Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) based on ISO 27001 are becoming increasingly critical for organizations to manage information security risks and maintain compliance. A key component of an ISO 27001-compliant ISMS is the Statement of Applicability (SOA). This document outlines the information security controls from ISO 27001 Annex A that apply to the organization.

In this blog post, we will examine the purpose and benefits of an ISMS, the critical elements required for an effective system, the role of the Statement of Applicability, and how an ISMS supports risk management

What is the Purpose of the ISMS?

An ISMS provides a systematic framework for managing information security risks. The primary purpose is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information assets and data. An ISMS aligns information security procedures and controls with the organization’s overall risk management strategy.

Key objectives include identifying risks, implementing security controls outlined in ISO 27001 Annex A, continual improvement, and compliance with legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements related to information security.

What is the Main Benefit of ISMS Certification?

Obtaining ISO 27001 certification validates your ISMS meets rigorous international standards for best-practice information security controls. Certification demonstrates to customers, partners, and regulators that your organization takes data protection seriously.

The certification process, which involves audits by accredited third parties, assures that appropriate security controls are implemented and effective. Organizations certified to ISO 27001 must continually monitor, maintain, and improve their ISMS to retain certification.

Key Elements of an Effective ISMS According to ISO 27001

An ISMS contains a set of documented policies, procedures, and processes. Key elements required by ISO 27001 include:

  • Information Security Policy
  • Risk assessment to identify threats and vulnerabilities
  • Risk treatment plan with security controls to mitigate risks
  • Statement of Applicability outlining relevant ISO 27001 controls
  • Defined security roles and responsibilities
  • Security training and awareness programs
  • Incident management processes
  • Continual monitoring, auditing, and improvement

Automated solutions like ZenGRC provide templates to accelerate ISO 27001 implementation.

What is an ISMS Statement of Applicability?

The Statement of Applicability (SOA) plays a pivotal role in an ISMS. This mandatory document:

  • Justifies the inclusion or exclusion of ISO 27001 Annex A security controls based on an organization’s unique risk assessment
  • Demonstrates careful analysis of each control’s relevance and applicability to the specific risk environment
  • Provides auditors a record of security control objectives and implemented controls that mitigate identified risks to assets and data

The SOA aligns the ISMS with the organization’s security requirements and priorities. It is a blueprint tailored to managing information security risks efficiently and effectively.

Why is the Statement of Applicability SOA Equally Important to the Risk Treatment Plan?

The risk treatment plan outlines which cybersecurity controls and annex A  controls will address identified risks. Meanwhile, the SOA document justifies why those applicable controls were chosen for the organization.

The SOA provides internal and external auditors evidence that ISO 27001 controls were selected to mitigate risks revealed in the risk assessment. It demonstrates to stakeholders that diligent analysis aligned security measures with organizational needs to meet the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other requirements.

Automating SOA generation integrates it tightly with the risk treatment plan. This ensures stakeholders manage information security risks effectively while optimizing resources spent on certification audits.

Together, the synchronized risk treatment plan and SOA give assurance of a tailored cybersecurity program per ISO 27001:2013 and ISO/IEC 27001 standards.

What to Include in an ISO 27001 Statement of Applicability

An effective SOA should include:

  • List of selected controls: Both Annex A controls and any supplemental ones chosen to address risks
  • Justification for inclusions: Explanations of why each control is needed based on risks
  • Exclusion justifications: Reasons for excluding any Annex A controls not relevant
  • Implementation status: Whether controls are in place or planned
  • Control owners: Who is responsible for each control
  • Supporting documents: References to policies, procedures, etc.
  • Date and author: When SOA was created and by whom

Using ZenGRC’s templates and automation streamlines generates a comprehensive SOA compliant with ISO 27001.

ZenGRC Has the Solution for ISMS Security

ZenGRC provides an integrated platform to simplify every step required for ISO 27001 and SOC 2 compliance. ZenGRC enables organizations to confidently establish, maintain, and improve an information security management system with pre-built risk catalogs, assessment templates, and reports like the SOA.

Let ZenGRC help you rapidly implement an ISMS to achieve ISO 27001 certification. Schedule a demo today to see how we can automate your path to certification.

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