ISO 27001 and the GDPR
How ISO 27001 can help you comply with the GDPR
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires organisations to adopt appropriate technical and organisational measures – including policies, procedures and processes – to protect the personal data they process.
ISO 27001, the international standard for an ISMS (information security management system), provides an excellent starting point for achieving the technical and operational requirements necessary to reduce the risk of a breach.
Does the GDPR offer guidance for avoiding a data breach?
Article 32 of the GDPR specifically requires organisations to, as appropriate:
- Take measures to pseudonymise and encrypt personal data;
- Ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of processing systems and services;
- Restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident; and/or
- Implement a process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of processing.
Article 32 further requires risks “from accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to personal data” to be identified and mitigated.
An effective information security management system (ISMS) that conforms to ISO 27001 will meet all the above requirements.
Article 32 of the GDPR is the primary provision requiring technical measures to protect data. Although it gives examples of security measures and controls, the article does not provide detailed guidance regarding what you should do to achieve this.
Instead, the GDPR, compels companies to look at existing best practices and recommendations, such as ISO 27001, to minimise the risk of a data breach.
How ISO 27001 works
ISO 27001 describes best practice for an ISMS, a systematic approach consisting of people, processes and technology that helps you protect and manage all your organisation’s information through risk management.
An ISMS is a systematic approach consisting of processes, technology and people that helps you protect and manage all your organisation’s information through effective risk management.
An ISMS aligned to ISO 27001 brings about many organisational benefits, such as:
- The ability to provide convincing evidence that the necessary measures have been taken to comply with the data security requirements of the GDPR;
- The protection of all corporate information and intellectual property – not just personal data;
- The ability to reduce, monitor and review risks as well as keep up with constantly evolving data security threat; and
- A culture of awareness surrounding information security.
Read more about the benefits of an ISMS
Why technical measures aren’t enough for GDPR compliance
Companies often mistakenly believe that adding layer upon layer of state-of-the-art technology will help them prevent a data breach. They couldn’t be more wrong. Why?
- Without a comprehensive information security programme that also considers people and processes, your technology will fall short of providing adequate protection.
- Poor company processes and staff-related problems are among the most common points of failure in data security.
- ISO 27001 compliance requires a commitment to information security across the organisation.
- Without this commitment, the best-laid information security plans have been proven to fail.
- ISO 27001 compliance means the company is constantly reviewing and updating its ISMS in line with changes to the threat environment and business developments.
- Without an effective management system, controls are often left in isolation, becoming redundant and dysfunctional – in other words there are no management systems which “control the controls”.
- Obtaining accredited certification to ISO 27001 helps the business to get an external, expert assessment of the efficacy of its information security plans, thereby making sure that the measures it has implemented are working.
What else should you do?
In addition to achieving compliance with ISO 27001, the organisation must meet certain additional requirements in the GDPR that are covered by a privacy framework such as BS 10012:2017 – Specification for a personal information management system (PIMS). IT Governance recommends that companies adopt both of these critical standards as part of a comprehensive compliance regime.
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