Data security is of vital importance. Not just to your business—but to your customers. Have you made it clear to your customers that their data’s security is your top priority? Do you have any mechanism in place to demonstrate that commitment? If not, it may be difficult to build trust with customers.  

Maintaining ISO 27001 compliance can help set internal standards and show your customers that you mean business concerning cybersecurity. But what is ISO 27001? What does this set of standards mean, and how can you follow them in your organization?

This post will give you a foundational understanding of ISO 27001. Additionally, we will provide you with six steps to plan for and maintain compliance with these standards, as well as why each step is important to securing your organization.


ANSWERED: What is ISO 27001? 

You came to this post for an answer, and we don’t intend to beat around the bush in providing it. What is ISO 27001? Also known as IEC 27001, ISO 27001 is a set of standards regarding information security management.

ISO 27001 standards are optional, not obligatory. However, implementing these standards will help your organization benefit from best practices and provide reassurance to customers that their data is safe with you.

Related: How to Conduct an IT Compliance Review in 6 Steps

According to ISO 27001 documentation, the purpose of these standards is to “provide a model for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, and improving an information security management system.”

There are six steps you must take to plan and maintain ISO 27001 compliance. We will cover these steps in detail:

  1. Define your security policy
  2. Define ISMS scope
  3. Conduct a security risk assessment
  4. Manage your identified risks
  5. Select controls to implement 
  6. Prepare a statement of applicability



1. Define Your Security Policy 

The first step to maintaining ISO 27001 compliance is to ensure that you have a well-defined security policy. 

Your security policy will include elements such as:

  • Password requirements
  • Email security measures
  • Secure data management requirements
  • Internet and social media usage
  • Incident/breach preparedness

You should also take this opportunity to ensure your policy documentation is regularly updated. Your business is continually expanding, restructuring, or changing in a number of ways. Ensure that your policies and procedures are updated regularly to mirror these changes. 


2. Define ISMS Scope 

What is ISMS scope? ISMS stands for Information Security Management System. Your ISMS scope will help you outline the information you must protect. Consider the following when laying out your ISMS scope:

  • Applicable laws and regulations
  • Security controls you need to maintain
  • Threats relevant to your data’s security
  • Relevant security dependencies

Related: IT Compliance Standards: Which Regulations Apply to Your Business?

The scope of your information security management plan will help you understand the regulations your organization must meet. Armed with this information, you can also more easily communicate your security requirements to customers, management, and other stakeholders. 


3. Conduct a Security Risk Assessment 

Once you have laid out your scope and security policies, your next step is conducting a security risk assessment. In a risk assessment, you examine your assets and defenses in light of the current threats in cybersecurity.

Related: Which is a Greater Cybersecurity Threat: Rogue Hackers or Nation States? 

Conducting a security risk assessment helps your organization identify weaknesses and strengths in your defenses, giving you an idea of how your efforts will fare against current threats. 

Cyber-attacks are continually growing more nuanced and sophisticated. As a result, you should conduct security risk assessments on a regular basis. Your schedule may vary, but ISACA recommends assessing risk biannually. 

Your risk assessment should include a comprehensive PCI audit to ensure you’re complying with all twelve components of PCI DSS compliance


4. Manage Your Identified Risks 

Your security risk assessment will likely reveal weak spots in your cybersecurity policies, processes, and/or defenses. Your next step is to implement measures to manage those newly identified risks.

After noting applicable risks, write out a list of practices, technologies, or policies you require to resolve those risks. Your list will likely include both quick fixes and a long-term compliance strategy

Managing your risks proactively can help you maintain ISO 27001 compliance because resolving a weak point in your defenses before it results in a breach is a cybersecurity best practice you should strive toward per ISO 27001.


5. Select Controls to Implement 

Managing risks is only the beginning of the fixes to implement following your security risk assessment. Next, you should determine controls you wish to implement to ensure ongoing, continuous compliance with ISO 27001 standards and other regulations required for your organization.

You may want to consider implementing a system integrity assurance solution. CimTrak, for example, can help your organization identify, prohibit, and remediate unauthorized changes in your system.

Some features you may want to consider to help secure and monitor your data include:

  • Real-time automated change detection
  • Dynamic version control
  • Unexpected change prevention
File integrity monitoring and system integrity assurance measures such as these can help you maintain ISO 27001 compliance by securing your data but also by creating an easy-to-follow documentation trail of all changes and activity in your system. 


6. Prepare a Statement of Applicability 

Your last step in maintaining ISO 27001 compliance is to prepare a Statement of Applicability (SoA). Your organization’s SoA will outline which ISO 27001 controls and policies you intend to follow. You should also include reasoning for why you are including or excluding any ISO 27001 controls in your list.

Your SoA must be kept up-to-date. This document is considered critical documentation for your ISO 27001 certification and continuous compliance. 


What is ISO 27001—And How Can You Achieve Compliance? 

This post should provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge about ISO 27001. Following the information in this guide, you will be able to understand and implement ISO 27001 compliance practices in your organization. 

However, maintaining ISO 27001 compliance can be challenging if you don’t have the right measures in place. Focus on pre-certification. If you’re looking for help getting through the certification process, great tools can help. Great tools can help. File integrity monitoring software with system integrity assurance is vital to maintaining strong network security and limiting your risk of a breach.

To see how you can implement strong file integrity monitoring processes in your organization, schedule an Instant Preview of CimTrak or download our free resource, the File Integrity Monitoring Guide, today.


Lauren Yacono
Post by Lauren Yacono
November 10, 2022
Lauren is an IU graduate and Chicagoland-based Marketing Specialist.

About Cimcor

Cimcor’s File Integrity Monitoring solution, CimTrak, helps enterprise IT and security teams secure critical assets and simplify compliance. Easily identify, prohibit, and remediate unknown or unauthorized changes in real-time

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