what transpired during the assessment along with any areas of improvement. These are referred to as ” areas of concern that could be classified as nonconformity during Stage 2.”

2.2 Stage 2 Audit

During this stage, the auditor observes organizational procedures in operation. This also includes meetings with both managers and employees. The auditor evaluates if the procedures have been clearly understood and if the checks and controls are sufficient to limit the risks of a data security breach, as required by ISO 27001.

If the lead auditor discovers no issues, they confirm that the ISMS fulfills the necessary ISO 27001 criteria. The certification committee examines their recommendation and issue the Initial Audit ISO 27001 certificate. However, If the auditor discovers nonconformities, they are included in a detailed report. They need to be addressed before getting certified. Once the issues are resolved, the organization is officially recognized as “ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified”.

3. Ongoing Surveillance Activities and Re-certification: Annual audits are planned between the certification body and the organization to guarantee compliance and to schedule the re-certification process every 3 years.

How long does it take to get ISO 27001 Certified?

Time, Effort and Roles Needed To Implement ISO 27001

This is most likely the second most often asked question concerning ISO 27001. Most companies anticipate the duration to be a couple of weeks. However, this is not realistic. The actual duration ranges from a few months for small businesses to more than a year for larger corporations.

We recommend a strong focus on quality while conducting a risk assessment, designing the ISMS and ensuring that safeguards and controls are compliant with ISO 27001 standards. Organizations that prioritize speed and cost-savings above quality, may pay a higher price by having to re-do the process. This will also result in a high level of confusion in the workforce who maybe accustomed to the original unsecure way of maintaining information.

Duration of The Initial ISO 27001 Implementation and Certification
The primary implementation effort is focused on the ISO 27001 “Plan” and “Do” phases of a PDCA cycle. These are the first two obligatory stages when a risk assessment is performed, and all safeguards (security controls) are applied.

The size of the organization determines the duration of these two phases:

Organization Size
Duration of ISO 27001 Implementation
1-20 employees
Up to 3 months
20 – 50 employees
3 – 5 months
50 – 200 employees
5 – 8 months
>200 employees
8 – 20 months

 

These are rough estimates since the actual duration varies from organization to organization. In our experience as a Certifying Body, it usually takes 3- 5 months on average. However, these estimates maybe realistic if a consultant or an online tool is used to assist with implementation. It may take longer if the preparation is done solely in-house by employees who are not well-versed with the most recent ISO 27001 standards.

Following implementation, the certification process is often separated into 3 steps:

1) A review of the Documentation – The certification auditor will inspect all of your management system documentation to ensure that everything is in place to meet the criteria. This takes 1-3 days on average.

2) A certification audit – The certification auditors will check all of your processes at your site, comparing them to what was documented and verifying compliance. The Initial Audit ISO 27001 Certificate will be issued based on the auditor’s recommendations and report. The Certificate is valid for three years subject to successful annual surveillance audits. The duration is based on the number of employees. For small-medium organizations this takes 5-15 days on average.

3) Surveillance and maintenance audits – There will be surveillance audits for the next 2 years after the Initial Audit. At the end of 3 years, the certified organization will have to undergo recertification. During this time, certification auditors will visit and evaluate a sample of system procedures to ensure that you maintain the system. The complete system is meant to be audited during monitoring, but not all at once.

Surveillance and maintenance audits usually take 30% – 40% of the time taken for the certification audit, approximately 2-5 days.

Do you need a consultant to get ISO 27001 Certified ?

Essentially, there are three strategic alternatives for adopting ISO 27001:

a) In-House Team

Employees complete the entire task if you decide to work with an in-house team. This is option is ideal for organizations with a tight budget, and who don’t want to include outsiders in their ISO journey. However, this is only feasible if the organization has employees who are well-versed with the standard.

b) In-House Team with External Consultants

In this option the organization assembles an internal team to implement the standard by completing a risk assessment, designing their ISO 27001 compliant ISMS in accordance with the clauses and controls, and maintaining the required documents and records.

External assistance is added at the end of the project. The organization can conclude the project with the help of an ISO 27001 tool and external specialists. This is usually a budget-friendly option which empowers the internal team to sharpen their understanding or information security.

We recommend this alternative since it helps the organization to mature their processes as per ISO 27001 standards in an organic way. They benefit greatly by working with consultants who are security experts with the most updated information and extensive experience in managing risks.

c) Outsourcing a substantial part of the project to a team of consultants

In this alternative, the organization hires an ISO consultant to oversee the entire project. The consultant undertakes all the activities and shares the required documentation. This is typically the quickest and most expensive means of putting the standard into action.

What is the cost of ISO 27001 certification?

This is a critical question while considering ISO 27001. Once an organization decides to proceed with ISO 27001, they need to evaluate cost estimates for implementation/compliance and certification. These are 2 separate processes. While it is not possible to give a fixed amount, in our experience as a consulting company that works on both ISO goals, we have observed a trend.

Service
Criteria
*Cost Estimate (USD)
ISO 27001 Implementation / Compliance
Small-Medium organizations
$ 10,000 – $ 20,000 *
ISO 27001 Certification (Stage 1, Stage 2, and Reporting)
The cost is based on the number of employees and number of days
$ 15,000 – $ 25,000 *

To get a customized quote for your organization, we encourage you to schedule a consultation or request a quote.

*Disclaimer: The cost estimates are based on the maturity level of the security architecture, the time required for readiness assessment, stage 1 and stage 2 audits and the number of employees. They are at best only an estimate. Organization’s are required to request a quote to obtain the actual cost they will incur, the duration of each service and to select the engagement model best suited to their environment.

databrackets and your ISO Journey

databrackets has a team of certified ISO Lead Auditors. We help organizations achieve their ISO goals by supporting them with:

1. ISO 27001 Implementation / ISO 27001 Compliance
2. ISO 27001 Certification
3. Do-It-Yourself ISO 27001 assessment toolkit

All our ISO services involve the use of our secure and user-friendly online assessment platform called ‘dbACE’. On this platform we identify gap areas, prioritize solutions, and help organizations demonstrate compliance with ISO 27001 standards. We offer a ‘Readiness Assessment’

In our DIY (Do It Yourself) assessment toolkit all the clauses and controls stipulated by ISO 27001 standards are uploaded. Customers need to upload their data along with evidence and mark the clause/controls’ ‘implementation’ status for Stage 1 and Stage 2 Assessments.

Our auditors conduct an impartial assessment based on the evidence provided and record their findings on our platform. This helps them communicate the results and seek corrective measures wherever necessary – all in one location. The dbACE interface makes the turnaround quicker and saves time, effort and, thereby, costs. The documentation for the audit from start-to-finish takes place on this platform. This includes the final report that reflects the status of the customer’s adherence to ISO 27001 standards and guidelines.

 

We welcome your inputs, questions and comments about this guide. Please send us your feedback by writing to info@databrackets.com or schedule a consultation.

Explore our ISO 27001 FAQs

The updated standard has a simpler framework that may be adopted throughout an organization. ISO 27002 has been updated and may now be used to manage a broader risk profile. This includes information security and the more technical components of physical security, asset management, cyber security, human resource security, and privacy protection. Read More

Since ISO 27001 is primarily a framework for establishing an ISMS, it will not address all of the particular regulations of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, when combined with ISO 27701, which addresses the construction of a data protection system, enterprises will be able to satisfy the GDPR obligations to a large extent.

While ISO 27001 addresses general information and data management, the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) addresses how financial controls are in place for public companies in the United States. Fortunately, organizations with a broad scope of data management may use ISO 27001 certification to demonstrate compliance with SOX rules.

ISO 27001 specifies the standards for an Information Security Management System (ISMS), whereas ISO 27002 details how to put ISO 27001 Annex A controls into practice.

In other words, ISO 27001 merely gives a brief overview of each control, but ISO 27002 provides thorough recommendations.

While ISO 27001 is an international standard, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a US government institution that supports and maintains measurement standards in the US, including the SP 800 series of papers, which describes best practices for information security.

The NIST SP (Special Publication) 800 series and ISO 27001 can be used together for information security implementation, even though they are not identical.

While ISO 27001 isn’t a legal mandate, organizations around the world look for B2B partners and vendors who comply with the controls listed under this standard and often demand proof of this through certification. As a result of its popularity, it is prioritized by businesses who want to secure contracts by proving their ability to protect the information they are entrusted with.

Some governments, however, have established legislation requiring specific industries to get certified ISO 27001.

Compliance with ISO 27001 can be defined as a legal obligation in contracts and service agreements between public and private enterprises. Furthermore, nations can specify laws or rules that implement ISO 27001, a legal necessity for enterprises operating on their territory.

CriteriaSOC 2ISO 27001
DefinitionSOC 2 refers to a collection of audit reports that demonstrate the level of conformance to a set of defined criteria (TSC)ISO 27001 is a standard that defines specifications for an Information Security Management System (ISMS).
Regional applicabilitySOC 2 is primarily for the United StatesISO 27001 is globally respected
Industry-specific applicabilitySOC 2 is more popular in the financial industry and data centre and data hosting organizationsEnterprises of any size or industry
ComplianceSOC 2 is attested by a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA)ISO 27001 is certified by an ISO certification body
MethodologySOC 2 demonstrates system security against static principles and standardsISO 27001 is intended to define, implement, operate, regulate, and enhance total security

 

Both SOC 2 and ISO 27001 are excellent compliance initiatives that organizations may use to obtain a competitive edge, show the design and operational effectiveness of internal controls, and achieve regulatory compliance.

If you’re primarily conducting business in the US, databrackets recommends that you consider SOC 2 examination as your first option. However, if you are planning on having a global presence, then ISO 27001 is more suited to meeting those goals. Both standards have been used interchangeably to implement security controls and provide assurance to customers and partners.

Certainly, combining the two can provide various benefits in terms of competitive advantage and audit efficiency since there are significant overlaps between the subject areas of SOC 2 and ISO 27001.

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