Whether you’re a novice entrepreneur or an experienced one with a track record of building multiple businesses, starting a new venture is always a learning process. Each business faces its unique set of challenges, making every startup experience different in terms of funding, product development, customer acquisition, and other aspects of launching a company.
One critical area that can also differ significantly from one startup to another is compliance requirements. Various regulations and standards apply to different types of businesses, such as those in healthcare or technology. If you deal with secure data and plan to do business with partners or clients outside of the US, you may need to comply with multiple standards, including ISO 27001. This guide will provide an introduction to ISO 27001 compliance for startups.
Understanding ISO 27001 First!
ISO 27001 is an internationally recognized standard that sets guidelines for an organization’s Information Security Management System (ISMS). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed this standard to evaluate whether a company has the necessary controls in place to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data they handle.
In essence, ISO 27001 certification demonstrates that your startup has implemented a systematic approach to managing sensitive information and mitigating risks. The standard provides a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving your ISMS to ensure the security of your data.
By obtaining ISO 27001 certification, your startup can demonstrate to customers, partners, and regulators that you take information security seriously and have taken steps to protect against data breaches, cyberattacks, and other threats. It can also help your startup gain a competitive advantage by distinguishing your business from others in the market as one that prioritizes information security.
Who needs to get ISO 27001 certified?
ISO 27001 certification is relevant for any organization that handles sensitive information, including startups. Whether your startup deals with financial data, customer information, or any other type of sensitive information, ISO 27001 certification can help you establish and maintain a robust ISMS to protect your data from unauthorized access, breaches, and other security threats.
Many industries have specific regulatory requirements for information security, and ISO 27001 certification can help your startup meet those requirements. In addition, if your startup operates globally or plans to expand to other countries, ISO 27001 certification can help you comply with international standards and demonstrate your commitment to information security to customers and partners worldwide.
In short, any startup that values the security and integrity of its data should consider obtaining ISO 27001 certification to establish a strong foundation for its ISMS and protect against potential security breaches.
How to get ISO 27001 certified
The process for acquiring your ISO 27001 certification is a multi-step endeavor, and depending on how prepared you are and how thorough your ISMS already is, it could be a long process. Generally, though, you’ll follow these steps to get your certification:
Assess your ISMS
Before you invest in hiring an auditor you want to be as confident as possible that your ISMS will pass the certification assessment. The best way to begin is with your own assessment of your ISMS against the ISO 27001 controls to see how you stack up. This may be called a gap analysis. A software tool like Paireds can automate this for you by evaluating your ISMS and giving you a clear checklist of which controls you meet or don’t meet.
Fix your ISMS
After your gap analysis, you have a clear idea of what you need to do to bring your ISMS up to the standards of ISO 27001. Use this checklist to prioritize and update your ISMS so that you’re confident it will pass a formal ISO 27001 audit.
Choose an ISO 27001 certification provider
It’s important to note that while the ISO developed ISO 27001, the organization doesn’t actually provide certification. You can only get ISO 27001 certification from third parties. However, the ISO does have a list of standards that all these auditors and certifying organizations should adhere to, called CASCO. Be sure to choose an ISO 27001 certification provider that adheres to CASCO standards and is also accredited by the appropriate board in your country.
Complete the auditing process
When you’ve hired your ISO 27001 certification provider, you’ll then start on a two-step auditing process. The first step is an informal readiness assessment, which takes a cursory look at your ISMS to see if it measures up to the ISO 27001 standards. If your system passes the readiness assessment, you’ll move on to step two: the formal audit.
A formal audit can take weeks to perform because the auditor is thoroughly investigating your ISMS. At the end of this audit, you’ll either pass or fail based on what the auditor finds. If you fail, you’ll have the added expense of paying for a new audit after you’ve fixed the issues. If you pass, your auditor will give you your full report as well as your ISO 27001 certificate. Customers or partners may ask to see both of these, so keep them secure.
Maintain future compliance
ISO 27001 compliance isn’t something you complete once and then move on. You will have some level of assessment each year to keep your compliance. For each of the next two years, your auditor will only assess a few controls or aspects of your ISMS at random to see if they still pass. If they do, you maintain your certification. If they don’t pass, you’ll need to undergo another full audit to determine if your certification stands. After three years, you’ll need a new full audit regardless to be recertified.
How to make your ISO 27001 certification process startup-friendly
For startups, both finances and manpower are typically in short supply. As essential as ISO 27001 certification is, it can be an expensive and labor-intensive process. To make your certification more manageable for your budding business, a compliance automation tool like Paireds will automate over 80% of the work needed to prove compliance.
Paireds gives you an automated assessment to determine what you need to do to reach ISO 27001 compliance. It also gathers thorough documentation of your ISMS and security controls, making your audit smoother.
Paireds even offers policy templates to help you develop the policies and protocols your security system needs. Paireds also automates future assessments to help you maintain your compliance.