ISO27001 Clause 4.1 Understanding The Organisation And Its Context Beginner’s Guide

ISO27001 Clause 4.1 Understanding The Organisation And Its Context Beginner’s Guide

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In this article we lay bare ISO27001 Clause 4.1 Understanding The Organisation And Its Context. Exposing the insider trade secrets, giving you the templates that will save you hours of your life and showing you exactly what you need to do to satisfy it for ISO27001 certification. We show you exactly what changed in the ISO27001:2022 update. I am Stuart Barker the ISO27001 Ninja and this is ISO27001 Clause 4.1

What is ISO27001 Clause 4.1 Understanding the Organisation and its Context?

Starting at the beginning, the ISO27001 Clause 4.1 is a requirement of the ISO27001 standard and is about understanding your internal and external issues that could impact the information security management system.

As a consequence, to achieve ISO27001 certification or to implement ISO27001, you are going to have to meet the needs of this ISO27001 clause.

Internal and external issues is just another way of saying risks.

So the clause is asking you to consider and record what internal and external risks are there to the information security management system.

What could stop your information security management system from being able to achieve its outcomes.

What is the requirement of ISO27001 Clause 4.1?

The ISO27001 Clause 4.1 requirement is to understand your own context and document how it might impact your information security management system. Specifically how it might impact the outcomes of your information security management system.

By and large this is a quick and easy win and it sets out exactly what it wants from you.

The standard wants you to determine what are the internal issues and external issues that you face.

In reality, if you have these written down with the appropriate document mark up a certification auditor is unlikely to dig too deeply.

We created a pre populated downloadable ISO27001 Clause 4.1 template, but more on that later.

What are the ISO27001:2022 Changes to Clause 4.1?

There are no changes to ISO27001 Clause 4.1 in the 2022 update.

What does the ISO27001 standard say about ISO27001 Clause 4.1?

ISO27001 defines ISO27001 clause 4.1 as:

The organisation shall determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that affect its ability to achieve the intended outcome(s) of its information security management system

ISO27001 Clause 4.1

How to write ISO27001 Internal and External Issues

When recording the ISO27001 Internal and External Issues the standard does not say that you should only record the negative. Do not go out of your way to find and report the negative. It may be that you have considered an internal or external issue and that, in fact, for you, it is not an issue. If you write down the issues and then write an explanation, either positive or negative, it will show that you considered it.

If the explanation is positive, it shows that you considered it and some smart ass auditor won’t raise it as a problem thinking they have got one over on you. You can say, yes, we considered it, we documented it and for us, it is not an issue.

If the explanation is negative, in that you do have an issue, then describe the issue and indicate whether or not you have raised a risk in the risk register to address it. It would be expected and good practice for each issue that is an issue, to be in the risk register and managed via risk management.

What are ISO27001 Internal Issues?

When considering internal issues, the following can be a great guide.

  • governance, organizational structure, roles and accountabilities.
  • policies, objectives, and the strategies that are in place to achieve them.
  • capabilities, understood in terms of resources and knowledge (e.g., capital, time, people, processes, systems and technologies).
  • the relationships with and perceptions and values of internal stakeholders.
  • the organization’s culture.
  • information systems, information flows and decision-making processes (both formal and informal).
  • standards, guidelines and models adopted by the organization; and
  • form and extent of contractual relationships.

ISO27001 Clause 4.1 internal issues examples

Internal IssueExample Internal Issue
PeopleInternally there are no resources trained or experienced in the delivery of ISO27001.
TimeThe implementation and management of the information security management system and of the supporting controls requires a significant time investment from key departments and key individuals.
Organisational StructureThe structure of the organisation currently does not fully support the information security management implementation and on-going management. Changes will be required.
TechnologiesThe company uses off the self, standard applications under license.
Availability of reliable, qualified and competent work forceThere is strong competition in the market for resources for x technology.
Company ObjectivesThe company objectives are aligned with the information security objectives.

What are ISO27001 External Issues?

The following is a great guide for what to consider to external issues.

  • the social and cultural, political, legal, regulatory, financial, technological, economic, natural and competitive environment, whether international, national, regional or local.
  • key drivers and trends having impact on the objectives of the organization; and
  • relationships with perceptions and values of external stakeholders.

ISO27001 Clause 4.1 external issues examples

External IssueExample External Issue
Economic Climate[Consider the current economic climate and its impact on the business and the information security management system.] 
Technology Advances[Consider the impact of technology changes on the business and information security management system.]
Competition[Consider the place within the marketplace and the stage and maturity of the business. Consider comparing the information security management system and approach to that of the competition.]
Legislation changes[Consider the impacts of Data Privacy laws, impacts of topics such as Brexit.]
Relationships with external stakeholders[Consider the relationship with external stakeholders positive / negative describing the reporting and structure]

ISO27001 Clause 4.1 Template

The ISO27001 Context Of Organisation template fully satisfies the requirements of ISO27001 Clause 4.1 and is pre written with common examples to fast track your implementation. It quickly and effectively satisfies the needs of the clause.

ISO27001 Context of Organisation-Black

Part of the ISO27001 Templates Toolkit but also available to download individually.

ISO27001 Clause 4.1 FAQ

What are internal and external issues in ISO27001?

You think of internal and external issues as risks. What are the things that you are facing that you need to address. Internal issues could be related to having the staff and the skills to operate ISO27001. External issues could be changes in the law or regulations in your industry. Internal and external issues inform how you build your Information Security Management System (ISMS). You demonstrate that you have considered them when it comes time for the ISO27001 certification audit.

What are examples of ISO27001 Internal Issues?

Examples of ISO27001 internal issues would be people. Do you have the right people to build, implement and run the Information Security Management System. Time would be an internal issue to address, recording if staff have the time to dedicate to the requirements of the standard. Company objectives is another example that you would consider whether your information security management system was, or was not, aligned with the objectives of the company.

What are examples of ISO27001 External Issues?

External issues are risks that come from outside the organisation. Examples of ISO27001 external issues would include changes to the law that may change how you do certain things or put additional requirements on you. Consider the GDPR and the challenges that that brought to business.

Do I need to document ISO27001 internal and external issues?

Yes. It is not enough to know them, you must also document them so that you can evidence that you considered them. It is best practice to share these at the Management Review Team and minute the fact that they were shared and they were signed off and accepted.

ISO27001 Certification Requirements

ISO27001 Certification Requirements set out clause by clause with these complete beginner’s guides that include everything you need to know, what to do and ISO27001 templates.

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