IT Governance: What is ISO 27701, and Why Does it Matter?

Data Governance
Data Protection
5 min read
James Mignacca
September 27, 2023
James Mignacca
September 27, 2023
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ISO 27701 is an international standard that focuses on privacy information management. It provides guidelines for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS) within the context of an organization's overall business processes.

The standard is an extension of ISO 27001, which is a widely recognized framework for information security management. ISO 27701 builds upon the foundation of ISO 27001 and adds specific requirements and guidance for managing privacy information, aligning with regulations such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other global and regional privacy laws.

Key points and components of ISO 27701 include:

  1. Privacy Information Management System (PIMS): ISO 27701 defines the requirements for implementing a PIMS that helps organizations manage the privacy of personal information they handle.
  1. Integration with ISO 27001: ISO 27701 can be integrated into an existing ISO 27001 Information Security Management System (ISMS), allowing organizations to address both information security and privacy requirements within a single framework.
  1. Risk Management: The standard emphasizes the importance of identifying and assessing privacy risks associated with the processing of personal data.
  1. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: ISO 27701 assists organizations in identifying relevant privacy laws and regulations and ensuring compliance with them.
  1. Individual Rights: The standard outlines processes for handling individuals' rights related to their personal data, including access, correction, deletion, and objection.
  1. Supply Chain Management: Organizations are encouraged to address privacy risks throughout their supply chain, considering the third-party services and partners they engage with.
  1. Transparency and Communication: ISO 27701 promotes transparent communication with individuals about how their personal data is being processed.
  1. Training and Awareness: It emphasizes the importance of educating employees and stakeholders about privacy-related matters.
  1. Continuous Improvement: Like ISO 27001, ISO 27701 promotes an iterative approach to improving privacy management over time.
  1. Certification: Organizations can seek certification against ISO 27701 to demonstrate their commitment to effective privacy information management.

Applying data discovery and classification for ISO 27701 alignment

Implementing ISO 27701 can help organizations enhance their privacy practices, build trust with customers and stakeholders, and demonstrate compliance with privacy regulations. However, it's important to note that while ISO 27701 provides a comprehensive framework, successful implementation also requires a deep understanding of your organization's specific privacy risks, regulatory environment, business context, and most importantly, what types of data the business uses, stores, and shares.

Having the ability to understand what structured and unstructured data lives on your organization’s network (data discovery), and the types of data it accumulates (data classification) underpins every data privacy and security regulation, including ISO 27701. Simply put – if you don’t know what data you have, you can’t protect it.

Applying automated data discovery and classification technology doesn’t have to be complicated – or expensive. For example, the Cavelo platform offers all-in-one reporting capabilities designed to simplify data discovery and classification. With its intuitive dashboard and customizable features, you can easily configure the platform to match ISO 27701 guidelines.

This chart pinpoints how data discovery and classification specifically support ISO 27701 alignment:

| Data Discovery, Classification and Reporting Requirements | Is it relevant? | What is it relevant to? | | :--- | :--- | :--- | | **Data Classification** – classifying data by category and by data sensitivity. | Yes | Section: | | **Limited Collection and Use** – limiting the collection, use, distribution, retention, disclosure, and creation of personal data beyond what is necessary. | Yes | Sections: 7.2.2, 7.3.1, 7.3.2, 7.4.1, 8.2.1 | | **Data Minimization** - minimizing the collection, use, distribution, retention, disclosure, and creation of personal data. | Yes | Section: 7.4.4 | | **Data Lifecycle Management** – creating the processes and policies around the entirety of the data lifecycle from creation and collection to storage and destruction. | Yes | Sections: 6.5.2,, 7.4.2, 7.4.8, 8.2.3, 8.4.2 | | **Retention of Personal Data** – ensuring that all records containing personal data are maintained in accordance with a retention schedule. | Yes | Section: 6.5.3,, 7.4.7 | | **Quality Management** – maintaining quality assurances throughout the information lifecycle with accuracy, relevancy, timeliness and completeness. | Yes | Section: 7.4.3 | | **Data Subject Rights** – providing individuals with appropriate access to their personal data. | Yes | Sections: 7.3.6, 8.2.5 | | **Inquiry Management** – maintaining the ability to receive and respond to privacy-related requests, complaints, concerns or questions. | Yes | Section: 7.3.9 |

Applying ISO 27701 for attack surface management

By integrating the principles and practices of ISO 27001 into your organization’s cybersecurity strategy, you can establish a robust framework that helps prevent, detect, and respond to security threats effectively. This approach fosters a proactive stance toward data protection and demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding the organization's valuable assets and data.

While ISO 27701 does not explicitly focus on attack surface management, its principles and practices can be integrated into your organization’s broader cybersecurity framework and include measures to manage the attack surface.

Organizations can use the foundational aspects of ISO 27701, such as risk assessment, access control, and continuous improvement, to support efforts in identifying and mitigating potential vulnerabilities and exposures across the digital environment.

Explore how broader attack surface management has changed and how technologies like Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management (CAASM) help to define essential use cases and best practices that support a more robust security posture and align to data protection and data privacy guidelines like ISO 27001.

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