A well-established Information Security Management System (ISMS) is the only route to ISO 27001 certification for organizations. ISO 27001 is the top international standard for information security management which gives best practices for businesses to protect the meaningful data related to their operations and clients. An ISMS helps you to have a consistent systematic approach to secure your information assets across the organization which maintains the reputation of your business.

Apart from enabling your organization to have a defined ISMS, it also helps you to understand your data sets and information assets better, recognize all types of security vulnerabilities, and identify best practices to prevent them. Without the ISMS, it is difficult to detect any breaches, check them, and meet any third-party security compliance requirements. Your organization may have appropriate security controls in place but without a uniform system, it is difficult to implement them or make them effective.

Because an ISMS is the key to make your organization eligible for the ISO 27001 certification, here are explanations of the chief requisites for establishing one.

Prioritization of Information Assets

The first necessary aspect of your ISMS is identification of information assets that need to be secured. Not only that, but you also need to prioritize the assets i.e., determine which ones have the most vulnerable risks and need stronger controls. Understanding the form of assets held by your organization’s operational systems or departments are essential to determine the security risks associated with them.

The assets that are directly facilitating the primary operations of your business should be prioritized over other existing assets. To be clear, the purpose of assets in business, their ownership, and damage they can cause to the business by being lost or breached determine the type of security controls required.  Key information assets that most businesses prioritize are hardware, software, digital documents, paper records or files, information about people (employees, customers, investors, etc.), and information about suppliers and partners.

Information Security Objectives

The security practices and controls of your ISMS must be designed according to your business’s objectives regarding information security management. The larger your organization, the more widespread your objectives will be. Here are some common objectives that organizations aim to achieve with their ISMS.

  • Meeting the regulatory requirements regarding PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
  • Meeting general data protection regulations issued by the existing legislative authority
  • Minimizing risks of data breaches or data losses with restricted access controls
  • Ensuring confidentiality of clients and other stakeholders by careful handling of their data
  • Determining a preventive and corrective actions plan to deal with emergencies or risks to information security


PDCA Cycle for Successful ISMS Implementation

Apart from deciding the purposeful objectives and assets to be secured, you need proper planning to get your ISMS successfully implemented. For implementation, a PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle is considered to be most appropriate as it also ensures continual improvement of the ISMS in the long run. The stages of the PDCA cycle are explained as:

  • Plan- where you need to identify the information security concerns and risks and accordingly decide the objectives
  • Do- where you need to deploy practices for security in your processes, systems and IT solutions to control the risks
  • Check- where you should assess your processes, systems and IT solutions to determine the effectiveness of your information security controls and declare their validity
  • Act- where you need to act on any inconsistencies or failures found in security controls after assessment and improve their efficiency

Risk Assessment and Treatment

One of the key prerequisites of your ISMS is a methodology for risk assessment and treatment. Easy risk reporting, careful assessment, and responsive risk treatment is the key to make your ISMS effective.

However, this can be challenging to execute for any organization. It is hence necessary to clearly classify the information assets, prioritize them, identify the potential threats pose to them, and determine the agents/people/processes of the organization associated with each set of information assets.

Routine Surveillance and Maintenance

Do not underestimate the value of continuous maintenance of your ISMS if you are seeking to get an ISO certification. Maintaining the efficiency of your ISMS requires you to perform internal surveillance audits in regular intervals in which designated security experts (either from the organization or a third-party agency) will assess your ISMS meticulously. They will assess security controls, operational systems, data processes, IT solutions, users, and services to ensure that everything is safe from breaches or privacy threats.

Routine surveillance is essential because experts can identify any flaws in the controls or practices that are not effective enough. The audits help to provide necessary evidence on inconsistencies in your ISMS so you can improve those areas.


With fulfillment of these requirements, your organization can be assured it has a competent ISMS implemented. This also ensures its compliance with the ISO 27001 certification standards as all the major or minor nonconformities should be identified in audits and can be rectified. However, the last thing that is also a key requisite for ISMS implementation which has not been mentioned here yet is an ISMS governance team. They can support, monitor, and update the ISMS as the business’s information security goals increase with time.


Contact Details:
Business Name: Compliancehelp Consulting, LLC
Email Id: info@quality-assurance.com
Phone No: 877 238 5855

Author's Bio: 

The Author is the owner of an ISO certification consultancy that guides enterprises on the road to ISO certification with services like gap analysis, readiness review, and internal audits. He is a dedicated ISO 27001 certification consultant who likes to write about ISMS implementation and ISO compliance.