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ISO 27002 – What will the next revision bring?

'By 'Dejan Kosutic on October 10, 2011

It’s been six years since the last revision of ISO/IEC 27002 (in 2005) – much has changed in information security since then, and this standard definitely needs some “facelifting”. Since ISO 27002 is closely tied to ISO 27001, this revision has to be done simultaneously for both standards, and is expected to happen in the latter half of 2012 or during 2013.

ISO 27001 and ISO 27002

What these two standards have in common are the 133 controls – they are offered as a kind of catalogue in Annex A of ISO 27001, with the idea that appropriate controls are selected based on the risk assessment. ISO 27002 lists all of these 133 controls again, but offers detailed explanation of best practices for their implementation. For a detailed explanation of the differences between ISO 27001 and ISO 27002, read ISO 27001 vs ISO 27002.

This relationship between the two standards is why ISO 27002 has changed its name in 2007 – it was previously called ISO/IEC 17799, but its name was changed to ISO/IEC 27002, making it part of ISO 27k series.

This most important link between ISO 27001 and ISO 27002 – identical structure of ISO 27001 Annex A and ISO 27002 controls – will most likely still be included in new revisions of both standards. However, the way it is structured and the individual controls will most probably change.

Expected changes

At the moment of writing this article (October 2011) it is impossible to predict all the changes in ISO 27002 because the final draft hasn’t been written yet. However, most likely changes can be judged by hearing what ISO 27001 experts have to say – here’s a summary of suggestions from ISO 27k Forum, the leading expert forum about ISO 27001/ISO 27002:

  • Accountability – definition of what it means in relation to human resources management
  • Authentication, identity management, identity theft – they need better description because of their criticality for web-based services
  • Cloud computing – this model is becoming more and more dominant in real life, but hasn’t been covered in the standard
  • Database security – the technical aspects haven’t been systematically laid down in the existing revision
  • Ethics and trust – an important concept not covered at all in the existing revision
  • Fraud, phishing, hacking, social engineering – these particular types of threats are gaining more and more importance, but aren’t covered systematically in the existing revision
  • Governance of information – this concept is very important for the organizational aspect of information security and is not covered in the current revision
  • IT auditing – needs to focus more on computer auditing
  • Privacy – needs to go broader than existing data protection and legal compliance, especially because of cloud computing
  • Resilience – this concept is completely missing in the existing revision
  • Security testing, application testing, vulnerability assessments, pen tests etc. – these are essentially missing in the current revision

As Gary Hinson from the ISO27k Forum argues, several of these issues are already covered, but they were not given sufficient emphasis in the current revision of the standard – key terms widely used today are either completely missing or are only vaguely alluded to.

Also, the new ISO 27002 will refer more on other standards that define certain areas in more detail – for instance, Section 14 Business Continuity Management will refer to ISO 22301 (new standard dedicated to business continuity management) and ISO/IEC 27031 (focused on ICT aspect of business continuity).

All these changes mean that not only some of the controls will change or will be added, but it also means that the structure of the standard will change – instead of existing 11 sections of Annex A / ISO 27002, some new sections will probably have to be created, and others merged. And these structural issues are probably the toughest ones since the body in charge of the revision (JTC 1/SC 27 committee) will need to ensure compatibility with the existing revision. This is why we have no idea at the moment what these structural changes will look like.

ISO 27002 certification?

Many people still ask me whether it is possible to get certified against ISO 27002. The situation with the new revision will stay the same – currently it is not possible, nor will it be possible to get an ISO 27002 certificate because unlike ISO 27001, this is not a management standard.

This means ISO 27002 will remain a code of practice (or best practices) for implementation of security controls. It will not define the management system – e.g. the documentation management, internal audit, management review, corrective and preventive actions, risk management, etc.  – all these remain in the domain of ISO 27001. Therefore, ISO 27001 will remain the only certifiable standard in the ISO 27k series.

Implications for the ISMS

If you already have your Information Security Management System implemented, you don’t have to worry too much – no matter which changes the new revision will bring, you will have enough time (normally one year after both standards have been published) to implement the changes.

Once the revisions are published, you will need to align the structure of your controls in the Statement of Applicability with the new Annex A in the revised ISO 27001. And although the structure won’t change too much, this alignment will be the biggest job that’s ahead of you.

And this is where the new ISO 27002 will bring the most value – in the transition period you will have plenty of refreshed best practices to choose from. And since ISO 27002 is quite detailed, and you still have the freedom to choose only the appropriate stuff for your organization, it will definitely help you make such transition easier.

You can also check out our webinar ISO 27001 Foundations Part 3: Annex A overview (commercially sold training).