Realising you need to spend money on improving the information security and data protection processes of your company is one thing. Knowing how to go about it is another. That’s where following the best practice framework, ISO 27001, will help. Let’s explore some of the benefits.
What is ISO 27001:2013 and why is it so important for organisations?
Alliantist, the company that built the ISMS.online platform set out to achieve ISO 27001 in 2012 after one of our clients requested it. You can read a little bit more about that journey on our About ISMS.online page.
In a nutshell, the ISO 27001 standard sets out the specifications for an information security management system (ISMS). Once your information security management system has been audited, successfully audited then have a certification to prove that the policies, controls and risk management you have in place all meet the standard.
What are the top 4 benefits of achieving ISO 27001?
Many of the benefits of implementing an ISO for an organisation relate to the fact that the certificate demonstrates their preparedness in the event of things going wrong. They have assessed the potential risks of a breach, they make sure any information they hold on suppliers and individuals is accurate and up to date, and they have taken sufficient steps to prevent data from falling into the wrong hands.
And because companies are required to be assessed by independent bodies, confidence is boosted automatically. ISO 27001 is an international standard with global recognition that gives organisations a clear framework to follow for their ISMS, but it is also a business enabler.
Benefit 1: Retaining customers and winning new business
We mentioned earlier that our initial driver to achieve ISO 27001 in 2012 was that one of our existing customers required us to prove the reliability of our information security management system (ISMS) in order to continue to do business with us. The only recognised way to do that is to get ISO 27001 certified.
Since then, this has been a story that we hear time and time again from our own ISMS.online customers. Information security and data protection (particularly with the forthcoming GDPR changes) is making its way into the public’s consciousness and business’ leaders alike. Aligning your organisation with the priorities and requirements of your customers will make you a far more attractive prospect.
The risks involved in cyber security and data breaches of any kind are too great to simply go on a handshake and a promise that a new supplier is acting responsibly with information. Organisations need to protect their business, and that includes the security of their supply chain.
Benefit 2: Preventing fines and loss of reputation
When it comes to data breaches it is often the big fines that grab the headlines.
In June 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that supermarket Morrisons had broken the Privacy and Electric Communication Regulations (PECR) by sending over 130,000 emails to individuals that had previously unsubscribed from their marketing lists. Morrisons was fined £10,500 for this breach.
Then in August 2017, the ICO fined telecoms giant TalkTalk £100,000 for not protecting customer data. Even though no data breach had occurred, the fact that TalkTalk had not taken steps to ensure the data they held was secure, the ICO found that the potential repercussions were just as serious.
It’s not surprising then that organisations want to strengthen their information security posture to avoid a fine. But careful consideration should also be applied to the impact on the reputation of companies that received negative publicity from fines, or even just waning notices. This is likely to have a negative effect on their profit margins for years to come.
Benefit 3: Improving processes and strategies
So we have talked a lot about how your organisation will be perceived after achieving ISO 27001, but the benefits continue within the organisation’s structure and day to day processes and procedure -.This is indeed one of the benefits of having an information security management system itself. But having one that has been independently certified, elevates you head and shoulders above the rest.
As a requirement of the ISO 27001 audit, IT systems must be kept up to date, along with the anti-virus protection and any applications contained on machines. Following ISO, all staff will have clear guidelines to follow, which helps to keep the system secure and free from attack. This might include policies around the use of external drives, safe internet browsing and strong passwords. Cyber attacks and data breaches could always happen, but the forward planning that’s involved with ISO 27001 demonstrates that you have evaluated the risks, as well as your business continuity and breach reporting plan if things were to go wrong – Hopefully reducing any costs incurred.
Benefit 4: Compliance with commercial, contractual and legal responsibilities
Ensuring that your organisation is operating legally and to recognised standards will help to future-proof your business. This allows for continued growth and investment.
If you are familiar with the Data Protection Act 1998, you will know of the obligations placed on organisations around the security of personal data, and this obligation will rightly increase with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
However, unlike the ISO standards, the DPA and GDPR are not auditable. Being independently certified for ISO 27001 demonstrates that your business has evidence that it complies with these requirements.
The benefits of implementing ISO 27001 in your organisation are clear. It leads to a stronger business model, longevity and an information security management system to be proud of.