Information security management system (ISMS)

by Kishan Tambralli

An information security management system (ISMS) is a tool that can be used to help protect your company and employees from potential security threats. It is a framework that provides guidance and best practices to organizations for implementing information security.

The ISMS can be designed for any business, regardless of if it is large or small. ISMS provides a set of standards for an organization's information security policy, including measures to identify threats and vulnerabilities; prevent loss or theft of valuable assets through appropriate administrative procedures; respond appropriately to emergencies when they occur; always maintain continuity in operations by ensuring sufficient resources are available on time.

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Information Security Management System Template (ISMS), Information Security Management System

Overview of ISMS:

  • It ensures the confidentiality of information by making it accessible to only those authorized to access it.
  • ISMS maintains integrity by ensuring the information is accurate and permits only authorized personnel to modify the data.
  • ISMS makes the information available to authorized users whenever required.


The following are the business-driven objectives of ISMS:

  • Increase client base and client satisfaction due to certification from a member of the Internal Accreditation Body
  • Consistently review and monitor ISMS policy.
  • Ensure authorized employees know their responsibility towards Information Security. Training staff members on how to respond in case of a cyber incident.
  • Provide a framework for all the stakeholders in an organization, including employees and contractors, to reduce the risks associated with information security.
  • Ensure compliance with relevant statutory requirements
  • To implement appropriate technical and non-technical measures to protect against unauthorized disclosure, loss, or damage of data that could result in financial loss or adversely affect operations.

 Popular ISMS frameworks:

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ISMS Frameworks, ISMS
  • COBIT - The COBIT for ISMS is a new approach to compliance management, which integrates the best practices of administration and IT governance. This framework will help you improve information security across your organization by aligning all business units to the same set of standards and guidelines.
  • ITIL - Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of guidelines to help organizations manage and maintain their IT services. It guides how to improve the quality of IT service delivery while reducing costs from an organization's perspective. ITIL for ISMS is a leading resource for IT service management.
  • O-ISM3 – stands for Open group information security management. It is a new ISMS framework that was recently developed by the IT security industry. It is designed to help businesses and organizations assess their current level of protection, identify gaps in their security protocols, and understand how these gaps might be exploited.

Reasons to implement ISMS.

  • Prevent cyber-attacks - The ISMS policy should be implemented to protect against malware, phishing, social engineering attacks, etc. It contains a framework of policies, procedures, and controls that are designed to protect company information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.
  • Information security - Data breaches and hacking are becoming more common as technology evolves, and the stakes have never increased. The cost of a data breach to your company may not just be financial - it could also lead to substantial legal penalties and lost customer trust. Implementing an ISMS policy (Information Security Management System) will help ensure you meet all regulatory requirements, including GDPR compliance.
  • Centrally managed framework - Centrally managed frameworks for ISMS help organizations by providing them with a way to proactively plan, monitor, detect and respond to potential risks in an efficient manner. It is developed by an international organization of companies to be used as a tool to help improve data protection practices. The framework was designed with input from users across different industries and sectors such as finance, healthcare, telecommunications, or the public sector.
  • Customer retention - Consistently upgrading and implementing new security practices will build trust with stakeholders, clients and assure the information is safe. The return on investment will be high in the long run, which will trigger more investment opportunities. 

 Steps to implement ISMS:

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Steps to implement ISMS, ISMS
  • Form a team - Assemble a team with and assign the task to a project manager to administer the implementation of ISMS. The team should be well equipped with the knowledge and experience regarding ISMS. Once the unit is assembled, they should work on various sections like objectives, Budget, etc.
  • Identify risks - Organizations can take many different approaches to risk assessment, but it is important to note that there is no single way to conduct a risk assessment. Identify risk for different categories and define the protection requirements. Assess your strategies to meet those requirements and make changes wherever necessary.
  • Scope - Defining an area will give you a clear understanding of the level of reach of this policy. Some policies are applicable to everyone in their organization, whereas others apply only to authorized personnel. If the scope is limited, it leaves the information at risk of being exposed, and making it too broad will make it complex to manage. 
  • Create a risk treatment plan - Implementation of this plan will enhance your security control over information assets. Identify the threats and vulnerabilities and quantify them by scoring them on a risk matrix. Lower the score, lower the danger. Create specific approaches to address them like tolerating risk, terminating, or sharing the risk to a third party that is well equipped to manage them.
  • Review and evaluation - Audits and reviews of the policy should be conducted annually or quarterly, and necessary improvisations should be made. You should also implement different ways to improve risk control measures or switch to an additional risk treatment option if required.
  • Audit and certification - This is a process to assess the maturity of an organization's information security management system. An audit will be done to ensure the ISMS is meeting the industry standards for security and control. Ensure the review is performed by a certification body that is a member of IAF (International Accreditation Body). Ensure you are confident to certify before proceeding ahead, as the process will cost time and money.

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