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ISO 27001:2013

ISO 27001:2013 - Information Security Management System (ISMS)

Most organizations have a number of information security controls. However, without an information security management system (ISMS), controls tend to be somewhat disorganized and disjointed, having been implemented often as point solutions to specific situations or simply as a matter of convention. Security controls in operation typically address certain aspects of IT or data security specifically; leaving non-IT information assets (such as paperwork and proprietary knowledge) less protected on the whole. Moreover, business continuity planning and physical security may be managed quite independently of IT or information security while Human Resources practices may make little reference to the need to define and assign information security roles and responsibilities throughout the organization.


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ISO/IEC 27001 requires that management:

  • Systematically examine the organization’s information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts;
  • Design and implement a coherent and comprehensive suite of information security controls and/or other forms of risk treatment (such as risk avoidance or risk transfer) to address those risks that are deemed unacceptable; and
  • Adopt an overarching management process to ensure that the information security controls continue to meet the organization’s information security needs on an ongoing basis.

Note that ISO/IEC 27001 is designed to cover much more than just IT.

What controls will be tested as part of certification to ISO/IEC 27001 is dependent on the certification auditor. This can include any controls that the organisation has deemed to be within the scope of the ISMS and this testing can be to any depth or extent as assessed by the auditor as needed to test that the control has been implemented and is operating effectively.

Management determines the scope of the ISMS for certification purposes and may limit it to, say, a single business unit or location. The ISO/IEC 27001 certificate does not necessarily mean the remainder of the organization, outside the scoped area, has an adequate approach to information security management.

Other standards in the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards provide additional guidance on certain aspects of designing, implementing and operating an ISMS, for example on information security risk management (ISO/IEC 27005).

The 2002 version of BS 7799-2 introduced the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle aligning it with quality standards such as ISO 9000. 27001:2005 applied this to all the processes in ISMS.

Plan (establishing the ISMS)

Establish the policy, the ISMS objectives, processes and procedures related to risk management and the improvement of information security to provide results in line with the global policies and objectives of the organization.

Do (implementing and workings of the ISMS)

Implement and exploit the ISMS policy, controls, processes and procedures.

Check (monitoring and review of the ISMS)

Assess and, if applicable, measure the performances of the processes against the policy, objectives and practical experience and report results to management for review.

Act (update and improvement of the ISMS)

Undertake corrective and preventive actions, on the basis of the results of the ISMS internal audit and management review, or other relevant information to continually improve the said system.

All references to PDCA were removed in ISO/IEC 27001:2013. Its use in the context of ISO/IEC 27001 is no longer mandatory.

BS 7799 was a standard originally published by BSI Group in 1995. It was written by the United Kingdom Government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and consisted of several parts.

The first part, containing the best practices for information security management, was revised in 1998; after a lengthy discussion in the worldwide standards bodies, it was eventually adopted by ISO as ISO/IEC 17799, “Information Technology – Code of practice for information security management.” in 2000. ISO/IEC 17799 was then revised in June 2005 and finally incorporated in the ISO 27000 series of standards as ISO/IEC 27002 in July 2007.

The second part of BS7799 was first published by BSI in 1999, known as BS 7799 Part 2, titled “Information Security Management Systems – Specification with guidance for use.” BS 7799-2 focused on how to implement an Information security management system (ISMS), referring to the information security management structure and controls identified in BS 7799-2. This later became ISO/IEC 27001:2005. BS 7799 Part 2 was adopted by ISO as ISO/IEC 27001 in November 2005.

BS 7799 Part 3 was published in 2005, covering risk analysis and management. It aligns with ISO/IEC 27001:2005.

Very little reference or use is made to any of the BS standards in connection with ISO/IEC 27001.

An ISMS may be certified compliant with ISO/IEC 27001 by a number of Accredited Registrars worldwide. Certification against any of the recognized national variants of ISO/IEC 27001 (e.g. JIS Q 27001, the Japanese version) by an accredited certification body is functionally equivalent to certification against ISO/IEC 27001 itself.

In some countries, the bodies that verify conformity of management systems to specify standards are called “certification bodies”, while in others they are commonly referred to as “registration bodies”, “assessment and registration bodies”, “certification/ registration bodies”, and sometimes “registrars”.

The ISO/IEC 27001 certification, like other ISO management system certifications, usually involves a three-stage external audit process defined by the ISO/IEC 17021 and ISO/IEC 27006standards:

  • Stage 1is a preliminary, informal review of the ISMS, for example checking the existence and completeness of key documentation such as the organization’s information security policy, Statement of Applicability (SoA) and Risk Treatment Plan (RTP). This stage serves to familiarize the auditors with the organization and vice versa.
  • Stage 2is a more detailed and formal compliance audit, independently testing the ISMS against the requirements specified in ISO/IEC 27001. The auditors will seek evidence to confirm that the management system has been properly designed and implemented, and is in fact in operation (for example by confirming that a security committee or similar management body meets regularly to oversee the ISMS). Certification audits are usually conducted by ISO/IEC 27001 Lead Auditors. Passing this stage results in the ISMS being certified compliant with ISO/IEC 27001.
  • Ongoinginvolves follow-up reviews or audits to confirm that the organization remains in compliance with the standard. Certification maintenance requires periodic re-assessment audits to confirm that the ISMS continues to operate as specified and intended. These should happen at least annually but (by agreement with management) are often conducted more frequently, particularly while the ISMS is still maturing.


Note that the 2005 version of ISO/IEC 27001 is obsolete and no longer in use.

A.5 Security Policy

A.6 Organisation of information Security

A.7 Asset Management

A.8 Human Resources

A.9 Physical and environmental security

A.10 Communications and operations management

A.11 Access Control

A.12 Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance

A.13 Information security incident management

A.14 Business continuity management

A.15 Compliance


The official title of the standard is “Information technology — Security techniques — Information security management systems — Requirements”

ISO/IEC 27001:2013 has ten short clauses, plus a long annex, which cover:

  1. Scope of the standard
  2. How the document is referenced
  3. Reuse of the terms and definitions in ISO/IEC 27000
  4. Organizational context and stakeholders
  5. Information security leadership and high-level support for policy
  6. Planning an information security management system; risk assessment; risk treatment
  7. Supporting an information security management system
  8. Making an information security management system operational
  9. Reviewing the system’s performance
  10. Corrective action

Annex A: List of controls and their objectives

This structure mirrors other management standards such as ISO 22301 (business continuity management) and this helps organizations comply with multiple management systems standards if they wish. Annexes B and C of 27001:2005 have been removed.

The 2013 standard has a completely different structure than the 2005 standard which had five clauses. The 2013 standard puts more emphasis on measuring and evaluating how well an organization’s ISMS is performing, and there is a new section on outsourcing, which reflects the fact that many organizations rely on third parties to provide some aspects of IT. It does not emphasize the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle that 27001:2005 did. Other continuous improvement processes like Six Sigma’s DMAIC method can be implemented. More attention is paid to the organizational context of information security, and risk assessment has changed. Overall, 27001:2013 is designed to fit better alongside other management standards such as ISO 9000 and ISO/IEC 20000, and it has more in common with them.

New controls:

A.6.1.5 Information security in project management

A.12.6.2 Restrictions on software installation

A.14.2.1 Secure development policy

A.14.2.5 Secure system engineering principles

A.14.2.6 Secure development environment

A.14.2.8 System security testing

A.15.1.1 Information security policy for supplier relationships

A.15.1.3 Information and communication technology supply chain

A.16.1.4 Assessment of and decision on information security events

A.16.1.5 Response to information security incidents

A.17.2.1 Availability of information processing facilities

Clause 6.1.3 describes how an organization can respond to risks with a risk treatment plan; an important part of this is choosing appropriate controls. A very important change in ISO/IEC 27001:2013 is that there is now no requirement to use the Annex A controls to manage the information security risks. The previous version insisted (“shall”) that controls identified in the risk assessment to manage the risks must have been selected from Annex A. Thus almost every risk assessment ever completed under the old version of ISO/IEC 27001 used Annex A controls but an increasing number of risk assessments in the new version do not use Annex A as the control set. This enables the risk assessment to be simpler and much more meaningful to the organization and helps considerably with establishing a proper sense of ownership of both the risks and controls. This is the main reason for this change in the new version.

There are now 114 controls in 14 clauses and 35 control categories; the 2005 standard had 133 controls in 11 groups.

A.5: Information security policies (2 controls)

A.6: Organization of information security (7 controls)

A.7: Human resource security – 6 controls that are applied before, during, or after employment

A.8: Asset management (10 controls)

A.9: Access control (14 controls)

A.10: Cryptography (2 controls)

A.11: Physical and environmental security (15 controls)

A.12: Operations security (14 controls)

A.13: Communications security (7 controls)

A.14: System acquisition, development and maintenance (13 controls)

A.15: Supplier relationships (5 controls)

A.16: Information security incident management (7 controls)

A.17: Information security aspects of business continuity management (4 controls)

A.18: Compliance; with internal requirements, such as policies, and with external requirements, such as laws (8 controls)

Total 114 controls

The new and updated controls reflect changes to technology affecting many organizations—for instance, cloud computing—but as stated above it is possible to use and be certified to ISO/IEC 27001:2013 and not use any of these controls.

  • Define the scope of the ISO security management system plan.
  • Define ISMS policy and its characteristics for your organization.
  • Identify risk in the organization.
  • Obtain management approval for risk assessment plan
  • Include engagement of Employees
  • Review risk management process
  • Comprise full documentation process
  • Confirm Internal auditing
  • Enable Continuous Monitoring and maintenance of the risk management process.
  • Security of the confidential data of an organization.
  • The confidence of customers and stakeholders in risk management of your organization.
  • Protects assets of your organization.
  • Foresee risks in the organization
  • Identifies, manage, and minimize risks.
  • Protects goodwill and reputation of your organization.
  • Competitive advantage against other organizations.
  • Lower expenditure due to risk assessment.
  • Allows secure exchange of the information.
  • Established maintenance and control programs in the organization
  • Insufficient knowledge of ISO 27001:2013 conformity leads organizations to make defective risk assessment plans.
  • Defining accurate scope turns a headache for many of the organizations. Organizations try to narrow the scope to reduce the burden which results in disappointment in the desired result.
  • Employees face a tough time in understanding the requirements of ISO 27001 standard.
  • Documentation in ISO 27001 is an obscure task for many of the organizations.
  • Production and Installation of applications and process is a complicated procedure for most of the organizational workforce.
  • Auditing, Training and improving quality can cost you more than you can input, which makes most of the organization to step out of the process.
  • Adopting a bureaucratic and incompatible ISO 27001 system can prove painful, redundant and build fear in employs which can degrade their motivation.
  • Unprofessional and incorrect offers given by Consultants, that displays a very wide range of pricing. This creates confusion and hampers the
  • Consultant selection process.
  • Organizations may be trying their best, but still failing to reap the results. What they aren’t aware of is that they may not be having adequate resources with them or appropriate management solutions due to lack of expert knowledge.
  • The possibility that the Consultant guides through, and emphasizes on massive documentation which the organization cannot handle, and somehow aren’t the mandatory requirement of the international standard too.
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