The business marketplace is changing every day, as newly drafted federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations change how and when business’ can operate, the ways in which they function, and how they need to align their operational practices with workplace legislation. This ensures that all staff, clients, customers and members of the general public who conduct dealings with an organisation are in a safe and supportive environment at all times, which in turn helps promote the business as a reputable, ethical organisation to conduct dealings with.
But what does ‘safe’, in relation to information security, actually mean? It means the peace of mind that comes with knowing that all confidential, sensitive and personal information that the business works with is protected with the highest quality safeguarding procedures, which ensure there are multiple fault-checking and safeguarding processes in place to protect confidential information from data breaches.
This goal is addressed through several systematic approaches, some of which may appear obvious, and some of which may require some ‘outside the box’ thinking to identify the potential security risk. For example, strong workplace information security systems is evidenced through the implementation of safeguards such as password protection of all sensitive data, having a two-step authentication processes to ensure that any potential data breaches have minimal effect on business operations, and circulating amongst employees a simple, easy-to-understand checklist which details what they can do to protect their own staff data while both on and off-site.
However, a strong business information security system goes a step beyond this by doing an audit of the entire business operations, to quantify and assess potential information security threats that may have been overlooked or omitted. These hard to identify information security risks can take the form of physical information security risks involved with staff taking confidential work files home with them, using work laptops in communal spaces which increases their vulnerability to security breaches and leaving confidential work emails open at a workstation while taking a break. The dual nature of business information security management, in which both physical and digital threats are addressed, is part of the reason why it is important to work with an external, certified, information security management system.
Attempting to catalogue and address the business information security threats on a personal level is a risky undertaking, as without an external, clearly laid out systematic approach, you increase the chances of completely overlooking something, and not even realising it until an information security data breach has occurred. For example, even if you conducted a methodical, painstaking audit of potential digital threats, you are still may be overlooking other risk factors, like physically leaving work laptops in communal areas, increasing their chances of being stolen and confidential data being compromised. An external Information Security Management System is important for business’, to get an understanding of the scope of potential risks your operations face, and how each risk factor can be systematically addressed.
Simply cataloguing all the potential information security risks can be an arduous task, as it requires business owners or staff to conduct an audit of the operations of separate departments, establish how their internalised processes work, whether these processes align with other departments, and so on. Quantifying the potential information security risks within your business is not only time-consuming, it also presents its own set of risks, as it introduces the possibility of overlooking or dismissing a potential threat, and thus comprising the ability of the organisation to conduct its operations.
For these reasons, it is beneficial for a business to consider implementing the International Organisation for Standardisation’s ISO 27001 and achieve Certification to the standard. This Information Security Management System (ISMS) is designed to work with your business operations to streamline efficiency, improve productivity, increase staff morale, and strengthen the information security of the business in three interrelated ways; evaluation, control and monitoring.
Evaluation means establishing what works and fixing what does not
The initial evaluation process looks at analysing the specific contextual requirements of your operations, and working out which aspects of its information security designs could be implemented to streamline efficiency, enhance information security, and in general, ensure that the operations run in a more efficient, stronger manner. This stage works as an internal audit of the current information security systems the business has in place, and establishes which of these are working effectively, and which are not.
You can then look to its internationally recognised standards to strengthen the information security systems of your business, by doing things such as:
- Establishing a checklist system which details both the digital and physical information security risks within the business.
- Develop a classification system which assigns a level of concern to different risk categories. This allows business’ to work through enhancing their information security systems in a methodical, logical manner, in which issues are dealt with from the most potentially disruptive to operations to the least. This organised approach ensures that any data breaches or information security threats that do occur will be mitigated through an efficient approach, and thus mitigate the scope of disruption.
- Look at case studies for examples of different information security management approaches, to ascertain what methods have been successful for other business’, and how a similar approach might work for your business.
Take control of your business’ information security through the controlling approach
The next step in the ISO 27001:2013 development is the control processes, in which business’ implement information security management systems, in accordance with international standards. This step can see all staff in the business actively participate in the overall information security management, by looking at their own set of responsibilities, and how they tie into the overall ethos of the business. This stage of the process will see your business:
- Implement new information security management systems that operate in a more efficient, streamlined, work-ready manner than prior ones. For example, through the development of a checklist, to be circulated amongst employees, which details work email safety tips, you can ensure that there is a level of cohesion amongst employees when it comes to this area of information security. An easy-to-understand checklist that describes what they should do in potentially risky situations, such as the receiving of spoof emails, ensures that all employees are on the same page. Further, if the checklist includes a chain of command that employees can follow in risky situations, then staff understand what they need to do, how they should go about it, and potential downtime is vastly mitigated.
- Actively take control of potential information security threats, which in turn, mitigates their capacity to harm operations. ISO 27001 works on a principle of imparting sound, fault-checked, safe and secure information security data. By actively identifying potential threats and working to eliminate them, your business reduces the odds of similar information security threats effecting operations in the future. This is because your business will have already catalogued the fault, described how to handle it, and taken active steps to either eliminate or mitigate its danger. This works at developing a logical process that can be followed to deal with such faults, and should any similar issue arise later, simply following this demonstrably successful process works at eliminating it.
Through monitoring this process, you can monitor how your business improved its operations
The next step of the ISO 27001:2013 process is a post-implementation reviewal, or monitor. This stage allows business’ to quantify the success of the implementation of these standards, by looking at factors such as:
- The comparison between your business’ production output at a pre- and post-installation stage. To ascertain the success of the ISO 27001 security measure, you should have catalogued what kinds of information security risks your business was facing pre-installation, the effect they had on operations, and the ways in which the ISO 27001 Standards improved things. This can include quantifying the reduced downtime hours, how enhanced information security standards makes your daily operations safer and smoother, how improved employee morale means a higher quality of output, and so on.
- The quantification of the success of each enhanced area of information security, by performing a cross-analysis between what it is achieving now, and what you wanted it to achieve in the evaluation process. This allows you to continually improve your business operations, by setting information security targets that you aim to achieve. If they are not fully achieved, you can go back to the standards and work out what else can be implemented, streamlined, or adapted in order to achieve the organisational goals your business is aiming for.
- The international standards not only provide your business with a methodical, effective approach to implementing information security, they also provide you with additional contextual information to understand what has been successful for other business’ in similar industries. By implementing these standards, it gives your business the ability to ascertain whether its information security management systems are of the highest standard, what else they can do to ensure you become and stay an industry leader, and ensure that your information security systems are second-to-none.
What does all this mean for my business?
Implementing the ISO 27001 Information Security Management Systems has several benefits to your business outside of streamlining operations and safeguarding confidential data. Its successful implementation signals to staff, clients, customers and the general public that your organisation takes the issue of information security seriously, and is prepared to take the extra steps to give customers the peace of mind that their information security is protected with the strictest safeguards.
This works at strengthening the reputation of your business within the community, as it has demonstrated a commitment to innovation, in that it is prepared to adapt its business operations to give customers the peace of mind that comes with knowing their data is safe from breaches, superiority, in that these information security standards are internationally recognised as being of the highest quality and applicable to business’ across the globe, and understanding, in that your business has demonstrated that it recognises there are marketplace concerns about keeping confidential information safe from data breaches, and your business is willing to address these concerns head-on to remain one-step ahead of hackers, malware and other security breaches, and thus, one step ahead in the industry.
It is better to implement ISO 27001 when your business is not facing a potential threat, than when it is.
If you feel your business’ operations are safe and secure right now, then great, that makes it the perfect time to implement the ISO 27001 Standards. It is preferable to implement these standards at a time when your business is stable, as it allows for a smoother, easier application of the standards, with minimal downtime and effect on daily operations.
Further, even if your business is not currently dealing with any information security issues, that does not mean the threats are not there, and could actively breach your business’ information security systems at any time. The implementation of these standards ensures that business operations stays safe and moves with changing information security trends, and ensures that your organisation has a clear, methodical system in place for quickly eliminating potential information security threats, as they arise.
If you would like to gain insight into some of the information security risks your business may face, and how ISO 27001 can work at either preventing them from occurring or mitigating their effects on your operations by dealing with them in a rapid, systematic manner, then give Anitech security systems consultants a call on 1300 802 163.
They will be able to conduct a risk assessment on your business by contextualising it into the kinds of risks similar business’ in the industry face, how they have been dealt with, and what parts of ISO 27001 could help strengthen your business’ information security, its good standing with clients, and overall reputation. In a marketplace filled with insecurity, it is reassuring to find a secure bet, and ISO 27001 can work at giving your business the edge it needs to stay competitive.