While ISO 27001 and its predecessors ISO 9001/2 have typically been the purview of large enterprises, it is now being adopted by much smaller organizations as a strategic asset for a company seeking to compete in a large regional or global marketplace. Since the focus is more on assessment, procedures, documentation, business process security and optimization - a smaller organization may find it easier to implement ISO 27001 versus SOC-2 where dogmatic obedience to extensive IT controls may not always be right-sized to the organizations services. ISO 27001 only needs to be renewed every three years versus every year for many other standards, so the costs of sustaining compliance over time can be lower , particularly for smaller enterprise where the nature of the business may not change over the long term.
The counterpoint is that ISO certifications can only be completed by a relatively small number of ISO-accredited auditors who must adhere to very prescribed audit procedures. ISO auditors are regularly audited by the ISO standards body itself and can have their charter revoked for failure to follow and document audit procedures. The cost of an ISO 27001 audit, then, is typically 2-4 times more than a SOC-2 audit.Generally speaking, most enterprises will have some form of controls in place to manage information security. These controls are necessary as information is one of the most valuable assets that a business owns. If you are starting from a clean slate, ISO can provide an effective policy framework but not a definitive controls roadmap - which can be challenging for smaller businesses that would benefit from a clear how-to guide. If you have existing policies or processes and need assistance with control frameworks, adopting standards like the NIST CSF framework can be beneficial. The key to success in developing an Information Security Program is to adopt a risk-based approach of assessing business impact of security, compliance, physical, reputational, and IT threats to the integrity of your organization. With that assessment adopting a comprehensive and focused set of controls to address those risks will ensure you have mitigating or compensating controls to protect your organizations key assets and stakeholders. In order for a controls framework to be effective it must be comprehensive in nature, consistent in application and competently implemented.
The business benefits from ISO 27001 certification are numerous. The standards help ensure that a business’ security risks are managed cost-effectively, but the adherence to the recognized standards sends a valuable and important message to customers and business partners: this business can be trusted because it has strong governance. ISO 27001 is invaluable for monitoring, reviewing, and improving a company’s information security management system and will give partner organizations and customers greater confidence in the way they interact with your business.
Some of the benefits of ISO certification: