Why it’s valuable to get ISO 27001 certification for your small business

ISO has literally set the standard for excellence and best practice. The question is, are you meeting those standards

The International Organisation for Standardisation (more commonly known as ISO) is a non-government organisation body that develops and publishes a wide range of business, commercial, and factory standards. 

The ISO has developed 23,936 international standards to date, which cover everything from energy management, social responsibility, tech-based services, healthcare providers, medical devices, (the list goes on). This allows a wide range of organisations to obtain certifications relevant to their industry and prove their competence.

Given how important the certifications are to building customer trust, more and more small businesses are putting in the effort to reach the set standards. The ISO reported a 3.8% increase in the number of certificates that were issued in 2019. 

One certification that applies across just about all small business operations is the ISO 27001, which focuses on the Information Security Management System, or ISMS. Living in today’s highly digital landscape alongside the constant threat of cyber attacks makes obtaining a certification in information security management essential for any small business working with computer systems. 

With online systems so well built into modern business processes, it’s no wonder more organisations are reaching ISO 27001 standards to ensure customer privacy, financial security, and unhackable workstations.

In fact, the Australian ISO 27001 certification rose by more than 200% in 2016. ISO surveys also indicate that the issuing of this certification has increased by 20% consecutively from 2016 to 2019 worldwide.

The ISO 27001 certification is crucial if you want to implement the best practice in an ISMS. Achieving this certification allows you to protect sensitive information and internal systems, solidifying your credibility as a business. 

What you need to know about ISO

ISO has a membership of 165 national standards bodies to share their knowledge and develop consensus-based international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

Achieving an ISO certification shows that your company complies with their international standards. Just keep in mind that ISO does not issue certifications themselves, you need to work with external third-party certifications bodies to attain the ISO certification you want.

The process of becoming ISO certified can seem overly complicated and technical at first glance, but once you take the time to research and learn about ISO and the certifications you want to attain, you’ll find it easier to understand the process and can fully prepare and succeed in meeting international standards.

What is ISO 27001 certification?

ISO 27001, more formally known as ISO/IEC 27001:2013, provides a systematic and process-based framework for installing and maintaining information security systems. 

It assists organisations of all types and sizes to initiate, implement, operate, and maintain their ISMS, which is a set of policies and procedures or established processes and technologies for best practices and proven results. 

The ISO 27001 defines which documents are required, and how to approach ISMS and help organisations manage their information security by addressing the people, processes, and technology that create and interact with it. 

There are three ISMS security objectives that align with the ISO 27001 standard:

  1. Confidentiality Only authorised persons have access to the information.
  2. Integrity Only authorised persons can change the information.
  3. Availability Authorised persons can access the information when needed.

Meeting these objectives will allow you to prepare and protect your business against potential security threats such as cyber crimes and data breaches.

The ISO 27001 standard is also designed to be compatible with other management systems standards (such as ISO 9001) and it’s technology and vendor-neutral so it’s completely independent of any IT platform. 

Achieving the ISO 27001 certification ensures that you are able to safeguard valuable assets within your business and proves to your potential and existing clients that you have the capability to protect their data.

How ISO 27001 certification can benefit a small business

As a small business owner, it’s important to avoid common misconceptions about cybersecurity and remain vigilant in safeguarding your data. Some owners may think that their business is too small to be a target of cyberattacks, but according to the 4iQ Identity Breach Report 2019, cybercriminals have shifted their focus to small businesses, resulting in a 424% increase in data breaches since 2017.

Even if your business doesn’t collect payment details, other personal information can still be stolen including names, email addresses, and passwords—which can then be used to hack or create a range of different accounts. 

As more businesses become increasingly reliant on technology to manage their data, there needs to be an equal rise in the application of risk management systems against potential cyber threats. That’s why ISO 27001 is valuable not only to big corporations, but also to small and medium-sized businesses.

Utilising the framework developed by ISO ensures that everyone in your organisation has sufficient information security knowledge so that your data systems are better managed. This helps you improve your business structure and focus as you’ll have access to working data management strategies with proven results.

The ISO 27001 certification also helps you achieve standardisation in efficiently protecting information about your employees, clients, and even suppliers. It strengthens your integrity as a brand and builds confidence and trust with your customers and staff because you’re capable of safely securing important information.

Statistics show that the average cost of a cyber attack is $3 million, leaving more than 80% of small businesses unable to recover from a potential data breach. Applying the ISMS best practices developed by ISO ensures that you avoid financial penalties and losses associated with data breaches while keeping compliant with legal, contractual, and regulatory requirements.

The process of becoming ISO 27001 certified in Australia

Although achieving the ISO 27001 certificate for your ISMS can be a lengthy process, working with a professional IT service provider can help simplify and accelerate the process.

There are nine steps to implementing an ISO 27001-compliant ISMS in your small business.

1. Assemble an implementation team

You need to appoint a project leader that will oversee the implementation process of your ISMS. Not only do they need to be knowledgeable in information security, but they also need to have the leadership skills to manage the rest of the implementation team.

2. Develop the implementation plan

The implementation team will create a more comprehensive outline of their information security objectives, plans, and risk register. This involves creating policies that will ensure the continued improvement of the ISMS as well as ways to raise awareness about the project throughout the organisation.

3. Initiate your ISMS

Once your plan is set, establish which continual improvement methodology to use for your ISMS. ISO 27001 doesn’t specify any particular model to use, so long as the requirements and processes are clearly defined, implemented correctly, and reviewed and improved regularly. You also need to have an ISMS policy that clearly states your implementation team’s goals and their plan of action in achieving them. 

4. Establish the scope for your ISMS

This involves understanding everything that is relevant in your organisation in terms of information security so that the ISMS can meet every requirement. You’ll need to identify the locations where your business stores data, whether they’re hard copies or digital files, and if they’re in systems or portable devices. If the scope is too narrow, you can potentially leave blind spots open in your system, but if it’s too complex, the ISMS can become difficult to manage.

5. Identify your security baseline

Knowing your security baseline will give you a clear idea of the minimum level of activity required to conduct daily business activities securely. This will also help you identify the biggest security vulnerabilities to your organisation, and the best ways to mitigate them. 

6. Create a risk management process

Risk management is crucial in implementing an ISMS because it’s based on the threats you’ve identified and prioritised. You can define your own risk management process, but you need to ensure that your decision is backed by a comprehensive risk assessment and that you’re prepared with a risk acceptance criteria (i.e. understanding the damage of a potential threat and the likelihood of it happening).

7. Implement a risk treatment plan

Your risk treatment plan involves building the security controls that will protect your organisation’s assets. For these controls to run effectively, you need to identify the staff members that can operate them and develop a process that ensures you achieve your ISMS objectives.

8. Measure, monitor, and review your ISMS

The only way to know whether your ISMS is running efficiently is if you track and review it consistently. This will help you confirm whether your ISMS objectives are being met or if there is room for improvement.

9. Certify your ISMS

Once your ISMS is implemented, you can prepare for ISO 27001 certification. You will undergo an initial audit that will review whether your business ISMS aligns with the ISO standards. Once the auditor is satisfied, they’ll conduct a more thorough investigation.

Make sure that you choose an accredited certification body so that the review of your ISMS is in accordance with ISO 2700 standards.

How Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help with your ISO 27001 certification

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has a full suite of applications that can be incredibly useful in building your ISMS. 

It can help your implementation team communicate and collaborate efficiently, through the planning stages as well as for project operations. Your appointed project leader can create a smoother workflow with automated reminders and alerts, while developing organised schedules, assigning resources to tasks, and even analysing workloads.

Dynamics 365 also provides out-of-the-box compliance guides and audit reports to ensure that your ISMS fulfils the requirements and standards set out in ISO 27001. It has the capability to apply incident and risk management, tracking unlawful or unauthorised access to your equipment or facilities to protect your data.

Other benefits of using Microsoft Dynamics 365 in implementing an ISO 27001-compliant ISMS includes:

  • • Outlook integration for auto tracking communication channels like emails
  • • SharePoint integration for managing content
  • • Excel and Word document templates to automate document creation and consistency
  • • Export to Excel for easy data analysis and reporting
  • • Web browser access for work anywhere, anytime
  • • Mobile client for iOS and Android screens auto-adjust for device size
  • • Global search resulting in thousands of records in an instant
  • • Hosted by Microsoft in local data centres with full backup, data privacy, and security

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ensures that all your assets are secure, while helping you manage the implementation process of your ISMS.

If you want to get ISO 27001 certified using Dynamics 365, give us a call.


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