International Security Standards

ISO/IEC 27001ISO/IEC 27001

ISO/IEC 270011SO/IEC 27001 is part of the growing ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards, is an Information Security Management System (ISMS) standard published in October 2005 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Its full name is ISO/IEC 27001:2005 - Information technology -- Security techniques -- Information security management systems -- Requirements but it is commonly known as "ISO 27001".

ISO/IEC 27001 formally specifies a management system that is intended to bring information security under explicit management control. Being a formal specification means that it mandates specific requirements. Organizations that claim to have adopted ISO/IEC 27001 can therefore be formally audited and certified compliant with the standard (more below).

Most organizations have a number of information security controls. Without an ISMS however, the controls tend to be somewhat disorganized and disjointed, having been implemented often as point solutions to specific situations or simply as a matter of convention. Maturity models typically refer to this stage as "ad hoc".

The security controls in operation typically address certain aspects of IT or data security, specifically, leaving non-IT information assets (such as paperwork and proprietary knowledge) less well protected on the whole. Business continuity planning and physical security, for examples, may be managed quite independently of IT or information security while Human Resources practices may make little reference to the need to define and assign information security roles and responsibilities throughout the organization.

ISO/IEC 27001 requires that management:

  1. Systematically examine the organization's information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities and impacts;
  2. Design and implement a coherent and comprehensive suite of information security controls and/or other forms of risk treatment (such as risk avoidance or risk transfer) to address those risks that are deemed unacceptable; and
  3. Adopt an overarching management process to ensure that the information security controls continue to meet the organization's information security needs on an ongoing basis.

While other sets of information security controls may potentially be used within an ISO/IEC 27001 ISMS as well as, or even instead of, ISO/IEC 27002 (the Code of Practice for Information Security Management), these two standards are normally used together in practice.

Annex A to ISO/IEC 27001 succinctly lists the information security controls from ISO/IEC 27002, while ISO/IEC 27002 provides additional information and implementation advice on the controls.

Organizations that implement a suite of information security controls in accordance with ISO/IEC 27002 are simultaneously likely to meet many of the requirements of ISO/IEC 27001, but may lack some of the overarching management system elements.

The converse is also true, in other words, an ISO/IEC 27001 compliance certificate provides assurance that the management system for information security is in place, but says little about the absolute state of information security within the organization.

Technical security controls such as antivirus and firewalls are not normally audited in ISO/IEC 27001 certification audits: the organization is essentially presumed to have adopted all necessary information security controls since the overall ISMS is in place and is deemed adequate by satisfying the requirements of ISO/IEC 27001.

Furthermore, management determines the scope of the ISMS for certification purposes and may limit it to, say, a single business unit or location.

The ISO/IEC 27001 certificate does not necessarily mean the remainder of the organization, outside the scoped area, has an adequate approach to information security management.
Other standards in the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards provide additional guidance on certain aspects of designing, implementing and operating an ISMS, for example on information security risk management (ISO/IEC 27005).
For more information, go to http://www.27000.org/

PCI Security Standards Organization

The PCI DSS, a set of comprehensive requirements for enhancing payment account data security, was developed by the founding payment brands of the PCI Security Standards Council, including American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc. Inc. International, to help facilitate the broad adoption of consistent data security measures on a global basis.

The PCI DSS is a multifaceted security standard that includes requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. This comprehensive standard is intended to help organizations proactively protect customer account data.

The PCI Security Standards Council will enhance the PCI DSS as needed to ensure that the standard includes any new or modified requirements necessary to mitigate emerging payment security risks, while continuing to foster wide-scale adoption.

Ongoing development of the standard will provide for feedback from the Advisory Board and other participating organizations. All key stakeholders are encouraged to provide input, during the creation and review of proposed additions or modifications to the PCI DSS. The core of the PCI DSS is a group of principles and accompanying requirements, around which the specific elements of the DSS are organized.

For more information, go to https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/index.shtml

Common Criteria

The Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation(abbreviated as Common Criteria or CC) is an international standard (ISO/IEC 15408) for computer security certification. It is currently in version 3.1.

Common Criteria is a framework in which computer system users can specify their security functional and assurance requirements, vendors can then implement and/or make claims about the security attributes of their products, and testing laboratories can evaluate the products to determine if they actually meet the claims.

In other words, Common Criteria provides assurance that the process of specification, implementation and evaluation of a computer security product has been conducted in a rigorous and standard manner.

For more information, go to http://www.commoncriteriaportal.org/

Mutual Recognition Agreement

There is also a sub-treaty level Common Criteria MRA (Mutual Recognition Arrangement), whereby each party thereto recognizes evaluations against the Common Criteria standard done by other parties. Originally signed in 1998 by Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, Australia and New Zealand joined 1999, followed by Finland, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain in 2000.

The Arrangement has since been renamed Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA) and membership continues to expand. Within the CCRA only evaluations up to EAL 4 are mutually recognized (Including augmentation with flaw remediation).

The European countries within the former ITSEC agreement typically recognize higher EALs as well. Evaluations at EAL5 and above tend to involve the security requirements of the host nation's government.

For more information, go to www.cpa.ca/documents/MRA.pdf

 

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