ISMS – Manage and Protect Corporate Data with an Information Security Management System
What is an ISMS?
ISMS stands for information security management system. An ISMS is a set of principles or procedures that are used to identify risks and define the risk mitigation steps that should occur. It ensures that companies systematically take steps to keep data and information safe. This can be any type of information, such as customer data, internal processes or payment details.
Organizations build trust, avoid risk & aid compliance by implementing an ISMS.
ISO/IEC 27001 Standards Guide ISMS Implementation
What are the basic components of an ISMS according to ISO/IEC 27001?
ISO/IEC 27001 is the international standard that defines what the components of an information security management system should be and how one should be used. The standards outline protective information security measures that should be considered for planning purposes, called controls. From there, ISO/IEC 27001 standards suggest how to make the system operational and review its performance over time.
ISMS is not just IT security.
It is important to note that ISO/IEC 27001 standards address information security from a holistic perspective. They do not focus only on IT security. In total, the framework recommends over 100 controls to protect information assets primarily the organization’s processes and information. These are organized into 14 “control sets” or groups, such as Human Resources Security, Asset Management or Physical and Environmental Security.
What are ISMS controls?
ISMS controls are the steps taken to mitigate risks to business data and information assets. These are very often initiated by the requirements of ISO/IEC 27001, but may also be driven by a contractual agreement, legal regulations or even another control. Familiar control examples might include:
- A policy that requires the use of a VPN
- Having security access cards to enter a building
- The use of antivirus software
How to implement an ISMS?
ISO/IEC 27001 is a flexible information security management (ism) framework that can be used by companies of all sizes as they examine operations, protect information assets and work to improve information security management through an ISMS. At a very high level, the steps include:
While the ISO/IEC 27001 offers guidance, companies are free to determine the scope of the ISMS, their method of identifying risks, and which controls to manage so that they can best protect their business data.
How an ISMS keeps company data safe?
Implementing an information security management system adds structure to security planning and risk mitigation efforts. Without having the structure in place, organizations often identify a risk, tackle it in the moment and move on to the next fire. This leads to inefficiencies, misinformation and unidentified vulnerabilities.
With an ISM system, companies are intentional about:
- Identifying possible threats and vulnerabilities,
- Analyzing how to avoid these risks,
- Taking proactive action to mitigate these risks, and
- Consistently reviewing planned actions to make sure that they align with modern work.
Fewer gaps exist, stakeholders understand the critical nature of information security, and management has an overview of how well protected the company is.
The Difference Between ISO/IEC 27001, HIPPA, GDPR, LGPD, TISAX or CCPA
While these are not all the same, they do require similar management.
ISO/IEC 27001 is a standard that takes a broad look at the company’s overall security posture and the steps that are in place to keep data and information safe. It helps businesses implement an ISMS so that they can structure, document and comply with their own, independently identified security measures based on the suggested controls.
Some companies, depending on their location or industry, may have to comply with legally binding data protection regulations too, such as HIPPA, GDPR, LGPD, TISAX or CCPA. Each of these outlines security measures that must be taken by businesses in order to continue operating. Much like the controls identified by ISO/IEC 27001, every requirement of these regulations must be tracked, action steps documented and reviews ongoing.
What happens when your infosec mitigation efforts fail?
An ISMS is the starting point for defining, documenting and improving upon your information security efforts. Of course, no system is 100% fail-proof, so part of your ISMS must define mitigation steps for when an incident does occur.
- What security response processes are in place?
- How will these be handled?
- What notifications and escalations are required?
- Can and should these be automated?
- In which systems – a SOAR, your ITSM tool or in the ISMS software?
- What’s the procedure, and what are the access control requirements for handing over an incident from one team to another?
What is ISMS Software?
While ISO/IEC 27001 outlines controls and implementation considerations, it does not specify exactly how this has to be done. Some companies get started by tracking their controls in a spreadsheet. This quickly becomes overwhelming: Each control can end up becoming practically a mini-project with its own documentation requirements, status needs, ism training needs, etc.
With an ISMS, each control is managed in its own business object. All of the communication surrounding a control, including any required documents, is tracked within this centralized business object, resulting in:
Control management is easy because each update to the control documentation is organized and date/time stamped.
Notifications about requirements can be automatically triggered, letting everyone know when a control needs attention.
Automated workflows can speed up related tasks, like seeking approvals.
Security considerations and access control options that are incorporated into an ISMS ensure that communication between all parties – internal or external – is always safe, secure and structured.
The entire risk management process becomes faster and record keeping is always up-to-date, meaning you’re ready for an audit.
ISO 27001 Certification
The use of an information security management system as outlined in ISO 27001 is important for companies because it demonstrates to its partners, customers and other stakeholders that the organization is systematically identifying, managing and mitigating risks. It establishes trust.
To further verify the successful implementation and use of the ISO/IEC 27001 standards and an ISMS, companies often seek ISO 27001 certification. Approved registration or certification bodies review the ISMS to ensure that essential documents exist (Stage 1), that the ISMS is correctly configured and overseen (Stage 2) and that the company continues its efforts to protect information assets (Ongoing Review).
An interest in achieving certification is another reason why ISMS software is useful. Auditors can quickly find the status of and necessary information about each control, saving both the auditor and your security team hours of time during the process.