“When evaluating ISO 27001, companies tend to focus on the technical aspects of cybersecurity, but the overarching goal of your ISMS is to improve your complete information security process. From identifying risks to the resulting protection of vital company assets, your ISMS will set procedures in place to protect your information.” – Scott Dawson ISO 27001 Overview

Companies everywhere are searching for ways to build more security around the data and information that run their businesses. From cyber-attacks and hacks to human error and data leaks, the paths to a data breach are wide and far-reaching.

When they choose to implement ISO 27001 for security excellence, they’re not only taking on the task of evaluating all of their security protocols and process, but they’re also committing to making substantial and meaningful improvements to their information security management system (ISMS) in order to maximize and continuously monitor security.

You’ll work hard to identify risks, assess the potential of their effects, and create controls to mitigate them. Through the development or refinement of your ISMS, you’ll build a framework based on ISO-certified best-practices that will benefit your business, your customers, and your team. You’ll be able to better monitor risk, create structure within your organization, illustrate the impact of potential and realized risks, closely protect information by creating authorization policies, increase customer confidence, and set the business up for long-term success.

ISO 27001 helps companies effectively and continuously monitor and reduce risk

First and foremost, working to implement an ISO-level ISMS will help create strong, tested processes and policies for information protection, regardless of how and where information is stored and shared.

Companies will be tasked with developing a policy or process and applying controls for each risk they identify with the goal of minimizing the potential negative outcomes. It’s the “no stone left unturned” practice of risk-based thinking which helps companies dig deep into all of the avenues of communication and places where information lives in the organization. The result is a clear picture of the company’s current standing and an outline of the requirements your business will need to satisfy, both for your own function and to satisfy customer, legal, and regulatory requirements. From your findings, you will be able to develop action items that will need to be completed in order to comply with your new policies.

When these processes are consistently monitored, it ensures they are effective and functioning as intended.

The systematic approach of evaluation requires your team to be consistent. Routine leadership meetings are designed to check in and check up on the function of your ISMS and make adjustments to optimize them as needed. The regularity of these meetings should be made a priority to the entire team – not just to those who sit at the table. When systems are always top-of-mind, it becomes easier to detect potential weak spots and stop breaches before they affect your business.

ISO 27001 sets a reliable structure through documentation to minimize the potential for risk

Beyond the ability to monitor risk, your ISO 27001 ISMS will also create improved structure throughout your security efforts and provide an avenue for documentation to increase reliability.

As you evaluate information risks against corporate strategies and existing processes (if you have them), you’ll find great value in the ISO requirement of documentation and measurable processes. You’ll be able to create and record strategies that will both improve your security and improve the day-to-day function of your business.

Documentation will allow you to track timelines for IT system updates, anti-viruses, and applications. It will provide clear guidelines and accessibility permissions.

ISO 27001 evaluates impact of both realized and possible security breaches

The impact of the risks your company faces can be difficult to measure. Your ISO 27001 ISMS sets up a system that allows you to measure the effect of both potential and realized breaches so that you can create the most effective plan of action.

Internal and external factors affect your company and the way your information is communicated. There are potential weak points that you many not have noticed before that could be the source of an extreme risk. Likewise, a risk that you have previously thought to be high-impact could prove otherwise.

Knowing the risks you face is one thing, but knowing the impact they’ll have if they’re realized is what takes your business to the next level. Your resilience to attacks will increase because you’ll be able to put your best efforts toward the highest potential risk situations, and your staff will be trained on the effect their actions could have if they fail to follow security protocol.

When you do experience a security breach, your system will help you measure the impact so that you can move through the incident with as little negative impact as possible.

ISO 27001 sets limiters around access points, ensuring proper information authorization

A large percentage of information breaches occur due to human error or mishandling of information by unauthorized employees. Your ISO 27001 ISMS will ensure that information is only accessed and modified by authorized users and will also set the process for how information is handled and updated.

Companies will set rules for the function of all internal and external communication, internet browsing, password details, and use of company property. Further, you will assign specific tasks to a role and define responsibilities.

Your employees will be required to work together in participation with the development of the ISMS. Their input to the development will both help define exactly what information is needed (and what’s not) and will give them ownership over their role, increasing their feeling of responsibility to follow the new processes.

Top management will be involved with each step of role definition so that they understand the needed competencies and accountability measurements. Their dedicated and thorough communication of how roles are adjusted and permissions are granted will play into the success of the system as a whole because it will prove to their team that they’re in tune with the needs and workflows each employee faces.

ISO 27001 proves to customers and suppliers that your value their confidentiality

Customer and supplier relationships have a huge impact on your potential for growth. When they realize that your commitment to information security protects their assets as well, it will increase their confidence in your business partnership.

Your ISO 27001 ISMS will help you set parameters around customer and supplier requirements in regard to their information. Some customers even require their suppliers to comply or be certified to ISO standards before they’ll enter a contract with them.

Aligning with customer priorities makes you a more attractive prospect for new business as well. Information risk can break companies, so trust in professional partnerships is becoming more and more important. ISO 27001 certification is more than a handshake – it’s a documented and measured promise that you care as much about your client as you do your own business.

The information coming into your business requires just as much care, and while you want to provide the best experience for your customer, you can’t assume that your suppliers are doing the same. Your ISMS will also help you set parameters around the information you deal with in your supply chain and through audits, you’ll be able to carefully ensure you’re not facing risks in your supplier relationships.

You’ll be able to use your ISO certification in your marketing efforts, highlighting it as proof of your care and attention for the information you deal with and of the confidentiality you’re committed to.

Whether it’s personal information or intellectual property, all of your stakeholders trust you with information. Their confidence will be higher when you can provide proof of your protection efforts. You can even develop communications with your partners for transparency, illustrating the risks you face and the efforts you’re making to ensure you (and they) are protected.

ISO 27001 sets you up for long-term success

Finally, the long-term benefits of ISO 27001 will prove themselves in your ability to grow and prosper in our rapidly changing business environment – one where information security is becoming more and more pertinent. You’re essentially future-proofing your business against constantly-increasing security threats.

Because of your careful monitoring, planning, and quick breach realization, you’ll reduce the cost and effect of information breaches, minimizing your losses from cyberattacks and data leakage. You can’t predict when they’ll happen, but you can be prepared to act as soon as you realize your information is compromised.

Continual improvement is a goal of ISO across the board and your management system isn’t set up to be stagnant. Your monitoring of the system, measurement of its effectiveness, and committed leadership involvement will allow your system to evolved as needed.

ISO 27001 also ensures you’re in compliance with commercial, legal, and contractual requirements. When you can prove you’re satisfying the needs of your stakeholders and industry, you greatly reduce the risk of heavy fines and persecution caused by loss of information.

Ultimately, ISO 27001 sets companies up with an ultra-secure information management system. Your efforts result in plans that directly relate to the information risks your company faces. It won’t completely eliminate them, but it will allow you to realize them more quickly, track the cause, and rapidly respond in the event of an information emergency. Your company will be positioned to capitalize on the structure, realizing growth opportunities and expertly serving your existing customers with confidence.