The Standard takes a risk-based approach to information security, requiring organizations to identify threats to their organization and select appropriate controls to tackle them.
Those controls are outlined in Annex A of the Standard. There are 114 in total, split into 14 sections (or ‘control sets’). Each section focuses on a specific aspect of information security.
ISO 27001 controls
- 5 Information security policies (2 controls): how policies are written and reviewed.
- 6 Organization of information security (7 controls): the assignment of responsibilities for specific tasks.
- 7 Human resource security (6 controls): ensuring that employees understand their responsibilities prior to employment and once they’ve left or changed roles.
- 8 Asset management (10 controls): identifying information assets and defining appropriate protection responsibilities.
- 9 Access control (14 controls): ensuring that employees can only view information that’s relevant to their job role.
- 10 Cryptography (2 controls): the encryption and key management of sensitive information.
- 11 Physical and environmental security (15 controls): securing the organization’s premises and equipment.
- 12 Operations security (14 controls): ensuring that information processing facilities are secure.
- 13 Communications security (7 controls): how to protect information in networks.
- 14 System acquisition, development and maintenance (13 controls): ensuring that information security is a central part of the organization’s systems.
- 15 Supplier relationships (5 controls): the agreements to include in contracts with third parties, and how to measure whether those agreements are being kept.
- 16 Information security incident management (7 controls): how to report disruptions and breaches, and who is responsible for certain activities.
- 17 Information security aspects of business continuity management (4 controls): how to address business disruptions.
- 18 Compliance (8 controls): how to identify the laws and regulations that apply to your organization.
A job for IT?
As this list shows, ISO 27001’s controls aren’t simply within the remit of the organization’s IT department, as many people assume. Rather, the Standard addresses each of the three pillars of information security: people, processes and technology.
The IT department will play a role in each of those – most obviously in technology but also in developing the processes and policies that ensure those technologies are used properly.
Most controls will require the expertise of people from across your organization, meaning you should create a multi-departmental team to oversee the ISO 27001 implementation process.
Using Annex A
Organizations aren’t required to implement all 114 of ISO 27001’s controls. They’re simply a list of possibilities that you should consider based on your organization’s requirements.
Annex A provides an outline of each control, and you should refer back to it when conducting an ISO 27001 gap analysis and risk assessment. These processes help organizations identify the risks they face and the controls they must implement (or have already implemented) to tackle them.
The only problem with Annex A is that only provides a brief overview of each control. While this is good for reference use, it’s not helpful when actively implementing the control.
That’s where ISO 27002 comes it. It’s a supplementary standard in the ISO 27000 series, providing a detailed overview of information security controls.
The Standard dedicates about one page to each control, explaining how each one works and providing advice on how to implement it.