The ISO 27001 compliance framework is one of the most well-established data security standards worldwide. To maintain growth, SaaS companies must promote trust and confidence amongst their customers about their ability to secure and manage data.
Getting accredited by the International Organization for Standardization and its compliance protocols (for instance, ISO 27001) is one of the best approaches to demonstrate their credibility. It can help these businesses foster long-lasting relationships with clients, leading to an unimpeachable reputation and an ever-increasing growth in business revenue.
ISO 27001 works with an ISMS (Information Security Management System), which requires frequent audits to ensure that the data infrastructure is functioning optimally. An ISO 27001 audit ensures that your company’s security systems adhere to the standard’s requirements and your organization’s business objectives.
But what are an ISO 27001 audit’s requirements? What do auditors essentially look for? If you are considering compliance with ISO 27001 framework, you must know what it takes to be audit-ready. But be calm if you are not. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about ISO 27001 audits, including why they are important, their frequency, who can make an ISMS audit, and the exact steps involved in a successful audit.
What is an ISO 27001 Audit?
An ISO 27001 audit is an assessment of your data systems, where a qualified and unbiased auditor looks at the three criteria outlined below to draw up a report that details how your organization is faring in its data security measures and which areas can be improved upon —
- the ISMS or components of it being tested to see if they comply with the requirements of the standard;
- the organization’s own information needs and goals for their ISMS; and,
- the usefulness and efficiency of the controls, procedures, and other measures involved.
As the ISO 27001 compliance standard was created to help an organization reduce its information security risks to a manageable level, it is necessary to verify that the implemented controls do, in fact, decrease risks to a point where the risk owner(s) are satisfied and capable of tolerating the residual risk, in addition to the overall compliance and effectiveness of the ISMS.
What are the Different Types of ISO 27001 Audits?
There are two types of ISO 27001 audits—internal and external.
- Internal audits are the ones that are conducted using the organization’s resources. A hired supplier can perform these audits if the company needs more skilled and impartial auditors on staff. These are frequently called “second-party audits” because the supplier serves as an “internal resource.”
- External audits are the ones that are most frequently conducted by a certifying organization to get or maintain. To get their assurance of the organization’s ISMS, other interested parties (such as partners or customers) may conduct their audits, which are also included in this definition of the term. This is particularly valid when the needs of such a customer or vendor party go above and beyond the norm.
Why are ISO 27001 Audits Important?
Both internal and external audits pertaining to the ISO 27001 compliance standard are important.
External auditors independently validate your security posture During the external audit. An auditor may provide a knowledgeable and more unbiased view of existing security policies and controls and smart suggestions for further enhancing your overall security posture. Certification audits are particularly crucial since they demonstrate your dedication to security. A well-regarded third-party certification, such as ISO 27001, can provide a significant competitive edge. Additionally, it can shorten the sales cycle and let you quickly advance your business growth.
On the other hand, Clause 9.2 of the ISO 27001 standard requires an internal audit program to demonstrate that an ISMS is compliant and operating efficiently. In addition to being necessary, they also provide businesses with several advantages, such as identifying non-conformities and fixing them before a certifying authority does.
Additional advantages of both internal and external ISO 27001 audits may include the following:
- It assures that your ISMS is properly implemented and complies with the ISO 27001 standard.
- It gives you certified confirmation that your ISMS successfully lowers information security threats.
- An audit also provides a comprehensive understanding of how non-conformities are promptly fixed.
- It assures that all information security issues, occurrences, and incidents are thoroughly documented so that updates and adjustments can be made seamlessly to reinforce the ISMS.
- It also guarantees your organization’s dedication to ongoing progress in security matters.
How Frequently Should You Conduct an ISO 27001 Audit?
To help ensure that controls are closely monitored over the long term and your ISMS is always improving, ISO 27001 compliance calls for an internal audit once every 12 months. Customers will find it much easier to trust you with their information and business.
For external audits, your organization undergoes a certification audit right at the beginning when your certificate is awarded to you upon passing the audit. Your company must undergo surveillance audits in the first and second years following your certification audit to receive your certification. Lastly, you will need a re-certification audit once every three years.
Who Does an ISMS Audit?
Your organization will need a certifying body to carry out external audits.
Meanwhile, internal audits can be performed within the organization by hiring a third party that is independent and skilled enough to handle it; as long as they are unbiased and are not auditing functions or processes that they supervise or helped build, this party may be an internal or external resource. If you need someone in your organization to meet these requirements, you must hire an outside auditor to assist you in conducting an internal audit.
In this next section, we will outline five simple steps you can out to use to conduct an ISO 27001 internal audit.
Five Steps to Conduct an ISO 27001 Internal Audit
Internal audits are generally customizable to suit the particular organization’s needs and objectives, but here are five core steps to help you get started:
- Reviewing documents
The documentation of how the ISMS was generated should be reviewed by your designated auditor, whether internal or external. Since it is what the internal audit entails, this will assist in aligning the scope of the internal audit with the ISMS.
The key people in charge of the ISMS’s processes and controls should also be named in the documentation. This step is very helpful, especially when the auditor has to ask for more information about the intricacies of the ISMS.
- Preparing for the assessment
The auditor(s), with help from the management, should develop a thorough ISO 27001 internal audit checklist of what has to be done during this phase. The time frame and the resources required to finish the audit should be considered.
- Gathering evidence
This audit activity actively samples data to demonstrate that policies are being followed, procedures and standards are being adhered to, and guidance is being considered.
- Analyzing data
The audit evidence needs to be organized, filed, and examined in light of the risks and control goals established by your organization and the ISO 27001 standard.
The evidence must be organized and checked against the ISO 27001 standard after gathering it. This procedure might show where further audit tests are needed and highlight evidence-gathering shortcomings.
- Reporting to management
Once the fieldwork testing and analysis are finished, your audit team will present management with a report. Results should be kept on file as a performance history and evidence that your business complies with the standard’s ISMS requirements. This report mostly includes:
- An introduction that details the purpose, goals, schedule, and summation of the work completed;
- The key findings, a synopsis of the analysis, and a conclusion;
- Results and analysis in detail; and,
- An explanation of the suggestions and scope restrictions from the auditor(s).
From there, it is the responsibility of the management to monitor the rectification of non-conformities discovered during the audit after receiving the report.
ISO 27001 Compliance Certification With Akitra!
Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when prospecting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.
Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our compliance automation platform and service help our customers prepare readiness for the ISO 27001 compliance standard, along with other security frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, PCI DSS, GDPR, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, CMMC, FedRAMP, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s automated questionnaire product to streamline and expedite security questionnaire response processes delivering huge cost savings. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently.
The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings, including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.
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