ISO 27018 Compliance — A Short Guide For Beginners

ISO 27018 Compliance — A Short Guide For Beginners

With the aid of cloud computing, a vast majority of organizations successfully manage sensitive data, which has unquestionably made processing massive amounts of data easier. However, there are difficulties that these businesses must overcome to guarantee the security and preservation of this type of information. 

The fact that everything is online increases the potential for data breaches. If your company’s data gets hacked, you risk losing customer trust, not to mention the liabilities you face in having your security infrastructure compromised. This is why continuously reinventing data protection laws and standards is essential.

The cloud has several benefits for enterprises and consumers, including cost savings, flexibility, and mobile information access. However, given the volume of data currently in existence and the quantity being added every second, it is only reasonable for privacy and data security concerns to be raised, particularly concerning personally identifiable information (PII). This is where ISO/IEC 27018, in combination with ISO/IEC 27001, enables cloud service providers to assure existing and potential customers that their data is secure and won’t be used for any reason without their express consent if their infrastructure has received certification to the standard. 

The ISO/IEC 27018 is the first international standard made expressly for protecting data privacy in cloud computing is ISO 27018. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) describes it as having as its primary goal the establishment of “commonly accepted control objectives, controls, and guidelines for implementing measures to protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII).” 

In this blog, we will provide a short overview of what the ISO/IEC 27018 security framework is, who should implement it and how, the changes made in the 2019 version compared to the 2014 version, the benefits of this guideline, and its costs.

What is the ISO/IEC 27018 Compliance Standard?

As discussed above, ISO/IEC 27018 is a global standard for protecting sensitive data in cloud storage is ISO/IEC 27018. It is a code of conduct for providers of public cloud services and contains PII (Personally Identifiable Information).

Here are two benefits by adhering to the ISO 27018 guideline:

  • Gives more helpful implementation guidance for the controls outlined in ISO/IEC 27001 with ISO 27002; and,
  • Provides more guidance on the requirements for PII protection in the public cloud.

This modification to the ISO 27001 security standard is useful since the ISO 27002 standard does not meet these additional constraints.

Expanding on this compliance standard’s primary objectives, ISO/IEC 27018 aims to provide guidance on numerous information security categories, along with acknowledged advice and best practices. The standard addresses businesses that manage personal data while providing public cloud services.

Its key objectives are to:

  • Assist the public cloud PII processor in carrying out their responsibilities, particularly if they have a contract to provide public cloud services;
  • Streamline the procedure to allow potential cloud service users to get secure, well-managed, cloud-based PII processing services;
  • Help users and cloud services create contracts for PII handling and
  • Give cloud service consumers a procedure for auditing and complying with global-level security practices.

Who Should Implement ISO/IEC 27018 and How?

If your business uses cloud computing to process PII data, then the ISO/IEC 27018 security guideline applies to you. This compliance framework is for you whether you work in the commercial, public, or not-for-profit sectors or if your company is big, medium-sized, or tiny.

If you contract out PII, due diligence will show whether a company complies with ISO/IEC 27018. Any service provider who uses PII or the cloud should be aware of ISO 27018. The majority of well-known cloud service providers are developing or already have developed security measures to safeguard PII. 

What are the Requirements for Implementing ISO/IEC 27018 For Your Business?

In ISO/IEC 27018, the implementation guidelines for security controls are enhanced. These measures group the obligations related to data protection as follows:

  • Even if you outsource data storage, your responsibilities as a cloud service customer and data controller, and,
  • The duties your cloud service provider has in its capacity as a data processor.

Some extra security measures include:

  • A timeline for securely erasing any PII that is no longer required;
  • Standards for PII storage and transmission encryption;
  • A cloud service agreement that details the goal of handling PII; and,
  • A trustworthy provider of information governance assurances for cloud services.

What are the Changes in the 2019 Version of ISO/IEC 27018 and How Do They Compare to the 2014 Version?

The initial version of ISO 27018, IEC 27018:2014, was released in 2014, while the most recent revision, IEC 27018:2019, was released in 2019. The slight modifications between the two versions do not significantly alter the best practices for safeguarding PII in public cloud apps and cloud computing environments.

Section 2 of the 2019 version of ISO states, “This second edition cancels and replaces the first edition (ISO/IEC 27018:2014).” The adjustments are largely intended to fix an editorial error in Annex A.

But from the certification perspective, one important change to note is that ISO 27018 is no longer referred to as a “standard” inside the document itself. The word “document” is used in place of every instance of “standard” in the most recent revision.

In layman’s terms, this means that ISO 27018 is no longer regarded as a standard that organizations may certify against but rather as a set of principles and controls that improve ISO 27001, which is the standard for constructing an information security management system (ISMS). If they process PII, cloud service providers should certify to ISO 27001 using 27018 criteria instead.

What are the Benefits of Implementing ISO/IEC 27018 For Your Business?

ISO/IEC 27018 benefits cloud service providers and customers as a win-win situation. For cloud service providers, it enables them to close more businesses as they can provide proof of how they follow the most comprehensive data laws. On the other hand, customers can rest assured that their information is in safe hands. Besides these, here are some additional benefits of implementing ISO/IEC 27018 in your organization:

  1. Better International Operations

Being an extension of ISO 27001, ISO 27018 is a part of a globally regarded standard. As a result, if a cloud service provider operates internationally, it will be simpler to guarantee the effectiveness of their security procedures because the standard is accepted in most nations.

  1. Streamlined Sales Processes

This is an additional and significant benefit for your sales teams, as corporate security is a significant requirement for closing sales contracts. Because it streamlines the information needed for corporate security to sign off, ISO 27018 aids in reducing this friction.

An ISO 27001/27018 certified cloud service provider can give prospective customers the assurance they require to finalize the deal by simply asking them to review their Statement of Applicability, a list of in-scope security controls, and implementation.

  1. Improved Security and Legal Protection

Any company that processes data in the cloud should set a baseline level of security by obtaining the ISO 27001/27018 certification. As these standards are acknowledged as some of the most thorough in cloud computing applications, adhering to them helps you lower security risk. In the case of a breach, putting ISO 27018 controls in place and becoming certified will shield your company from accusations of being careless or negligent.

Penalties for negligence-related offenses are frequently harsher. However, suppose a firm employs a well-defined, risk-based approach to safeguard customers’ data. In that case, it lessens the possibility of a breach and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to security. The same is true for cloud service provider clients. Working with cloud service providers who have received ISO 27001/27018 certification demonstrates to regulators that you are taking significant precautions to protect your users’ personal information.

How Much Does it Cost To Achieve ISO/IEC 27018 Certification?

Several factors, including the size and complexity of your organization, its preparedness for certification at the time of application, the certification body you choose, and its location, can considerably impact the cost of obtaining ISO 27018 certification.

The total cost of ISO 27018 certification for many organizations can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars depending upon number of factors. You should get quotes and proposals from certification authorities and professionals to get a more accurate price tailored to your specific scenario.

ISO 27018 Compliance 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 and related software tools 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 services help our customers become compliance-ready and certified for security and compliance frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, NIST CSF, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, FedRAMP, CCPA, CMMC, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s Risk Management product utilizing both FAIR and qualitative NIST methodology for overall risk management for your company, Trust Center, and AI-based Automated Questionnaire Response 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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