Why you need a consultant to pass ISO 27001

Nicky Whiting Headshot
Nicky Whiting
Managing Director
04/01/2024

Implementing ISO 27001, the international standard for information security management, is a complex process that requires expertise, experience and careful planning. This blog explores why using a consultant for ISO 27001 implementation is crucial to not just ensure certification, but also (and perhaps more importantly), to build an information security management system that is tailored to your business and its objectives. To make sure your certification is actually working for you. And if that’s not enough, it’s almost guaranteed to be quicker and easier than the ‘ISO in a box’ solutions. Let’s take a look.


ISO 27001 for information security

Surely any reader of this blog will know how important safeguarding sensitive information is – not matter what your size of business. Equally, more and more organisations are focusing on the security of their supply chain by way of demanding higher levels of information security and the evidence to prove it. Enter ISO 27001—the gold standard for information security management. Yet, achieving compliance and effectively implementing this rigorous framework in a way that both increases information security and works for your business is no easy feat. Here's where the role of a seasoned consultant becomes indispensable.

Complexity demands expertise

ISO 27001 serves as a comprehensive blueprint for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an organization's information security management system (ISMS). Its principles and guidelines aid in identifying, managing, and mitigating information security risks through people, process and technology-based controls that support the overall management system. However, the intricacies involved in implementing this standard in an organisation demand a specialised skill set and a nuanced understanding of both the standard and your business’ unique operational landscape. It’s resolutely not a tick box exercise with a set of cookie cutter policies which may online providers of tools will lead you to believe.

Implementing ISO 27001 involves a multifaceted approach encompassing risk assessment, policy development, controls implementation, staff training, and continual monitoring. Navigating this complexity requires not just theoretical knowledge but also practical experience—a depth of understanding across multiple implementations and organisations that seasoned consultants bring to the table.

Our experience, when talking to organisations about implementing ISO 27001, is that they often think that they’re well on their way to meeting the requirements, mainly because they have implemented a number of security controls such as anti-virus protection, 2FA, password policies etc. But what they don’t realise is that ISO 27001 is not just about a bunch of controls: it’s also a Management System that is risk based. As a result, most companies we talk to have done nothing around the actual clauses of the management system and, as such, may have missed controls they need (or sometimes actually implemented controls they don’t need), as they haven’t understood their risk appetite to begin with.

Above all else, ISO 27001 involves a change in culture in the business. This shift in attitude must be driven from the top down so that the policies and processes developed become part of business as usual. No downloadable toolkit is ever going to achieve that.

Navigating this complexity requires not just theoretical knowledge but also practical experience.

Tailored solutions for unique challenges

Each organisation operates within a distinct ecosystem, possessing its own set of challenges, risk appetite, security needs and business objectives. A consultant adept in ISO 27001 can conduct a thorough analysis of your business’ operations, customising the implementation process to address specific vulnerabilities and align with your goals. Understanding risk is a key part of this and we find this area is one of the biggest barriers when companies try to implement the standard who have never done it before. Building a risk framework that is adapted to the business and takes into consideration the risk appetite of the organisation is key to building the ISMS around it. If your organisation doesn’t understand its own risk appetite the implementation will be inconsistent and potentially expensive as you may have implemented controls you don’t need and missed those you do! An auditor will spot this very quickly.

If your organisation doesn’t understand its own risk appetite the implementation will be inconsistent and potentially expensive.

Expedited implementation timelines

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen when companies attempt to tackle ISO 27001 without proper guidance is prolonged implementation timelines and inefficiencies. Often, the project is kicked off with a great deal of enthusiasm and fanfare only to be found withering in the corner some 3 months later when the internal lead has been distracted by an urgent project that has effectively taken all resource away from the project. Alternatively, the internal lead is in a constant battle to get the support of internal resource who are too busy “doing the do”. Consultants, with their wealth of experience, streamline the process, providing a structured roadmap that expedites implementation while ensuring comprehensive coverage as well as adding that extra resource that many companies don’t have to hand to ensure momentum is maintained. Our ISO Consultants have solved all the problems before, so why waste time re-inventing the wheel and figuring it out all over again? This applies equally to meeting ISO certification for the first time, re-certifying, or even moving to the new ISO 27001:2022 edition of the standard.

Compliance assurance & audit preparedness

The true litmus test of ISO 27001 lies in achieving and maintaining compliance. A consultant's expertise significantly enhances an organisation’s ability to actually pass certification audits, ensuring that the implemented ISMS aligns seamlessly with the stringent requirements outlined by ISO standards. All our consultants are also trained to conduct ISO 27001 internal audits and have extensive experience of the audit process having been involved in supporting many of our customers during the certification audits with the certification body. They know what an auditor will look for in terms of evidence so can prepare you beforehand to make sure that evidence is available, they know how to respond to an auditor – and what not to tell them!

Knowledge transfer & empowerment

Working alongside consultants isn't just about achieving immediate compliance. Rather, it's an opportunity for knowledge transfer. Consultants impart invaluable insights, training, and skill development to your org’s internal teams, empowering them to sustain and evolve the ISMS independently. We often have feedback from customers that the most valuable part of working with a consultant is the amount of information they picked up as a result. It doesn’t end at the end of the certification process either, as our consultants will still be available to support ongoing internal audits if your business needs it, and their knowledge of your ISMS will be invaluable in supporting this. Equally, if you decide that you can’t manage the ISMS yourselves and need someone to keep you on track, making sure those regular activities that need to be performed such as risk assessments, management reviews, training (and etc) are completed.. well, it sounds like you could use a VCISO to help you.

We often have feedback from customers that the most valuable part of working with a consultant is the amount of information they picked up as a result.

Conclusion

In an era where data is the lifeblood of a business, ensuring its security is non-negotiable. ISO 27001 stands as a beacon of best practices, but successfully implementing it demands more than a cursory understanding. It requires the finesse, expertise, and strategic guidance that only seasoned consultants can provide. Yes, you can go down the cheap and cheerful route and buy an online tool, but your business won’t see a significant improvement in information security, thus leaving you exposed to the continuously evolving threats that are out there. And more to the point, you very probably won’t pass a certification audit. ISO 27001 is an investment in your business so it’s worth doing it properly, giving senior management and the board the confidence to shout out their security credentials to customers and other stakeholders.

Embracing the guidance of a proficient consultant isn't merely an investment—it's a proactive step towards fortifying a business’ information security infrastructure, fostering trust among stakeholders, and establishing a resilient defence against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. Well worth the price of a consultant.

Nicky Whiting Headshot

Meet the author

Nicky Whiting Managing Director

As Managing Director of Bulletproof, Nicky’s responsible for innovating and evolving Bulletproof’s compliance services. With a varied and interesting career, Nicky shares amazing insight that directly helps businesses overcome their security and compliance challenges.

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