March 12, 2018

How ISO 27001 Can Benefit Your Organization

In a modern, data-centric economy, the protection of data is not only a legislative and regulatory requirement, but a savvy business move. The establishment of an ISO 27001 program can help organizations meet legal requirements, consumer needs and secure vital corporate data.

What is ISO 27001?
ISO 27001 is an information security standard established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Its most recent version was published in September 2013. To meet ISO 27001, an organization must implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS) with specific requirements for management controls. Adopting ISO 27001 can create several significant benefits for your organization. Let’s dive in.

What organizations can benefit from adopting ISO 27001?
Getting ISO 27001 is suitable for any organization that handles confidential data. This includes but is not limited to:

  • startups
  • companies in heavily regulated industries such as financial and health sectors
  • technology service providers
  • technology companies
  • software companies
  • law firms

What are the benefits of adopting ISO 27001 for my organization?
Implementing ISO 27001 provides several key benefits such as:

1. Protect and manage your confidential data consistently.
Adopting and implementing ISO 27001 requires setting up an ISMS following defined security protocols. For many organizations, the process of data management is not well defined or consistently managed. To obtain ISO 27001, a company needs to set up a clear management process for data access, controls and management.

2. Simplify third party vendor reviews.
When your organization achieves ISO 27001 certification, you prove that your organization maintains a thorough security management program. This simplifies the third-party due diligence process by your partners and in turn, you reduce certain burdens of proof such as providing all security documentation. This makes the security verification process for your organization faster and more efficient.

3. Gain market share and enhance your reputation.
ISO 27001 is an internationally accepted security standard. When you adopt and implement this security standard for your organization and integrate it into your company’s process, the data your organization handles is more secure. Cyber threats become more sophisticated daily and cause significant damage to the reputation and finances of affected companies. Therefore, having a proven, effective ISMS is important in protecting your organization against such threats. It demonstrates your proactive stance for maintaining the security of your organization and the data you manage. This is appealing to share-holders as your organization is also more secure, well-managed and able to align to international regulations arising in the Europe Union (GDPR), China and Japan.

4. Avoid financial penalties and losses that come from data breaches.
Even one data breach can devastate a company. IBM estimates the average cost of a data breach to be $3.79 million. ISO 27001 helps an organization manage the protection of information assets, enabling you to be better prepared against cyber threats and prevent costly penalties in the event of a breach.

5. Define information security roles within your organization and improve focus.
Far too often, organizations do not have a defined team or roles to manage information security on an ongoing basis. To implement ISO 27001, an organization must dedicate resources for management and operations. At a minimum, your organization will need to have three categories of roles with associated responsibilities. They are:

Senior, executive leadership:
These are the decision makers at your company who define your information security policy.

Direct, information security management:
These individuals are responsible for implementing ISO 27001.

Direct information security operations:
The individuals in this group are engineers and analysts who are responsible for day-to-day in-formation security activities including vulnerability management, logging and monitoring and incident response activities.

By preparing for the ISO 27001, your organization becomes more organized in terms of information security management. Your business benefits by the clear delegation of information security responsibilities as everyone knows who is responsible for managing specific information assets. This prevents confusion, simplifies processes and improves structure and focus.

Most importantly, ISO 27001 requires senior executive involvement. Their buy-in is crucial as they are responsible for helping integrate information security throughout your organizations culture.

6. Setting up a defined and mature information security incident response system.
To meet ISO 27001, your organization will have to expand beyond basic incident detection and response to performing detailed analyses of the root causes of such incidents and performing regular tests of the incident response plan, to discover and address any weaknesses in the plan.

7. Setting up a business continuity and disaster recovery plan.
You will also need to have well defined business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place. This is an involved process and will help your organization in planning for emergencies, natural disasters and any event that could impact your business.

8. Comply with regulatory requirements.
Adopting the ISO 27001 helps your organization meet security controls and requirements for regulations of laws such as GDPR, NIS Directive and more. For organizations heavily involved in the cloud and international data processing, adopting the ISO 27018 is also recommended .

9. Decrease the need for frequent audits.
By implementing ISO 27001, a global standard for security management, your organization not only reduces the frequency of customer audits but also simplifies the ISO audit process, ensuring smoother compliance and certification reviews.

10. Increase customer retention and win new business.
Implementing ISO 27001 demonstrates that your organization maintains excellent security practices. This reassures your existing clients that your organization will take any necessary security measures to protect their confidential data, thereby helping you retain their business. Adopting ISO 27001 will also help you win new business and new customers who appreciate working with an organization that pro-actively secures their data.

Finally, it is important to note that implementing ISO 27001 is not a one-time event but will require on-going maintenance. This ensures that your program stays up-to-date on evolving data protection trends and matures to meet those needs year over year. Those invested in this process are sure to see benefits across the board and engender stronger brand equity, particularly in the eyes of consumers looking for appropriate protections of their information.

About the Authors
Christina Whiting is the managing director of enterprise risk and compliance at Tevora.
David Grazer is the privacy practice lead for enterprise risk and compliance at Tevora.