The ISO 27001 certification is a valuable asset for organizations looking to strengthen their information security posture and uphold their reputation in the market. Like every other valuable asset, it comes at a price.
Most organizations set aside a certification budget to ensure the compliance procedure is smooth and successful. A huge part of this budget is driven toward fixed costs, including fees to be paid to external auditors and the signing authorities.
That said, gaining a definite idea of the cost of the ISO 27001 certification is challenging, primarily because there are various steps in the ISO 27001 certification process, with each step adding significantly to the overall ISO 27001 certification costs.
Through this article, we will learn its cost structure and options contributing to its cost-effectiveness.
Factors influencing the cost of ISO 27001 certification
Before we jump into the cost structure of ISO 27001 certification, let’s first go through the factors that influence these costs. These factors include the size of the organization, office locations, and the usage of external consultants and agencies.
Besides these factors, every organization also has various options, such as external consultation, internal testing, or automation which also impact the overall certification cost. Here is a brief description of each method and how it impacts the cost of ISO 27001 certification.
- Using an internal team: If you’re looking for an option that allows your organization to spearhead the compliance process with minimal cost, then creating an internal team is the best bet. While you will need a certified auditor to complete the certification, the internal team will reduce other preparation and implementation costs, saving your organization some valuable resources.
The internal team will also come in handy for maintaining the certification, once your organization has completed it. That said, it is important to note that while this option may seem like a zero-cost route, it can cost you in terms of employee hours.
- Hiring an external consultant: The most common choice for ISO certification is hiring an external auditor since they are equipped with compliance knowledge to lead your organization’s ISO 27001 certification journey. They help with multiple audit tasks, such as policy creation, defining the scope of your ISMS, and preparing the SOA, which can be taxing when done internally.
- Using compliance automation software: last but not least is the option of using compliance automation software, like Scrut. This is indeed one of the safest and smoothest ways to ensure that your compliance journey is successful.
It assists in defining the ISMS‘s scope, establishing strong data security policies, implementing entity-level checks, and conducting employee infosec training programs. From carefully identifying and reducing risks to decomposing the entire procedure into straightforward, comprehensible processes, a compliance automation platform does it all.
Selecting either of these options to achieve compliance will significantly affect your organization’s ISO 27001 certification cost.
How much does ISO 27001 certification cost?
Naturally, you’ll pay less if your organization is smaller than those with a bigger organization. However, when assessing your own ISO 27001 compliance expenses, it might be helpful to have specific numbers in mind.
According to recent surveys, it is noted that companies should budget up to $40,000 for audit preparation, $15,000+ for the certification audit, and $10,000 per year for maintenance and surveillance audits.
The breakdown of the entire ISO 27001 certification cost is given in the following table:
|Audit Preparation Costs (including gap analysis, pen testing, and standard requirements)||$3-40K|
|Implementation Costs (including security training, new tools, and productivity loss management)||Starting from $1K annually|
|Certification Audit Costs (including internal audit, certification, and surveillance)||$10-50K|
|Total ISO 27001 certification cost||$15-90K|
Cost Structure of ISO 27001 Certification
As mentioned above, there are several stages in an ISO 27001 compliance procedure, each one contributing to the overall success as well the cost of certification.
All three stages of certification, namely, preparation, implementation, and audit, have been explained in a detailed manner below to help you understand the division of ISO 27001 training and certification cost.
The preparation stage includes mandated and variable costs. Mandatory costs include the fixed cost of buying a copy of the standard and a copy of the guide to implementation from the ISO website, which estimates to be a total of $350.
Other costs handled by the organization during the preparation phase are as follows:
- Consulting fees: External consultants handle the end-to-end audit tasks, oversee the process, and use their experience of having done the ISO 27001 certification multiple times.
This cost is optional and depends on the method chosen by the organization. It is estimated to be around $38k.
- Gap assessment: Includes the cost of building an ISMS that meets the standards set by the ISO. It generally includes onboarding a consultant to precisely analyze and design the path from the present state of the ISMS to the one that would be required to fulfill the compliance regulations.
These costs estimate to be approximately $5.7k.
- Risk assessment and testing: These costs are estimated after hiring third parties to conduct penetration and vulnerability tests to assess a company’s security system. The costs of these tests depend on several factors, including the servers, IP addresses, and applications being used.
The range of these costs is between $2-8k.
Another element of the cost structure is the implementation cost which is estimated after implementing Annex A controls, which consists of security policies, managing various assets, access, training, and other features. Here are a few of the costs you can anticipate during the implementation phase.
- Employee training: Employee training is primarily essential to fulfil two objectives. Firstly, training some key employees who are part of the core team so they can oversee the certification exercise. Secondly, employee training is also required for those whose day-to-day activities are impacted by implementing the ISO standards.
- Security and other related software: Specific software will be required to address risks and strengthen information security. While this may result in additional costs, it will be helpful in cutting down several other expenses resulting from a breach of security.
- Indirect costs: There may be indirect costs due to less productivity in various departments such as sales, marketing, engineering, strategy, etc. Your organization can mitigate this cost by having a seasoned team do the implementation.
Employing external auditors who are authorized to conduct the audit is one of the unavoidable ISO 27001 certification costs. It is divided into three separate stages, and they are as follows:
- Stage 1 audit: This audit is about reviewing documents and assessing the company’s preparation for ISO 27001.
- Stage 2 audit: This is an audit that is required to assess the implementation of the various controls and match the documentation with the on-ground application.
- Annual review: The ISO 27001 is valid for three years. Every year your organization must conduct an audit to show adequate compliance with the various rules.
The costs of this audit are also to be paid by the organization, which is why you must budget for the ongoing surveillance audit expenses. Certification audits range in price from $10,000 to $400,000, depending on the certified auditor you choose. The cost of periodic surveillance can range anywhere between $5000 and $20000.
The question is – how can you reduce the cost of ISO 27001 certification? Companies such as Scrut can save time and money for clients by using tried and tested technology in implementing ISO 27001 compliances.
Scrut is a smart and radically simple Governance, Risk, and Compliance automation platform for growing startups and mid-market enterprises. With Scrut, Compliance teams can reduce ~70% of their manual effort in continuously maintaining compliance towards SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, PCI DSS, and privacy laws like HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA. Book a demo today to see how it works.