ISO 27001 and How Accreditation Boosts Customer Confidence
The challenges of actively managing information security are growing, and every business, regardless of size, should pro-actively protect their systems and the data held within. But how do customers know that your information security practices are fit for purpose?
Even the best intentions do not guarantee sound security practices for businesses. The only way for customers to judge the internal processes of your business is by checking for accreditation such as ISO 27001. In fact, 71% of respondents to a 2016 survey by IT Governance Ltd said that they had fielded a question about ISO 27001 accreditation.
Accreditation: What is ISO 27001 about?
A common issue with IT security policy lies in formalising policy – best intentions are hard to put into practice. ISO 27001 is the most prominent accreditation businesses can apply for as it formalises the process of creating an information security plan. It is a rigorous standard that ensures organisations explicitly control information security by mandating specific minimum requirements, in line with information security best practice.
ISO 27001 places particular focus on a systematic IT audit, examining risks including vulnerabilities and threats. ISO 27001 also assists businesses in implementing a series of risk mitigation mechanisms which can prevent intrusion and data loss. It also focuses on changing management thinking; correctly aligning top-down management habits is crucial to the ongoing management of security challenges.
Gaining ISO 27001 certification
Preparing for ISO 27001 involves a number of steps, often aided by a specialist IT provider, such as HTL. The first step is an initial gap analysis, designed to highlight the current areas of weakness in your business. A gap analysis examines your current processes and identifies areas of significant risk exposure and insufficient controls.
The gap analysis informs an implementation plan, which is developed to identify appropriate fixes for all the risks identified, including a list of milestones. Documentation is an important part of the ISO 27001 process and signifies the commitment to writing down policies and procedures that align the business practices with ISO expectations.
With an implementation plan, milestones and documentation in place, a business can actively apply ISO 27001 standards to its daily activities. An internal IT audit can then evaluate the success of these measures. If an internal audit is successful, the business can progress to an external ISO audit, leading to ISO 27001 accreditation.
How ISO 27001 reassures your customers
The key benefit of accreditation lies in its independence. Your customers know that your information security capability has been assessed by a trusted, independent organisation according to best practice. It is this matter of trust that can often clinch the deal and maintain long-term, viable contracts. ISO accreditation is clearly a good place to start, with the majority of large firms in the UK already aware of ISO 27001.
An independent IT audit and business accreditation will reassure new customers, as well as allowing your business to meet the changing requirements of existing customers, who are becoming more security aware. A demonstrated ability to handle data safely could also lead to a greater degree of outsourcing, especially if your customers deal with sensitive data.
In fact, if your business operates in a competitive space, an IT audit and ISO 27001 accreditation is one of the best ways to distinguish your business from your competitors, especially in light of current concerns around information security. As previously stated, ISO 27001 accreditation is a significant exercise and, consequently, few businesses are currently accredited to this level.
The process of gaining ISO accreditation can also improve internal processes, making it easier to respond to tender requests from customers and smoothing ongoing customer relations. Finally, ISO 27001 also establishes procedures that expedite recovery from an incident.
It’s not just about customer confidence
Proudly displaying an ISO label is a worthy goal. It is also worth realising that attainment of ISO 27001 certification places your business at much lower risk of data loss and security breaches, as well as the financial and reputational penalties that accompany these crimes. ISO 27001 also automatically boosts efforts to comply with various regulations such as GDPR.
The tremendous benefits of obtaining ISO 27001 business accreditation clearly justify the initial cost and disruption to the company. Once ISO standards are in place, your business will adjust seamlessly to future ISO 27001 updates and continue to reap the benefits into the future.