ISO: 27001 is one of the most internationally recognised set of standards for Information Security Management (ISMS).
With so much information being stored on IT systems and in the cloud, keeping it secure has never been more important. Clients place their trust in organisations they work with to securely hold their sensitive personal and financial data. However, the inherent value of this data makes it a target for cyber criminals, and occasionally, bad actors within companies themselves.
Providing assurances to your clients, suppliers and regulators that your organisation is being vigilant and responsible with sensitive and personal data is essential. To do this, there are several different certifications you can choose to work towards.
While SOC2, Cyber Essentials, NIST CSF, ISF Standard of Good Practice framework, and IASME have very considerable advantages. ISO: 27001 is, in our experience, the best certification option currently available to businesses. Here’s why:
ISO: 27001 requires ongoing evaluation and improvement of your company’s information security management system. Companies in receipt of an ISO: 27001 are expected to continually assess, test, review and measure their performance.
As well as committing to external auditing, companies are also required to integrate the following ongoing procedures into their general operations:
These reviews allow organisations to constantly question the efficiency and veracity of their controls and working practices. By doing this, they gain the information needed to fine-tune both, on an ongoing basis against emerging and existent threats.
Companies must also submit to ongoing supervisory reviews (referred to as surveillance audits) over a three-year period to ensure continued compliance. Conversely, SOC2 Type 2 has a similar requirement but over just a six-month timespan and the Type 1 certification only requires that you prove adherence at the time of a particular audit.
Although Cyber Essentials Plus requires technical verification by way of a Penetration Test, the standard Cyber Essentials certification does not. Therefore, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recommends ISO: 27001; because it requires initial and ongoing internal and external auditing to ensure compliance.
External auditing to ISO: 27001 offers companies a higher level of protection in case of a data breach meaning that any punishment or fine given by the ICO is likely to be significantly less severe.
There is just a small difference between the security control protocols set out in ISO: 27001 and SOC2. However, these differences are important. ISO: 27001 is focused on developing, maintaining, and managing top-down data protection controls specific to a particular business, while SOC 2 only requires adherence to one of its five Security Trust Principals (security, but not privacy, confidentiality, processing integrity or availability).
To be awarded ISO: 27001, you must be assessed by a recognised ISO: 27001 -accredited certification body. For SOC 2, an audit must be carried out by an independent CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who will judge compliance with the standards set out by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
If you wish to trade in North America, most organisations will be happy with either certificate (except for healthcare and government departments). However, across the rest of the world and in the UK, ISO: 27001 is far more widely accepted.
As part of the ISO: 27001 certification process, organisations need to assemble and maintain a comprehensive inventory of their information assets.
Alongside the organisation's data, this should include:
By having a complete picture of the information assets your organisation has, who is responsible for it, and who needs it to carry out their day-to-day and strategic roles, you know what you have to protect and you can better identify specific threats and vulnerabilities.
In comparison, the purpose of SOC2 is to prove system security levels against a set of defined criteria and principles. While organisations with SOC2 are encouraged to continually monitor and improve, it is not as great a requirement as with ISO: 27001.
As the amount of data we hold increases, so will the regulations to protect these assets. The most effective way to deal with current and future requirements is to take a lead in building a risk-based approach for protecting all your important assets and adopt ISO: 27001. In addition, ISO: 27001 is much more widely recognised around the world than any of the other accreditations available, making any planned international expansion quicker and more cost-effective. To discuss your ISO: 27001 requirements in more detail, please get in touch to speak to one of our specialists.
This article was published in partnership with our cyber security partners PGI.
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