Understanding ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.13 – Communications Security

We started the ISO 27001:2022 series with the promise of explaining how the 14 categories of controls can be implemented.

Today we address ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.13, “Communications Security”, which addresses the importance of securing information during its transmission over communication networks.

This annex provides guidelines for implementing controls to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information exchanged between parties.



Importance of Communications Security

Communications security is crucial for safeguarding sensitive information transmitted over communication channels, such as networks, internet connections, and wireless technologies. Annex A.13 underscores this importance by:

  1. Confidentiality: Encrypting communications prevents unauthorized parties from intercepting and eavesdropping on sensitive information transmitted over unsecured networks.
  2. Integrity: Implementing integrity checks and digital signatures ensures that transmitted data remains intact and unaltered during transit, protecting against tampering and unauthorized modifications.
  3. Availability: Securing communication channels helps maintain the availability of information services and prevents disruptions caused by network attacks, denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, or transmission errors.

Implementing Annex A.13 in Practice

To effectively implement Annex A.13, organizations can follow these practical steps:

  1. Encryption: Encrypt data transmitted over insecure communication channels using encryption protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), or Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnels.Example: Configure email servers to use TLS encryption for encrypting emails in transit between email clients and servers, preventing eavesdropping on email communications.
  2. Digital Signatures: Use digital signatures to verify the authenticity and integrity of transmitted data and messages. Implement digital signature algorithms and certificate authorities to ensure the validity of signatures.Example: Digitally sign electronic documents, such as contracts or reports, using a digital signature certificate issued by a trusted certificate authority to verify the authenticity and integrity of the documents.
  3. Secure Protocols: Use secure communication protocols and standards, such as Secure Shell (SSH), Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), and Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), to protect data transmitted over networks.Example: Configure web servers to use HTTPS protocol for secure transmission of sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial transactions, over the internet.
  4. Access Controls: Implement access controls to restrict access to communication channels and network resources to authorized users only. Use strong authentication mechanisms to verify the identity of users accessing network services.Example: Configure network routers and firewalls to enforce access control lists (ACLs) restricting inbound and outbound traffic based on source and destination IP addresses, ports, and protocols.
  5. Monitoring and Logging: Deploy monitoring and logging mechanisms to track communication activities, detect anomalies, and identify potential security incidents or unauthorized access attempts.Example: Set up network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) or intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to monitor network traffic for suspicious behavior, such as port scans or packet sniffing attempts.

Audit of Compliance with Annex A.13

Auditing compliance with Annex A.13 is essential for evaluating an organization’s adherence to communications security requirements. Here’s how the audit process typically unfolds:

  1. Audit Preparation: Gather documentation related to communications security policies, procedures, and controls. Appoint an audit team to facilitate the audit process.
  2. Audit Planning: Define the audit scope, objectives, and criteria. Develop an audit plan outlining activities, timelines, and responsibilities of auditors and auditees.
  3. On-site Audit: Conduct on-site visits to assess implementation of communications security controls. Review documentation, inspect network configurations, and observe communication practices. Use checklists or assessment tools to evaluate compliance.
  4. Audit Findings: Analyze findings and identify areas of non-compliance or improvement opportunities. Document observations, including strengths and weaknesses in communications security implementation.
  5. Reporting: Prepare an audit report summarizing findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective actions. Share with senior management and stakeholders for review and action.
  6. Follow-up: Address audit findings by implementing corrective actions and improvements as recommended. Conduct follow-up audits to verify effectiveness of corrective measures and ensure ongoing compliance.


ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.13 emphasizes the importance of communications security in protecting sensitive information transmitted over communication networks. By implementing robust controls and measures to encrypt data, verify authenticity, and enforce access controls, organizations can mitigate risks and safeguard against unauthorized access or interception of communications. Regular audits help assess compliance with Annex A.13 requirements and drive continuous improvement in communications security practices.

The post Understanding ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.13 – Communications Security first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

How-To: NIS2 EU Directive

The NIS2 Directive is a European Union legislative text on cybersecurity that supersedes the first NIS (Network and Information Security) Directive, adopted in July 2016.

NIS vs. NIS2

While the first NIS (Network and Information Security) Directive increased the Member States’ cybersecurity capabilities, its implementation proved difficult, resulting in fragmentation at different levels across the internal market. To respond to the growing threats posed with digitalisation and the surge in cyber-attacks, the Commission has submitted a proposal to replace the NIS Directive and thereby strengthen the security requirements, address the security of supply chains, streamline reporting obligations, and introduce more stringent supervisory measures and stricter enforcement requirements, including harmonised sanctions across the EU.

NIS2 strengthens security requirements in the EU by expanding the NIS scope to more sectors and entities, taking into account

  • the security of supply chains,
  • streamlining reporting obligations,
  • introducing monitoring measures,
  • introducing more stringent enforcement requirements,
  • adding the concept of “management bodies” accountability within companies, and
  • harmonizing and tightening sanctions in all Member States.

To achieve the above mentioned goals, NIS2 requires member states to take a number of measures that forces them to work together:

  • Establish or improve information sharing between member states and a common incident response plan that coordinates with other member state plans
  • Establish a national Computer Emergency Response Team
  • Strengthen cooperation between public and private sector entities


In a nutshell, companies can stay compliant with the NIS2 Directive by

  • establishing an effective monitoring system that can detect intrusions, detect suspicious activities, and alert the authorities when necessary
  • developing comprehensive plans that detail how they will respond to an attack and what steps they will take to recover from it.


The official website of the EU for the NIS2 Directive has prepared an FAQ with many good questions and answers.

However, what the website is not saying (for good reasons) is how should companies start to prepare for implementing the directive.


How to start the compliance path

In order to successfully start implementing the requirements, the following steps should be implemented in this order. We will publish articles about pretty much each of these topics.


1.Conduct a gap analysis

Assess your company’s current cybersecurity practices, policies, and infrastructure against the requirements of the NIS2 directive.

Identify any gaps or areas that need improvement to comply with the directive.

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2.Designate a responsible person or team

Appoint an individual or a team responsible for overseeing the implementation of the NIS2 directive within your company. This could be a dedicated cybersecurity team or an existing department with relevant expertise.

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3.Establish a cybersecurity framework

Develop or update your company’s cybersecurity framework to align with the NIS2 directive. This framework should include policies, procedures, and technical controls to protect your network and information systems effectively.

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4.Perform a risk assessment

Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of your company’s network and information systems. Identify potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risks that may impact the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of critical systems and data. This assessment will help you prioritize security measures and allocate appropriate resources. Risk management and assessments are an ongoing process. Once one risk assessment is carried out, it is important to schedule regular updates to ensure all steps are maintained.

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5.Implement security measures

Based on the risk assessment findings, implement appropriate security measures to mitigate identified risks. This may include network segmentation, access controls, intrusion detection systems, incident response procedures, encryption, employee training, and regular security updates, among others.

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6.Establish incident response capabilities

Develop an incident response plan and establish procedures for detecting, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity incidents. Ensure the assigned employees are trained on how to recognize and report security breaches promptly. Business continuity is a very complex topic, which must be planned with a lot of time in advance and it requires extra resources (both human and financial).

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7.Continuously Monitor and review

Implement mechanisms to continuously monitor and assess your network and information systems for potential threats. Regularly review and update your cybersecurity measures to adapt to emerging risks and changes in the threat landscape.

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8. Maintain documentation and records

Keep comprehensive documentation of your cybersecurity measures, risk assessments, incident response activities, and any other relevant information. This documentation will serve as evidence of compliance and may be required for regulatory audits or investigations. A good record might save your company legal and regulatory repercussions in case of a major incident (cyber related or not).

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9.Engage with regulatory authorities

Stay informed about any reporting or notification obligations outlined in the NIS2 directive. Establish communication channels with the relevant regulatory authorities and comply with any reporting requirements or inquiries they may have. NIS2 strives to improve EU-wide communication and sharing of cyber events in order to better prepare answers and reactions. Communication has never been more important than now.

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10. Define KPIs for cybersecurity and measures taken based on them

In order to measure the effectiveness of the cybersecurity, you need to define metrics that allow identifying and quantifying changes. Example of metrics are number of incidents, types of incidents,  how many trainings have been made, how many people were trained, how many pentests were made and how many issues were identified, and many more.

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The post How-To: NIS2 EU Directive first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.