In the UK, 69% of large companies have suffered from a data breach within the past 12 months. This might seem a shocking statistic to some, but for many, it will unfortunately not come as brand-new information. As cyber risks continue to increase and digital transformations mean that operations are online for many sectors, data security is more important than ever. 

Companies look to different sources of protection and intelligence to seek the best way to protect all stakeholder’s interests. One of the most popular options is security compliance measures through the adoption of ISO certifications. You will also likely have heard of GDPR, especially since the days of Brexit, and may be wondering if you need both ISO 27001 and GDPR measures in place as surely there are overlaps. With 68% of companies saying they believe GDPR can improve how organisations use data but still unsure of what it means for compliance, we are here to set the record straight.

What Is GDPR?

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation and was launched in May 2018. 

The law positions itself as the ‘toughest privacy and security law in the world’ and was passed by the European Union. Designed to pose guidelines that directly impact how consumer data is accessed and used, GDPR includes tough penalties for organisations that don’t show compliance. It is also a term that many consumers are aware of, which was part of the rollout process by the EU as they wanted each person to have power and control over their data. This means that companies have many eyes on operations at all levels. 

GDPR covers personal data as well as data processing, subjects, controlling, and the data processor as an individual, as these are the areas of scope defined as having the most effect on the overall safety of information. GDPR is also structured around seven core principles that create the standard’s compliance element. These are to demonstrate and operate with lawfulness, fairness and transparency; purpose limitation; data minimisation; accuracy; storage limitation; integrity and confidentiality (security); and accountability.

As the UK left the EU in 2020, GDPR no longer applies to the UK; however, many companies still need to adopt it if liaising with European stakeholders. Furthermore, even though it is not legally binding in the UK, due to the consumer awareness and benefits of the protection of personal data, many businesses still hold it in high importance, which we agree with.

What Is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 (Information Security) is an internationally relevant compliance measure for Information Security Management. 

ISO 27001 is often compared with GDPR as it focuses on all aspects of cyber security but expands on the areas covered further to consider people, processes, and technology. This shows that it aligns with stakeholder involvement, which GDPR promotes. With more focus on assets, ISO 27001 is a popular choice regarding data management and reducing cyber security spending.

ISO 27001 also unites different organisational departments to improve the safety of data and information as it is being interacted with. Businesses with this accreditation can work more confidently by promoting a constant awareness of Information Security Management Systems. You can learn more from our blog, ‘What Is ISO 27001? ‘.

What Are The Differences Between ISO 27001 And GDPR?

Wider Operating Concerns

The main difference between ISO 27001 and GDPR is the scope of coverage. 

GDPR focuses purely on the individual, outlining how they should be protected and their data used, with all outcomes being how the person involved is affected. ISO 27001 extends beyond the individual to encompass wider organisational elements such as all departments and broader business collaborative efforts. This is because one of the reasons why ISO 27001 is required is to protect all stakeholders due to the understanding that cyber breaches can be made in many different ways. We often get asked about how the ISO standard compares to Cyber Essentials; coincidentally, this is also one of the main differences between ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials.

Is ISO 27001 better than Cyber Essentials and GPDR? That is still up for debate. However, we can confirm that its scope is the widest reaching out of the various compliance measures, which enhances overall support.

Processing Security Format

While GDPR confirms that security must be integrated into data processing, it doesn’t outline measures which companies can adopt to facilitate the instruction. Instead, it leaves it to the individual organisation to do their own work, which means they are compliant on all levels. 

ISO 27001 provides the instructions and processes to carry out secure information processing, which is continuously updated and tested through compliance auditing. ISO 27001 can, therefore, be seen as covering the gaps that GDPR leaves or simply giving companies the tools to meet the instructions they are being given. 

An additional benefit is that ISO 27001 allows measures to be successfully adopted through periods of scaling and change. 

Requirements To Adopt

The final difference is that GDPR is compulsory for all companies operating in the EU or with stakeholders from that region, whereas ISO 27001 is not. It is, however, strongly recommended and is required by certain sectors, such as some healthcare and hospitality settings. 

Although the risk of not adopting GDPR is much higher due to the legal repercussions or doing things wrong, not becoming ISO 27001 compliant can also cost companies lost information. Risk mitigation is an important factor for all businesses to consider, which is why thousands of companies spend time and money becoming ISO-certified every year.

Does ISO 27001 Support GDPR Requirements?

As we have established, GDPR is compulsory for many, whereas ISO 27001 is an optional security compliance measure that, instead, many companies choose to invest in.

By becoming ISO 27001 certified, you can tick many of the GDPR boxes simultaneously, as there are several crossover elements. The benefit is that you can prove your adherence to GDPR processes via an internally accredited compliance standard with a strong reputation across all sectors. The ISO standard also focuses on processes, people and strategies, all of which GDPR holds in high regard.

Another way in which ISO 27001 supports GDPR requirements is by providing the measures to avoid a data breach. ISO 27001 is characterised by the need to put controls in place which minimise risk and provide the tools to resolve data breaches in an efficient way. Article 32 of GDPR is all about assessing ‘the appropriate level of security’ with a view to have data impacted. The measures put in place by the ISO standard satisfy these requirements.

Privacy management systems, robust information security networks, effective control measures, and risk mitigation are all woven through GDPR. ISO 27001 will help you achieve these measures as it requires the right processes to be implemented with privacy and data access at the core of even one of the control measures. Therefore, companies who want to showcase a high level of security management across multiple markets should adopt both GDPR and ISO 27001 as they go hand-in-hand whilst meeting everyone’s needs. 

How Can Companies Adopt GDPR And ISO 27001 Simultaneously?

Hopefully, the cloudiness around GDPR and ISO 27001 has now dispersed for you as we have confirmed that ISO 27001 covers and exceeds the parameters of GDPR. 

Companies can choose to become compliant in both easily. GDPR does not require certification but knowledge about the standard and the tools to manage everything professionally. ISO 27001 requires more work with the support of a professional IT agency like ours. Becoming ISO 27001 compliant starts at £4,000, but the ROI is easy to receive and manage properly. 

To find out more, contact our team today.

Did you like this blog? Check out some of our other reads below:

Is Cyber Essentials the Same as ISO 27001?

Do I Need Cyber Essentials if I Have ISO 27001?

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