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A Straightforward Guide To ISO 27001 Controls

A Straightforward Guide To ISO 27001 Controls

Implementing the ISO data security framework demonstrates a high level of competence in data security. Achieving ISO 27001 certification requires organizations to demonstrate that they have implemented suitable and sufficient controls to safeguard the data they hold. Here is a straightforward guide to what you need to know about ISO 27001 controls.

Understanding ISO 27001 controls

The term ISO 27001 controls refers to the specific measures and safeguards implemented by organizations to secure their information assets and manage risks effectively. These controls are an integral part of the broader Information Security Management System (ISMS) established by ISO 27001, providing a systematic and comprehensive approach to information security.

ISO 27001 controls include policies, procedures, guidelines, and technical solutions aimed at safeguarding sensitive information, preventing unauthorized access, and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.

Categories of ISO 27001 controls

ISO 27001 controls are categorized into different domains, covering various aspects of information security. Each category addresses specific concerns and contributes to the overall resilience of an organization’s Information Security Management System (ISMS).

Here is an overview of the 8 key domains of ISO 27001 controls.

Physical and environmental security

Effective physical security is essential for effective cybersecurity (and increasingly vice versa).

Examples of controls

Secure areas and perimeters: Implementing restricted access zones and robust perimeters to control physical entry.
Equipment protection: Employing measures to shield hardware and technological assets from unauthorized access or tampering.
Secure disposal of media: Ensuring secure and compliant disposal procedures for media to prevent unauthorized retrieval or data breaches.

Access control

Effective access controls ensure that data is only accessed by legitimate users. It is fundamental for maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive data.

Examples of controls

User access management: Strategically managing and granting access privileges based on job roles and responsibilities.
Authentication mechanisms: Implementing robust authentication processes such as passwords, biometrics, or multi-factor authentication.
Access reviews and monitoring: Regularly assessing and monitoring user access to detect and address any unauthorized activities promptly.


This ISO 27001 control domain refers to employing cryptographic methods to safeguard information and communications. This helps to ensure confidentiality and integrity.

Examples of controls

Encryption of sensitive data: Utilizing encryption algorithms to protect confidential information during storage, transmission, and processing.
Key management: Implementing secure key management practices to safeguard cryptographic keys.
Cryptographic controls for network security: Applying cryptographic measures to secure network communications, preventing unauthorized access or data interception.

Operations security

This domain focuses on implementing measures related to the day-to-day operations and management of information systems to ensure their security.

Examples of controls

Incident management: Establishing procedures to effectively respond to and manage security incidents.
Capacity and performance management: Monitoring and managing the capacity and performance of information systems to ensure optimal functionality.
Change control processes: Implementing processes to control and manage changes to information systems, minimizing the risk of disruptions and vulnerabilities.

Communication security

Communication security focuses on safeguarding information during its transmission across networks, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of data in transit.

Examples of controls

Network security controls: Implementing measures to secure the organization’s network infrastructure.
Secure communication channels: Utilizing encrypted communication channels to protect data from unauthorized access.
Protection against malware: Deploying controls to detect and prevent malware, reducing the risk of malicious interference in communication processes.

Asset management

This ISO 27001 control domain focuses on the systematic identification, classification, and management of information assets throughout their lifecycle.

Examples of controls

Inventory of assets: Maintaining a comprehensive inventory of all information assets, including hardware, software, and data.
Data classification: Categorizing information assets based on sensitivity and applying appropriate security controls.
Handling and disposal of assets: Implementing secure processes for the handling, storage, and disposal of information assets to prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.

Supplier relationships

This ISO 27001 domain addresses the secure management of information shared with all external entities, not just suppliers. With that said, it will generally have the most relevance to supplier relationships.

Examples of controls

Supplier risk assessments: Evaluating and assessing the security posture and practices of suppliers.
Contractual agreements: Establishing clear security expectations through contractual agreements with suppliers.
Monitoring and review of suppliers: Regularly monitoring and reviewing the security performance of suppliers to ensure ongoing compliance with established standards and requirements.


ISO 27001 is a data security framework rather than a data security standard. It does, however, emphasize the importance of compliance with relevant data security standards. It also underlines the importance of adhering to all regulatory, legal, and contractural requirements.

Examples of controls

Compliance monitoring: Regularly monitoring and assessing the organization’s adherence to applicable legal and regulatory frameworks.
Legal and regulatory awareness: Keeping abreast of changes in legal and regulatory landscapes to ensure ongoing compliance.
Reporting and resolution of non-compliance: Establishing mechanisms to report, investigate, and resolve instances of non-compliance with information security requirements.

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