A Comprehensive Guide to ISO 27001 Compliance

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It’s not unfair to say that our online data is caught in a tug-of-war between continually updated security controls and hackers that relentlessly find new, inventive ways of breaching those controls.

In the middle of this war are e-commerce businesses, which know that the only way to survive in today’s hyper-competitive market is to accommodate the consumer’s need for online functionality.

This is where information security standards like ISO 27001, designed to help all organizations implement and maintain ever-changing security standards, come in. Although compliance isn’t, more and more consumers are looking for this certification to know that their information stays safe.

Ensuring your business keeps personal data secure is crucial for successful e-commerce operations. So what does your business need to know? This guide explores what ISO 27001 is, requirements for certification, and outlines useful tips, such as taking advantage of automated software testing, for maintaining this compliance in the long term.

What Is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001, or ISO/IEC 27001, is in its most fundamental form, an international standard for how organizations and businesses can manage information security. ISO 27001 specifically requires businesses to:

  • Systematically examines information security risks
  • Take account of the threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts of these risks
  • Design and implement a coherent and comprehensive arsenal of information security controls and risk treatment to address those risks
  • Adopt a management process to ensure that security controls continue to meet the organization’s information security needs

Information risk management is the crucial process behind ISM systems and ISO. It involves assessing the risks that present themselves in the process of managing and protecting data assets, disseminating these risks to all appropriate stakeholders, and properly identifying and evaluating those risks.

Why Do Businesses Need ISO 27001?

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There are several very good reasons for businesses to take the time to become officially ISO 27001 certified. Here are some reasons why ISO 27001 certification and compliance is so important:

  • It’s internationally recognized by regulatory bodies, governments, and other businesses as a mark of security and trustworthiness.
  • It can help businesses maintain a reputation of airtight security standards.
  • It can help businesses expand to more areas where ISO 27001 certification is standard practice.
  • It can help businesses stay ahead of the game when it comes to complying with ever-changing laws, regulations, and requirements.
  • It’s also recognized by customers, which can help your business grow.
  • It helps prevent data breaches from happening in the first place, which can help businesses save money.

ISO 27001 certification is designed to help businesses address and organize their data security practices. This is even more important as customers move towards omnichannel experiences that can include providing data on websites and applications. It gives companies the tools to define their main security processes so that they’re able to designate what needs to be done by whom.

What Does ISO 27001 Compliance Look Like?

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In order to be considered for certification, businesses need to have a good understanding of the 14 sections that make up the standard’s best practices:

  1. Information security policies — Indicates how policies should be presented, documented, and renewed.
  2. Organization of information security — Outlines who is responsible for what, using a clear organizational chart delineating responsibilities.
  3. Human resource security — Outlines how employees should be informed about security at all stages of employment.
  4. Asset management — Defines the processes of data management and how hardware, software, and databases are secured for data integrity.
  5. Access control — Defines the limits of access to certain types of data, including how access is set and maintained.
  6. Cryptography — Looks at how the ISMS handles sensitive data and the type of encryptions used.
  7. Physical and environmental security — Outlines how physical buildings and their equipment are secured, including access security.
  8. Operations security — Outlines how data is collected and stored securely in line with General Data Protection Regulations.
  9. Communications security — Defines the security of all communication transmissions, including what systems are used and how data is secured.
  10. System acquisition, development, and maintenance — Looks at the management of systems within a secure environment, including how new systems are introduced.
  11. Supplier relationships — Details how businesses should interact with third parties to ensure security.
  12. Information security incident management — Defines the best practices for dealing with security issues or breaches.
  13. Information security aspects of business continuity management — Looks at how major business changes or disruptions should be handled and the ISMS resources dedicated to recovering from these.
  14. Compliance — Outlines the specific governmental or industry regulations relevant to the organization and how to remain fully compliant within these.

As is probably pretty clear, these steps are not intended to be forgotten after an organization is audited. ISO 27001’s overarching philosophy is one of maintenance and prevention, rather than reacting to security breaches as and when they occur.

Automation: The Key to Maintaining Compliance

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By understanding what kinds of automated systems can help maintain compliance, in the long run, all businesses can uphold data security today, tomorrow, and always. Here are two excellent examples:

Test Data Systems Continually With Automation

Compliance is a continual process that morphs over time, and it’s inevitable that some systems may become outdated. As such, it’s important for organizations to test the systems they’re using to keep data safe on a consistent basis. But continual manual testing is fraught with potential human error as well as being expensive and time-consuming to implement.

Automation software, such as robotic process automation tools, can complete otherwise manually draining constant testing to ensure that your organization remains secure. RPA can detect and categorize abnormal system behavior through a continuous testing process. This frees up company time to fix any data security issues that are found.

Employ Regression Testing for System Changes

When your sophisticated RPA picks up any data security issues with your ISMS, chances are your organization will need to implement quick changes to safeguard against breaches. But changing one system may cause a ripple effect that could jeopardize other systems. This is where regression testing can be immeasurably useful.

But what is regression testing? Simply, regression testing ensures that when a change is made to one part of a system, this doesn’t affect any software or code that was functioning correctly before these changes. Regression testing is a great way to ensure that changes don’t break other areas of functionality.

ISO 27001 Compliance Is Everyone’s Responsibility

The days of designating a specific section of your IT team to data security are well and truly over. Maintaining data security depends on an airtight system of communication between the organization and employees, continual testing, and safeguards for potential breaches. With sophisticated tools at our disposal, though, data security can be achieved on a consistent basis.


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