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The GDPR basics your business needs to know

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We’ve all experienced situations when a few bad apples made life harder for everyone. There are plenty of examples of this in today’s world, but one of the most far-reaching examples is the need for data protection regulations. Some web-based businesses were taking advantage of customers’ data and disregarding their privacy, leading to widespread laws like the GDPR that everyone needs to follow.


When people talk about the GDPR, meaning the EU’s data privacy law, what do they mean? What does GDPR stand for, what is GDPR compliance, and what do you have to do to be compliant? To bring you up to speed, we’re covering all the essentials in this GDPR overview.

When did GDPR go into effect?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. This is a regulation that was signed into law across the EU in 2016.

The GDPR is a response to the massive growth of technology and the way it has turned consumer data into both a commodity and a potential weapon. It was passed by the EU in 2016 and took effect on May 25th, 2018, meaning that organizations had to be fully GDPR compliant by May 2018.

The GDPR isn’t the EU’s first regulation designed to protect private data. In 1995, it released the 1995 Data Protection Directive, which laid out rules for processing and transferring data in the EU. The GDPR is essentially a modernized regulation with the same goal, designed to better reflect the way data is handled today and the fact that it is functioning as a form of currency. The 1995 Data Protection Directive also allowed every country in the EU to make its own data privacy laws, which created a logistical mess for businesses and regulators, so the GDPR fixes this with one unified regulation.

When the GDPR took effect in 2018, it was among the strictest data privacy regulations in existence, and it remains so today. An update to the GDPR was published in 2021 as well, removing the Privacy Shield to make it easier for US businesses to serve EU customers and changing the laws for cookie consent.

A refresher on GDPR basics

The goal of the GDPR was to give users and customers more transparency about their data and how it is collected and used, give users more control over their data, and protect users’ data privacy from unwarranted access.


The GDPR includes a variety of steps any business must take if they are collecting data from anyone in the EU. Understandably, though, EU authorities gave businesses time to get the necessary procedures in place. So, the GDPR effective data was in May 2018. Although, if you’re wondering when did GDPR go into effect, you probably only need to think back to when you started seeing pop-ups about allowing cookies on every site you visited.

GDPR compliance meaning and guidelines

For your organization to be considered “GDPR compliant,” you must adhere to all of the guidelines and requirements laid out in the GDPR. That involves having certain consent options on your site, incorporating and enforcing certain policies for how data is handled, and so on.

Keep in mind that the GDPR is a law, not a standard. Unlike security standards, there is no certification that deems you to be “GDPR compliant.” You are responsible for ensuring that you are following the law, and there can be serious penalties and fines if you are found to be in breach of the GDPR. These fines can be tens of millions of dollars or more - the highest penalty to date is €746 million (about $787 million US). Double check your organization’s compliance with our GDPR checklist to avoid severe penalties.

GDPR guidelines

As a whole, the GDPR is designed to protect consumer data for EU residents. There are seven guiding principles it uses to carry out that goal.

Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency

Organizations must collect data with fairness and transparency, allowing consumers to understand what is being collected about them rather than gathering data behind their backs.

Purpose limitation

When organizations collect data, it doesn’t become free for them to use in any way they choose. In alignment with the GDPR, organizations can only use collected data for specific purposes that they have communicated to the consumers.

Data minimization

The GDPR requires organizations to only collect data that is necessary for their purposes, so they are receiving as little data as is possible or reasonable from consumers.

Accuracy

To protect users from being targeted based on inaccurate data, the GDPR requires organizations to make a reasonable effort to keep consumers’ data accurate and up to date.

Storage limitation

The GDPR requires organizations to only keep consumers data for as long as is necessary for them to process it appropriately.

Integrity and confidentiality

Organizations must take measures to keep consumer data secure and confidential to protect it from unauthorized access.

Accountability

The GDPR holds organizations accountable for how they use and handle consumer data, including intentional misuse and careless disregard for consumer privacy.

What rights are granted under the GDPR requirement?

The core GDPR principles revolve around a set of rights that the legislation guarantees to people in the EU. These include:


  • The right to be informed about your data and how it’s being collected and used
  • The right of access to the data being collected
  • The right to rectification or the right to correct inaccurate data
  • The right to erase any and all data a company has stored about them at their request
  • The right to restriction of processing by requesting that you stop or change the way you’re processing their data
  • The right to data portability, meaning that they can request that any and all data be transferred from one company or service provider to another
  • The right to object
  • Rights regarding automated decision-making and profiling


This “bill of rights” forms the core basis for the GDPR and sets the tone for the rules and regulations that businesses need to follow.

What are the GDPR rules I need to follow?

The GDPR regulations include a complex list of rules and requirements for businesses to follow. These include security protocol, user communication policies, data management practices, and more to protect those eight rights guaranteed to users.


One type of requirement in the GDPR involves getting consent from users to collect and process their data. Before this regulation, it was assumed that users consented to their data being collected and used unless they stated otherwise. This is called implied consent, and most users had no idea what they were “consenting” to. The GDPR flips this so companies can only collect data if users give their written consent.


You’re also required to have processes in place for communicating your data usage transparently to users. You need to have clear and easy ways for users to put their GDPR data protection rights into action, like ways for them to request the erasure of their data or to request access to the data you’ve collected about them.


Another key component of the GDPR policy is data security. You must have systems in place that keep users’ data reasonably safe from unwarranted access like hacks and data breaches. As part of this, you need to have internal access controls to make sure user data can only be seen and used when absolutely necessary. You must also have protocols for alerting authorities quickly about any data breaches or risks to user data.


If your company isn’t located within the EU, another key requirement is to have a representative in the EU who can be the primary point of contact with EU authorities about GDPR matters.


This is not a comprehensive list of the GDPR requirements but a general summary of the types of policies, protocols, and protections you’ll need to have in place for EU GDPR compliance.

Who needs to comply with the GDPR?

Most data privacy regulations apply to companies based in a particular area. The GDPR is different. This law protects anyone in the EU, so in terms of requiring companies to comply with the requirements, who does the general data protection regulation apply to? It applies to any company that collects data from anyone within the EU.


Generally, that means any company with a website needs to follow the GDPR law. You may not be actively marketing to EU customers, but if an EU-based user could visit your site and have their data collected, the GDPR applies to you. The rare exception would be a company that cannot or does not do business with EU-based customers, such as a site that is geographically blocked from EU users.

How can I make the GDPR compliance process as smooth as possible?

If you’re doing business in a way that requires you to follow the GDPR, the compliance process doesn’t have to be as arduous as you might expect. There are specialized tools that can help.


Compliance software, for example, will automatically scan your system and compare it against the checklist of requirements for GDPR data privacy. The software gives you a clear list of what criteria you already meet and what you need to put in place for full compliance.


More about GDPR compliance

Get GDPR compliant

Who should comply with GDPR?

8 Facts about GDPR compliance you need to know

1

Determine if you need to comply with GDPR

Not all organizations are legally required to comply with the GDPR, so it’s important to know how this law applies to your organization. Consider the following:

Do you sell goods or services in the EU or UK?

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Do you have employees in the EU or UK?

Do persons from the EU or UK visit your website?

Do you monitor the behavior of persons within the EU?

If any of the above statements apply to your business, you’ll need to be GDPR compliant.
2

Document the personal data you process

Because GDPR hinges on the data you collect from consumers and what your business does with that data, you’ll need to get a complete picture of the personal data you’re collecting, processing, or otherwise interacting with. Follow these items to scope out your data practices: 

Identify and document every system (i.e. database, application, or vendor) that stores or processes EU- or UK-based personally identifiable information (PII).

Document the retention periods for PII in each system.

Determine whether you collect, store, or process “special categories” of data, including:

Racial or ethnic origins
Religious or philosophical beliefs
Genetic data
Health, sex life, or sexual orientation data
Political opinions
Trade union membership
Biometric data that could uniquely identify someone

Determine whether your documentation meets the GDPR requirements for Records of Processing Activities, that include information on:

The name and contact details of the controller
The purpose behind the processing of data
A description of the categories of data that will be processed
Who will receive the data 
Documentation of suitable safeguards for data transfers to a third country or an international organization
The retention period of the different categories of data
A general description of the technical and organizational security measures

Determine whether your documentation includes the following information about processing activities carried out by vendors on your behalf:

The name and contact details of the processor(s) and of each controller on behalf of which the processor is acting, and, where applicable, of the controller’s or the processor’s representative, and the data protection officer
The categories of processing carried out on behalf of each controller
Documentation of suitable safeguards for data transfers to a third country or an international organization
A general description of the technical and organizational security measures
3

Determine your legal grounds for processing data

GDPR establishes conditions that must be met before you can legally collect or process personal data. Make sure your organization is meeting the conditions listed below:

For each category of data and system/application, determine the lawful basis for processing based on one of the following conditions:

Consent of the data subject
Contract with the data subject
Necessary for compliance with a legal obligation
Necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or a third party
Necessary for the performance of a task in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
Necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the rights of the data subject
4

Review and update current customer and vendor contracts

For your organization to be fully GDPR compliant, the vendors you use must also maintain the privacy rights of your users’ and those rights should be reflected in your contracts with customers:

Review all customer and in-scope vendor contracts to determine that they have appropriate contract language (i.e. Data Protection Addendums with Standard Contractual Clauses).

5

Determine if you need a Data Protection Impact Assessment

A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) is an assessment to determine what risks may arise from your data processing and steps to take to minimize them. Not all organizations need a DPIA, the following items will help you determine if you do:

Identify if your data processing is likely to create high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons. Considering if your processing involves any of the following:

Automated processing, including profiling, and on which decisions are based that produce legal effects
Special categories of data or data related to criminal convictions and offenses
Monitor any publicly accessible area on a large scale
If any of the above are true, you may need to conduct a data protection impact assessment for existing and new data projects.
6

Clearly communicate privacy and marketing consent practices

A fundamental element of GDPR compliance is informing consumers of their data privacy rights and requesting consent to collect or process their data. Ensure your website features the following:

A public-facing privacy policy which covers the use of all your products, services, and websites.

Notice to the data subject that include the essential details listed in GDPR Article 13.

Have a clear process for persons to change or withdraw consent.

7

Update internal privacy policies

Ensure that you have privacy policies that are up to the standards of GDPR:

Update internal privacy notices for EU employees.

Have an employee privacy policy that governs the collection and use of EU and UK employee data.

Determine if you need a data protection officer (DPO) based on one of the following conditions:

The data processing is carried out by a public authority
The core activities of the controller or processor require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale
8

Review compliance measures for external data transfers

Under GDPR, you’re responsible for protecting the data that you collect and if that data is transferred. Make your transfer process compliant by following these steps:

If you transfer, store, or process data outside the EU or UK, identify your legal basis for the data transfer. This is most likely covered by the standard contractual clauses.

Perform and document a transfer impact assessment (TIA).

9

Confirm you comply with additional data subject rights

Ensure you’re complying with the following data subject rights by considering the following questions:

Do you have a process for timely responding to requests for information, modifications, or deletion of PII?

Can you provide the subject information in a concise, transparent, intelligible, and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language?

Do you have a process for correcting or deleting data when requested?

Do you have an internal policy regarding a Compelled Disclosure from Law Enforcement?

10

Determine if you need an EU-based representative

Depending on how and where your organization is based, you may need a representative for your organization within the European Union. Take these steps to determine if this is necessary:

Determine whether an EU representative is needed. You may not need an EU-rep if the following conditions apply to your organization:

Data processing is occasional
Data processing is not done on a large scale
Data processing doesn’t include special categories or data related to criminal convictions and offenses
Doesn’t risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects
A public authority or body

If the above conditions do not apply to you, appoint an EU-based representative.

11

Identify a lead data protection authority (DPA) if needed

GDPR compliance is supervised by the government of whatever EU member-state you’re operating in. If you’re operating in multiple member-states, you may need to determine who your lead data protection authority is:

Determine if you operate in more than one EU state.

If so, designate the supervisory authority of the main establishment to act as your DPA.

12

Implement employee training

Every employee in your organization provides a window for hackers to gain access to your systems and data. This is why it's important to train your employees on how to prevent security breaches and maintain data privacy:

Provide appropriate security awareness and privacy training to your staff.

13

Integrate data breach response requirements

GDPR requires you to create a plan for notifying users and minimizing the impact of a data breach. Examine your data breach response plan, by doing the following:

Create and implement an incident response plan which includes procedures for reporting a breach to EU and UK data subjects as well as appropriate data authorities.

Establish breach reporting policies that comply with all prescribed timelines and include all recipients (i.e. authorities, controllers, and data subjects).

14

Implement appropriate security measures

GDPR requires you to take measures to minimize the risk of a data breach. This includes security practices such as pseudonymization/encryption, maintaining confidentiality, restoration of access following physical/technical incidents, and regular testing of measures. Consider the following:

Have you implemented encryption of PII at rest and in transit?

Have you implemented pseudonymization?

Have you implemented appropriate physical security controls?

Have you implemented information security policies and procedures?

Can you access EU or UK PII data in the clear?

Do your technical and organizational measures ensure that, by default, only personal data that are necessary for each specific purpose of the processing are processed?

15

Streamline GDPR compliance with automation

GDPR compliance is an ongoing project that requires consistent upkeep with your system, vendors, and other factors that could break your compliance. Automation can help you stay on top of your ongoing GDPR compliance. The following items can help you streamline and organize your continuous compliance:

Explore tools for automating security and compliance.

Transform manual data collection and observation processes via continuous monitoring.

Download this checklist for easy reference

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GDPR compliance FAQs

In this section, we’ve answered some of the most common questions about GDPR compliance:

What are the seven GDPR requirements?

The requirements for GDPR compliance are based on a set of seven key principles:

  • Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency
  • Purpose limitation
  • Data minimization
  • Accuracy
  • Storage limitations
  • Integrity and confidentiality
  • Accountability

These are the seven requirements you must uphold to be GDPR compliant.

Is GDPR compliance required in the US?

GDPR compliance is mandatory for some US companies. GDPR compliance is not based on where your organization is located but whose data you collect, store, or process. Regardless of where your organization is based, you must comply with GDPR if you are collecting or processing data from EU residents.

What are the four key components of GDPR?

The four components of GDPR include:

  • Data protection principles
  • Rights of data subjects
  • Legal bases for data processing
  • Responsibilities and obligations of data controllers and processors

Safeguard your business with GDPR compliance

If your organization collects data from EU residents, GDPR compliance is mandatory for you. It’s important to follow the steps listed above to protect your business from heavy fines and to respect the data privacy rights of consumers. 

Vanta provides compliance automation tools and continuous monitoring capabilities that can help you get and stay GDPR compliant. Learn more about getting GDPR compliance with Vanta.

1

Pre-work for your SOC 2 compliance

Choose the right type of SOC 2 report:

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Determine the framework for your SOC 2 report. Of the five Trust Service Criteria in SOC 2, every organization needs to comply with the first criteria (security), but you only need to assess and document the other criteria that apply. Determining your framework involves deciding which Trust Service Criteria and controls are applicable to your business using our Trust Service Criteria Guide.

Estimate the resources you expect to need. This will vary depending on how closely you already align with SOC 2 security controls, but it can include several costs such as:

Compliance software

Engineers and potentially consultants

Security tools, such as access control systems

Administrative resources to draft security policies

Auditing for your compliance certification

Choose the right type of SOC 2 report:

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

2

Work toward SOC 2 compliance

Begin with an initial assessment of your system using compliance automation software to determine which necessary controls and practices you have already implemented and which you still need to put in place.

Review your Vanta report to determine any controls and protocols within the “Security” Trust Service Criteria that you do not yet meet and implement these one by one. These are multi-tiered controls across several categories of security, including:

CC1: Control Environment

CC2: Communication and Information

CC3: Risk Assessment

CC4: Monitoring Activities

CC5: Control Activities

CC6: Logical and Physical Access Controls

CC7: System Operations

CC8: Change Management

CC9: Risk Mitigation

Using Vanta’s initial assessment report as a to-do list, address each of the applicable controls in the other Trust Services Criteria that you identified in your initial framework, but that you have not yet implemented.

Using Vanta’s initial assessment report, draft security policies and protocols that adhere to the standards outlined in SOC 2. 


Vanta’s tool includes thorough and user-friendly templates to make this simpler and save time for your team.

Run Vanta’s automated compliance software again to determine if you have met all the necessary criteria and controls for your SOC 2 report and to document your compliance with these controls.

3

Complete a SOC 2 report audit

Select and hire an auditor affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the organization that developed and supports SOC 2.

Complete a readiness assessment with this auditor to determine if you have met the minimum standards to undergo a full audit.

If your readiness assessment indicates that there are SOC 2 controls you need to address before your audit, complete these requirements. However, if you have automated compliance software to guide your preparations and your SOC 2 compliance, this is unlikely.

Undergo a full audit with your SOC 2 report auditor. This may involve weeks or longer of working with your auditor to provide the documentation they need. Vanta simplifies your audit, however, by compiling your compliance evidence and documentation into one platform your auditor can access directly.

When you pass your audit, the auditor will present you with your SOC 2 report to document and verify your compliance.

4

Maintain your SOC 2 compliance annually

Establish a system or protocol to regularly monitor your SOC 2 compliance and identify any breaches of your compliance, as this can happen with system updates and changes.

Promptly address any gaps in your compliance that arise, rather than waiting until your next audit.

Undergo a SOC 2 re-certification audit each year with your chosen SOC 2 auditor to renew your certification.

Download this checklist for easy reference

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Prioritizing Your Security and Opening Doors with SOC 2 Compliance

Information security is a vital priority for any business today from an ethical standpoint and from a business standpoint. Not only could a data breach jeopardize your revenue but many of your future clients and partners may require a SOC 2 report before they consider your organization. Achieving and maintaining your SOC 2 compliance can open countless doors, and you can simplify the process with the help of the checklist above and Vanta s compliance automation software. Request a demo today to learn more about how we can help you protect and grow your organization.

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1

Pre-work for your ISO 42001 compliance

Understand ISO 42001 requirements

Decide on what is the scope of the AIMS

Familiarize yourself with key AI concepts, principles, and lifecycle based on ISO frameworks

Determine if you are a provider, developer, or user of AI systems

Perform initial gap analysis

Using Vanta, asses your in-scope ISO 42001 controls

Identify areas of requirement, development, or adjustment

Secure top management support

Present a business case highlighting the benefits of ISO 42001 certification

Define roles and responsibilities for top management in AIMS implementation

Involve various department heads in the analysis to ensure comprehensive coverage

2

Work for your ISO 42001 compliance

Appoint a Project Manager

Designate an owner for the ISO 42001 implementation project

Develop a project plan

Outline steps, timelines, and resources needed for AIMS implementation

Integrate the AIMS implementation project within existing organizational processes

Establish the AIMS framework

Define the scope and objectives of the AIMS within the organization

Develop and document AI policies and risk management processes

Based on gap analysis, implement necessary controls for AIMS

Ensure integration of AIMS with other management systems and requirements

Create an AIMS statement of applicability (SOA)

Promote competence and awareness

Conduct training for stakeholders on AI concepts and ISO 42001 requirements

Raise awareness about the importance and benefits of AIMS

Implement AIMS controls

Create an AI policy

Define the process for reporting concerns about AI systems

Identify, document, and manage resources for AI systems

Ensure tooling and computing resources for AI systems are adequately documented

Conduct an AI system impact assessment exercise

Ensure that objectives are documented for the design and development of AI systems

Create a process for responsible design and development of AI systems

Ensure that AI system deployment, operation, and monitoring are documented and executed according to your AIMS

Define and implement data management processes for AI systems

Assess and document the quality of data for AI systems

Ensure that system documentation and information for users is provided and accessible

Document and follow the processes for the responsible use of AI systems

Clearly allocate and document responsibilities with third parties

Conduct internal audits

Regularly assess compliance with ISO 42001 and the effectiveness of AIMS

Management review

Review AIMS performance and compliance with top management

Address any non conformities and areas for improvement

3

Prepare for your external audit

Work with A-LIGN as your ISO 42001 certification body

Engage A-LIGN, a leading ISO certification body, to conduct your audit

Prepare documentation

Ensure all AIMS documentation is up to date and accessible

Pre-audit meeting

Prepare a list of questions and clarifications regarding the audit process

Initial sales process

Discuss the scope of the audit in detail to ensure full preparedness

Conduct a pre-certification audit (optional)

Consider a pre-certification audit to identify any remaining gaps

4

The ISO 42001 audit

Engage in the certification audit

Collaborate with A-LIGN auditors, providing necessary information and access

Designate a team member as the point of contact for auditors to streamline communication

Organize walkthroughs to discuss your AIMS processes and procedures, including facilities (if applicable)

Address audit findings

Plan for immediate, short-term, and long-term corrective actions based on the audit report

Celebrate the audit success with your team and publicly promote your certification

Continuous improvement

Establish a continuous improvement team to oversee progress post-certification

Continuously improve the AIMS, leveraging lessons learned and feedback

Integrate ISO 42001 compliance metrics into regular management reviews

Keys to success

Leverage Vanta s readiness capabilities and A-LIGN s expertise for an efficient and high-quality audit experience from 

readiness to report

Incorporate AIMS within the business strategy and daily operations

Apply continuous improvement to enhance AIMS over time

Avoid integrating new technologies during the initial AIMS implementation

Engage interested parties and maintain their support throughout

Highlight the completion of the audit to demonstrate trust with customers, partners, and other key stakeholders

Download this checklist for easy reference

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Demonstrating secure AI practices with ISO 42001

The rapid adoption of AI has driven innovation and opportunities for growth — and with it, new risks for the companies that manage the data that power these technologies. These companies have not had a way to demonstrate trust to their customers and show that they are deploying AI securely and safely. Achieving ISO 42001 compliance helps to demonstrate this trust through a third-party verifiable way and opens the doors to time-savings, more deals, and expedited sales processes. The above checklist simplifies the process of becoming ISO 42001 compliant by leveraging the power of Vanta's continuous compliance software. Request a demo today to learn more about how Vanta can help you streamline the path to ISO 42001.

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1

Develop a roadmap for successful implementation of an ISMS and ISO 27001 certification

Implement Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process to recognize challenges and identify gaps for remediation

Consider ISO 27001 certification costs relative to org size and number of employees

Clearly define scope of work to plan certification time to completion

Select an ISO 27001 auditor

2

Set the scope of your organization’s ISMS

Decide which business areas are covered by the ISMS and which are out of scope

Consider additional security controls for business processes that are required to pass ISMS-protected information across 

the trust boundary

Inform stakeholders regarding scope of the ISMS

3

Establish an ISMS governing body

Build a governance team with management oversight

Incorporate key members of top management, e.g. senior leadership and executive management with responsibility for strategy 

and resource allocation

4

Conduct an inventory of information assets

Consider all assets where information is stored, processed, and accessible

Record information assets: data and people

Record physical assets: laptops, servers, and physical building locations

Record intangible assets: intellectual property, brand, and reputation

Assign to each asset a classification and owner responsible for ensuring the asset is appropriately inventoried, classified, 

protected, and handled

5

Execute a risk assessment

Establish and document a risk-management framework to ensure consistency

Identify scenarios in which information, systems, or services could be compromised

Determine likelihood or frequency with which these scenarios could occur

Evaluate potential impact of each scenario on confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information, systems, and services

Rank risk scenarios based on overall risk to the organization’s objectives

6

Develop a risk register

Record and manage your organization’s risks

Summarize each identified risk

Indicate the impact and likelihood of each risk

7

Document a risk treatment plan

Design a response for each risk (Risk Treatment)

Assign an accountable owner to each identified risk

Assign risk mitigation activity owners

Establish target dates for completion of risk treatment activities

8

Complete the Statement of Applicability worksheet

Review 114 controls of Annex A of ISO 27001 standard

Select controls to address identified risks

Complete the Statement of Applicability listing all Annex A controls, justifying inclusion or exclusion of each control 

in the ISMS implementation

9

Create an Information Security Policy, the highest-level internal document 
in your ISMS

Build a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving the ISMS

Include information or references to supporting documentation regarding:

Information Security Objectives

Leadership and Commitment

Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities

Approach to Assessing and Treating Risk

Control of Documented Information

Communication

Internal Audit

Management Review

Corrective Action and Continual Improvement

Policy Violations

10

Assemble required documents and records

Review ISO 27001 Required Documents and Records list

Customize policy templates with organization specific policies, process, and language

11

Establish employee training and awareness programs

Conduct regular trainings to ensure awareness of new policies and procedures

Define expectations for personnel regarding their role in ISMS maintenance

Train personnel on common threats facing your organization and how to respond

Establish disciplinary or sanctions policies or processes for personnel found out of compliance with information security requirements

12

Perform an internal audit

Allocate internal resources with necessary competencies who are independent of ISMS development and maintenance, or engage an
independent third partywareness of new policies and procedures

Verify conformance with requirements from Annex A deemed applicable in your ISMS’s Statement of Applicability

Share internal audit results, including nonconformities, with the ISMS governing body and senior management

Address identified issues before proceeding with the external audit

13

Undergo external audit of ISMS to obtain ISO 27001 certification

Engage an independent ISO 27001 auditor

Conduct Stage 1 Audit consisting of an extensive documentation review; obtain feedback regarding readiness to move to Stage 2 Audit

Conduct Stage 2 Audit consisting of tests performed on the ISMS to ensure proper design, implementation, and ongoing functionality; evaluate fairness, suitability, and effective implementation and operation of controls

14

Address any nonconformities

Ensure that all requirements of the ISO 27001 standard are being addressed

Ensure org is following processes that it has specified and documented

Ensure org is upholding contractual requirements with third parties

Address specific nonconformities identified by the ISO 27001 auditor

Receive auditor’s formal validation following resolution of nonconformities

15

Conduct regular management reviews

Plan reviews at least once per year; consider a quarterly review cycle

Ensure the ISMS and its objectives continue to remain appropriate and effective

Ensure that senior management remains informed

Ensure adjustments to address risks or deficiencies can be promptly implemented

16

Calendar ISO 27001 audit schedule and surveillance audit schedules

Perform a full ISO 27001 audit once every three years

Prepare to perform surveillance audits in the second and third years of the Certification Cycle

17

Consider streamlining ISO 27001 certification with automation

Explore tools for automating security and compliance

Transform manual data collection and observation processes into automated and continuous system monitoring

Identify and close any gaps in ISMS implementation in a timely manner

18

Learn more about achieving ISO 27001 certification with Vanta

Book an ISO 27001 demo with Vanta

Download this checklist for easy reference

Download now

Prioritizing your security and opening doors with ISO 27001 compliance

Information security is a vital priority for any business today from an ethical standpoint and from a business standpoint. Not only could a data breach jeopardize your revenue, but many of your future clients and partners may require an ISO 27001 report before they consider your organization. Achieving and maintaining your ISO 27001 compliance can open countless doors, and you can simplify the process with the help of the checklist above and Vanta’s compliance automation software.

Request a demo today to learn more about how we can help you protect and grow your organization.

Request a demo
1

Develop a roadmap for successful implementation of an ISMS and ISO 27001 certification

Implement Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process to recognize challenges and identify gaps for remediation

Consider ISO 27001 certification costs relative to org size and number of employees

Clearly define scope of work to plan certification time to completion

Select an ISO 27001 auditor

2

Set the scope of your organization’s ISMS

Decide which business areas are covered by the ISMS and which are out of scope

Consider additional security controls for business processes that are required to pass ISMS-protected information across the trust boundary

Inform stakeholders regarding scope of the ISMS

3

Establish an ISMS governing body

Build a governance team with management oversight

Incorporate key members of top management, e.g. senior leadership and executive management with responsibility for strategy and resource allocation

4

Conduct an inventory of information assets

Consider all assets where information is stored, processed, and accessible

  • Record information assets: data and people
  • Record physical assets: laptops, servers, and physical building locations
  • Record intangible assets: intellectual property, brand, and reputation

Assign to each asset a classification and owner responsible for ensuring the asset is appropriately inventoried, classified, protected, and handled

5

Execute a risk assessment

Establish and document a risk-management framework to ensure consistency

Identify scenarios in which information, systems, or services could be compromised

Determine likelihood or frequency with which these scenarios could occur

Evaluate potential impact of each scenario on confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information, systems, and services

Rank risk scenarios based on overall risk to the organization’s objectives

6

Develop a risk register

Record and manage your organization’s risks

Summarize each identified risk

Indicate the impact and likelihood of each risk

7

Document a risk treatment plan

Design a response for each risk (Risk Treatment)

Assign an accountable owner to each identified risk

Assign risk mitigation activity owners

Establish target dates for completion of risk treatment activities

8

Complete the Statement of Applicability worksheet

Review 114 controls of Annex A of ISO 27001 standard

Select controls to address identified risks

Complete the Statement of Applicability listing all Annex A controls, justifying inclusion or exclusion of each control in the ISMS implementation

9

Continuously assess and manage risk

Build a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving the ISMS

Include information or references to supporting documentation regarding:

  • Information Security Objectives
  • Leadership and Commitment
  • Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities
  • Approach to Assessing and Treating Risk
  • Control of Documented Information
  • Communication
  • Internal Audit
  • Management Review
  • Corrective Action and Continual Improvement
  • Policy Violations
10

Assemble required documents and records

Review ISO 27001 Required Documents and Records list

Customize policy templates with organization-specific policies, process, and language

11

Establish employee training and awareness programs

Conduct regular trainings to ensure awareness of new policies and procedures

Define expectations for personnel regarding their role in ISMS maintenance

Train personnel on common threats facing your organization and how to respond

Establish disciplinary or sanctions policies or processes for personnel found out of compliance with information security requirements

12

Perform an internal audit

Allocate internal resources with necessary competencies who are independent of ISMS development and maintenance, or engage an independent third party 

Verify conformance with requirements from Annex A deemed applicable in your ISMS's Statement of Applicability

Share internal audit results, including nonconformities, with the ISMS governing body and senior management

Address identified issues before proceeding with the external audit

13

Undergo external audit of ISMS to obtain ISO 27001 certification

Engage an independent ISO 27001 auditor

Conduct Stage 1 Audit consisting of an extensive documentation review; obtain feedback regarding readiness to move to Stage 2 Audit

Conduct Stage 2 Audit consisting of tests performed on the ISMS to ensure proper design, implementation, and ongoing functionality; evaluate fairness, suitability, and effective implementation and operation of controls

14

Address any nonconformities

Ensure that all requirements of the ISO 27001 standard are being addressed

Ensure org is following processes that it has specified and documented

Ensure org is upholding contractual requirements with third parties

Address specific nonconformities identified by the ISO 27001 auditor

Receive auditor’s formal validation following resolution of nonconformities

15

Conduct regular management reviews

Plan reviews at least once per year; consider a quarterly review cycle 

Ensure the ISMS and its objectives continue to remain appropriate and effective

Ensure that senior management remains informed

Ensure adjustments to address risks or deficiencies can be promptly implemented

16

Calendar ISO 27001 audit schedule and surveillance audit schedules

Perform a full ISO 27001 audit once every three years

Prepare to perform surveillance audits in the second and third years of the Certification Cycle

17

Consider streamlining ISO 27001 certification with automation

Transform manual data collection and observation processes into automated and continuous system monitoring

Identify and close any gaps in ISMS implementation in a timely manner

18

Learn more about achieving ISO 27001 certification with Vanta

Book an ISO 27001 demo with Vanta

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1

Determine which annual audits and assessments are required for your company

Perform a readiness assessment and evaluate your security against HIPAA requirements

Review the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights Audit Protocol

2

Conduct required HIPAA compliance audits and assessments

Perform and document ongoing technical and non-technical evaluations, internally or in partnership with a third-party security and compliance team like Vanta

3

Document your plans and put them into action

Document every step of building, implementing, and assessing your compliance program

Vanta’s automated compliance reporting can streamline planning and documentation

4

Appoint a security and compliance point person in your company

Designate an employee as your HIPAA Compliance Officer

5

Schedule annual HIPAA training for all employees

Distribute HIPAA policies and procedures and ensure staff read and attest to their review

6

Document employee trainings and other compliance activities

Thoroughly document employee training processes, activities, and attestations

7

Establish and communicate clear breach report processes
to all employees

Ensure that staff understand what constitutes a HIPAA breach, and how to report a breach

Implement systems to track security incidents, and to document and report all breaches

8

Institute an annual review process

Annually assess compliance activities against theHIPAA Rules and updates to HIPAA

9

Continuously assess and manage risk

Build a year-round risk management program and integrate continuous monitoring

Understand the ins and outs of HIPAA compliance— and the costs of noncompliance

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