Every year, security breaches cost companies millions of dollars in losses and put their clients at risk. Data breaches will continue as organizations produce more sensitive data, share it with trusted third parties, and store it in the cloud. Businesses as a result must work harder than ever to ensure their data and systems are secure.


Need for Information Security Management

The average organization collects a great deal of data. This data includes sensitive customer data, intellectual property, and other data vital to an organization’s competitive edge and its ability to operate.

This data is so valuable that it is under constant threat of being stolen by cybercriminals, rogue nation-states, disgruntled employees, or some other type of bad actor. Having an effective security management strategy and architecture is critical because organizations need to protect themselves and their customers.

Information Security Standards

One way for businesses to improve their information security and protect their sensitive data is ISO certification. There are in fact several ISO standards, including, but not limited to, ISO 27001, ISO 27017, and ISO 27018. What’s the difference between these standards? Read on to learn about these three standards in detail.

ISO/IEC 27001 Certification

The ISO/IEC 27001 certification is simply referred to as ISO 27001 certification. It is considered the international standard for information security. ISO 27001 sets out the specification for an information security management system (ISMS). It was first published in 2005 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The certification was revised in 2013 and the latest version is officially ISO/IEC 27001:2013.

ISO 27001, part of the ISO 27000 series of information security standards, is a framework that helps organizations establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain, and continually improve an ISMS.

ISO 27001’s best-practice approach helps organizations manage their information security by addressing people, processes, and technology. Certification to the ISO 27001 standard is recognized worldwide and indicates your ISMS is aligned with information security best practices.

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ISO 27017 Certification

ISO/IEC 27017:2015 provides information security guidelines for organizations that use cloud services. This international standard recommends and assists cloud service providers with the information security controls applicable to their cloud service. This code of practice also supplements the guidance of ISO/IEC 27002 and ISO/IEC 27001 standards by including implementation guidance and additional controls specific to cloud services. ISO/IEC 27017 provides a framework that advises aligning security management for cloud service and virtual and physical networks.

ISO 27018 Certification

ISO 27018 is an international standard created specifically for data privacy in cloud computing. It is the standard for protecting personally identifiable information (PII) in cloud storage. The standard gives further implementation guidance to ISO 27002 for the controls published in ISO/IEC 27001 and provides extra guidance on PII protection requirements for the public cloud.

Compliance and Certification Table

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How Does ISO 27001 Work?

As ISO 27001 is considered the international standard for information security, let’s focus on this certification.

The ISO 27001 standard provides companies a framework to protect the organization’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. The standard is designed to help organizations determine its risk assessment requirements and then define what needs to be done to manage those risks. The standard requires a company to list all controls implemented in the Statement of Applicability document.

The ISO 27001 standard is separated into two parts. The first part consists of 11 clauses, and the second part, Annex A, provides a guideline for 114 control objectives and controls. The first four clauses introduce the ISO 27001 standard. They include:

  • Introduction
  • Scope
  • Normative references
  • Terms and definitions

Clauses 5 through 11 provide ISO 27001 requirements that are mandatory for an organization that wants to comply with the standard.

What Are the Domains and Controls of the ISO 27001 Standard?

The ISO 27001 controls or safeguards are the practices to be implemented by organizations to reduce risks to acceptable levels. The controls can be technical, organizational, legal, physical, or human. There are also 14 domains listed in Annex A of the ISO 27001 standard. These domains are organized in sections A.5 to A.18. They cover the following:

Information security policies

This first domain has two controls that ask whether your organization has a clear set of policies about keeping its information systems secure. This domain sets the tone regarding the information security processes in place and how the organization’s personnel are informed of such processes. The controls include:

  • Information security policy document
  • Review of the information security policy

Organization of information security

The seven controls in this section provide the basic framework for implementing and operating information security by defining its internal organization. The controls include:

  • Management commitment to information security
  • Information security coordination
  • Allocation of information security responsibilities

Human resource security

The nine controls in this section ensure that employees in an organization are hired, trained, and managed securely. These controls require every employee to be clearly aware of their information security responsibilities. The controls include:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Terms and conditions of employment
  • Management responsibilities
  • Screening
  • Information security awareness, education, and training
  • Disciplinary process
  • Termination responsibilities
  • Return of assets
  • Removal of access rights

Asset management

ISO 27001 certification requires an organization to identify its information assets, assign ownership, classify them, and apply management processes based on those classifications. The 10 controls in this section ensure that the information security assets are identified, responsibilities for their security are designated, and that employees know how to handle these assets according to the predefined classification levels. The controls include:

  • Inventory of assets
  • Ownership of assets
  • Acceptable use of assets
  • Classification guidelines
  • Information labeling and handling

Access control

The asset control domain is one of the largest sections with 14 controls. These controls limit access to information and information assets according to business needs. The controls provide for both physical and logical access. The controls include:

  • Access control policy
  • User registration
  • Privilege management
  • User password management
  • Review of user access rights
  • Unattended user equipment
  • Clear desk and clear screen policy
  • User authentication for external connections
  • Equipment identification in networks
  • Segregation in networks
  • Secure log-on procedures
  • User identification and authentication
  • Password management system
  • Limitation of connection time


An organization should have a documented policy for managing encryption. The two controls in this section provide the basis for properly using encryption solutions to protect information confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity. The controls include:

  • Policy on the use of cryptographic controls
  • Key management

Physical and environmental security

This is the largest domain that includes 15 controls to protect the organization’s information against real-world risks. The 15 controls provide for the prevention of unauthorized access to physical areas. They also provide for the protection of equipment and facilities from being compromised either by human or natural intervention. This domain also includes controls for employees who work remotely. The controls include:

  • Physical entry controls
  • Protecting against external and environmental threats
  • Securing offices, rooms, and facilities
  • Working in secure areas
  • Public access, delivery, and loading areas
  • Equipment siting and protection
  • Supporting utilities
  • Cabling security
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Security of equipment off-premises
  • Secure disposal or reuse of equipment
  • Removal of property

Operations security

This domain requires a company to secure the information processing facilities and systems constituting its ISMS. The 14 controls in this section ensure that the systems are secure and protected against data loss. The controls also address an organization’s need to record events, generate evidence, periodically verify vulnerabilities, and take actions to prevent audit activities from affecting operations. The controls include:

  • Documented operating procedures
  • Change management
  • Segregation of duties
  • Separation of development, test, and operational facilities
  • Service delivery
  • Monitoring and review of third-party services
  • Managing changes to third-party services

Communications security

This domain has seven controls divided into two sections:

  1. The controls that prevent attackers from accessing sensitive information by exploiting vulnerabilities in the organization’s network security
  2. The controls for information transfer

Some examples of technical controls that help protect information within an organization’s systems and applications include firewalls, access control lists, logical or virtual segregation, and intrusion detection systems. The controls include:

  • Information exchange policies and procedures
  • Exchange agreements
  • Physical media in transit
  • Electronic messaging
  • Business information systems

System acquisition, development, and maintenance

This domain covers how an organization manages information system changes over time. The 13 controls in this domain ensure that information security is considered (if not prioritized) when purchasing new or upgrading existing systems. The controls include:

  • Information Security Requirements Analysis & Specification
  • Securing Application Services on Public Networks
  • Protecting Application Services Transactions

Supplier relationships

When seeking ISO 27001 certification, businesses often focus on internal operations and operational systems and overlook vendor risk management. The five controls in this section ensure that outsourced actions performed by vendors also use appropriate information security controls. The controls include:

  • Information Security Policy for Supplier Relationships
  • Addressing Security Within Supplier Agreements
  • Information & Communication Technology Supply Chain

Information security incident management

In the event an organization is impacted by a security threat or incident, an incident management process should be in place to facilitate the report, assess, respond, and lessons learned to prevent a recurrence. The controls include:

  • Reporting information security events
  • Reporting security weaknesses
  • Responsibilities and procedures
  • Learning from information security incidents
  • Collection of evidence

Information security aspects of business continuity management

This domain recognizes that information security can easily be forgotten when business is disrupted. The five controls in this domain ensure the continuity of information security management during such disruptions. The controls include:

  • Including information security in the business continuity management process
  • Business continuity and risk assessment
  • Developing and implementing continuity plans including information security
  • Business continuity planning framework
  • Testing, maintaining, and reassessing business continuity plans


This final domain details how an organization complies with information security laws. The eight controls in this section provide a framework to prevent legal, statutory, regulatory, and contractual breaches. The controls include:

  • Identification of applicable legislation
  • Intellectual property rights (IPR)
  • Protection of organizational records
  • Data protection and privacy of personal information
  • Prevention of misuse of information processing facilities
  • Compliance with security policies and standards
  • Technical compliance checking

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Why You Need a Third-party Organization to Get ISO 27001 Certified

ISO 27001 certification through an independent third-party registrar is a good approach to demonstrate your company’s compliance. The third-party organization can certify an organization’s information security management system against the requirements or the certification of individuals who are to implement or audit an organization against the ISO 27001 requirements.

Documenting and implementing information security-related requirements (such as risk assessment) are only part of the tasks if an organization wants ISO 27001 certification. The standard also requires organizations to perform internal audit management reviews and treat nonconformities and corrective actions.

How Long Does It Take an Organization to Become ISO 27001 Certified?

The time for the ISO 27001 certification process, from starting implementation to finishing the certification audit, depends on different variables such as the available resources, expertise, experience with the standard’s requirements, and others. However, the whole process generally takes from three to 12 months.

How Kiteworks Can Help Your Organization Achieve ISO/IEC 27001 certification

Kiteworks provides the framework to help organizations get the ISO/IEC 27001 certification. Kiteworks customers can demonstrate to their suppliers and customers their commitment to keep sensitive content communications private and compliant with global standards.

Kiteworks also meets several global compliance standards, including FedRAMP, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), SOC 2, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), among others.

Schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks to see how it works and to learn more about how it provides the framework for organizations to get ready for certification.

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