Many people ask me, “What is an ISMS, and do I need one”?
Within the business, and the information security industry you might be wondering why experts are telling you to implement an ISMS.
An ISMS (Information Security Management System), particularly relating to industry certification ISO 27001, provides a managed, systematic approach to managing an organisation’s information security.
Where does ISO 27001 fit in?
ISO 27001 is the international standard that provides the specification for a best-practice ISMS and covers compliance requirements.
While ISO 27001 offers the specification, ISO 27002 provides the code of conduct – guidance and best practices that can be used to enforce the specification.
So, what does this do for my business?
It’s a managed, documented framework that enables you to manage, monitor, review, and improve your information security practices. In other words, it helps you to maintain the security of your organisation.
It encompasses policies, procedures and controls that are designed to meet the three primary objectives of information security:
- Confidentiality: Make sure your data can only be accessed by appropriately authorised people.
- Integrity: Ensuring that your data is accurate.
- Availability: Making sure data can be accessed when, and where it’s required.
Within business today, all businesses interact with other businesses online. We connect to other businesses for maintenance, supply of products and services, financial interactions, and a plethora of other reasons.
As such, many businesses and government bodies, (Customers and 3rd parties) are requiring us to provide proof of undertaking a formal ISMS implementation to show that we pose no threat to their business.
Do I need to go through the whole certification process?
Obviously, doing the complete certification process will reap the most benefits. Unfortunately, doing a complete certification can be prohibitively expensive. Many of us don’t have tens of thousands of dollars available to undertake this certification.
But many times, organisations that request ISO 27001 certification understand this fact and they will often allow you to start a program of work, piece by piece, towards an ISMS. Getting started show that you are serious about becoming compliant without the initial heavy costs.
What are the real business benefits of an ISMS?
An ISO 27001-compliant ISMS does more than help you comply with laws and win business. It can also:
- Secure your information in all its forms: An ISMS helps protect all forms of information, whether digital, paper-based or in the Cloud.
- Increase your attack resilience: Implementing and maintaining an ISMS will significantly increase your organisation’s resilience to cyber-attacks.
- Manage all your information in one place: An ISMS provides a central framework for keeping your organisation’s information safe and managing it all in one place.
- Respond to evolving security threats: Constantly adapting to changes both in the environment and inside the organisation, an ISMS reduces the threat of continually evolving risks.
- Reduce costs associated with information security: Thanks to the ISMS’s risk assessment and analysis approach, organisations can reduce costs spent on indiscriminately adding layers of defensive technology that might not work.
- Protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of your data: An ISMS offers a set of policies, procedures, technical and physical controls to protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of your information.
- Improve company culture: An ISMS’s holistic approach covers the whole organisation, not just IT. This enables employees to readily understand risks and embrace security controls as part of their everyday working practices.
- It can give you a competitive advantage: At a time when information security is on everybody’s mind, it pays to be able to demonstrate effective defence measures. Whether you’re targeting vendors, sub-suppliers, or individual customers, you are more likely to gain their trust by displaying an ISO 27001 certificate.
So, where do I start?
You’ll need to assign a small team to tackle the implementation project and give them anywhere between a few months and a couple of years to complete it, but it will certainly be worth the effort.
Engage an organisation that will help you down the path, in line with your requirements and budget.
But don’t forget to seek the answers of, “I don’t know what I don’t know”. This will help you identify those pesky little risks that could bring your business down before they come out to bite you.