ISMS Governing Body

As an information security professional, you understand the importance of implementing and maintaining an information security management system (ISMS) to protect your organization’s data and systems. A key component of a successful ISMS is establishing a governing body to oversee and guide the program. The ISMS governing body, provides strategic direction, approves policies and procedures, monitors program performance, and ensures alignment with business objectives. For an ISMS to be effective, the governing body must have the appropriate representation, structure and level of authority within the organization. 

The ISMS governing body is a group (generally made up of senior executives, managers and key stakeholders) that is in charge of overseeing and guiding the Information Security Management System (ISMS) within an organization. These leaders  set the direction and are in charge of establishing the objectives of the ISMS. They ensure that the ISMS aligns with the organization’s overall goals and objectives while simultaneously complying with ISO 27001 standard. The governing body is responsible for defining the governance framework for the ISMS. They monitor the effectiveness of the ISMS program and regularly review its performance against set objectives. The ISMS governing body also aids in promoting information security awareness and compliance throughout the organization. 

Establishing an effective ISMS governing body

Establishing an effective Information Security Management System (ISMS) Governing Body is crucial for its successful implementation and continuous improvement. As an organization, you should:

  1. Define the ISMS Governing Body’s roles and responsibilities. This includes overseeing the ISMS, evaluating risks, monitoring and reviewing the ISMS, and ensuring necessary resources are available.
  2. Determine the optimal structure of the ISMS Governing Body. It should include key leadership and decision makers from across the organization such as the CISO, CIO and Legal Counsel. They will provide strategic guidance and oversight. You may also want to include operational members to offer practical input.
  3. Establish a charter to formally authorize the ISMS governing body and define how it will operate. The charter should outline the mission, role, responsibilities, scope of authority and membership of the governing body. It legitimizes the Governing Body and gives it the necessary authority to carry out its mandate.
  4. Develop operating procedures for the effective functioning of the ISMS Governing Body such as meeting frequency, various rules, decision making processes, and documentation requirements. Following set procedures promotes transparency, accountability and productivity.
  5. Provide ISMS Governing Body members with appropriate training and resources so they can fulfill their responsibilities. This may include education on information security standards, frameworks and best practices as well as updates on new threats and vulnerabilities.

The ISMS governing body’s roles include: 

  • Creating a business strategy is aligned with the information security objectives to aid in fulfilling the organization’s goals.
  • Creating an effective risk management program which identifies and addresses potential risks to the organization’s resources and assets.
  • Regularly reviewing, keeping up to date and approving the policies and procedures that support the organization’s Information Security Management System (ISMS).
  • The allocation and utilization of resources are appropriate to achieve the intended objectives.
  • To ensure an internal audit program is defined and implemented in accordance with established policies and procedures.
  • To ensure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other metrics are defined, valuable and communicated for the effectiveness of the ISMS.
  • To make necessary changes if needed, to enhance the ISMS.


Conclusion for an ISMS governing body

By establishing the appropriate oversight, leadership and accountability within your organization, you are well positioned to implement and maintain an effective ISMS. With the governing body serving as the driving force, information security becomes ingrained in the culture, processes and daily activities across all levels of your organization. This helps ensure that information security risks are properly managed to allow you to achieve your key business objectives. By following the guidelines provided, your ISMS governing body will be poised for success.