ISO 27001 Checklist: The Key to Compliance
Before you dive into risk assessments and implementing controls, it’s essential to spend some time engaged in ISO 27001 planning. With the help of Compleye’s free ISO 27001 checklist, and the tips and tricks in this article, you’ll be more than prepared to put your compliance plan into action.
Planning is an essential aspect of any project. After all, there’s a reason ‘Be Prepared’ is the scout’s motto. How about the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’? Or, President Eisenhower’s quote ‘Plans are nothing; planning is everything’.
These sayings are famed because they ring true. Whatever you’re doing, without a solid plan, you’re forced to improvise. When it comes to ISO 27001 compliance, the one thing you definitely shouldn’t be doing is improvising.
With Compleye’s dedicated (and completely free) ISO 27001 checklist, you can build a plan for your compliant future and achieve your certification on the first try.
In this article, we’ll break down the essential stages of ISO 27001 planning, learning how to build a strong foundation for compliance and continual improvement even before you bust out our trusty checklist.
ISO 27001 Requirements
If you’ve decided to go for ISO 27001 certification, it’s likely you already have a good idea of the benefits it’ll bring to your organisation. However, you may not yet know what complete compliance entails.
So, before you do anything else, take a moment to familiarise yourself with the framework and its requirements. ISO 27001 compliance isn’t easy. It’ll make the whole thing run a lot smoother if you know the exact boundaries you’re working within and the requirements you’re working towards.
According to a survey by NQA, 77% of organisations that are working toward their ISO 27001 certification also use controls from other cybersecurity standards. If you’re already following some form of cybersecurity guidelines, check for any cross-overs that may lessen your workload and increase your understanding.
Resource Allocation and Prepared Personnel
Next, assuming you’re the management representative or project leader, it’s time to assemble your implementation team and inform employees of your intentions.
No matter how micro your organisation is, it’s a good idea to get a few others fully involved in the ISO 27001 process. This is because…
- It’ll share the workload, making the road to certification much shorter.
- Multiple skillsets will contribute to a comprehensive ISMS.
- It will foster cross-department communication and a culture of compliance throughout your organisation.
- Having multiple team members who understand the framework will reduce the risk of single points of failure.
Choosing your Compliance Team
An ISO 27001 implementation team includes minimum the following roles:
- Security Officer (SO)
- Privacy Officer (PO)
- Compliance Officer (CO)
- C-level or Management
- Chief Technology Officer or Tech Lead
- Human Resources Representative
- Legal Advisor
- Communication Coordinator
- Training Coordinator
- Facility Manager
Some roles can be combined; however, you will need to have a minimum of 3 people in your compliance team from the start.
The compliance team will ask other team members for support or specific tasks while implementing and maintaining ISO 27001.
Preferably, the individuals you select for these roles will have demonstrable prior experience with the responsibilities they’ll need to take on. Learning on the job is possible, but it’ll slow the process down and may lead to costly mistakes.
However, if you’re short on prospects, the responsibilities that these roles entail can be shared between the other team members. Your compliance team should be in place before you even enter into the ISO 27001 planning stage.
Involving and Preparing Management
One of the most common ISO 27001 challenges that your implementation team can face is a lack of support from management. Management support is essential, in part because it’s required.
ISO 27001 Clause 9.3 outlines the necessary nature of management reviews. In these meetings, management will discuss the ISMS and its relation to the organisation with the compliance team. This will assist with strategic decision-making.
Management involvement is also highly beneficial during the planning stage because it will allow you to make full use of necessary resources and aid in the dissemination of compliance information.
Earnest Young Global found that, between 2018 and 2019, 67% of organisations increased the number of full-time employees within the scope of their ISMS. That’s a lot of employees to get prepared.
While you don’t need to involve every employee in the planning stage, it’s a good idea to inform key individuals within your organisation of your intentions to become ISO 27001 compliant.
Discussions with these individuals are often incredibly fruitful, highlighting areas you may need to focus on, potential roadblocks you could come up against, and general security expectations that your employees have.
Developing an Implementation Plan
You’ll soon learn that every effort you make toward building, monitoring and maintaining your ISMS will need to be documented. Though a written implementation plan isn’t specifically required, it’ll be a huge help as you work through the process and start handing out tasks. Plus, it’ll evidence how serious you are about total compliance.
The free and comprehensive Compleye ISO 27001 checklist can act as the basis for your implementation plan, letting you know exactly what tasks will need to be completed and in what order. This will help:
- Ensure a systematic and organised approach to ISO 27001.
- Manage the expectations of key personnel and management.
- Centralise planning documentation for easy access.
- Establish a framework for regular progress tracking and reporting.
- Enable effective communication throughout the compliance team.
- Create a clear timeline for certification.
Though you shouldn’t dedicate all your time to drawing up an implementation plan, you can go as in-depth into certain tasks as you like. Generally, so long as you note the person in charge, exactly what they’ll need to do and roughly how long it will take, you should be fine.
We have also created a new ISO 27001 roadmap – don’t forget to check it!
Bear in mind that your plan will likely change as problems, both internal and external, crop up and you get further into the compliance process. For example, with the rise of remote working during the pandemic, 42% of businesses revised their plans for cybersecurity. Remember to be flexible and keep your end goal in mind.
Planning for Sustained Compliance
You’ll notice that ISO 27001 compliance doesn’t end after your ISMS is up and running. That’s only half the battle.
The remainder of your time will be spent reviewing your security systems, monitoring how effective your chosen controls are against identified security risks, updating controls, systems and processes as and when the risks require it, and adapting to evolving threats.
Just like the ISO 27001 planning you’ve already done, you need to plan for this stage of the process too. Sustained compliance relies on balance; while you’re striving for thorough risk mitigation, avoid constraining your ability to make necessary adjustments in future.
Creating Sustained Compliance Workflows
Thankfully, though area-specific reviews and updates will need to be tailored, the process follows the same basic structure each time. Creating a sustained compliance workflow will help you plan for ongoing adjustments.
An example workflow might be the Continuous Improvement Cycle:
Define Security Objectives → Perform Assessments → Define Findings → Implement Improvements → Evaluate Effectiveness → Write your Management Review → Re-define your security objectives
Implementing this continuous improvement cycle will ensure that you implement the major ISO 27001 requirements.
ISO 27001 planning sets the stage for success. Forming a trusty compliance team and getting management involved are crucial early steps. But, the process is a lot more committed than that.
An implementation plan, underpinned by Compleye’s free ISO 27001 checklist, will ensure an organised approach and keep you on track.
Finally, you’ll need to plan how you’ll sustain your compliance, too. This involves keeping on top of emerging and evolving threats, and updating your ISMS accordingly.
With all that under your belt, you’re now just a few steps away from putting your ISO 27001 plan into action and achieving your certification. Good luck!