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Let’s begin with the complete title of what’s referred to as ISO 27001. It is officially known as “ISO/IEC 27001." If you're looking to have your company certified, you'll need to meet ISO 27001 criteria. The ISO 27000 standards include ISO 27002, ISO27005, and ISO 27001; it has an extensive reference library of associated guidance materials.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed this Information Security Management standard in 2005. It ensures organizations successfully manage data security concerns and helps them establish and sustain an effective information security management system (ISMS) through continuous improvement. You'll need to quickly identify information security risks and implement procedures and policies to handle them during certification.

Is ISO 27001 new to you? Do you want additional information about the information security standard? ISO27001 certification has grown in popularity due to the rising public concern over data security breaches. Keep reading below to learn more about ISO and how to attain an ISO 27001 certification.

Differences Between ISO 27001 and NIST CSF

The differences between ISO 27001 and NIST CSF are significant. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides federal agencies and enterprises guidance to manage risk better. 

If applicable, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a technique for self-certification, namely “Certificate of Analysis and a Material Safety Data Sheet” with every SRM. Your product will be tested against NIST SRM (standard reference materials) to qualify for NIST certification. 

ISO 27001, on the other hand, is a method for developing and maintaining an ISMS that has gained international recognition. Audits and certification bodies are required to meet the requirements of ISO 27001, while the NIST CSF is optional.

Various control catalogs and five functions allow NIST frameworks to tailor cybersecurity controls to the organization's needs. Alternatively, ISO 27001 emphasizes risk-based management and provides best practices to keep information secure. The ISO 27001 standard comprises 14 control categories, 114 controls, and ten management clauses in Annex A.

Operationally mature firms might consider the ISO 27001 certification. NIST CSF is best suited for firms in the early phases of building a cybersecurity risk policy or attempting to minimize breaches.

Effectiveness of ISO 27001

ISO 27001 prevents and reduces real-world information security incidents. When a framework has been adopted and certified, it aims to identify its practice areas, leading to high stakeholder certainty. It also focuses on loopholes contributing to information security risks and incidents even when the framework is followed and certified. 

Companies with ISO 27001 certification and audits benefit from a better risk-based approach to cybersecurity management, focusing on proactive countermeasures and increasing their overall security through extensive ISO testing. Organizations can use one system instead of two to demonstrate effective internal control over financial operations and improve information security concerns.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being ISO 27001 Certified?

The only disadvantage of obtaining ISO 27001 framework certification is the additional cost of the extra work. On the other hand, it has numerous advantages for your company. The following are some of the benefits that your company will receive:

  • Ensured organizational safety by closing any security gaps.
  • Decreased volume of cyberattacks.
  • Streamlined compliance with regulations
  • A significant advantage over competitors
  • New opportunities.
  • Reputation protection
  • Decreased frequency of audit requirements 
  • Help with retaining customers
  • Quality assurance

Step-By-Step Process Plan of the ISO 27001 

You must pass audits to be certified for ISO 27001. Here's how to prepare and pass the exam to get an ISO 27001 certification.

Step One: Prepare a Project Plan

Check who oversees the process, set expectations, and manages milestones. Distinguish how you will convince company leaders and whether you will seek an ISO 27001 consultant to help.

A significant element of this procedure is learning ISO 27001's 114 controls. 

Step Two: Determine The Scope of Your ISMS

Every company is different and has its respective statistics. Your ISMS will need to safeguard specific types of data, which you will need to identify beforehand.

While particular ISMSs cover the whole business, others are limited to a single department or system. Your team must decide what to include in the ISO 27001 scope statement.

Begin by questioning yourself: "Which service, product, or platform are our clients most interested in for ISO 27001?"

Step Three: Analyze Risks and Gaps

ISO 27001 certification requires a formal risk assessment.  Make sure to document every step of your risk assessment. Start with your security baseline. What legal, regulatory, and contractual duties does your firm have? An  ISO consultant can help identify gaps and provide a remedy plan.

Experts who have worked with enterprises like yours can help you comply with ISO 27001. They can also assist you in creating security best practices to follow.

Step Four: Policy, Control Design, and Implementation

Now that you've recognized threats, determine how your organization will respond to them: which risks can you afford to ignore and which must you address?

Your auditor will analyze your risk management decisions during your ISO 27001 certification assessment. As part of your audit evidence, you'll need to provide a Statement of Applicability and a Risk Treatment Plan.

The Statement of Applicability indicates which ISO 27001 controls and policies apply to your company. A certification audit begins with an examination of this document.

A Risk Treatment Plan details how your company will deal with a threat identified in your risk assessment.

As per ISO 27001 standard outline, these are the steps:

  • Define risks
  • List all information assets
  • Check for weaknesses and threats
  • Evaluate risks
  • Lower risks by preventing their occurrence
  • Generate risk report
  • Review risk reports, make audits, and monitor perceived risks

After that, you'll develop rules and procedures to address identified threats. Your policies should require multi-factor authentication and locked workstations when employees leave.

Step Five: Employee Training

Organizations must train all employees in ISO 27001 requirements and information security best practices. This step ensures everyone in your company knows data security and their role in attaining and sustaining compliance.

Step Six: Document and Collect Evidence

Obtaining your certification requires demonstrating that you have implemented the appropriate processes for an ISMS that complies with ISO 27001.

You'll need to provide your auditor proof that the company and its employees followed the procedures. In this list, you'll find:

  • The Information Security Management System's scope
  • Methods for evaluating and treating potential risks
  • Policy and ambitions for managing information security
  • Treatment Strategy for Potential Risks
  • Applicability Statement
  • The definition of security jobs and responsibilities
  • Risk evaluation and treatment report
  • Policy for limiting access
  • A list of all the things you own
  • Acceptable asset utilization
  • Security measures implemented by the supplier
  • IT management operating procedures
  • Principles of secure system engineering
  • Processes for ensuring business continuity
  • Procedure for handling incidents
  • Results being monitored and measured
  • Compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and agreements
  • Records of education, training, work experience, and other credentials
  • The findings of a management review
  • The outcomes of the internal audit program
  • User activity logs, as well as exceptions and security incidents
  • Measures to remedy unsatisfactory performance

Step 7: Conduct an Audit for ISO 27001 Certification

Your organization must conduct an internal audit before submitting an ISO audit by an external auditor. An internal audit comprises a thorough assessment of your company's ISMS. It is one of the most effective methods to guarantee that your company’s ISMS runs successfully and complies with ISO 27001.

Two stages form the external audit. First, the auditor will check your ISMS documents to ensure you have the appropriate policies and procedures. After that, an external auditor will examine your ISMS to ensure it satisfies ISO 27001 requirements in this phase. In Stage 2, the auditor will review business processes and security measures.

After Stages 1 and 2, you'll receive a three-year ISO 27001 certification.

Step Eight: Maintain Consistent Compliance

ISO 27001 emphasizes improvement. You must analyze and review your ISMS to ensure its effectiveness. As your firm grows and new vulnerabilities emerge, you'll need to update processes and controls. As part of ongoing monitoring, ISO 27001 requires internal audits. Before an external audit, internal auditors search for process and policy gaps and improvement possibilities.

Cost and Timeline for ISO 27001 Certification

As with a SOC 2 audit, the cost of attaining ISO 27001 certification depends on the number of employees and the organization's size since it affects the audit's duration. ISO 27001 certification expenses can range from $6–10K for small businesses to upwards of $25K for large enterprises.

Implementing an ISMS based on ISO 27001 might be a lengthy process involving numerous activities and individuals, depending on the organization's size. Structured approaches and well-defined scopes of work will help your firm implement ISO 27001 promptly and sustainably.

You must complete a full ISO 27001 audit every three years to maintain your accreditation. For your ISMS and deployed controls to continue to work effectively, ISO expects surveillance audits in years two and three. An external audit firm must conduct your organization's ISMS during those years. Once you establish your ISMS, you must maintain and improve it or risk compromising your ISO certification and blowing your surveillance audit.

ISO 27001 certification doesn't end information security management. It can develop and adapt with your organization, helping to keep your information secure as it evolves and potential challenges emerge.

ISO 27001 and CMMC Certification

If your organization participates in Department of Defense (DoD) contracts, you presumably know about the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements, which will launch in 2025. The CMMC will substantially impact their ability to meet many companies' NIST 800-171 self-attestation requirements.

Here is a comparison between ISO 27001 and CMMC compliance.

Key Differences

The ISO and the IEC jointly developed the ISO/IEC 27000 series as an international standard for various organizations, not just the government sector. As a result, there are government-specific needs in CMMC, but ISO/IEC 27000 family does not have any of those criteria.

Commonalities

These guidelines include an organized security program, a codified risk assessment methodology, and customized information security controls. Given that such a significant portion of CMMC is derived from the NIST controls, it is inevitable that there will be a substantial amount of overlap with the ISO/IEC 27000 family.

Should You Have Both Or Choose Between Them?

Many organizations find it best to pursue both, mainly because the ISO 27001 certification can serve as a basis for implementing essential CMMC components and best practices.

To fulfill the standards of the CMMC, you could require more resources, along with more tools and technology, and there will be a large amount of overlap between CMMC and ISO 27001. As a result, many businesses may find that making a parallel certification effort saves them both money and time. However, it takes significant planning on your part.

Differences Between CMMC, NIST, and ISO/IEC 27001

With the CMMC standard, you ensure your firm is protected while working with government agencies and handling sensitive data. The NIST CSF and ISO/IEC 27001 standards cover non-sensitive data, which any enterprise can use.

The NIST framework is more adaptable than CMMC and ISO standards because it has a highly segmented structure that makes it simple to learn, customize, and implement. This system focuses on voluntary compliance and self-certification, with no formal certification of conformity required.

Compared to ISO/IEC 27001 and NIST standards, CMMC is far more secure and stringent. Regarding data security, CMMC is unique in that it demands different security levels based on the intensity of the data that a contractor is responsible for handling.

The ISO/IEC 27001 standard is a well-established security architecture that has gained widespread acceptance worldwide. NIST initially designed its framework to help U.S. agencies and businesses better manage risk. In the same way, the DoD established the CMMC framework to enhance the security of regulated data in the United States.

Streamline Compliance with Automation

Even though these leading organizations primarily created these security frameworks to secure various data, they share standard security rules. You can determine the best framework for your business by the regulations that apply to it.

The good news is that by making adjustments and establishing methods for compliance with one framework, you'll also bring your firm closer to meeting numerous other cybersecurity criteria.

With CyberStrong, enterprises have access to any industry-recognized framework, including NIST CSF, ISO 27001, CMMC, and custom frameworks unique to the organization. Leverage CyberSaint’s patented AI to automate assessments in just a few hours and crosswalk to one and many frameworks in just a few moments. For more information on how CyberSaint can streamline your compliance, contact us.

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