A Complete Guide On How To Conduct an ISO 27001 Internal Audit


Vector Representation of ISO 27001 guide
A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an ISO 27001 Internal Audit

Fulfilling ISO 27001 certification requirements is no easy task, so congratulations if your organization has completed its certification. However, the process has just begun. The next step is to maintain the certification, and for that, you must regularly review processes and conduct internal audits.


The question is: where do you start? For those of you who are stuck in a rut with no guidance on how to conduct internal audits, this article will help you out. It demonstrates how to carry out an internal audit that complies with ISO 27001 standards and will provide you with an ISO 27001 internal audit checklist to make the process simpler.


What is an ISO 27001 internal audit?


In order to determine if your business's information security management system (ISMS) currently complies with the ISO 27001 standard, your firm must undertake an internal audit in accordance with ISO 27001 standards. The organization's employees conduct the internal audit, and the results help improve the information security management system and ensure certification. According to the internal audit clause 9.2 laid out by ISO, an internal audit should compromise the following:


  • Always do auditing at planned intervals.

  • The audit should determine whether the information security management system is meeting ISO 27001 requirements along with the organization's standards.

  • These audits should be documented as formal audit programs.

  • The audit should be performed by someone who does not have an ownership or operational control over the information security management system.


ISO standards have no specifications on the interval of performing an internal audit. However, our experts are of the view that it must be performed or conducted annually.


Why Should Organizations Conduct Internal ISMS Audit?


Regularly auditing information security management systems, nudges organizations towards maintaining their ISMS. Internal auditing at regular intervals helps organizations in the following ways:


  • It identifies vulnerability and nonconformity and promotes a strong security posture for the organization.

  • It helps in monitoring new information security risks, and regular risk assessments.

  • It helps in communicating changing information security policies to stakeholders and employees.

  • Regular auditing aids in the continuous improvement in ISMS.


The Internal Audit Process For ISO 27001


ISO 27001 experts have divided the entire process of an internal audit into five steps. These five steps simplify the understanding of all activities and processes from end to end.


Step 1: State the goal of your internal audit


The first step while performing your internal audit is to prepare an audit plan. There should be a clear establishment of acids and information systems in the internal assessment. You should confirm all the ISO clauses and Annex A controls relevant to your certification. Post-meeting these requirements, your organization will need to appoint an internal auditor. Generally, this person is selected by the board of directors or management, keeping in mind that the internal auditor should not be involved in the development of ISMS.


Step 2: Perform document review and evidence collection


Once the internal auditor is appointed, they will need to review the information security policies and the controls of your information security management system. Below are a few examples of the documentation likely to be needed in the internal audit:


  • ISMS goal

  • ISMS applicability statement

  • Information security policy

  • ISO 27001 risk treatment plan

  • Gap analysis

  • Business continuity policy


Step 3: Begin the internal audit


When all the required documents and prerequisites are met, the internal auditor can begin their assessment. The process will include a documentation review, control review, interviews with control owners, and observation of operational procedures. These observations will help the auditor assess your ISMS for being up to the mark and meeting the requirements of ISO 27001. It also helps identify gaps that need to be filled before the next audit for certification.


Step 4: Prepare the Internal audit report.


The assessment of the internal auditor will be produced in a report. This report will deliver the auditor's observations, including any action items and non-conformities. The internal audit final report should include:


  • Introduction summarising the audit goal, timeline, objective, and details of the assessment.

  • It should have an executive summary explaining the key findings of the auditor.

  • It should have detailed information on the person who should review the report and whether it should be classified or not.

  • It should include any corrections, actions, or recommendations if required.

  • The final report should have a statement explaining the audit scope's limitations.


Step 5: Holistic review


Once the internal auditor is done with the audit, they present the report to management and other interested parties. They have to share any minor or major nonconformity identified and discuss the opportunities required to improve the information security management system. The management will perform a holistic review of the report and inform the organization whether they are ready for a stage 2 certification audit or not.


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Every business's internal audit is unique since every organization has a different information security management system based on its organizational needs.


Based on this, an internal audit checklist can be extremely helpful for organizations. The internal audit template for ISO 27001 comprises every clause and Annex A control streamlined in a spreadsheet to guide the internal auditor with the standard requirements.


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