Have you ever gone out and bought something cool, like the latest model smartphone, only to discover a week later that a newer, improved model is already on sale? Constantly keeping up with the changing market can seem overwhelming, and a business’ information security system is no different. For example, your business may implement a potential safeguard to protect its operations against phishing scams, and yet discover that it still falls prey to them, as the scammers adapt their methods in order to detect any potential information security weak spot, and breach it.

While a business may find it challenging to safeguard against all potential information security threats, the implementation of a clear set of information security guidelines, which can be tailored to address the specific context of your business operations, increases its chances of safeguarding their confidential information, maintaining their good working relationship with clients, and upholding their reputation.

ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised Information Security Management System (ISMS) which works at providing business’ with an established set of information security guidelines that they can apply to procedures in order to safeguard their business from potential security threats. However, the implementation of this standard is just the first step a business should take in working towards safeguarding their operations. In order to ensure that their work practices remain of the highest standard and in-line with current market trends, business’ should be conducting regular internal information security audits of their systems, to ascertain what is working successfully, what is not, and what steps need to be taken to rectify potential issues.

When implementing an ISO 27001 internal audit, business’ should follow a clear, logically structured checklist, consisting of:

  • An initial systems comparison review: This consists of cross-checking to see that what is outlined in your ISO 27001 Standards plan matches what has been implemented, and identifying the key stakeholders of your Information Security Management System (ISMS). This ensures that your business is adhering to a logical, easy to follow guideline, where a detailed chain of command is outlined, so employees know which department or staff member to go to if there is an issue with any aspect of the ISMS.
  • An outline of the regular auditing procedures, to be distributed amongst staff: A plan outlining what the audit is, what it aims to achieve and the regular intervals at which it will be conducted, allows relevant staff to plan for the auditing within their workday, and account for it by preparing relevant documentation.
  • Field reviewal of your ISMS: A crucial stage of the process, this step sees the actual reviewal and assessment of internal ISMS procedures, including gauging the effectiveness of the ISMS in the workplace, by discussing it with relevant staff members, conducting performance tests to validate its effectiveness and filling out a post-test reviewal, in which its success rate is determined.
  • A post-audit report for management: In order for management to come to a decision about the effectiveness of their ISMS, a report of the findings will need to be delivered to them, outlining key points such as the scope and objective of the initial audit, the key findings of the assessment in conjunction with an analysis of them, and recommendations of what steps need to be taken to keep their ISMS working effectively.

How frequently should my business conduct ISMS audits?

There is no strict rule for the intervals between internal audits that business’ should be taking. This is because the specifics can change due to the size and scope of your operations, and the ways in which it conducts business. The Certification bodies behind the ISO 27001 Standards recommend that you conduct an internal audit at periodic intervals, ranging from one to three years. This is because a business’ organisational structure is a lot like a human body. When all parts of the body are safe and out of harm’s way, a person increases their chances of success, as a healthy demeanour is beneficial to a productive one. However, if a single part of the body is injured it can have a detrimental effect on the whole person, by bringing down their demeanour, filling them with negative energy.

A business operates in a similar manner. If all staff, in their respective departments, feel appreciated and enjoy their work, they increase the odds of the business operating in an efficient, streamlined manner. However, if staff feel unappreciated, or believe that they are in a negative environment, this works at lowering their confidence and the morale of their colleagues, which can have a detrimental effect on the entire business operation.

What do you do if you are physically injured, or in danger of injury? First, you work at removing yourself from the danger by getting to a safer environment, and then you work at mitigating the effects of the damage to your body, through self-care. This has a lot of similarities with business maintenance, or self-care, as if there is an issue with operations affecting overall performance, there are steps needing to be taken  to rectify the issue, thus getting back on track towards a productive, profitable environment.

The guidelines, strategies and frameworks found within ISO 27001 help your business stay on track, or get back on track, towards optimal performance. This is achieved by identifying potential information security threats and working at eliminating them. It presents ideas and solutions that your business can implement in order to safeguard its confidential information, protect the interests of both staff and clients, and establish a framework for a happy, productive work culture in which all staff feel appreciated. This is done by setting out the framework for the establishment of a work environment conducive to the exchange of information, in which individual employees are delegated with clear, detailed information security responsibilities, which develops a clear chain of command that employees can follow in the event of a problem. This takes the pressure off staff worrying about what to do in the event of an issue, as it has been clearly outlined, and they simply need to follow the checklist. A smooth, streamlined work environment is conducive to a productive one, and the ISO 27001 Standards increases your business’ odds of staying safeguarded against threats, remaining competitive, and ensuring that confidential data is protected with the highest possible standards.

Further, it can work at creating a culture of inclusion and awareness within your organisation, as employees will need to be briefed on the scope of potential information security threats, and may take part in discussions about their role in mitigating such issues, through methods such as storing their files in secure locations and logging off work emails after use to prevent data breaches. This approach works at establishing the principles of data protection into the organisation’s culture, as each employee will be given a chance to understand their own role in the overall information security of the business, and how they can directly contribute to a supportive and secure work environment.

Information Security Management Systems work at Instilling Supportive Morale Structures.

The underlying principles of ISO 27001 is not only one of information security, protecting your business’ data, and upholding its reputation, but also one of establishing a streamlined, supportive business environment in which employees feel supported, valued, and thus, want to work towards these goals. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the ISO 27001 Standards work at ensuring all links within the business’ operations are safeguarded, strong, and supported by a network of well-trained staff.

Information Security Management changes the way you do business… for the better.

After all, computers have changed a lot over the last few decades. Advancements in technology have seen them go from big, bulky things that take up a whole room, to small portable tablets, more powerful than the space shuttle that put man on the moon, that can fit snugly on your lap. With computers evolving so rapidly, what has also changed is the ways in which they can protect business’ data from potential information security threats.

For example, whilst a simple six digit password may have once been sufficient to protect your confidential business data from cyber threats, with hackers now having access to technology that allows them to randomly enter digits until it identifies a match, password security has now been upgraded to often include random digit generators that change at periodic intervals, thus putting the highest safeguarding standards on your confidential business data. So, while potential information security breaches have been evolving over the years, so too have the protection methods to ensure that your business’ sensitive information is secured in the safest manner possible.

However, simply getting a handle on how business information security is evolving can be a time-consuming task, requiring you to constantly research technological developments and adapt your business practices to be in line with them. That is why the implementation of a business Information Security Management System (ISMS) can be beneficial to your operations, by providing it with a clear, up-to-date framework that organisations’ are able to work with to design an Information Security System which is not only specific to their requirements, but also up-to-date with technological developments to ensure that their business always stays one step ahead of evolving information security threats. It can thoroughly analyse the current information systems in place at the business, assess what is and is not effective, and what could be streamlined for efficiency.

Specifically, ISO 27001:2013 works at providing your business with a demonstrably successful framework of information security standards and practices, so your business can ascertain the weak spots within its information security. For example, a business may employ a non-secure work method, such as providing employees with non-password protected take home laptops containing confidential data. ISO 27001 discusses alternative strategies that staff can utilise to produce the same work-related output, but ensures that they are conducted in a safer, more secure manner. For example, by requiring employees to download an app on their smartphone that generates a new random digit password every thirty seconds which is needed to access their work laptop, it safeguards against potential data breaches if the laptop is stolen or misplaced, as without the random digit code no one will be able to gain access to confidential work information. This in turn works at raising morale, upholding the business’ reputation, and ensuring it stays a market leader within the industry, by demonstrating a commitment to stay a step ahead of potential threats, by identifying them before they even occur, establishing what kinds of information security threats they could pose, and implementing safeguards against these potential risks. This works at demonstrating that your business has a commitment to safety, security, and respects the confidentiality of all sensitive information that it stores.

Evolution means survival of the fittest… so ensure that your business is the fittest.

Business’ need to evolve to be more efficient, effective and secure. Those that don’t may find themselves losing customers, who move onto more efficient ways of doing business, such as how movie streaming all-but killed video rental stores. Evolution is a term describing how things that adapt to their environment and learn to utilise it to their advantage have an edge that others do not. So, it is important to identify how the business information security landscape is changing and change your business practice in accordance with it. Anitech Group’s security systems consultants have a thorough understanding of the evolving information security market, and the steps business’ can take to help them to thrive within this environment, as opposed to getting overwhelmed by it. If you think your business could benefit from some first-hand guidance about how you can tailor its information security systems to its advantage, give them a call on 1300 802 163. A strong information security system within your business means strong dealing with clients, staff, and customers, which fosters an innovative business environment… a better one.