Implementing ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.18 – Compliance

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

Today we end the series with ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.18, “Compliance”, which addresses the importance of ensuring that organizations comply with relevant laws, regulations, contractual agreements, and other requirements related to information security. This annex focuses on ensuring that the organization identifies and adheres to all applicable legal, statutory, regulatory, and contractual requirements regarding information security and the requirements of the ISMS itself.

Understanding the Importance of Compliance

Annex A.18 is divided into several controls designed to help organizations manage and demonstrate compliance with various information security requirements.

These controls aim to prevent breaches of legal, statutory, regulatory, or contractual obligations related to information security and the security requirements of the organization.

Compliance with legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements is essential for organizations to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets and mitigate legal and regulatory risks.

Annex A.18 emphasizes several key aspects:

  • Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Identifying and understanding applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards related to information security.
  • Contractual Obligations: Ensuring compliance with contractual agreements, service level agreements (SLAs), and data protection agreements with customers, partners, and suppliers.
  • Risk Management: Assessing and mitigating legal and regulatory risks associated with non-compliance, including financial penalties, legal liabilities, and damage to reputation.

Key Controls in Annex A.18:

  • A.18.1.1 Identification of Applicable Legislation and Contractual Requirements: Identify all relevant requirements that the organization must comply with.
  • A.18.1.2 Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): Ensure protection of IPR, covering software, information content, and patents.
  • A.18.1.3 Protection of Records: Securely manage records in accordance with legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements.
  • A.18.1.4 Privacy and Protection of Personally Identifiable Information: Ensure the protection of personal information as per privacy laws and other requirements.
  • A.18.1.5 Regulation of Cryptographic Controls: Use cryptographic controls as required by legislation, regulations, and agreements.

Practical Implementation of Annex A.18

Legal and Regulatory Compliance Assessment

Practical Examples

  1. Regulatory Mapping: Identify and map relevant legal and regulatory requirements, such as data protection laws (e.g., GDPR, CCPA), industry standards (e.g., PCI DSS, HIPAA), and sector-specific regulations (e.g., SOX for financial services).
  2. Compliance Assessment: Conduct compliance assessments to evaluate the organization’s adherence to legal and regulatory requirements, including data protection principles, security controls, and breach notification obligations.

Contractual Compliance Management

Practical Examples

  1. Contract Review: Review contractual agreements, SLAs, and data processing agreements to identify information security requirements, confidentiality obligations, data protection clauses, and compliance obligations.
  2. Compliance Monitoring: Monitor compliance with contractual agreements by tracking performance metrics, service levels, and adherence to contractual terms and conditions.

Risk Management and Compliance Monitoring

Practical Examples

  1. Risk Assessment: Assess legal and regulatory risks associated with non-compliance, including financial penalties, legal liabilities, and reputational damage, and implement measures to mitigate these risks.
  2. Compliance Monitoring: Establish processes for ongoing compliance monitoring, including periodic reviews, audits, and assessments to ensure adherence to legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements.

We know Compliance is hard, so here are some more examples:

More examples

  1. Compliance Framework Development
    • Example: A multinational corporation needs to comply with the GDPR for its operations in Europe and the CCPA for those in California.
    • Implementation: Establish a compliance framework that identifies all applicable legal and regulatory requirements for each region of operation. Maintain a database of these requirements and update it as laws evolve.
  2. Training and Awareness
    • Example: An organization handling sensitive patient data under HIPAA must ensure that all employees are aware of the requirements.
    • Implementation: Develop ongoing training programs and workshops to educate employees about their responsibilities under relevant laws and how these impact their day-to-day operations.
  3. Auditing and Monitoring
    • Example: A financial services firm regularly audits its data handling practices to ensure compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
    • Implementation: Implement a schedule for regular audits, both internal and external, to assess compliance with legal and contractual obligations. Use automated tools to monitor compliance continuously.
  4. Handling Intellectual Property
    • Example: A software development company uses proprietary code that needs to be protected under copyright laws.
    • Implementation: Implement IPR controls, including secure storage, access controls, and regular audits of IPR usage and adherence to licensing agreements.
  5. Privacy Management
    • Example: A retail company collects customer data and needs to comply with privacy laws in multiple jurisdictions.
    • Implementation: Deploy a privacy management solution that helps in classifying, managing, and protecting personal data in compliance with all applicable privacy laws.

Auditing Annex A.18 Implementation

The audit process for ISO 27001:2022’s Annex A.18 involves verifying that the organization has effectively implemented the controls to meet compliance requirements. The audit typically includes:

  1. Document Review: Review policies, procedures, compliance records, training records, audit reports, and any actions taken on previous audit findings.
  2. Interviews: Discuss with management and staff to assess their understanding and implementation of compliance controls.
  3. Observation: Observe processes and controls in operation to verify that they function as intended.
  4. Compliance Verification: Check compliance with specific legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements through evidence collection and analysis.
  5. Report Findings: Provide a detailed report of the audit findings with recommendations for improvement if any non-conformities are found.


Effective implementation of ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.18 ensures that an organization not only meets its legal and contractual obligations but also demonstrates a commitment to comprehensive information security management.

By establishing a structured compliance program and conducting thorough audits, organizations can maintain high standards of information security and build trust with stakeholders.

The post Implementing ISO 27001:2022 Annex A.18 – Compliance first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

How to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS)

We wrote here that the 3rd  step in implementing the requirements of the directive is to establish a cybersecurity framework.

If you haven’t read what a cybersecurity framework means, then you should read article: .

An ISMS is typically based on the ISO 27001 standard, which provides a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving information security within an organization.

Establishing a cybersecurity framework is usually achieved together with, or while implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) based on a standard like ISO 27001. So, before going to the NIS2 Step 3, I must explain why is it important to have a “good” ISMS.

This article will guide you through the steps to create a solid foundation for the ISMS which uses a cybersecurity framework.


Here are the steps you must follow to implement your ISMS:

  1. Get Top Management Support
    • Before you start, synchronize with the top management in order to define company’s goals in this regard. Usually it should be clear, since the company strives to receive a certification like ISO 27001, ISO 16949, TISAX, CSMS, etc..
    • Then secure the commitment and support of senior management by helping them understand the necessary resources and efforts.
    • In all standards that require an ISMS it is imperative to have the commitment of the management because their feedback and support are required in several places along the way.
  2. Scope Definition
    • Define the scope of your ISMS: determine which assets, processes, and locations will be covered by the ISMS.
    • This will help in setting boundaries for your security efforts. Some certifications require an assessment per location and scope, so this needs to be developed properly and in accordance with company’s goals.
  3. Risk Assessment
    • Create policies that help identify and assess information security risks.
    • This involves:
      • How to identifying assets: List all the information assets your organization handles, such as data, hardware, software, and personnel, intellectual property.
      • How to identify threats and vulnerabilities: Determine potential risks and vulnerabilities that could impact your assets.
      • How to assess risks: Analyze the likelihood and potential impact of these risks.
      • How to calculate risk levels: Prioritize risks based on their severity.
  4. Risk Treatment
    • Develop a policy for risk treatment plan:
      • How to implement controls: Select and implement security controls and measures to mitigate identified risks.
      • Document policies and procedures that enforce the creation of security controls.
      • Allocate responsibilities: Assign roles and responsibilities for managing and monitoring security measures.
      • Set risk acceptance criteria: Determine which risks can be accepted, mitigated, or transferred.
  5.  Establish the ISMS Framework
    • Establish the ISMS framework based on ISO 27001:
      • Define information security objectives.
      • Develop an information security policy.
      • Create a risk assessment methodology.
      • Define criteria for risk acceptance.
      • Develop and implement security controls.
  6. Implementation
    • Execute the ISMS based on the established framework:
      • Train employees: Provide information security training to all staff members.
      • Implement security controls: Put in place the technical, administrative, and physical controls identified in your risk treatment plan.
      • Monitor and review: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of your controls and review your risk assessment.
  7. Measurement and Evaluation
    • Regularly measure and evaluate the performance of your ISMS to ensure that it remains effective and aligned with your objectives.
      • Conduct internal audits.
      • Perform security testing (e.g., penetration testing, vulnerability scanning).
      • Analyze security incident data.
  8. Management Review
    • Conduct regular management reviews to assess the ISMS’s performance and effectiveness.
      • Ensure that the ISMS is aligned with the organization’s strategic goals.
      • Make improvements based on review findings.
  9. Continual Improvement
    • Use the results of audits, reviews, and incidents to continually improve the ISMS.
      • Update policies and procedures as needed.
      • Enhance security controls based on new threats and vulnerabilities.
      • Maintain employee awareness and training.
  10. Certification (Optional):
    • If your organization desires ISO 27001 or any other certification, engage an accredited certification body to perform an external audit and certification assessment.
    • Be careful because several certification require a pre-certification or pre-assessment performed either with in-house auditors (internal) or external auditors.
  11. Documentation
    • Maintain detailed documentation of all ISMS activities, including policies, procedures, risk assessments, and audit reports.
    • Maintain a log of all changes in time, because this demonstrates continual improvement and usage.
  12. Training and Awareness
    • Continuously educate and raise awareness among employees regarding information security policies and best practices.
  13. Incident Response and Recovery
    • Develop an incident response plan to address security incidents promptly and effectively.


Remember, and make sure that your management remembers as well, that implementing and maintaining an ISMS is an ongoing process. Even if certifications are renewed only after 3 years (usually) it is important that in these 3 years the ISMS is lived.

Regularly update your risk assessments and adapt your security controls to evolving threats and business needs. Continuous improvement is key to the success of your ISMS.


The post How to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS) first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

The Importance of Implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS)

In today’s interconnected and data-driven business landscape, information has become one of the most valuable assets for companies. As organizations rely heavily on technology and digital platforms, protecting sensitive data from threats has become a critical concern.

This is where an Information Security Management System (ISMS) plays a pivotal role. In this article, we will explore why it is essential for companies to have an ISMS and how it can help safeguard their information assets.


An ISMS, or Information Security Management System, is a systematic approach to managing an organization’s information security processes, policies, and controls. It is a framework that provides a structured and holistic approach to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information assets within an organization.

The primary objective of an ISMS is to establish a set of coordinated security practices that align with the organization’s overall business goals and risk management strategies. It involves defining and implementing policies, procedures, guidelines, and controls to manage the security of information assets effectively.

Key components of an ISMS typically include:

  1. Risk Assessment: Identifying and assessing potential risks and vulnerabilities to the organization’s information assets, including data breaches, unauthorized access, and system failures.
  2. Security Policies: Developing comprehensive policies and guidelines that outline the organization’s approach to information security, including acceptable use, data classification, incident response, and access control.
  3. Asset Management: Inventorying and categorizing information assets based on their importance and sensitivity, ensuring proper protection measures are applied accordingly.
  4. Access Control: Implementing controls to manage user access privileges, authentication mechanisms, and authorization processes to ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive information.
  5. Incident Response: Establishing procedures and protocols to detect, respond to, and recover from security incidents, including data breaches, malware attacks, or system compromises.
  6. Business Continuity Planning: Developing strategies to maintain critical business operations during and after a security incident or a disruptive event, ensuring minimal impact on the organization’s functions and services.
  7. Security Awareness and Training: Promoting a culture of security within the organization through regular training programs and awareness campaigns to educate employees about security best practices and their roles in protecting information assets.
  8. Continuous Monitoring and Improvement: Regularly monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of security controls, conducting audits, and implementing improvements to address emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

Commonly recognized standards for implementing an ISMS include ISO/IEC 27001, which provides a globally recognized framework for information security management, and NIST Cybersecurity Framework, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States.


ISMS Scope

Key goals of an ISMS are:

1. Protecting Confidentiality and Integrity:

Companies possess a vast amount of confidential information, including customer data, financial records, proprietary processes, and intellectual property. An ISMS provides a structured framework to identify, classify, and protect this valuable information from unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification. By implementing robust security controls and protocols, an ISMS ensures the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive data, reducing the risk of data breaches, leaks, and unauthorized usage.

2. Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Requirements:

In an era of increasing data privacy regulations, companies face stringent legal obligations to protect customer information and comply with industry-specific standards. Implementing an ISMS assists in meeting these requirements by providing a systematic approach to information security management. Whether it’s the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), an ISMS helps companies establish and maintain a strong security posture, avoiding legal penalties and reputational damage.

3. Mitigating Risks and Vulnerabilities:

Cyber threats and attacks are a constant and evolving concern for businesses of all sizes. An ISMS helps identify potential risks and vulnerabilities within the company’s information systems and infrastructure. By conducting regular risk assessments and implementing appropriate controls, such as firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems, an ISMS minimizes the likelihood of security incidents. It enables proactive monitoring, threat detection, and incident response, ensuring that companies can effectively manage security risks.

4. Enhancing Customer Trust and Competitive Advantage:

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, customers prioritize the security and privacy of their data. By implementing an ISMS, companies demonstrate their commitment to protecting customer information and build trust among their client base. A robust information security framework helps differentiate the organization from its competitors and can be a valuable marketing point, particularly when dealing with sensitive data or operating in industries where security is paramount. Additionally, companies that adhere to international standards such as ISO 27001 gain a competitive edge by showcasing their dedication to best practices in information security management.

5. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery:

Information security incidents can have severe consequences, leading to financial losses, operational disruptions, and damage to the company’s reputation. An ISMS encompasses business continuity planning and disaster recovery strategies to minimize the impact of such incidents. By implementing appropriate backup mechanisms, incident response protocols, and recovery procedures, companies can quickly restore operations and maintain the trust of stakeholders in the event of a security breach or a disruptive event.

An ISMS provides a comprehensive framework to protect sensitive information, comply with legal obligations, mitigate risks, build customer trust, and ensure business continuity. By implementing an ISMS, organizations can safeguard their valuable assets, keep and even enhance their reputation.

The post The Importance of Implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.