Defining Objectives within ISMS: A Strategic Blueprint

What is an ISMS?

ISO/IEC 27001 defines ISMS as a systematic approach to managing information security risks within an organization. It encompasses a set of policies, procedures, and processes designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information/data. By adopting an ISMS, organizations are empowered to effectively identify, assess, and mitigate information security risks.

The Information Security Management System (ISMS) concept is closely associated with ISO standards, particularly ISO/IEC 27001. ISO/IEC 27001 is the leading international standard for ISMS, providing a framework for organizations to establish, implement, maintain, and continually improve their information security management practices.

While ISO/IEC 27001 is perhaps the most prominent standard for ISMS, it’s important to note that ISO did not originate the concept of ISMS. Systematically managing information security predates the formalization of ISO/IEC 27001. However, ISO standards, including ISO/IEC 27001, have played a pivotal role in codifying and standardizing best practices in information security management.

ISO/IEC 27001 and associated standards such as ISO/IEC 27002, ISO/IEC 27003, and ISO/IEC 27005 provide organizations with a structured framework for implementing ISMS. These standards guide various aspects of information security management, including risk assessment, control implementation, compliance, and continual improvement.

Defining Objectives within ISMS: A Strategic Blueprint

What is Included in the ISO 2700 Series?

The ISO 2700 family outlines how to set up and run an information security management system. Otherwise known as the Information Security Management System (ISMS) family of standards, the ISO 2700 series guides organizations in developing and implementing a framework to oversee all information security assets. This includes: 

  • Financial information
  • Intellectual property
  • Employee details
  • Information entrusted to them by customers
  • Third-party data system

According to ISO documentation, the 2700 family includes standards that:

  • a) define requirements for an ISMS and for those certifying such systems;
  • b) provide direct support, detailed guidance, and/or interpretation for the overall process to establish, implement, maintain, and improve an ISMS;
  • c) address sector-specific guidelines for ISMS; and
  • d) address conformity assessment for ISMS

What Are the Main Objectives of Information Security Management Systems?

As we stated earlier, the overriding objective of all ISO standards related to Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets within organizations. These standards aim to establish a robust ISMS framework for protecting sensitive information against unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction.

  1. Confidentiality: This governs access management, authorization, encryption- anything related to ensuring data privacy.
  2. Integrity: Information must be guarded so that it is not changed unwillingly or by the wrong party and remains true to its form, content, and intent.
  3. Availability: A vital part of information security is ensuring that information is reliable. It should be accessible as needed by the right people and in the proper context.

Each type of ISMS within the ISO/IEC 27000 was developed with a specific focus and set of requirements. Still, they all contribute to the overarching goal of safeguarding information security as defined by the CIA triad

Here are some key elements that reflect this common objective across all ISMS standards:

  1. Maintaining Business Continuity 

Cyber threats and negative incidents may happen, but having an information security plan in place will minimize damage, breaches, and long-lasting effects. Most importantly, it will minimize loss of productivity and allow your business to continue its operations as quickly as possible.

  1. Evidence of Information Security 

A well-written and organized ISMS can verify that due diligence has been carried out and that all efforts have been made to uphold high security levels.

  1. Risk Management

All ISMS standards emphasize the importance of risk management in identifying, assessing, and mitigating information security risks. Organizations can safeguard their information assets effectively by understanding and addressing potential threats and vulnerabilities.

  1. Continuous Improvement

ISMS standards advocate for a culture of continual improvement, wherein organizations regularly monitor, evaluate, and enhance their information security practices. This iterative process ensures security measures align with evolving threats and organizational needs.

  1. Compliance and Assurance

Compliance with relevant legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements is fundamental to information security management. ISMS standards provide guidelines for ensuring compliance and assurance through audits, assessments, and certifications.

  1. Control Implementation

ISMS standards guide implementing controls and safeguards to mitigate identified risks and protect information assets. These controls encompass various domains, including access control, cryptography, physical security, and incident response.

  1. Organizational Alignment

Effective information security management requires alignment with organizational goals, objectives, and processes. ISMS standards emphasize the integration of information security considerations into the broader business context, fostering synergy and alignment across functions and departments.

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ISO 27000 Information Security Frameworks 

ISO standards related to Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) are primarily categorized under the ISO/IEC 27000 series. These standards provide guidelines and best practices for implementing, maintaining, and improving information security within organizations. Here are some key standards within the ISO/IEC 27000 series that are categorized as ISMS:

  1. ISO 27001

ISO 27001 is the main framework of the ISO 27000 series. The 27001 standard contains the implementation requirements for an ISMS- Information Security Management System. It is an overview of everything a company must do to achieve compliance. ISO 27001 is designed to systemize a company’s security controls implemented for protection and compliance and transform them into an overarching information security management system (ISMS). 

  1. ISO 27002

ISO 27002 is a subsidiary of ISO 27001 that focuses on the information security controls listed in Annex A of ISO 27001. Whereas Annex A of ISO 27001 only outlines each control, ISO 27002 expands on each control and delves into more detail. 

  1. ISO 27003

This standard provides guidance on the implementation of an ISMS based on the requirements specified in ISO/IEC 27001. It offers practical recommendations for planning, initiating, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining, and improving an ISMS.

  1. ISO 27004

This standard focuses on information security management measurement and metrics. It provides guidelines for monitoring, measuring, analyzing, and evaluating an ISMS’s performance and effectiveness, enabling organizations to assess the impact of their security measures and make informed decisions about improvement.

  1. ISO 27005

This standard provides guidelines for information security risk management. It outlines principles, frameworks, and processes for identifying, assessing, and managing information security risks within an organization’s ISMS.

  1. ISO 27006

This standard specifies requirements and guides the accreditation of organizations offering ISMS certification services. It ensures consistency and competence among certification bodies, auditors, and ISMS implementers, enhancing the credibility and reliability of ISO/IEC 27001 certifications.

  1. ISO 27007

This standard provides guidelines for conducting information security management system audits. It offers recommendations for planning, conducting, reporting, and following up on ISMS audits, ensuring their effectiveness and alignment with ISO/IEC 27001 requirements.

Understanding Clause 6.2 in ISO 27001:2022

In our discussion of ISMS objectives, it only makes sense to outline how the standard itself guides organizations in defining their objectives. In mandatory clause 6.2, titled “Security Objectives and Planning to Achieve Them,” the standard reads as follows: 

The organization shall establish information security objectives at relevant functions and levels. The information security objectives shall:

a) be consistent with the information security policy;

b) be measurable (if practicable);

c) take into account applicable information security requirements, and risk assessment and risk treatment results;

d) be monitored

e) be communicated

f) be updated as appropriate.

g) be available as documented information

The organization shall retain documented information on the information security objectives. When planning how to achieve its information security objectives, the organization shall determine;

h ) what will be done;

i) what resources will be required;

j) who will be responsible;

k) when it will be completed; and

l) how the results will be evaluated.

Let’s begin with a foundational understanding of Clause 6.2 outlined in the ISO 27001 standard. The organization must establish security objectives across relevant functions and hierarchical levels. These objectives must align with the overarching information security policy, be measurable whenever feasible, incorporate pertinent security requirements, and be informed by the outcomes of rigorous risk assessments and treatments. Crucially, the objectives of information security management systems are not static but dynamic, requiring continuous monitoring, communication, updates, documentation, and ISMS recovery strategies.

The Requirement for Measurable Objectives

Objectives of information security must be measurable. An easy method to think about how to measure an objective is to write it using the SMART framework. According to “SMART”, the objectives should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Embedding ISMS Objectives into Organizational Fabric

At the end of the day, the success of an Information Security Management System (ISMS) is gauged by its ability to meet established objectives and drive continual improvement. Regular measurement and tracking of progress against objectives are key to measuring how well you’re meeting your goals. 

Start setting your ISMS objectives today. Schedule a demo to see how Centraleyes can be of assistance.

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