An ISMS (short for “information security management system”) audit enables the review of an organization’s ISMS by an objective and competent auditor. It tests the components of the ISMS based on standard requirements mandated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
You can compare it to an evaluation of a building’s physical security. An ISMS audit, like the physical security audit, tests how well the system works against all threats.
Read More about an ISMS Audit
An ISMS internal audit should ideally be performed every six months but can be conducted once a year. External ISMS audits conducted by ISO-certified agencies, meanwhile, should be performed every three years for certification.
Why Is an ISMS Audit Necessary?
As mentioned earlier, an ISMS audit tests all the elements of an ISMS according to standard requirements. It is necessary because:
- All organizations need insights to determine how well the ISMS can meet its needs and business goals.
- It measures how efficient and practical the organization’s policies and procedures are.
- It also enables organizations to take note of positive findings to ensure they are maintained and further developed for continual improvement.
What ISO Standard Is Used for an ISMS Audit?
The ISMS audit measures an organization’s actual practices and resulting outcomes, such as records, based on the ISO 27001 standard.
The ISO 27001 standard ensures an organization follows the best practices and processes to protect sensitive data. This information includes corporate, employee, partner, customer, and other stakeholder-related data.
What Other Requirements Does an ISMS Audit Fulfill?
Apart from complying with the ISO 27001 standard, ISMS auditors must also ensure an organization:
- Spots process-related inefficiencies
- Identifies good practices that can be replicated
- Look for potential areas of improvement
- Ensures compliance with all applicable regulations
What Are the Stages of an ISMS Audit?
An ISMS audit is deemed successful if it follows these five stages:
- Scoping and pre-audit survey: This involves a risk-based assessment to determine what the auditors should focus on and identify out-of-scope areas. Typical data sources for this stage include industry research and previous ISMS reports or other relevant documents. The auditing scope should match the requirements for the ISMS being certified for which the ISMS Auditing Guideline can be consulted. Large enterprises with multiple locations may require ISMS auditing for all sites or at least a representative sample.
- Planning and preparation: This involves breaking the auditing scope into greater detail by developing a work plan that indicates timing and resources approved by the management. The plan must include checkpoints so the auditors can provide informal interim updates to managers.
- Fieldwork: This involves gathering evidence by interviewing staff members, managers, and other stakeholders associated with the ISMS. ISMS documents, printouts and data, and processes must also be assessed. Audit tests are also necessary to validate the collected evidence and the reports documenting the tests.
- Analysis: This involves sorting, filing, and reviewing evidence concerning the risks and control objectives set. Sometimes, analyses identify gaps within the evidence, indicating the need for more audit tests, which will involve further field testing.
- Reporting: This involves clarifying the scope, objectives, timing, and extent of the work performed; summarizing the audit’s key findings; identifying the report’s intended recipients and enumerating guidelines for classification and circulation; detailing the audit’s findings and analyses; providing conclusions and recommendations; and stating the auditors’ recommendations or scope limitations. The draft audit report should be presented to and discussed with the management, followed by further reviews and revisions. The final report entails getting the management’s commitment to an action plan.
What Organizations Need to Comply with ISO 27001 and Thus Require ISMS Audits?
Any financial services business or organization that handles sensitive private data, such as medical records, must follow a data security protocol like ISO 27001 to prevent breaches and ensure they adhere to industry-specific regulations.
ISO 27001 compliance, determined via ISMS audits, can decrease an organization’s chances of suffering reputational damage, increase competitive advantages, and ensure data security even for remote workers.
- An ISMS audit enables the review of an organization’s ISMS by an objective and competent auditor.
- An ISMS internal audit should ideally be performed every six months but can be conducted once a year. External ISMS audits conducted by ISO-certified agencies, meanwhile, should be performed every three years for ISO 27001 certification.
- The benefits of conducting an ISMS audit include ensuring ISO 27001 standard compliance, spotting process-related inefficiencies, identifying good practices that can be replicated, looking for potential areas of improvement, and ensuring adherence to all applicable regulations apart from the ISO 27001 standard.
- An ISMS audit has five stages—scoping and pre-audit survey, planning and preparation, fieldwork, analysis, and reporting.