Congratulations, you have achieved your ISO 27001 certification! The path to certification is not a quick one, but now your hard work has paid off. With this certificate, you have significantly reduced information security and data protection risks, which is vital to any organization processing significant volumes of data. Now equipped with a clear framework for information security management, you have strengthened your key risk areas and supported your efforts to mitigate them. In addition to this, you have also reached compliance with regulatory requirements, ensuring that your company adheres to information security and data protection principles. This will significantly help you avoid fines that are often accompanied by negative publicity and a damaged reputation. Speaking of reputation, a certification in ISO 27001 demonstrates to clients and partners that you are committed to information security. This will show interested parties, both internally and externally, that they can be confident in trusting their sensitive information and data in your hands. Because ISO requires external audits to validate your ISMS, it will be extremely evident to all that your company is up to standards with a certification in your possession.
While the most challenging part may seem to be over, there are still a few things you need to do to maintain the high standard of security that you have now achieved. The ISMS is designed to be a living document which means it must be updated and maintained. It is typical for your ISO 27001 accreditation body to audit you annually, so you must maintain your current controls and ISMS to prepare for these audits.
A key aspect of maintaining your ISO 27001 certification is in avoiding pitfalls to ensure continual improvement. It's important to acknowledge that your certification is just the beginning of your path to enhanced security rather than the finish line. You must continuously monitor and improve upon your ISMS for it to remain efficient and valuable. A significant pitfall to be aware of is failing to maintain a proper internal audit effort or forgetting about management reviews. Even the most efficient ISMS must undergo periodic reviews to ensure that it is still working with your organization’s goals and projects. Factors that you may not think to impact your ISMS may arise, such as a critical team member switching roles or leaving the organization. Should something like this occur, you must be prepared to replace this role and potentially retrain personnel to ensure a smooth transition and continued success.
Factors such as this should fall within the scope of your regular risk analysis process. However, it's still important to consider how any organizational changes may affect your ISMS and react accordingly. Any change in your company environment, especially involving essential personnel or business processes that require new or modified controls, must appear in your statement of applicability. Some of these changes may even require you to adjust the scope of your ISMS and review and update your ISMS documentation to reflect these changes.
While many of these changes will be reactive, you should also be proactive in maintaining your certification and ISMS. Furthermore, you should be looking to go above and beyond when it comes to your ISMS, looking to improve it rather than simply maintain security compliance. While the purpose of the ISO 27001 certification is to enhance your information security protocols and compliance, the control objectives you implemented can be applied to more areas than just information security. You should use your ISMS as a way to add value to your entire organization, so think outside of the box. In pursuing and earning your ISO 27001 certification, you have already created the assets for additional certifications that can benefit your organization ever further. There are numerous ISO standards to implement, including quality management, managed IT services, business continuity, and more. No matter how you choose to add more value to your organization, a properly maintained ISO 27001 certification is an essential competitive advantage for any company.
Once you have earned your ISO 27001 certification, you will see an expiration date for this certification on your certificate document. This will be three years from when the certification was issued. If you cannot find your certificate, you can contact the accreditation body that issued it to get a new copy, but three years is standard. As the ISO 27001 certification is a highly advantageous achievement, you will likely want to get it renewed to maintain a renowned level of information security. But, should you choose not to renew your certification, we will discuss what that implicates. First and foremost, you will no longer be ISO 27001 certified. As such, you will need to remove all references to the certification on your website, products, and any other materials. In addition to this, you will no longer be able to use the certificate to demonstrate to customers and clients your dedication to information security. Most importantly, if you choose not to renew, you may lose a variety of business opportunities. Many organizations will only choose to partner with ISO 27001 verified companies as it reduces the risk of security incidents, and this will no longer apply to your organization.
While it is not guaranteed that every organization will renew their certification, for the reasons listed above, they will likely choose to. For these organizations, we will walk through the renewal process. Recertification is less complex than the initial certification process, but it could take up to three months to complete all necessary tasks. To begin, you should review your practice to looks for any nonconformities. This process should include team leaders going over any previous reports and notes that have been made on continual projects. If there are any issues that need to be rectified, this is the time to address them. Once this is complete, you can move on to the recertification audit. This process will be similar to the initial certification audit, with the only significant difference being that you will not need to pass the stage one audit. A verified ISO-auditor will visit your premises to assess practices and review documentation, internal auditing, and overall business performance. This will be very similar to the surveillance audits previously conducted, expected more detailed. Following this, you will receive the auditor’s report, informing your organization whether or not you have recertified to ISO standards. The report could include corrective actions that you must address within 15 days to be eligible for certification, so ensure that any remedial actions are completed promptly.
The ISO 27001 certification is highly recognized and respected, verifying that your organization meets the utmost information security standards. Receiving your initial certification is a time-consuming and robust process, but it demonstrates your dedication and commitment to information security to clients and partners alike. Once you have earned this certification, it is crucial that your organization maintains and improves upon your ISMS regularly to ensure its continued success and efficiency. To do this, you must complete regular reviews and audits to ensure that your ISMS continues to match with your organization’s goals. Once the time comes to renew your certification, it is highly recommended that you do so to preserve a respected and beneficial competitive advantage such as the ISO 27001 certification.