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10 Steps to Prepare for Your ISO 27001 Certification

Jan 18, 2024

Is your organization ISO 27001 certified?

If not, you’re at risk of falling behind. There is now a 78% year-on-year increase in the number of US-based ISO 27001 certifications, and a global growth rate of 20%, making it the standard for information security management system certifications.

Dyopath 10 Steps To Prepare For Your Iso 27001 Certification

This explosive growth in ISO 27001 certifications highlights a key trend – companies who fail to get certified could soon get left behind, perceived as less qualified and skilled.

The good news is that we can help. In this article, we’ll show you what exactly the ISO 27001 is, why you should consider it, and the steps you’ll need to take to get your organization certified. 

What Is the ISO 27001 Certification?

ISO 27001 is a certification for companies implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) – a collection of policies and processes that allows a company to manage information security.

ISO 27001 is an international standard which helps verify that an organization’s ISMS is where it should be. During the certification process, organizations will get access to detailed guidance on how to build, manage, and sustain their ISMS, as well as how to protect their assets from threats.

Obtaining ISO 27001 certification signals to customers, partners, and other stakeholders that your organization takes information security seriously and have implemented best practices to safeguard information assets. This can provide a competitive advantage in winning contracts or attracting clients.

Why Should You Get ISO 27001 Certified?

There are lots of reasons to consider getting your organization ISO 27001 certified. Let’s look at some of the most important:

  • It helps you stand out. Organizations that are ISO 27001 certified show that they have learned and implemented key ISMS skills and processes and have been verified by a reputable third party, which gives them a powerful edge over the competition.
  • It’s a powerful security boost. The frameworks and skills you learn in the ISO 27001 certification process will help you identify threats and vulnerabilities, secure your key assets, and build a more robust and resilient cybersecurity infrastructure.
  • It shows that your organization takes security seriously. Going through the rigorous process of establishing an ISMS and getting ISO 27001 certified immediately marks out your company as one that is prepared to take a structured and diligent approach to security.
  • ISO 27001 is a globally-recognized certification. This can help if you work with companies on an international level.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting ISO 27001 Certified

So – you’ve decided to start the process of implementing an ISMS and getting on the path to ISO 27001 certification.

It’s a long and challenging road, but the rewards are well worth it. To help you get started, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Understand ISO 27001

The first step is education. You’ll want to learn as much as possible about ISO 27001, what’s involved in the process, what others have experienced, and whether it’s the right choice for you.

Take time to do as much preliminary research as you can. A good starting point is to simply purchase the standard and start reading through the documentation. You can also look into separate online training resources, YouTube courses, and online communities like Reddit’s r/cybersecurity

The goal here isn’t to master the ISO 27001 or learn everything you need to know. Instead, you should be aiming to get a general overview so you can decide if the next steps are right for you and make a compelling case to your company.

Step 2: Get Buy-In From Your Organization

The next crucial step is to make a case for ISO 27001 to the decision makers in your organization.

Dyopath 10 Steps To Prepare For Your Iso 27001 Certification

This part can be challenging, especially if your company leaders are not well-versed in cybersecurity and might not see the need for implementing and maintaining an ISMS.

It’s important to spend some time putting together a persuasive argument for an ISMS. This is where the research you did in the first step will come into play. Here are some general tips:

  • Back yourself up with statistics and research that clearly highlight the value of an ISMS and of being ISO 27001 certified
  • Remember that your company decision-makers may not be cybersecurity specialists. Try to focus on the wider business benefits – especially financial benefits – of being ISO 27001 certified.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on fear – but don’t be afraid to outline the risks that come with not being ISO 27001 certified, like falling behind competitors and being more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
  • Have a clear, well-researched plan and be prepared to confidently answer questions and clarify any points.

Step 3: Establish the ISMS

Once you have the green light from your company higher-ups, it’s time to start the process of implementing your ISMS. Here are three key steps to take at the beginning.

  • Define the scope of your ISMS. Get clear on the relevant assets, business processes, and technologies that will be involved.
  • Start forming a team. The first step should be to appoint a project manager in charge of implementing and managing the ISMS.
  • Conduct a risk assessment. This isn’t just a useful step – a formal risk assessment is a requirement for ISO 27001 compliance. You’ll need to identify and assess the relevant risks to your assets and clearly document the data, analysis, and results.

Step 4: Develop the ISMS and Implement Controls

It’s now time to start putting your ISMS into action in a way that aligns with ISO 27001 requirements and is sustainable.

  • Put together a detailed and thorough information security policy. This should align with both your organization’s specific objectives and the ISO 27001 requirements
  • Establish a risk treatment plan based on the specific risks you identified in your earlier assessment. This should be clearly documented and contain comprehensive instructions for team members.
  • Create a framework for documentation as required by ISO 27001. This is essential in order to prove to your auditor that you’ve followed all the requirements for certification later in the process.

Step 6: Training, Education, and Awareness

You’ll need to implement a thorough training plan to ensure all employees are informed and educated around security policies and procedures. 

All relevant people in the organization should be aware of how their role fits into the ISMS and how this impacts wider security and business objectives. Encourage regular questions and schedule frequent meetings to ensure everyone is aligned.

Step 7: Monitor, Measure, and Improve

Once your ISMS is up and running, you’ll need to put some systems in place to track and analyze its performance over time to ensure all your goals are being met and identify any potentially harmful gaps.

A good idea here is to carry out internal audits at regular intervals to make sure your ISMS is performing as it should and complying with any ISO 27001 requirements. You should also schedule regular management reviews, gathering key team members to assess your progress.

The goal here is continuous improvement – you should be constantly on the lookout for ways to improve your ISMS, including new opportunities and areas of weakness that can be addressed.

Step 8: Prepare for Your ISO 27001 Certification

It’s time – your ISMS is in place and running smoothly, and you’re ready to be assessed by a third-party certification body.

Before you begin, it’s a good idea to conduct one final internal audit to make sure your ISMS is working as it should and to identify and fix any lingering issues before the official audit.

Dyopath 10 Steps To Prepare For Your Iso 27001 Certification

You will be able to choose the certification body you want to work with. There are tons of options here, including (but certainly not limited to):

There are several criteria to consider when choosing your certification body. These include:

  • Cost – you’ll need to make sure your chosen certification organization fits your budget. Remember that even lower-cost certification bodies can still be an excellent choice.
  • Industry familiarity – certification bodies tend to specialize in certain industries, so it’s best to work with someone who understands your field.
  • Reputation and accreditation – make sure your chosen certification body has a good track record. Consider talking to other companies who have worked with them.

Step 9: Undergo the Certification Audit

The certification process involves two stages:

  • Stage 1 Audit – this is where the certification body will review all your documentation to assess whether you have built and implemented your ISMS in line with ISO 27001 requirements. This is to prepare for the second stage.
  • Stage 2 Audit – this where the certification body will carry out a more comprehensive investigation. They will make sure you’re taking all the right steps to monitor and manage your ISMS, and they’ll carry out on-site assessments to ensure everything is working in practice. At this stage, you might be required to make some corrections and amendments.

At the end of this process, if the certification body deems your ISMS to be up their standards, you’ll receive an ISO 27001 certificate. But the work doesn’t stop there…

Step 10: Maintain and Continuously Improve

In order to retain your ISO 27001 certification, you’ll need to undergo periodic audits where your certification body will make sure you’re keeping up with the requirements and justifying your certification.

This means you’ll need to continually assess and improve your ISMS, ensuring it’s always in compliance with all the requirements that got you certified in the first place. This requires regular internal audits (which are also required by the ISO 27001) to pinpoint areas for improvement.

Work With an Experienced Provider

One of the best ways to ensure your ISMS is as effective and sustainable as possible – giving you the best chance for ISO 27001 certification – is to work with an experienced cybersecurity provider.

At DYOPATH, we help companies build up their cybersecurity defenses and strengthen their positions in a rapidly changing world.

Contact us to find out how we can help you.