ISO 27001 ISO 27001

Do you need an ISO 27001 audit in 2023? Probably!

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In 2023, data security and privacy will remain a top concern for businesses of all sizes. So, it should come as no surprise that organizations are taking more and more measures to keep sensitive information safe. One such measure is ISO 27001 certification

ISO 27001 is an international standard (among the ISO 27000 collection of guidance) established by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) for information security management. It outlines a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving information security. 

Since the ISO 27001 guidelines were updated recently in October 2022, now is a great time for businesses to review their ISO 27001 compliance as we start the new year.

In this post, we’ll delve into the details of ISO 27001 audits and why they are important for any organization that handles sensitive data. And, we’ll take a look at the benefits of undergoing an ISO 27001 audit and the steps involved so you can better understand how an ISO 27001 audit can help protect your organization's financial and reputational well-being.

Why an ISO 27001 audit is important 

ISO 27001 audits help organizations ensure that their information security management systems (ISMS) are effective and compliant with international standards. The ISO 27001 standard is a globally recognized benchmark for information security management, and an audit against this standard provides organizations with an independent assessment of their ISMS.

An ISO 27001 audit helps organizations identify and address any gaps or weaknesses in their information security controls, ensuring they adequately protect their sensitive data and systems. This can help prevent data breaches, cyber-attacks, and other security incidents, which can have serious financial and reputational consequences for an organization.

ISO 27001 audits are also important because they demonstrate to customers, regulators, and other stakeholders that an organization takes information security seriously and has the necessary controls to protect its data. This can enhance an organization's credibility and reputation and may be a requirement for doing business with certain customers or in certain industries.

Internal ISO 27001 audits vs. ISO 27001 external audits

The difference between an ISO 27001 internal audit and an ISO 27001 external audit is who performs the audit and the scope of the audit. An ISO 27001 internal audit is conducted by the organization's own personnel, who know the organization's ISMS and its processes. The internal audit focuses on the organization's compliance with the ISO 27001 standard and its policies and procedures.

On the other hand, an ISO 27001 external audit is performed by an independent third party, such as a certification body or a consulting firm. The external audit is typically more comprehensive and includes a review of the organization's compliance with the ISO 27001 standard and relevant laws and regulations. The external auditor may also evaluate the effectiveness of the organization's ISMS and make recommendations for improvement.

Who can perform ISO 27001 external audits? 

ISO 27001 audits can be performed by various organizations and individuals, including certification bodies, consulting firms, and independent CPAs. To conduct an ISO 27001 audit, the auditor must have the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to assess an organization's ISMS and determine whether it complies with the ISO 27001 standard.

Certification bodies are independent organizations that are accredited by national accreditation bodies to certify organizations against various standards, including ISO 27001. Certification bodies are the traditional path to certification, but they also tend to be the most expensive and time-consuming route to verifying compliance. As more security compliance verification technologies emerge, new paths to achieve an external audit may emerge.

Consulting firms and CPAs are other organizations that can perform ISO 27001 audits. These firms may offer a more flexible and customized approach to ISO 27001 audits and provide additional support and advice to organizations during the audit process.

What are ISO 27001 audit controls?

ISO 27001 audit controls are the specific criteria and requirements that an organization's ISMS must meet to comply with the ISO 27001 standard. 

These controls are grouped into 14 high-level sections known as domains. These domains cover key areas of information security management, including risk assessment and treatment, access control, encryption, and physical and environmental security. Within each domain, the standard specifies a set of controls that organizations must implement and maintain to meet the standard's requirements.

Some examples of ISO 27001 audit controls include:

  • Conducting a risk assessment to identify and evaluate the potential threats to an organization's information assets
  • Implementing access control measures to restrict access to sensitive data and systems to authorized users only
  • Ensuring that all data and systems are backed up and can be restored in the event of a disaster
  • Implementing physical security measures to protect the organization's premises and equipment from unauthorized access or damage

What’s the difference between ISO 27001 audited and ISO 27001 certified?

Though often used interchangeably, "ISO 27001 audited" and "ISO 27001 certified" refer to two different things. Being ISO 27001 audited means that an organization has undergone an audit of its ISMS to assess its compliance with the ISO 27001 standard. 

On the other hand, being ISO 27001 certified means that an organization has met the requirements of the ISO 27001 standard and has been awarded ISO 27001 certification by a certification body. For example, with the proper planning and the help of Strike Graph’s platform, bioanalytical lab BioAgilytix was able to achieve its ISO 27001 certification in half the time.

Traditional ISO 27001 audit stages

The traditional ISO 27001 audit process consists of several stages, and the specific steps and requirements may vary depending on the auditor and the scope of the audit. In general, however, the process includes the same basic steps, which are outlined below.

Planning and preparation: The first step in the ISO 27001 audit process is to plan and prepare for the audit. This typically involves defining the scope of the audit, selecting the auditor, and scheduling the audit. The auditor may also review the organization's policies, procedures, and controls to determine what will be covered in the audit.

Opening meeting: The opening meeting is a meeting between the auditor and the organization's management to discuss the purpose, scope, and schedule of the audit. The auditor may also explain the audit process and the organization's responsibilities during the audit.

Document review: The next step in the ISO 27001 audit process is to review the organization's policies, procedures, and other documentation related to its ISMS. The auditor will assess whether these documents are complete, accurate, and up to date and whether they comply with the ISO 27001 standard.

On-site audit: The on-site audit is the main part of the ISO 27001 audit process, during which the auditor will visit the organization's premises and conduct interviews with employees, review records and documents, and observe the organization's processes and controls. The auditor will assess whether the organization's ISMS is effective and compliant with the ISO 27001 standard.

Closing meeting: The closing meeting is a meeting between the auditor and the organization's management to discuss the findings of the audit and any areas for improvement. The auditor may provide a preliminary report at this stage, but the final report will be issued at a later date.

Final report and follow-up: The final report is a detailed document that summarizes the auditor's findings and recommendations. The organization should review the report and address any issues or concerns raised by the auditor. The auditor may also conduct a follow-up audit to verify that the organization has implemented any necessary changes.

Have any questions about ISO 27001 we haven’t answered here? We can help.

Maybe you’d like to know more about how ISO 27001 can help your business or how much you should budget to get your certification. The Strike Graph compliance operation and certification platform is designed to prepare you with the tools you need to streamline the audit and certification process so you can easily stay on top of the process and get it done in a fraction of the time. The setup is even flexible enough to achieve multiple overlapping compliance goals at the same time (such as ISO 27701 and GDPR). There’s no better time than right now to get started.

Photo by Desola Lanre-Ologun on Unsplash


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