Understanding ISO 27001 – An Information Security Standard

August 15, 2016 | Views: 19210

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Over the last few months, I have been reading about various IT and InfoSec frameworks such as COBIT, NIST CyberSecurity framework and ISO 27001 as well as CIS Critical Security Controls to find a suitable framework to implement in my organization. ISO 27001 is one of the most important Information Security frameworks. ISO 27000 is a family of standards, which, if implemented properly, helps an organization secure its information assets. In this family, ISO 27000 consists of an overview and vocabulary, ISO 27001 defines the requirements for the program while ISO 27002, defines the operational steps necessary in an information security program.


ISO 27001 is the standard which define requirements for an organization to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS) and is the main standard in ISO 27000 series. In simple words, it describe how to manage information security in a company. It can be implemented in any organization irrespective of its size or type profit or non profit, private or state owned. An organization can get certified on ISO 27001, but it is not obligatory. One may choose to implement the standard first and get certified later when the organization is compelled by regulations or wants to increase its trust among customers and clients. The standard was first published in 2005 and was recently revised in 2013.


ISO 27001 has eleven short clauses 0 – 10 and an Annex A. Clauses 0 – 3 describe the standard and clauses 4 – 10 set the requirement for information security system, which must be implemented for an organization to be compliant with the standard. Annex A contains 114 security controls or safeguards grouped into 14 sections. The standard takes a risk management approach to protect the information security of company. Risk assessment is done to find out potential risks to information and then risk mitigation is done to address them through security controls. The security controls used to address risk are in form of policies, procedures and technical controls (HW or SW) to secure assets.


ISO 27001 benefits organizations by implementing security in a comprehensive manner. It helps organizations comply with legal requirements, achieve marketing advantage by reassuring customers about security, lower costs by preventing incidents and be better organized by defining processes and procedures for a coordinated approach to information security.


The ISO 27001 standard is not freely available and has to be purchased either online or in paper form for reference and implementation. Advisera a training and consultancy company has number of useful articles on ISO 27001 basics, implementation ideas and checklists. It also has two very useful and surprisingly free courses on the standard. The first ISO 27001:2013 Foundations Course explains the standard and gives an excellent coverage of the standard in 6 modules of total 8 hours. The second, ISO 27001:2013 Internal Auditor Course covers the basics of how an organization can be audited to ensure that the ISO 27001 standard has been implemented properly. Their website has a wealth of information on ISO 27001 and other ISO standards including blog posts, white papers, check lists, presentation, video tutorials and webinars.
I would recommend everyone interested in the standard to go through their website comprehensively before taking any training or implementing the standard. In India, BSI India and SQTC conduct personal trainings on ISO 27001 covering foundations, Lead Implementer and Lead Auditor courses.


I hope I have given a good overview of the ISO 27001 standard. Please do comment and ask questions if you have any queries or suggestions.


  1. ISO 27001 reference website – http://www.iso27001security.com/
  2. Advisera – ISO 27001 Academy – http://advisera.com/27001academy/
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