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5 Key Steps for Your ISO 27001 Audit Checklist

Getting an ISO 27001 certification is not a walk in the park to obtain but certainly provides a range of benefits to help prevent breaches of a business’s Information Security Management System (ISMS). Although it’s not a legal requirement, deciding to go ahead with an ISO 27001 certification not only helps your business stand out but also provides a framework for your employees to follow. This blog will run through the key steps needed as you audit the business before preparing for the ISO 27001 certification process.

What is an ISO 27001 Audit?

Typically an audit refers to a financial examination of an organization using a designated third party, but in the case of ISO 27001, an auditor looks at an organization’s ISMS to see whether it meets traditional requirements that comply with the ISO 27001 certification. It also looks at the organization’s policies to see how they operate and that all matters of business surrounding information security run effectively and smoothly.

An initial audit can help an organization to understand the risks they are taking so far with their ISMS, any further potential threats to the business from cyber attacks for instance and how to manage any risks safely and constructively. This includes all aspects of an ISO 27001 – including any technical controls implemented in the ISMS, as well as physical and legal elements. Depending on the size of the business, one audit or several may be needed over a 6-12 month period to assess the full demands and outline all expectations of the audit before moving forward with the ISO 27001 certification process.

Is an Audit Needed?

The ISO 27001 does not require an annual certification after completion but an auditor after two years will action a surveillance audit to check that the organization in question is continuing to implement the original controls set up once the certification was completed. It’s recommended you do an annual audit as well as after three years when you renew the ISO 27001 certification.

Regular audits ensure:

  • That your ISMS is still working effectively and in keeping with industry standards
  • Each employee and stakeholder understands the importance of the ISO 27001 and follows the necessary procedures in place
  • Your business information security system and its functions are in line with the company objectives, and in turn, executed correctly

Achieving ISO 27001 Using an Audit Checklist – 5 Simple Steps

Doing your audit before moving forward with your ISO 27001 renewal of certification or first-time operation isn’t just a necessity initiated by the International Organization for Standardization but also best practice. It’s a way of keeping your employees up to date with company procedures and a wealth of other benefits. The 6 steps below will ensure your pre-ISO 27001 audits are done correctly, and most of all – are worthwhile to the business.

1. Create a Team Ready for the Audit

As Benjamin Franklin once said ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ and this certainly applies to your audit. Without a team in place and most importantly someone with in-depth knowledge about not just effective auditing but the ISO 27001 standard itself, the audit will be a disaster before it’s even begun!

2. Set Out the Plan for the ISMS

Once you have your team in place with the right leader to manage that team’s expectations, next you have to map out the plan for your ISMS. This means recognising what needs to be audited within the organization and why. Key stakeholders should be understood and then the team can go about preparing the necessary documentation ready for the risk assessment.

3. Carry Out a Risk Assessment

This step is all about communication. Setting up the budget you will have for the audit, how long realistically it should take to complete the audit, establish any potential risks and who will do what task. In addition, you may wish to hire a cyber security team as a third party to point out anything you may have missed in terms of those potential risks. Notifying the board of directors along the way will also be an important step. As we said – communication during the audit across the organization will benefit all!

4. Documentation Review and Begin ISMS

After preparing all the correct paperwork ready for getting your ISMS in motion, you can begin to implement your management system. Ensure that you not only record each objective being met for the ISO 27001 auditor records but continue to liaise with your management team to check the company is all moving in the right direction together, from employees to stakeholders and directors. A clear plan should be underway for every standard, procedure and policy set in your objectives. This is then important to analyse and review at every turn, and if any issues arise to correct and implement a new strategy via the management review under clause 9.3.

5. Check Audit Report and Final Review

After some time implementing the ISMS, it’s important to look back and see where you went right and wrong – whether the objectives were met efficiently and effectively. A final external audit report and review will help to evaluate any weaknesses in your original plan, concluding on the audit as a whole, and whether it was worthwhile for the business. Remember to keep doing internal audits to continually update staff about policy changes, educating them and key stakeholders about how the organization is implementing new procedures in line with ISO 27001 standards.

This is an exhaustive checklist to achieve a successful audit before moving forward with the ISO 27001 certification process. We hope you found the information about auditing useful and rest assured that BCCS has the expertise in place to assist – no matter the timeline for your ISMS and ISO 27001 certification.