ISO 27001 is one probably the most widely recognized and respected information security standard in the world. But what does that have to do with your business? ‘Information security’ sounds like an abstract, complex technical issue; the kind of thing only data centers and secret government agencies have to worry about. And that may once have been true. However, in today’s digital economy, almost every business is exposed to data security risks. And these risks can have very serious potential consequences for your business, from reputational damage to legal issues. To appreciate why, let’s briefly consider the benefits of ISO 27001 certification for many modern businesses.
What is ISO 27001 compliance?
ISO 27001 is a globally recognized data security protocol. To become ISO 27001 certified, a company must develop the appropriate Information Security Management System (ISMS) and undergo an independent audit.
ISO 27001 is a comprehensive program that considers personnel, systems and the technologies an organization uses. Its systematic approach is an extremely effective way to assess and correct data security risks at every point across the organization.
Benefits of having an ISO 27001 report
However, implementing an ISMS is about more than simply meeting specified data security standards. There are critical business reasons for choosing to become ISO 27001 certified. Let’s consider a few of them.
Some industries are more heavily regulated than others. There is no question that if you operate a financial services business, or you handle sensitive private data such as medical records, then you need a data security protocol like ISO 27001 to prevent breaches and ensure you stay on the right side of industry-specific regulations.
However, as authorities expand the scope of regulations to meet the challenges of the digital economy, more businesses will be affected by privacy laws. For example, the EU’s GDPR rules place strict obligations on how companies treat a user’s personal information. Far from being a highly niche regulation that just affects specialized businesses, GDPR affects just about anyone who provides goods or services to customers in the EU.
And as more authorities around the world adopt similar measures, you need to ensure you have effective data security protocols in place to ensure you follow regulation.
Whatever sector you operate in, ISO 27001 is one of the most rigorous and effective ways to develop a systematic data security program that ensures you are always compliant.
The expansion of data privacy laws reflect the reality on the ground. In a digital economy, collecting user data is part of more companies’ day-to-day operations. From tracking user data on your website, or targeting customers on social media, businesses in just about every industry are making data-driven decisions.
But what if you fail to secure that data effectively? A data breach seriously undermines confidence in a business. After all, if customers can’t trust your systems, why should they trust the company to provide the overall quality of service they expect?
As a highly respected independent standard, ISO 27001 certification is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you have taken effective steps to ensure the highest level of data security.
For potential clients and partners that value security and reliability, certification provides a significant competitive advantage. Indeed, some companies make ISO 27001 compliance (or equivalent) a condition of doing business with them.
For startups looking to break into new markets, becoming ISO 27001 certified can be an excellent way to scale.
Data security in the remote working age
Keeping private data secure when all your employees work in a single access-controlled location is challenging enough. Remote working introduces a host of new challenges. Are your employees working remotely, transmitting client data in unencrypted spreadsheets? Are your sales teams accessing the company’s CRM from busy coffee shops? Do personnel passwords protect their devices when they take them home?
Without a systematic assessment of the data security across your organization, it’s remarkably easy to overlook serious risks.
ISO 27001 vs SOC 2
ISO 27001 is one of the best independent standards for ensuring impeccable security. However, it’s not the only option. For many businesses, the choice ultimately comes down to ISO 27001 or SOC 2 (particularly SOC 2 Type 2, which provides comparable levels of data security).
There are important, though quite subtle, differences between the two standards. For a breakdown of ISO 27001 vs SOC 2 be sure to read our handy guide.
However, the short answer, broadly speaking, is that SOC 2 is more widely recognized in the US market. ISO 27001 is the commonly accepted standard in Europe and internationally. Additionally, SOC 2 is an attestation report, while ISO 27001 is a certification.
Can you afford ISO 27001?
It’s one thing to point out the many benefits of ISO 27001. But is it worth the cost, in terms of time and money? As it is an exhaustive, rigorous process that often involves the entire organization, the ISO 27001 certification cost can be considerable.
Fortunately, there are now effective ways to minimize the cost. Most importantly, by automating the entire compliance process, you can make certification much simpler, faster and more affordable.