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Comparing Businesses With and Without ISO 27001 Certification

22 January 2018
As we gather more data and use new technologies, information security threats have changed and become a more prominent concern among individuals, organizations and governments. 

The ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards includes the standards put forth by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to help organizations keep their information secure.

ISO/IEC 27001:2013, often just referred to as ISO 27001, establishes requirements related to information security management systems (ISMS), a systematic approach to keeping information assets secure that can include processes, IT systems and personnel and involves employing a risk management process. ISO 27001 also includes guidelines for evaluating and addressing information security risks.

The standard provides guidelines for creating, implementing, maintaining and refining an ISMS that keeps information accessible to the right people while also preserving confidentiality and Integrity. It also helps to ensure legal compliance with requirements such as the Data Protection Act.

It can help organizations with their cyber security strategy, IT governance and asset protection. It also helps them respond to incidents, mitigate threats, reduce downtime and minimize loss. It aids entities in establishing a system to protect their information from security threats such as cyber crime, viral attack, vandalism, terrorism, misuse of information, theft and fire.

By working with an accredited certification body such as NQA, organizations can provide assurance to customers that they have an effective ISMS in place. Through our certification audits, we provide you with information you can use to improve your operations and enable you to deliver that insurance to customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders.

Evolving Information Security Threats

As we gather more data and use new technologies, information security threats have changed and become a more prominent concern among individuals, organizations and governments. Cybersecurity threats have become more sophisticated. Cybersecurity technologies and processes, legal requirements and customer expectations have advanced along with them.

Every day, we create approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, and 90 percent of the data in existence today was created within the last two years, according to a report from IBM. As more internet of things (IoT) technologies and other advances continue to emerge, the amount of data will grow as well.

Large-scale cyber attacks and information breaches have become a regular occurrence, and the damage caused by cyber crime is expected to reach $6 trillion per year by 2021. Small businesses, huge corporations, non-profits all suffer cyber attacks. That’s why ISO 27001 is designed to be useful for organizations of all sizes and types.

Advantages of Certification From the Customer’s Perspective

Certification to ISO 27001 provides a host of benefits to the certified organization. It also has advantages for that organization’s customers and its other stakeholders. Whether a business complies with this standard could be a major factor when a customer is deciding if it wants to work with an organization. According to a survey conducted by IT Governance Ltd., 71 percent of industry professionals either regularly or occasionally get requests for evidence of ISO 27001 certification.

Information Security

Ninety-eight percent of respondents in the IT governance survey said that enhanced information security was the most important benefit of ISO 27001. This is a benefit for both the certified company and their customers. It will be a prominent consideration if the client plans to share information with the organization.

Hackers have stolen sensitive personal information from email service providers, universities, restaurants, government agencies and credit reporting agencies in recent years. Because data breaches have become a common occurrence, customers want assurance that their information will remain secure. If it’s not, they could suffer financial losses and lose their own customers.

An internationally recognized standard designed to protect information is a perfect way to ensure that an organization you’re considering partnering with has a proper ISMS. This certification will inspire confidence in customers that a company is taking all necessary precautions to prevent a breach and has a plan in case an attack does occur. The risk management approach emphasized by ISO helps companies to accomplish this.

Ensures Continual Improvement

Information security threats are constantly evolving and cybercrime tactics are relentlessly becoming more advanced. It’s not enough to establish cyber security measures and leave them be. Your ISMS needs to advance along with the threats. ISO 27001 certification gives customers assurance that the companies they work with will continually improve their information security systems.

A fundamental tenet of this standard is continual improvement. It emphasizes regularly reviewing your system and implementing enhancements as needed. Every year, companies must participate in an external review process and become recertified every three years in order to maintain compliance. To maintain certification, they must demonstrate they are continually improving their ISMS. The standard itself gets updates as well, and organizations must switch to the latest version to maintain their certification.

This shows potential customers that the organizations aren’t just showing them a certification and then letting their information security system become outdated and ineffective. It demonstrates they are working continually to progress and ensure all relevant information is protected.

Facilitates Consistent Results and Customer Satisfaction

Adherence to standards such as ISO 27001 helps stakeholders to have more confidence that an organization will produce consistent results. They know what to expect because complying with the standard requires having organized and well-documented systems in place.

Before working and sharing information with your organization, customers want to know that it has systems in place to protect their data and respond to potential threats. An effective ISMS will also protect your information as well as your clients’. The security of your information matters to your customers as well, because if it becomes compromised, this could hinder your company’s performance. This could lead to:

  • Downtime
  • Decreased quality of products or services
  • Other issues that could negatively impact your customers

If your systems are severely compromised, this could even lead to damage to your customers’ systems.

Compliance with ISO 27001 provides customers with greater assurance that you have organized processes in place and will be able to produce dependable results, which will lead to consistently satisfied customers.

Supports Compliance With Other Standards and Requirements

Compliance with ISO 27001 can also help a business to adhere to other relevant standards and legal requirements. Seventy-seven percent of organizations that use ISO 27001 controls also use controls from other standards or guidelines, the governance study found.

ISO 27001 is designed to be readily compatible with other ISO standards. Achieving compliance with ISO 27001 should make it easier to get other standards certifications as well, amplifying the available benefits. You might be able to become certified or recertified during the same visit from an auditor. When a customer sees that a businesses complies with ISO 27001, they understand it likely conforms to other standards or uses controls from them as well.

Compliance with ISO 27001 also requires adherence to all legal requirements. When working with an ISO 27001 certified company, they can be certain that the company will not run into any legal trouble regarding relevant requirements. They also know their information is getting the protection that the law says it should.

Simplifies the Decision-Making Process

Rather than having to check for adherence to legal requirements individually, when a customer sees that your company is ISO 27001 certified, they know it is also following related laws and regulations. This simplifies the process of deciding which organization to work with.

This also applies to areas other than legal requirements. Rather than having to start from scratch to understand a company’s ISMS, a customer already has a foundation for how that system works if they know a company is compliant with ISO 27001. They know that they do everything required by the standard and that they maintain a quality sufficient for compliance. Without the standard, the client may have little reference for an organization’s information security.

That’s one reason why ISO 27001 is such a significant factor in customers’ decisions for what companies to partner with. When choosing between an ISO 27001-certified company and one without the certification, they can more quickly gather an understanding of how the certified company works. This makes it easier to work with them and ensure their information will be adequately protected.

Comparing Companies With and Without ISO 27001 Certification

The process of deciding whether to make a purchase can be a long one, especially in business-to-business (B2B) transactions. There are a lot of factors to consider, including the suitability of the product or service, price, customer service and security concerns.

Whether a business has relevant certifications can be another major deciding factor. Some companies will only work with partners that have certain certifications. If their work involves sensitive information, ISO 27001 might be one of those mandatory certs. An organization might require ISO 27001 for all of its associates as a part of its company policy or even due to legal requirements.

Even for companies that don’t require ISO compliance, certified businesses will stand out when compared to those that are not. If a company follows ISO guidelines but doesn’t have a certification, a customer might be less likely to choose because they don’t have the same assurance as a certified organization.

Establishing Trust Through Certification

A key part of making a purchase decision, especially a long-term B2B one, is determining how much you trust the other party in a business relationship. Creating a loyal customer requires establishing a relationship and a level of confidence. This is especially important when sensitive information is involved. Certification to the ISO 27001 standard acts, in a way, like a shortcut to establishing that trust.

ISO 27001 certification is like a guarantee that a company has an adequate ISMS in place and they are working continuously to make sure it stays sufficient. Even if a potential customer doesn’t know anything else about a company, seeing that they’ve been ISO 27001 certified creates a level of familiarity. They know that the organization has undergone a process and put measures in place that they are familiar with.

They know that the company’s ISMS has been validated by a third party that judged it against stringent requirements. That third party, the accredited certification body, will also periodically check that they are still adhering to all requirements. This takes a great deal of pressure off the customer and gives them a foundation to base their evaluation on.

Difficulty in Evaluating a Non-Certified Organization

Even if a company does follow strict and effective information security processes, evaluating their ISMS poses a challenge to customers if it isn’t ISO-certified. Understanding their cybersecurity system is more time-consuming without the foundation of a certification to work from.

Even if a potential customer does get adequate information about the company’s ISMS, they won’t likely have the same level of confidence in the system over the long term. The company could change its policy without losing any certifications. A third party also hasn’t evaluated it. Even if its cybersecurity procedures are effective, working with a non-certified company doesn’t provide the same kind of assurance to customers that working with a certified company does.

Benefits to the Business Regarding Customer Relationships

ISO 27001 has the potential to benefit businesses that comply with it by improving their relationships with customers and their customer satisfaction levels. Keeping sensitive information secure and complying with all legal requirements will result in happier customers. It’s not just a bonus, though. It’s essential for a functional business relationship.

Complying with ISO standards will also lead to more consistent results and increase continuity across different parts of the organization, making operations more efficient and cost-effective. It also, of course, protects the certified company from security threats that can cause downtime and financial loss. This can improve overall quality of products and services as well as a company’s bottom line.

The proven credentials of an ISO 27001 certification can also bring in more customers for a business. It allows them to work with organizations that require ISO 27001 certification and might make other customers more likely to partner with them, especially if they’re comparing them to a non-certified company.

Get Certified to Help Your Company

If you want to improve your company’s ISMS, demonstrate your commitment to information security and improve your customer relationships, consider ISO/IEC 27001 certification. Potential customers will certainly view it as a positive trait when considering working with your company.

Our process consists of two stages of assessments and then certification if all requirements are met. This is followed by surveillance audits and a recertification audit after three years.

At NQA, we pride ourselves on providing certification audits that ensure you meet all requirements and also help improve your organization. We’re passionate about customer service as well.

To get started, request a free quote by filling out our simple online form. Just provide us with the requested information, and a representative will get back to you within 24 to 48 hours to help you get started on the road toward certification, more secure information and more satisfied customers.