What is an ISMS? 9 reasons why you should implement one

Whether you like it or not, every business is a target for cyber attackers, and that includes yours.

Data breaches are becoming more severe, yet many organisations still assume they will never suffer one.

However, if you want to protect your business you should adopt a ‘when not if’ mentality.

Effective defences can prevent the majority of attacks and help you to prepare for a breach.

Robust cyber security requires an ISMS (information security management system) built on three pillars: people, processes and technology.

By implementing an ISMS, you can secure your information, increase your resilience to cyber attacks, and reduce the costs associated with information security.

In this post, we take a deep dive into the inner workings of an ISMS, and explore the benefits it can bring to your organisation.


What is an ISMS?

An ISMS is a systematic approach consisting of processes, technology and people that helps you protect and manage your organisation’s information through effective risk management.

It enables compliance with a host of laws, including the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and focuses on protecting three key aspects of information:

1) Confidentiality: The information is not available or disclosed to unauthorised people, entities or processes.

2) Integrity: The information is complete and accurate, and protected from corruption.

3) Availability: The information is accessible and usable by authorised users.


Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 27001 is the international standard that provides the specification for a best-practice ISMS and covers the compliance requirements.

While ISO 27001 offers the specification, ISO 27002 provides the code of conduct – guidance and recommended best practices that can be used to enforce the specification.


Benefits of an ISMS

An ISO 27001-compliant ISMS does more than simply help you comply with laws and win business. It a can also:

Secure your information in all its forms: An ISMS helps protect all forms of information, whether digital, paper-based or in the Cloud.

Increase your attack resilience: Implementing and maintaining an ISMS will significantly increase your organisation’s resilience to cyber attacks. 

Manage all your information in one place: An ISMS provides a central framework for keeping your organisation’s information safe and managing it all in one place. 

Respond to evolving security threats: Constantly adapting to changes both in the environment and inside the organisation, an ISMS reduces the threat of continually evolving risks. 

Reduce costs associated with information security: Thanks to the risk assessment and analysis approach of an ISMS, organisations can reduce costs spent on indiscriminately adding layers of defensive technology that might not work. 

Protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of your data: An ISMS offers a set of policies, procedures, technical and physical controls to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of your information. 

Improve company culture: An ISMS’s holistic approach covers the whole organisation, not just IT. This enables employees to readily understand risks and embrace security controls as part of their everyday working practices. 


Free Download: Implementing an ISMS: The nine-step approach

Implementing an ISO 27001 compliant ISMS can be an intimidating task, especially if you have no prior knowledge of the Standard and don’t know where to start.

Receive implementation tips from the ISO 27001 experts in this free green paper:

  • Get to grips with the basics of an ISO 27001 ISMS;
  • Discover our tried-and-tested nine-step implementation approach;
  • Establish important considerations for every step of your ISMS project; and
  • Identify the challenges you may face when creating your ISMS.

This blog has been updated to reflect industry developments. Originally published 4 Jun 2019.