Very often when I deliver free webinars on the topic of ISO 27001 certification, I notice that quite many people expect help with their personal certification related to ISO 27001 while the webinar is focused on certification of organizations.
This kind of misunderstanding is not entirely unexpected since many certifications in the security domain (e.g. CISSP, CISA, CISM) are focused on the certification of persons, and have nothing to do with organizations.
So, is ISO 27001 certification intended for organizations or persons? Actually, both.
Certification of organizations
ISO 27001 is a management standard that was initially designed for the certification of organizations. The system works like this: companies (or any other type of organization) develop their Information Security Management System (ISMS) which consists of policies, procedures, people, technology, etc. and then invite a certification body to check our whether their ISMS is compliant with the standard – this check is done during the so-called certification audit.
If the certification audit is successful, the certification body will issue a certificate which will state that the organization in question is compliant with ISO 27001.
In this case the employees working at that organization are not certified, although it has been confirmed they behave according to the standard. To read more about certification of organizations read this article Becoming ISO 27001 certified – How to prepare for certification audit.
Certification of persons
However, the whole industry related to ISO standards (certification bodies, consultants, training institutions, etc.) soon realized that if there are no qualified employees who would develop and maintain the management system, the whole concept would fail.
Therefore, very much like ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and other management standards, various trainings have been developed for individuals that need to get education for ISO 27001. There are now dozens of different trainings for individuals lasting from a few hours to a few weeks – for an overview read this article: How to learn about ISO 27001 and BS 25999-2. The most recognized trainings are ISO 27001 Lead Auditor Course and ISO 27001 Lead Implementer Course, but only for the former an internationally recognized certificate is issued (under the accreditation of institutions like IRCA or RABQSA).
This way the individuals that attend the training and pass the exam obtain the certificate that is issued to their name. But even if all the employees at a company were certified, this still doesn’t mean that the company itself would get the certificate – there is quite a big difference between certification of persons and organizations.
So ISO 27001 does offer various possibilities for certification, unlike any other standard in the security domain. The best, of course, would be to pursue both certifications – certify your personnel so that they can help your organization develop and maintain an adequate level of security, and certify your company so that the training of the individuals is done systematically and according to realistic security needs.
You can also check out our series of ISO 27001 webinars that will teach you the basics of ISO 27001.