In today’s digital age, organisations are faced with a growing number of threats to their sensitive information and the privacy of individuals. With the increasing number of data breaches and cyber-attacks, it has become crucial for organisations to implement robust security measures to protect their sensitive data. This is where ISO 27001 and GDPR come in. This article will discuss the importance of these international standards, provide examples of how organisations can comply with them, and explore some of the critical controls organisations should implement to protect sensitive information.
ISO 27001: The Standard for Securely Managing Sensitive Information
ISO 27001 is an international standard that outlines the requirements for an information security management system (ISMS). This standard provides a framework for securely managing sensitive information and helps organisations identify, assess and mitigate risks to their information assets. For example, a financial organisation that handles sensitive customer information, such as account numbers and personal identification numbers, would need to comply with ISO 27001 to ensure that this information is protected from unauthorised access or disclosure. By implementing an ISMS, organisations can be confident that they are taking the necessary steps to protect sensitive data and comply with industry best practices.
Standards and controls
Access control is one of the critical controls that organisations should implement to comply with ISO 27001. This involves restricting access to sensitive information to only authorised individuals. Organisations can enforce access controls using authentication methods such as user IDs and passwords or biometric authentication like fingerprints or facial recognition. Additionally, organisations should implement role-based access controls, ensuring that individuals only have access to the information they need to perform their job functions.
“Access control is a critical control for compliance with ISO 27001, by restricting access to sensitive information to authorized individuals and implementing role-based access controls.” — Shehab Najjar
Another vital standard that organisations must comply with is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR is a regulation passed by the European Union that governs the handling of personal data. It applies to organisations that process the personal data of individuals within the EU, regardless of where the organisation is located. GDPR sets strict requirements for obtaining consent from individuals for the processing of their personal data, as well as for the protection of that data. For example, an e-commerce company that collects personal information from customers would need to comply with GDPR to ensure that customer data is handled legally and ethically. By complying with GDPR, organisations can confirm that they respect individuals’ privacy rights and protect their personal information.
Data encryption is one of the critical controls that organisations should implement to comply with GDPR. This involves converting sensitive information into a code only authorised individuals can read. Data encryption is essential because it ensures that even if sensitive information is intercepted, it cannot be read by unauthorised individuals. Additionally, organisations should implement data breach notification procedures, which require organisations to notify individuals and the authorities in the event of a data breach.
In addition to the controls mentioned above, organisations can also comply with these standards by performing other activities such as risk assessment, compliance monitoring, auditing, incident response and employee training. For example, regular risk assessments can help organisations identify and prioritise potential threats to sensitive information and develop strategies to mitigate those risks. On the other hand, compliance monitoring involves regularly reviewing an organisation’s information security and data privacy practices to ensure that they remain compliant with ISO 27001 and GDPR over time.
Auditing is another critical activity organisations can perform to comply with these standards. Internal audits involve a review of an organisation’s ISMS and data protection policies and procedures by a team of experts. These audits help organisations identify gaps in their security and privacy practices and take corrective action to address them. On the other hand, external audits are performed by an independent third-party auditor and can help organisations demonstrate their compliance with these standards to customers, partners and regulators.
Incident response is another crucial aspect of protecting sensitive information. Organisations should have a well-defined incident response plan that outlines the steps that should be taken in case of a security incident or data breach. This plan should include procedures for identifying and containing the incident and reporting it to the appropriate authorities. Additionally, organisations should conduct regular incident response drills to ensure that employees are prepared to respond effectively in the event of an actual incident.
“”Incident response is a crucial aspect of protecting sensitive information, organizations should have a well-defined incident response plan and conduct regular drills to ensure effective response in case of an actual incident.”
— Shehab Najjar
Finally, employee training and awareness are essential for protecting sensitive information. Organisations should provide their employees with the knowledge and skills to understand and comply with ISO 27001 and GDPR. This can include training on information security and data privacy best practices, as well as on the specific policies and procedures that the organisation has in place. Additionally, organisations should create a culture of information security and data privacy within the organisation, where employees are aware of the importance of protecting sensitive information and are motivated to do so.
The new ISO/IEC 27001:2022
On October 25th, 2022, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released a new update of the ISO 27001 standard, titled ISO 27001:2022, which replaces the previous version of the standard, ISO 27001:2013. This update includes several changes and improvements to the previous version, and organisations certified to the previous version have a three-year transition period to move to the new version.
One of the major changes in the new version is the incorporation of the new Annex SL structure. This structure is designed to make it easier for organisations to align their information security management systems (ISMS) with other management systems, such as quality and environmental management. This will make it easier for organisations to implement an integrated management system, which can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings.
Another significant change in the new version is the increased emphasis on the importance of governance in information security management. This includes the need for organisations to have a governance framework, which should include roles and responsibilities, decision-making processes and communication channels. This will help organisations ensure that information security is managed consistently and effectively and that senior management is fully engaged in the process.
In addition, the new standard version includes new requirements for incident management and business continuity management. Organisations must have incident management procedures in place, including incident reporting, investigation, and response procedures. Business continuity management will also be a requirement, and organisations will be required to have a business continuity plan in place, and to test it regularly.
Finally, the new version of the standard includes new requirements for protecting sensitive information in the supply chain. Organisations must conduct due diligence on suppliers and implement controls to protect sensitive information in the supply chain. This will help organisations ensure that sensitive data is protected throughout the supply chain and that they are not exposed to unnecessary risks.
Overall, the new version of ISO 27001:2022 provides a more comprehensive and up-to-date framework for information security management.
In summary, ISO 27001 and GDPR are necessary international standards that organisations must comply with to protect sensitive data and ensure the privacy of individuals. Organisations can comply with these standards by implementing robust security measures such as access controls and data encryption, performing regular risk assessments, monitoring compliance, conducting audits, preparing incident response plans and providing employee training and awareness. By doing so, organisations can protect themselves from potential data breaches and gain the trust of their customers, employees and the public.
Information Security Management Systems — ISO 27001
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
ISO/IEC 27001:2022 — the newest version of ISO 27001 — was published in October 2022.