Information security has become a vital business driver as the huge data volumes generated by modern companies contain a treasure trove of intellectual property and PII that is enticing the hackers. A variety of security certifications and standards have been developed to help companies navigate the increasingly complicated data security landscape, as well as protect both business and customer data. One such standard is ISO 27001, developed by the International Organization for Standardization to help businesses establish, maintain and improve an information security management system. In this guest post, Kyle Anixter, PMO manager of IT services at Curvature, an IT infrastructure and services provider headquartered in Santa Barbara, Calif., outlines the business benefits of ISO 27001 certification.
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The business benefits of ISO 27001 certification
by Kyle Anixter
News regarding the unwanted release of corporate and/or consumer information makes headlines nearly every week. Whether it’s Anthem, AOL or Adobe, the biggest names in corporate America have watched their reputations be sullied by the continuous onslaught of data breaches. According to a data breach report released earlier this year by the Identity Theft Resource Center, the business sector topped the ITRC 2015 Breach List with nearly 40% of the breaches publicly reported last year, compared with about 32% in 2014.
The ignominious impact of this spike in breaches only seems to be intensifying, proving there is no better time to make sure your company takes a systematic, proactive and certified approach to managing the security of its sensitive information. For that reason, investing in highly structured and validated security certifications should be a top business priority.
Achieving the ISO 27001 certification, for example, is a solid strategy to ensure proper control over critical information assets. First published in October 2005 and updated in 2013, this standard pertains to internal employee records, financial information and intellectual property, as well as external data from customers and vendors. The ISO 27001 certification also makes sure information shared by and with third parties, such as customers, partners and vendors, is protected.
The ISO 27001 certification is particularly useful to companies by helping develop a stringent information security management system. Most important, it will demonstrate to employees, customers and business partners that when it comes to security, your company is prepared.
Here are the five most compelling benefits to investing in ISO 27001 security certification:
Manage risk: ISO 27001 focuses on proactive risk management, which is crucial for building a solid, sustainable security foundation. All companies realize they must invest in security, but having the proper risk management procedures in place goes a long way toward maximizing investment in the areas where it can deliver the biggest benefits while avoiding wasteful spending.
Security management frameworks: ISO 27001 provides a proven framework and all the general requirements for establishing information security best practices (for example, asset management, access control, cryptography, network security, etc.). The framework forces structure across the entire department, including roles, responsibilities, leadership and decision making. As a result, operations are more efficient, organized and successful. Improving operations has become an increasing priority for most companies, especially given the ongoing desire to keep IT operations lean and functioning optimally amid constant change and greater demands. With ISO 27001, there is the proof that systems and procedures are in place to enable the company to be better prepared to meet the known and unknown security challenges ahead.
A concentration on compliance: The laws, rules and regulations at all levels of government are continually changing, but this is no excuse for IT organizations to fall out of compliance with any of the legal requirements that apply to their operations. Aside from being the subject of the latest front-page news, falling out of compliance can lead to financial penalties, loss of trust and tarnished reputation. In addition to keeping its own ship on course, companies must remain vigilant regarding all information security-related requirements that originate in customer and supplier contracts and agreements.
Protect suppliers and customers: It’s sad but true: In a troubling number of instances, a company’s biggest security vulnerability comes from its customers and suppliers. The ISO 27001 certification delivers a well-defined structure by which both are made aware of their information security roles and responsibilities. With continual monitoring and measuring, everyone’s data — and reputations — are protected.
Improve customer confidence: It is common knowledge that solution and service providers often introduce and deliver products before fully realized security procedures have been put in place. Having ISO 27001 certification lets your customers know their sensitive and confidential data is protected within your company. Another key benefit is that it will set you apart from competitors. When working with large companies, certifications such as ISO 27001 are often necessary for inclusion on the list of approved partners.
In today’s fast-moving and evolving world of professional and managed services, ISO 27001 now is considered table stakes. Though not mandated by law, this certification ensures the holder is taking advantage of best practices and adheres to a set of proven procedures. Adding ISO 27001 to your corporate resume ensures customers and partners that you have the right controls in place and that data is not vulnerable inside or outside your corporate walls. As a result, you can proceed with a high level of confidence that all information and systems are safe and secure.