New ISO framework addresses IT system security risk, vulnerability

In June, The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Engineering Consortium (IEC) released ISO/IEC 17799:2005, the latest update to their code of practice for information systems. This version includes more guidance for information security and incident management than did its predecessor, and addresses risk assessment, provisions for business p...

10/01/2005


In June, The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Engineering Consortium (IEC) released ISO/IEC 17799:2005, the latest update to their code of practice for information systems. This version includes more guidance for information security and incident management than did its predecessor, and addresses risk assessment, provisions for business partnerships, and guidance for integration with other ISO standards.

The standard, says ISO, "establishes guidelines and general principles for initiating, implementing, maintaining, and improving information security management."

Willibert Fabritius, a lead auditor with TUV Rheinland of North America , Newtown, Conn., which performs ISO system assessments, describes 17799:2005 as "a standard for determining your data-security level of confidence."

According to Michael Rasmussen, a VP with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research , "It's a very high-level view—an architectural standard that provides a structure for defining a security program," adding that companies "should use the standard for building an information security program because it provides a commonly accepted framework."

Fabritius suggests companies adopt both 17799:2005 and BS7799-2, an information security management system specification from the British Standards Institution.

An 17799:2005 certification reassures customers and partners that a company is taking good care of its data, and for the company's own management, that its systems are up to snuff. However, whether the improved standard is taken up by manufacturers in anything like the way they've tackled ISO 9000 certification remains to be seen.

Fabritius says manufacturers lag in becoming ISO 17799-certified or compliant. Furthermore, compliance is not cheap. Changing company practices to meet the standard could cost many thousands of dollars. But Fabritius says regulatory pressures and the competitive advantage of being able to reassure customers about security issues will draw manufacturers into the fold.





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