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Who needs ISO 27001 certification?
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April 18, 2022

Who needs ISO 27001 certification?

In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics of the ISO 27001 certification and help you determine if it will serve your business goals and customers’ needs.‍ We’ll discuss what is ISO 27001 certification and who needs ISO 27001. 

What is ISO 27001 certification? 

Published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the ISO 27001 standard helps businesses organize their people, processes, and technology. ISO 20071 was designed to ensure the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of information.

 

The focus of ISO 27001 standard is on a company’s Information Security Management System (ISMS), which outlines how they’ve integrated information security into their business processes. 

 

The ISO 27001 standard requires companies to identify information security risks to their system and the corresponding controls to address them. ISO 27001 comprises 114 controls divided into 14 categories.

 

There is no requirement to implement the full list of ISO 27001’s controls. The ISO 27001 controls represent the possibilities for an organization to consider based on its particular needs.

 

A primary goal of ISO 27001—as well as other compliance certifications such as SOC 2—is to prove to your clients and customers that security is a top priority.

 

ISO 27001 is considered the global gold standard for ensuring the security of information and data. Obtaining an ISO 27001 certification can help an organization prove its security practices to potential customers worldwide.

Who needs ISO 27001 certification? 

To decide whether you need an ISO 27001 certification, first consider the regions in which your company does business: are you primarily working in North America? Are you working internationally or planning to expand your operations? 

 

SOC 2 is a well-known US security standard and has become a common business practice. If your company only performs business with US-based customers, ISO 27001 certification may not be necessary. 

 

If your company focuses much of its work outside of North America, ISO certification may be needed. Additionally, if your clients and prospects have sought proof of your company’s security against an internationally accepted standard, then ISO 27001 certification may also be important.

 

Your buyers are your best source of information to help you decide which standard to pursue and if ISO 27001 certification is needed. If customers or prospects are requesting an ISO 27001 certification, then your next steps are clear.

 

If a SOC 2 meets the requirements of your customer in tandem with your own company’s security and compliance needs, you’ll move forward with a SOC 2 instead of an ISO 27001 certification.  

 

Many companies decide they eventually need both a SOC 2 and an ISO 27001 certification based on the demands of their growing customer base. At first, your company may consider a SOC 2 and later pursue ISO 27001 as your business expands. 

 

ISO 27001 certification for various industries

ISO 27001 certification isn’t isolated to a select field. In fact, there are organizations across all industries that benefit from upholding this high standard of security. Some of the primary industries where we find ISO 27001 certification include IT, finance, telecom, healthcare, and government.

Information technology

 Information is the commodity at IT and software companies, and in many cases, it’s highly sensitive information. A company’s ability to keep this data secure, confidential, and proprietary is the core of its viability as a business. These organizations also often do business worldwide, so an international standard like ISO 27001 is a high priority.

Finance

The financial industry is highly concerned with security. Currency is largely digital today, so something as simple as a doctored formula or a small data deletion can equate to millions or billions of dollars being “misplaced.” While the finance industry is a common target for cybercrime, ISO 27001 compliance helps organizations stay secure and maintain the consumer trust that can make them or break them.

Healthcare

Essentially all the data that passes through the healthcare industry is highly sensitive information. In the US, HIPAA laws require certain organizations in the industry to follow specific security standards, but ISO 27001 allows healthcare organizations anywhere in the world to maintain and prove their high level of security.

Telecom

The telecom industry is a data superhighway, and by the same token, it can be an immensely profitable access point for cybercriminals. For that reason, security is critical in the telecom industry, and the most widely accepted standard these organizations turn to is ISO 27001.

Government

Perhaps no industry deals with as much confidential and vital information as the public sector. Governments around the world rely on ISO 27001 compliance to not only guide them toward a secure ecosystem but also to have a unified standard that tells them other governments are thoroughly secure.

 

ISO 27001 certification process and requirements overview 

The 27001 certification process involves:

  1. Scoping and effectively implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS)
  2. Establishing an ISMS governing body composed of senior management and key stakeholders from throughout the company
  3. Performing an internal audit to assess the organization’s ISMS and its implementation
  4. Undergoing an ISO audit with an external third-party auditor

 

The internal audit is one of the best ways to ensure that your organization’s ISMS is operating effectively and in alignment with the ISO 27001 standard.

 

The internal audit is required under the ISO 27001 standard and internal auditors must be objective and impartial. In order to make sure your ISO 27001 certification is up to industry standards, auditors should not be responsible for implementing, operating, or monitoring any of the controls under audit.

 

Once the internal audit is complete, results should be shared with the company’s ISMS governing body and senior management to address any issues before proceeding to the next step of the ISO 27001 certification process—the external audit.

 

The external audit is composed of two stages. Stage 1 Audit consists of an extensive documentation review, during which an external ISO 27001 auditor reviews an organization’s policies and procedures to ensure they meet the requirements of the ISO standard and the organization’s ISMS.

 

Stage 2 Audit consists of the auditor performing tests to ensure that an organization’s ISMS was properly designed and implemented and is functioning appropriately.

 

An ISO 27001 certification is valid for three years, however, ISO requires that surveillance audits be performed each year to ensure that the ISMS and its implemented controls continue to operate effectively. This means that every 12 months during the 3-year cycle, an organization’s ISMS must undergo an ISO 27001 external audit, where an auditor will assess portions of the ISMS.

Who benefits from ISO 27001 compliance?

ISO 27001 compliance offers a win-win-win situation: it benefits you, your staff, and your customers in various ways.

 

The ISO 27001 certification benefits for your business include:

 

  • Positioning your business as a stronger competitor so you can win more customers
  • Protection for your intellectual property, brand, and professional reputation
  • Retaining more of your customers
  • Time savings and cost savings due to having more efficient processes
  • Better security against a data breach and the associated costs like investigative costs and lawsuits
  • Adherence to security and privacy regulations like GDPR and HIPAA, allowing you to avoid penalties
  • Ability to attract stronger, more security-minded staff

 

When your business is ISO 27001 compliant, it offers certain benefits to your staff too, such as:

 

  • More efficient operations leading to fewer avoidable frustrations
  • Comfort of working in a stable company that is at lower risk for financial devastation
  • Clear and predictable policies and procedures

 

The biggest winners of all, though, may be your customers, who stand to gain several benefits from your ISO 27001 compliance:

 

  • Assurance that their data will be managed safely and securely
  • Lower risk of their data and their end users’ data being exposed in a data breach
  • More streamlined onboarding when they sign on with you as a vendor

Streamline and simplify the ISO 27001 process with Vanta 

Vanta’s automated security and compliance software supports your company in building a strong security program that will enable you to prove compliance and prepare for multiple audit formats. 

 

Vanta provides a suite of interconnected tools automating security and compliance to tackle ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA, and more. Vanta helps you build a list of controls tailored to your company, then connects to your company’s software, admin, and security systems to continuously monitor your systems and services.

 

Vanta eliminates manual data collection and consistently monitors your security systems with its automated platform. Once Vanta is connected to your systems, we can identify and resolve any gaps in your security implementation—preparing you for a smooth and successful security compliance audit.

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PCI Compliance Selection Guide

Determine Your PCI Compliance Level

If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.

When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.

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The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.

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SAQ A

A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.

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SAQ A-EP

A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.

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A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).

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Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.

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