ISO 27001 Checklist: Your 14-Step Roadmap For Becoming ISO Certified

Vector Representation of ISO 27001 compliance roadmap
Your 14-Step Roadmap for Becoming ISO Certified

Getting a prestigious certification and a compliance standard directly impacts the company if the compliance in question is ISO 27001, one of the most crucial compliances in the information security industry. But getting compliant is not as easy as it seems. A well-formed strategy is required to get the certification done, and part of that is to develop an ISO 27001 checklist and move your organization in that direction.

Importance Of Having An ISO 27001 Checklist

The amount of time required for certification may vary depending on your company's size and the intricacy of the data you store. Small to medium-sized businesses can consider taking four to six months to prepare for and complete an audit. A year or more may be necessary for larger enterprises.

Considerably, it requires huge efforts from an organization's end, which is the reason why it is better to be guided by experts who have done this exercise many times and are abreast with the latest updates on compliance demands. Experts have formulated a 14-step process to help organizations like yours achieve ISO 27001 certification with minimal trouble.

Step-By-Step Roadmap For The Certification Process

1. Create a team

It is essential to create a team in the company to oversee the process. One or more people may be assigned the task of leading the efforts. The team needs to have a mixture of capabilities such as coordinating with the various departments in the company, understanding information security, project management expertise, and complete know-how of the ISO 27001 requirements.

It is ideal to set the team up with clear leadership. Building a governance structure will allow you to have an objective view of the management. Include significant members of top management, such as senior leadership and executive management, who are in charge of strategy and resource allocation.

2. Build an organized Information Security Management System (ISMS)

Most organizations employ haphazard systems for managing information. However, to appease auditors for ISO 27001, they require an organized information management system that streamlines people, processes, and technology in an orderly and transparent manner.

You will have to first start out with scoping your ISMS across three key sectors: business areas (functions and business units) to be covered, relevant security controls, and affected teams. Ensure that the affected parties are communicated the need for ISO 27001 and the help expected from them to get their buy-in.

3. Documentation of ISMS policies and records

An ISO 27001 assessment will include scrutinizing the documentation that has been done for ISMS and how well communicated the policies are in the organization. An ISMS documentation should include everything, such as information security objectives, management, clarity on roles, risk management, controls over documented information, internal audits, corrective measures, policy violation identification, and remedies.

Examine the ISO 27001 list of required documents and records. Personalize policy templates using your organization's policies, processes, and terminology.

4. Conduct risk assessment

Once you have proper data security practices in place, put them to the test. The way to do so is to identify all the segments in the organization where the risks exist. Follow it up by assessing the impact of the risk and documenting its consequences. Conclude all your findings in one place and term it as risk assessment.

Develop a risk-management framework to identify circumstances in which information, systems, or services could be threatened. Determine the frequency with which these threats could occur and evaluate the impact they could have on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information systems. Mitigate risk scenarios based on the intensity of damage they could cause to the organization.

5. Create a Statement of applicability (SOA) document

SOA is about stating what ISO 27001-compliant policies are being implemented to address risks. There are 114 controls described in Annex A. These are the controls that an organization must identify and utilize to mitigate risks. Learning about these controls and completing the SOA is a must in the checklist.

Complete the SOA worksheet by reviewing 114 controls of Annex A stated within the ISO 27001 standard. Once done, move on to select controls that address the identified risks. Complete the Statement of Applicability by identifying all Annex A controls and explaining their inclusion or exclusion from ISMS deployment.

6. Implement ISMS policies and controls as per ISO 27001

ISMS is a critical component of ISO 27001 which provides security-centered suggestions for certification. After the risk assessment is complete, the next part is implementing these specific recommendations through the plan. There are clauses 4-10 that deal with this aspect and ensure that you put together controls that comply with them.

Create a framework for developing, implementing, maintaining, and upgrading the ISMS on an ongoing basis. To support the policies, include evidence for documentation regarding objectives, management review, internal audits, approach to identifying and treating risks, policy violations, et cetera.

7. Train people in the organization about the certification

At this stage, initiatives taken will also impact the day-to-day functioning of people in the organization. Thus, it is vital to communicate with them about why all this is being done. They should be taught about how the systems will be implemented, the benefits of the certification, and the downside of not getting the certificate. Security awareness will also be achieved through these training sessions.

Hold regular training sessions to create awareness among employees about new policies and procedures. Clearly state the expectations for personnel in regard to their role in the maintenance of ISMS. Train employees to identify common threats to your organization and teach them how to respond to them. Create disciplinary or penalty rules for personnel who fail to meet information security needs.

8. Collect and compile documents

The importance of documentation cannot be understated in the ISO 27001 compliance process. The auditing process will require you to have excellent documentation. Thus, it is necessary to keep documenting all the above steps.

Take into consideration all assets where information is stored or processed. These could include information assets like data and people, or physical assets like servers, and laptops. Intangible assets like intellectual property and reputation must also be taken into account. Assign a classification to each item and make the owner responsible for ensuring the asset is properly inventoried, categorized, safeguarded, and managed.

9. Undertake an internal audit

Undertake an internal audit once you feel that the organization is ready for the certification process. Doing so is a trial before the actual audit and will help take remedial measures should any shortcomings be detected. Any independent auditor can conduct this audit.

Allocate internal resources with appropriate capabilities who are independent of ISMS development and maintenance, or hire a third-party independent of ISMS development and maintenance. Cross-check to confirm with requirements from Annex A declared applicable in the Statement of Applicability. Inform the ISMS governing body and top management of internal audit results, including non-conformities. Work on the identified issues before proceeding with the external audit

10. Stage 1 Audit

Approach an auditor accredited by ISO 27001. They will scrutinize the documentation required for the certification. If they find any problems in the ISMS or find anything lacking that would not fulfill the compliance requirements, they will let you know.

Conduct Stage 1 Audit, which includes a detailed documentation review; seek comments on preparedness to proceed to Stage 2 Audit.

11. Stage 2 Audit

After the scrutiny of the documentation in Stage 1, next on the checklist is an audit. Here auditors test the implementation of the ISMS in the company. They will compare your ISMS implementation to the controls prescribed in Annex A.

Evaluate the fairness, appropriateness, and effectiveness of the installation and operation of controls; execute Stage 2 Audit, which consists of tests done on the ISMS to ensure correct design, implementation, and continuing functionality.

12. Implement advice & receive official certification

The auditors will suggest changes in the ISMS to match their requirements to give the certification. The company will be required to accept the recommendations and get a draft of the ISO 27001 certification. Any moderate changes in the certification can be suggested by the company, after which the company will finally get the official ISO 27001 certificate.

Address the non-conformities by ensuring that all demands of the ISO 27001 standard are being addressed. Act on the specific issues identified by the ISO 27001 auditor post-audit and receive formal validation from the auditor following the resolution of said non-conformities.

13. Prepare for ongoing audits

The compliance certificate is given for three years. Every year an audit is mandatory for organizations to undertake and ensure compliance. Thus, a management review should be performed regularly.

Conduct a thorough ISO 27001 audit every three years. Get ready to conduct surveillance audits in the second and third years of the Certification Cycle.

14. Keep making improvements

New software needs to be documented and matched to the ISMS. The new improvements should comply with the ISO 27001 norms, and there should be adequate documentation on it.

Plan evaluations at least once a year; think about a cycle of quarterly reviews. Make that the ISMS and its goals are still relevant and functional. Ensure top management is kept up to date

Closing Thoughts

Through these steps, it is evident how forming a checklist with the help of seasoned experts will enable the company to take concrete steps toward getting ISO 27001 certified. There are several steps required to get compliance, and the key task is to get the ISMS right and undertake documentation. Using a checklist and making a broad strategy will aid your organization in getting to the goal more efficiently and effectively. You can also employ an automation firm like Scrut Automation to simplify the process required for ISO 27001 certification.

Scrut Automation 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. Schedule your demo today to see how it works.