ISO 27001 Physical Security Perimeters

The focus for this ISO 27001 Control is your physical security perimeter. As one of the ISO 27001 controls this is about stopping people that you don’t want to gain entry from gaining entry.

You will learn what the ISO 27001 control 7.1 is, how to simply and easily implement it for ISO 27001 certification and I will show you some common gotchas so you can avoid them.

What is ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security Perimeters?

ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security Perimeters is an ISO 27001 control that requires an organisation to have a physical security perimeter to protect offices and processing facilities.

ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Purpose

The purpose of Annex A 7.1, as a preventive control, is to ensure physical security is in place to stop people you don’t want to allow from gaining physical access to property and assets.

ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Definition

The ISO 27001 standard defines Annex A 7.1 as:

To prevent unauthorised physical access, damage and interference to the organisations information and other associated assets.

ISO 27001:2022 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security Perimeters

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ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security Perimeters Implementation Guide

General Guidance

You are going to have to

  • define your physical security requirements based on business need and risk
  • implement a topic specific Physical and Environmental Security Policy
  • have a physical security perimeter for any physical location that processes information
  • consider the floor, walls, ceiling and external roof and having a solid construction
  • have external doors that have locks
  • have alarms and monitors
  • have an intruder response process
  • meet all laws and regulations including those for fire and health and safety

Health and Safety

Your number one priority is to meet the requirements of law and regulation. Be sure to engage with a legal professional to understand what you can and cannot do and to check that you are not breaking any laws. The most significant laws are those around health and safety as the protection of human life and wellbeing is always our number priority. There are common things that should be considered such as fire suppression, fire doors, fire alarms, doors that fail open. Whilst we want to protect buildings and information our absolute priority is to protect people.

Define physical security requirements

The standard is vague as it refers to information processing facilities which implies data centres and offices but you will find that home working / remote working is often covered by the auditor for this clause. Either way you start by defining the your requirements. This is going to be based on the needs of the business and the risks that you are managing. As a starting point there are basics such as having locks on doors but you can asses the strength of those locks and if other additional controls such as bio metrics or gates are required. Do what is right for you. Consider the environment around the location and the threats that may be posed and be sensible in addressing them.

Topic specific physical and environmental security policy

To communicate to people what you do and what is expected you are going to write, sign off, implement and communicate your topic specific Physical and Environmental Security Policy.

Alarms and Monitors

When looking at alarms and monitors you are looking at a preventive control to alert you when something has occurred. We all know what alarms are and getting alarms fitted is a very good idea. You want to define your response process and make sure that contacts of who is informed is up to date. Who is getting that call at 2am in the morning and what are they going to do when they get it?

CCTV

You can consider the use of CCTV but be aware that comes with some additional overheads with laws on data protection and the likes of GDPR. You should seek some legal advice before installing CCTV and be sure to do it in a way that is compliant if it is something that you do want to do. There are considerations such as how, how long, where, in what format you store the recordings. Then how do you get access to it, who can get access to it and how do you destroy it. It is not as simple as just banging up a Ring camera.

Secure Areas

The standard gives the guidance that a secure area can be an office that is locked or some internal area that has an internal security barrier. It takes into account that your physical locations maybe internal sub divided based on protection requirements. Usually this is implemented when you have a file room, an archive room, or a room where you store old IT equipment. On premises data centres and data rooms fall into this category as well but in this day and age they are few and far between with most people adopting a cloud based strategy.

ISO 27001 Templates

ISO 27001 templates have the advantage of being a massive boost that can save time and money so before we get into the implementation guide we consider these pre written templates that will sky rocket your implementation. For Annex A 7.1 you need a topic specific Physical and Environmental Security Policy Template. In addition, you could save months of effort with the ISO 27001 toolkit that take 25 years of experience and distill it in a pack of prewritten best practice awesomeness so you can DIY your ISO 27001 certification. Not interested in ISO 27001 templates, then you can skip to the next section.

How to comply with ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1

To comply with ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 you are going to implement the ‘how’ to the ‘what’ the control is expecting. In short measure you are going to

  • Define your external physical perimeter requirements
  • Define your internal sub zone physical perimeter requirements
  • Consult with a legal professional to ensure you are meeting legal and regulatory requirements
  • Implement your physical security perimeters
  • Write, sign off, implement and communicate your topic specific Physical and Environmental Security Policy
  • Write, sign off, implement and communicate your perimeter incident response procedures
  • Implement a process of internal audit that checks that the appropriate controls are in place and effective and where they are not follow the continual improvement process to address the risks

How to pass an audit of ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1

To pass an audit of ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 you are going to make sure that you have followed the steps above in how to comply.

You are going to do that by first conducting an internal audit, following the How to Conduct an ISO 27001 Internal Audit Guide.

What will an audit check?

The audit is going to check a number of areas. Lets go through them

1. That you have a physical security perimeter

One of the easier things for an auditor to check is the physical security perimeter as it is usually the first thing they will encounter when they come to audit you if you have a physical location. For all the physical locations in scope they are going to visit and check.

2. The strength of the physical security perimeter

They have been doing this a long time and done many audits so they know what to look for. They will test the controls and see what happens. They will try to open doors, open cupboards, gain access to areas they should not.

3. Documentation

They are going to look at audit trails and all your documentation. They will look at appropriate access reviews, logs of monitors and reports, incidents and how you managed them.

Top 3 Mistakes People Make for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1

The top 3 mistakes people make for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 are

1. Your physical security perimeter is turned off

What do I mean by turned off? In simple terms it means that you have a lockable door that should be locked and it not locked. You have a fire door that should be closed and locked but you have propped it open because it is a hot day.

2. One or more members of your team haven’t done what they should have done

Prior to the audit check that all members of the team have done what they should have. Have access reviews taken place? Who gets informed about about the alarm and do they still work here?

3. Your document and version control is wrong

Keeping your document version control up to date, making sure that version numbers match where used, having a review evidenced in the last 12 months, having documents that have no comments in are all good practices.

Why is a Physical Security Perimeter Important?

A physical security permitter is a first line of defence, common sense and dare I say a no brainer. Think of your own house. Would you leave the door open, or unlocked when you are out? Even when you are in, to be fair. It’s a cruel world out there and not everyone has your best intention at heart. If you have something of value, be it physical or virtual, someone, somewhere wants it. That value you place on it will dictate the level of control you put in place.

ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 FAQ

What policies do I need for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security Perimeters

You will need the ISO 27001 Physical and Environmental Security Policy

What is an example of Physical Security Perimeters?

Examples include:
doors
gates
windows
locks
bio metrics
fences
walls

Are there free templates for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security Perimeters?

There are templates for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 located in the ISO 27001 Toolkit

ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 sample PDF?

ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security PerimetersSample PDFs can be found in the ISO 27001 Toolkit

Do I have to satisfy ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 for ISO 27001 Certification?

If you have a physical location, office or processing facility, then yes.

Can I write polices for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.2 myself?

Yes. You can write the policies for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 yourself. You will need a copy of the standard and approximately 8 hours to do it. It would be advantageous to have a background in information security management systems. Alternatively you can download them the ISO 27001 Physical and Environmental Security Policy

Where can I get templates for ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1?

The main template you need is the Physical and Environmental Security Policy

How hard is ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1?

ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 is not particularly hard as it is mainly common sense. As long as you consult with a legal professional on what you are doing to ensure you are not break any laws or regulations you will be fine. Physical security has been around a long time.

How long will ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 take me?

To write the Physical and Environmental Security Policy will take about 8 hours. To implement the controls will depend on what you re doing and what you are implementing. It can take from a few hours to a few months depending on how many locations you have and the level of security that you are implementing.

How much will ISO 27001 Annex A 7.1 Physical Security Perimeters cost me?

The Physical and Environmental Security Policy will cost you 8 hours to write yourself or less than £10 to buy. The cost to the controls will depend on what controls you implement and where you buy them.

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Matrix of ISO 27001 controls and attribute values

Control typeInformation
security properties
Cybersecurity
concepts
Operational
capabilities
Security domains
Preventive
Confidentiality
Integrity
Availability
ProtectPhysical_securityProtection