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Information Security Management System (ISMS)

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What is Information Security Management? ISMS Benefits & Best Practices

These days, even small organisations can generate and store huge volumes of data that needs to be managed correctly.

The management of an organisation’s data from a security perspective is known as information security management. This article will explore some of the issues that affect information security and how a systematised approach can be applied to its management.

What is Information Security Management? 

Information security management is the management of your organisation’s information and data security, often known as infosec. It includes both the risk assessment and the applied risk management of your entire operation’s information assets.

The goal of information security management is to anticipate and mitigate vulnerabilities in your information systems and processes. This serves the purpose of minimising your exposure to cyber-attacks, data breaches, and other security threats

What is an Information Security Management System (ISMS)?

An Information Security Management System describes any systematised approach to information security and privacy. It includes the policies, protocols, and technologies an organisation has in place to assist its IT security and data protection

The security controls that make up an ISMS can follow common standards or be more tailored to the information management and security requirements of the industry and company in question. 

An ISMS takes into account both the storage and retrieval of information, but also how it’s transferred around an organisation. 

Cybersecurity Facts and Statistics
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What is the Purpose of Information Security Management?

The primary goal of information security management is to safeguard an organisation’s information assets. A good ISMS makes it easy to show any interested party:

  • How secure those information assets are
  • How seriously your organisation takes infosec

In order to keep up with the changing nature of information security risks, infosec management needs to implement continual improvement mechanisms. An ISMS should evolve to keep up with:

  • New infosec risks and opportunities
  • Your organisation’s development and growth

Types of Information Assets

Although in the digital age, information security management places a strategic emphasis on cybersecurity, ISMS don’t discriminate between digital and non-digital data stores. In theory, many of the same security standards and principles can be applied to physical infosec as to digital data protection.

There are several categories of sensitive information that organisations might want to protect from potential security breaches:

  • Strategic documentation
  • Critical information about products and services
  • Intellectual property/patents 
  • Proprietary knowledge/trade Secrets
  • Ongoing project documentation 
  • Employee personal data 
  • Customer personal data

What is ISO 27001?

ISO/IEC 27001 is an international standard for managing information security. It was published jointly by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). 

ISO 27001 details the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an ISMS. Organisations that meet the requirements qualify to be certified by an accredited certification body following successful completion of an audit.

What You’ll Need for the Implementation of an ISMS

Rather than just being an abstract framework, the proper implementation of an ISMS requires the right resources, actionable policies, and security controls that will work in practice.

Governance Process

Establishing an ISO 27001 compliant ISMS requires you to have a well-defined governance and oversight strategy in place. This means designating an information security manager or management team responsible for deploying the necessary security measures.

What You’ll Need for the Implementation of an ISMS

System and Tools for Implementation and Ongoing Management

An effective ISMS utilises a variety of resources. Besides the secure data itself, resources can also include software, hardware, infrastructures, and legislative and human resources. 

An ISMS equipped to deal with the full range of an organisation’s infosec requirements must deploy a systematic approach to risk management that aligns resources continuously within the relevant information technology lifecycles.

Strategic and policy documents shouldn’t be composed solely with the aim of initial implementation and ISO certification, but designed with ongoing management in mind.

Staff Communications, Engagement Mechanisms, and Ongoing ISMS Operation and Improvement

Because of the broad scope of an ISMS, the protocols it puts in place will affect different teams within an organisation as well as third-party stakeholders.

Ensure everyone has a clear understanding of their data responsibilities within the ISMS by clearly defining asset types and applicable regulations. Implement access controls and cybersecurity best practices where necessary, and run infosec training sessions for any staff members who deal with sensitive data.

For remote communication, you will need to take extra cybersecurity measures and consider penetration testing your tools to validate whether the security features and any encryption in place are fit for purpose.

As you would expect from a hybrid workplace, having a mix of digital and in-person communication has the potential to introduce confusion into your ISMS, leading to security incidents such as data breaches and the compromisation of passwords and user permissions

Getting everyone on board when it comes to ISM will help your system adapt to new challenges and evolve as your organisation changes. The right feedback and engagement mechanisms can ensure operational continuity and ongoing security optimisation. 

System and Tools for Supply Chain Management

To assure the integrity of your information at all points of exchange, you need to ensure that the partners you work with apply the same ISM standards as you do. Supply chain management is one area of ISM where vulnerabilities frequently arise.

Optimising your supply chain for security starts with choosing reputable business associates and implementing protocols for accountability that clearly define the legal data protection responsibilities of all parties.

To the best of your ability, scrutinise the infosec practices of suppliers and distributors before signing any contracts. If the need for operational security is high, consider enlisting the help of a specialist consultancy to audit potential contractors before working with them.

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Make sure you use communications with an appropriate level of security for the information being shared. Choosing the right communications service provider can help with this challenge. For example, RingCentral uses DTLS for privacy and security for communication across its services.

Certification and Auditing

ISO 27001 is the international standard most commonly associated with implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system. If you want full ISO 27001 certification, you’ll need to get your ISMS accredited by an independent certification body. They’ll also continue to audit your ISMS throughout the 3-year lifecycle of your certification.

Legislative Compliance

Depending on the nature of the information being dealt with and the jurisdictions your organisation operates within, other standards and certifications besides ISO 27001 may also apply.

For example, ISO 20000 is a closely related standard for IT service management. They both draw heavily upon the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL describes a range of processes, procedures, tasks, and checklists which are neither organisation-specific nor technology-specific, but can be applied by any organisation to maintain a minimum level of IT standardisation.

COBIT, which stands for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology, is a framework that helps organisations meet business challenges in the areas of regulatory compliance and risk management, and aligning IT strategy with organisational goals. 

In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the regulation that governs the requirements for security when it comes to information storage and transmission. Other jurisdictions have similar legal frameworks in place.

Information Security Management at RingCentral 

As the communications platform of choice for many organisations, RingCentral deals with a range of infosec issues that requires the highest standard of information security management.

This is why we chose to get full C5 accreditation.

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As well as having our own ISMS in place, RingCentral is also a cornerstone of the security systems of many of the organisations we provide services for. They choose RingCentral because of our reputation for iron-clad cybersecurity and the range of security features our platform puts at your fingertips.

  • Data protection is one of the highest priorities at RingCentral, and our compliance with C5:2020 from the BSI provides our customers with the highest level of assurance 
  • RingCentral’s unified communications solution, RingCentral MVPTM, has also achieved ISO 27001, ISO 27017, and ISO 27018 certification 
  • The RingCentral product development process includes a security review every step of the way—from concept to release
  • RingCentral uses DTLS for privacy and security for communication across the board
  • RingCentral uses qualified, independent third-party auditors to perform security audits
  • As a leader in the field of cybersecurity awareness for businesses, RingCentral has the expertise to help you implement the best ISMS for your organisation

Originally published Dec 15, 2021, updated Apr 10, 2023

Allyn Jayawon


Allyn is the SEO Specialist for EMEA at RingCentral, the leader in cloud communications solutions.

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