You need to undergo ISO 27001 compliance but don’t know how it all works? We get it. There are so many details to take into consideration and figuring out where exactly to even start is all so common, especially for startups just starting their security compliance journey. We know you have probably googled ‘ISO 27001’ and the overwhelmingly amount of information is enough to make you start panicking.
Undergoing ISO 27001 compliance, especially for the very first time, can cause a few nightmares, to say the least. With so many requirement boxes to tick and ensuring you do it all correctly, can be quite the task at hand. And that’s where an ISO 27001 checklist comes in.
Well, if you want to implement ISO 27001 successfully, you need to ensure you’ve covered all your bases. We’ve compiled an ISO 27001 checklist to help you develop a robust ISO 27001 strategy and undergo a successful certification process. Look at this as your very own ‘go-to’ source of information you can turn back to anytime.
So, what exactly is an ISO 27001 compliance checklist you may ask? In short, an ISO 27001 checklist is a summarized ‘to-do’ list to guide organizations on their ISO 27001 certification journey, providing all the main steps they need to take in order to ace their ISO 27001 certification audit and have full peace of mind that there are no roadblocks, surprises or key aspects missing. With that being said, another good term to use is an ‘ISO 27001 requirements checklist’.
Why you need an ISO 27001 compliance checklist
ISO 27001 is one of the best ways to bulletproof your company’s data security. As a leading international standard, ISO 27001 certification is always an excellent way to gain a competitive advantage. Potential partners and customers are immediately reassured that your company provides secure, reliable, quality service.
However, there’s a reason ISO 27001 is such a prized standard. It’s a framework that covers all relevant vulnerabilities across your organization. When implementing such a comprehensive protocol, you want to make certain you have not overlooked any critical details.
The official ISO 27001 audit checklist
This checklist will help you make sure you’ve covered all your ISO 27001 bases.
1. Organize your implementation team
Get leadership actively involved
Making sure senior management is actively involved is the first step for a reason. Strong leadership will play a huge role in determining the success of your ISO 27001 process.
Appoint an ISO 27001 project manager
Step two is to appoint an ISO 27001 manager to drive the project. If necessary, you may need to create a dedicated implementation team.
These two steps are connected. Your ISO 27001 team needs the full backing and support of leadership. They need sufficient authority to make all necessary decisions and interventions. And they need adequate resources to effectively run the process.
Assign roles and responsibilities
ISO 27001 will involve personnel from across the organization. Everyone needs to be clearly briefed on their duties and responsibilities. In order for the process to be successful, you need clear lines of communication. To streamline implementation, many companies rely on compliance technology to manage workflow and help coordinate roles.
2. Define the scope of your ISMS
Defining the scope of your Information Security Management System (ISMS) is one of the most important data security questions.
It is critical that your scope is sufficiently broad to cover all critical security risks. If your scope is too narrow, there could still be critical gaps in your information security protocol.
On the other hand, defining the scope too broadly is a waste of time and resources. Getting the balance right and ensuring it’s relevant to your specific organization is a key strategic decision.
3. Create an ISMS policy
The information security management system (ISMS) policy defines your high-level data security needs and objectives.
The document is the blueprint that will shape leadership’s vision for defining and implementing information security across the organization.
At this point you should draw up your ISO 27001 documentation templates and share policies with all stakeholders.
4. Determine your risk management procedure
ISO 27001 doesn’t specify how you should score risks. Each organization must make a decision about which metric they will use. You need to decide upfront whether you are going to use a qualitative or quantitative metric. However, you should customize your approach to the needs of your organization. Once you have made a decision, all relevant personnel must be fully briefed on the risk management protocol.
5. Perform the risk assessment
An ISO 27001 risk assessment helps organizations identify, analyze and evaluate gaps in their information security practices. Once you have chosen an assessment methodology, you can apply it to the actual risk assessment. This process involves carefully identifying potential risks to the organization. However, this is only the first step. You also need to evaluate those risks. That process comprises two major components, assessing risk impact and devising a risk treatment plan.
Assessing risk impact
Assess the consequences of each risk. Some vulnerabilities could have a very high impact and thus are a priority. Other vulnerabilities may have a low impact, and thus may be a lower priority.
Implement a risk treatment
At this point, you need to decide how you will address all the vulnerabilities that you have identified. Your response to each will be informed by the risk assessment. In terms of the ISO 27001 protocol, there are four recognized actions you can take to address each unacceptable vulnerability. These include: decrease the risk, avoid the risk, share the risk and retain(accept) the risk.
6. Specify which controls you will use
At this point you have identified risks, and decided what kind of action you will take to address each of them.
The process will help you choose and implement the appropriate ISO 27001 controls. Draw up a Statement of Applicability detailing which controls are relevant and which controls are not applicable.
It is helpful to describe why each control does or does not apply to your organization’s ISO 27001 program.
7. Implement the relevant controls
This step sounds obvious, for what’s the point of working so hard to identify and assess risk unless you’re actually going to address those risks, as well as implement best information security practices?!
However, implementation isn’t just about ticking boxes and issuing policies. It’s also about getting everyone on board, and driving new ways of working. If your team doesn’t actually change their work behavior, then you haven’t yet successfully implemented ISO 27001 controls.
8. Training and monitoring
Once we understand that implementation depends on real, effective change, we can appreciate the need for monitoring. The greatest ISO 27001 strategy doesn’t amount to much if it is not implemented effectively. Ongoing monitoring lets you know that your controls are effective – and that they continue to be effective. This is what your customers want to see.
At the same time, effective change is only possible if all stakeholders understand what to do and when to do it. Ongoing training and support is therefore a core part of the implementation process.
9. Compile documentation
Before you undergo an audit, you need to collect as much evidence as possible. The more detailed documents you can compile, the better your audit outcomes are likely to be.
In the past, collecting and collating reams of data was an extremely time-consuming, error-prone and tedious task. Fortunately, automation makes the whole process faster and more efficient, and eliminates human error.
10. Get certified
It’s time for the main event. In order to become ISO 27001 certified, a suitable independent auditor must assess your ISMS and, hopefully, issue certification.
If you have carefully followed the preceding steps, your chances of success will be much higher. This is important because the audit process is time-consuming and costly regardless of whether your audit is successful. So it pays to take the time and care to get it right the first time.
11. Automate for efficiency
With such a detailed process to follow and serious strategic decisions to make, how can you manage the whole ISO 27001 process without missing crucial details.
The latest compliance technology transforms the whole process. An effective ISO 27001 automation platform offers ongoing security awareness for all personnel, automates evidence collection, provides consistent automated monitoring and streamlines workflow.
Implementing automation makes ISO 27001 compliance seamless, fast and affordable. And that means more businesses can now benefit from the advantages of certification. Take a look at what our customers have to say about streamlining their compliance processes!
Achieving ISO 27001 certification is a significant milestone, but it’s not the end of the road. Implement a continuous improvement cycle to enhance your Information Security Management System (ISMS) continually. Regularly review and update your risk assessments, controls, and policies to adapt to evolving threats and industry changes. This proactive approach ensures that your organization remains resilient and capable of addressing emerging security challenges.