I am happy to announce that Aptible has earned ISO 27001 certification for our Enclave and Gridiron products! This is the result of a lot of hard work by the Aptible team, and is good news for you if you’re an Aptible customer: You can use Aptible’s ISO 27001 certification to show your customers that your cloud computing stack meets an international standard for security.
What is ISO 27001?
ISO is an organization. In English, the name of the organization is the “International Organization for Standardization,” but usually people just call it ISO, like International Business Machines Corporation is just IBM.
ISO produces “standards:” documents that outline requirements, specifications, and guidelines.
Requirements, specifications, and guidelines for what? Lots of things. There are over 20,000 standards, and they can be very specific.
You can play around and search the ISO site. This can be strangely fascinating: pick a random noun and search for it.
“Avocado?” Boom: ISO 2295 is a guide for the storage and transport of avocados. ISO 3659 has instructions on how to ripen avocados after cold storage. And so on.
ISO standards also cover more abstract concepts. One of the best-known standards is ISO 9001, which sets out criteria for a quality management “system”, or set of principles and business processes.
ISO 27001 is also a “system” standard. It defines requirements for information security management systems. The main body of the standard outlines a governance structure that you have to adopt: requirements for determining what counts as in-scope or out-of-scope for your “system,” assigning security roles and responsibilities, security planning activities, risk management activities, monitoring/metrics, and improving the system itself.
ISO 27001 also has an annex of reference controls relating to areas like cryptography, operations security, asset management, incident management, and more. The reference controls are normative, in the sense that if you don’t implement a given control, you need to be able to convince your auditor that your decision was reasonable, or otherwise explain yourself.
What does ISO 27001 mean for software development teams?
Think of ISO 27001 as a baseline for good security management processes. “We take security seriously” is a cliche. Many developer teams know they would benefit from an organized approach to security, but don’t know where to start. Hiring someone full-time for security is a stretch for small teams, and managing security just gets more complex as you scale.
Teams seeking ISO 27001 certification need to be organized. Like most of the major information security protocols (SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI, etc.), ISO 27001 requires:
- Proactive risk management, instead of just reacting to bad things as they happen
- Planning ahead for security and setting appropriate security improvement goals
- Writing down the rules for how security is supposed to work for your system (in policies and procedures)
- Training your workforce on those rules, with advanced training for those with more security responsibilities
- Training for and responding to security and availability incidents, including breaches
Most teams will end up investing in secure software development practices, such as test coverage, continuous integration/continuous deployment, code review, vulnerability scanning, penetration testing. On a practical level, you’ll probably get serious about MFA, require everyone to use a password manager, start using mobile device management to secure laptops and phones, do criminal background screenings, stuff like that.
What does ISO 27001 “certification” mean?
ISO standards are voluntary. Unlike the Department of Health and Human Services with HIPAA enforcement or the PCI Security Standards Council, the ISO organization itself doesn’t have any ability to enforce the standards. In fact, anyone can claim they “comply” or are “consistent” with any of the ISO standards.
The gold standard is a certification performed by an “accredited” certification body, or auditor. Being “accredited” means the auditors have themselves been audited against an ISO standard for how they conduct audits and certifications.
Aptible has been certified by Coalfire ISO, an ISO/IEC 27001 Certification Body accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB).
How does Aptible’s ISO 27001 certification benefit you?
Getting organized about security helps us protect your data. ISO 27001 lays out clear best practices for security management. With developer teams, huge problems can come from seemingly little things like not sanitizing inputs, not patching vulns, accidentally pushing sensitive data to the wrong system. ISO 27001 certification means we’ve spent time thinking systematically about risk, and have strong controls in place to manage it.
In turn, you can use Aptible’s ISO 27001 certification to show your customers that your cloud computing stack meets an international standard for security.
How can you get your own ISO 27001 certification?
The traditional way is prepare is to use consultants or full-time hires. This usually involves a lot of Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, takes a long time, is extremely expensive, and makes you feel slightly let down, like you just spent all that time and money and not much really changed. You may have this nagging feeling that you’re not actually that much more secure, but at least you have antivirus on everyone’s laptops.
I think there’s a better way. At Aptible, we make Gridiron, a set of tools for managing security, designed specifically for software development teams. Let us know if you want to get ready for ISO 27001, HIPAA, SOC 2, PCI, NIST 800-53, 21 CFR Part 11, or any other security framework.