ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Leadership and Commitment – Ultimate Certification Guide

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ISO 27001 Leadership and Commitment

In this ultimate guide to ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Leadership and Commitment you will learn

  • What is ISO 27001 Clause 5.1
  • How to implement ISO 27001 Clause 5.1

I am Stuart Barker, the ISO 27001 Ninja and author of the Ultimate ISO 27001 Toolkit.

With over 30 years industry experience I will show you what’s new, give you ISO 27001 templates, show you examples, do a walkthrough and show you how to implement it for ISO 27001 certification.

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Watch How to implement ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Leadership and Commitment 

What is ISO 27001 Clause 5.1?

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Leadership and Commitment is an ISO 27001 control that requires you to to make sure you have the support and buy in of your leadership team for your information security management system (ISMS).

Leadership and commitment is about having an information security management system (ISMS) that is driven and led from the top.

The focus for this ISO 27001 Clause is ensuring a top down approach. As one of the ISO 27001 controls this is about ensuring you have senior leadership buy in and support.

There are many aspects of ISO 27001 that ISO 27001 templates can help with and indeed there are many ISO 27001 mandatory documents. Leadership and commitment is one area that you will need both the templates and to actually get management and leadership buy in. This is a top down approach. It has to be seen as a top down approach.

There are quite a few elements to this particular ISO 27001 clause so we will work through them.

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ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Purpose

The purpose of ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Leadership and Commitment is to make sure that information security is driven from the top.

Without this level of commitment and drive the information security management is doomed to fail.

Giving this to IT to solve or devolving it to the lower ranks will see people not doing what they should do due to conflicting priorities.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Definition

The ISO 27001 standard defines ISO 27001 clause 5.1 as:

Top management shall demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the information security management system by:
a) ensuring the information security policy and the information security objectives are established and are compatible with the strategic direction of the organisation;
b) ensuring the integration of the information security management system requirements into the organisation’s processes;
c) ensuring that the resources needed for the information security management system are available;
d) communicating the importance of effective information security management and of conforming to the information security management system requirements;
e) ensuring that the information security management system achieves its intended outcome(s);
f) directing and supporting persons to contribute to the effectiveness of the information security
g) promoting continual improvement
h) supporting other relevant management roles to demonstrate their leadership as it applies to their

ISO27001:2022 Clause 5.1 Leadership and Commitment

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Requirement

There are 8 specific requirements when it comes to leadership and commitment. This is a testament to how importantly the standard takes it. Read the implementation guide below to see exactly what they are how to quickly and simply meet the requirements.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Implementation Guide

Let us take a look at each requirement in turn. It seems daunting as there are a lot of words but it is actually really easy and straightforward to do.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 a: Ensuring the information security policy and the information security objectives are established and are compatible with the strategic direction of the organisation

You will write your information security policy and your associated information security policies based on the needs of the business and the risks the business faces. These are defined as part of the process of building your information security management system (ISMS).

We ensure that our information security objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) and for each objective we clearly set out what the measures are. The information security objectives are recorded and communicated in the Information Security Policy and they are included as part of the structured agenda at the Management Review Team meeting for reporting and oversight.

Our company mission and values and who we are are recorded in the Organisation overview.

The Context of Organisation document plays a pivotal role in the creation of our objectives as we look at interested parties, their needs, internal and external issues that may influence the Information Security Management System (ISMS).

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 b: Ensuring the integration of the information security management system requirements into the organisation’s processes

The concept of ‘if it is not written down it does not exist’ plays through ISO 27001 certification. The organisation processes are going to need writing down and formatting in documents with appropriate documentation mark-up and version control.

Stating what we do and not what we think auditors want to hear is key here as we will be audited against what we say we do. If we don’t do what we say we do we will fail.

You will document your processes simply and you will pay attention to having at least one exception step. An exception step caters for the ‘what if’ scenario that the process does not work or go to plan. What if the change fails? What if the software update fails? What if the virus is not quarantined? You get the idea. Auditors will always seek this out and ask. It is a common audit failure where it has not been considered and documented.

Satisfy this by having information security policies in place and then write and align your actual processes to those policies. Don’t forget to document the processes of the in scope products and services. Policies are statements of what we do not how we do it. How we do it is covered in these process documents. The process steps recorded are very specific so that anyone, even someone who has never worked in this area before, can follow them and achieve the same and consistent result.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 c: Ensuring that the resources needed for the information security management system are available

The success of your ISO 27001 implementation and your ISO 27001 certification will hang on having the right resources available, allocated and engaged.

To lead the work you really should consider bringing in some specialist help. The knowledge and experience of someone how has done this many times before will pay dividends and stop you making costly mistakes and wasting a lot of time. If that is not an option for you then getting members of your team trained in ISO 27001 lead implementor or ISO 27001 lead auditor may be a viable option. These courses come with a word of caution though as they are mainly booked based and generic in nature. They do not share the real world trials and tribulations of how you actually implement in your organisation.

Which ever route you go, having a resource to lead the implementation and certification is a requirement.

Then it is a case of understanding the ISO 27001 standard and the ISO 27001 Annex A controls (referred to as ISO 27002) and allocating members of your team to those controls. You do this by recording them in an ISMS Annex A Controls – Accountability Matrix which assigns responsibility for each ISO 27001 Annex A Control.

It is ok that the work is carried out by a third party company but you must still assign internal responsibility for managing it and ensuring it gets done.

Working out who your information security leadership team is will be straightforward and you will implement a Management Review Team that will be responsible for the oversight of the information security management system (ISMS). The best way to work out who attends this is to have a senior representative from each department in the business plus ( if not already covered ) and member of the senior leadership team.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 d: Communicating the importance of effective information security management and of conforming to the information security management system requirements

Communication is expected at all levels, across all medium and has some very specific requirements. It can easily be implemented and evidenced.

It can take many forms. For example it will be part of any legal contracts that you have with suppliers and with clients as well as employees.

You will implement an Information Security Awareness and Training Policy that sets out the training and awareness for the company as well as deploying training tools that allow you to schedule your communications and include acknowledgement of understanding such as tests or quizzes that you can use to evidence your compliance. You will plan your training based on business need and business risk but you will do Basic Information Security Awareness Training and Basic Data Protection Training at least annually. You may tailor your training and communication to specific groups and sub groups based on their specific needs.

You will implement a Communication Plan that sets out the communications for the year across media and approaches. It will be a record and a plan of what was communicated, who communicated it, to whom they communicated it, what they communicated and how they communicated it and it will include the evidence the communication took place.

There may be other processes that involve communication that you will evidence. Here we think about off boarding an employee when they leave or due to termination where we want to communicate again their requirements under contract for information security and the expectations that we place on them.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 e: Ensuring that the information security management system achieves its intended outcomes

The Information Security Management System (ISMS) sets out the objectives. These are managed and reviewed at the Management Review Team meeting which is documented in the document: Information Security Roles Assigned and Responsibilities.

The agenda template covers the requirements of the standard that includes the regular reporting and monitoring of the information security measures we have put in place for our information security objectives. Getting the measures right, and then recording and reporting on them is a primary approach to ensuring intended outcomes.

In addition we have an on going program of internal audit is conducted here our Audit Plan sets out the audit plan for the year. Internal audit is part of continual improvement, a founding principle of ISO 27001 you will implement the Continual Improvement Policy and associated processes. This process utilise the Incident and Corrective Action Log to capture and manage the corrective actions and improvements.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 f: Directing and supporting persons to contribute to the effectiveness of the information security management system

We want people to contribute effectively and the way we do that is via communicating and supporting them. If we don’t tell people what is expected we can not expect them to do it. You will have employment contracts and third party contracts that include coverage of information security requirements.

You will have a Competency Matrix that captures the core competencies and training requirements of staff in relation to information security.

Your Information Security Awareness and Training Policy sets out the training and awareness and your training tool and package is used to manage the process and the compliance.

The Communication Plan sets out the communications for the year across media and approaches as discussed above.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 g: Promoting continual improvement

As discussed continual improvement is baked in and a core principle. This is not a one and done. The external audits will happen every year as will your ongoing internal audits. Incidents will happen that need managing. Deviations from policy and procedure will happen. New ways of working and new tools will be identified.

Your Continual Improvement Policy sets out the continual improvement policy and the Incident and Corrective Action Log captures and manages the corrective actions and improvements.

The Communication Plan sets out the communications for the year across media and approaches and your management review team oversees the entire continual improvement process.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 h: Supporting other relevant management roles to demonstrate their leadership as it applies to their areas of responsibility

You are starting to see a pattern that a small set of documents meets a lot of requirements. This because they have been intentionally written this way to provide the most efficient ISO 27001 implementation approach. The entire ISO 27001 toolkit is streamlined for efficient. For this sub clause the Information Security Roles Assigned and Responsibilities sets out the roles and responsibilities with allocated resource. A Management Review Team should be put in place with representatives from across the business. The Competency Matrix captures the core competencies and training requirements of staff in relation to information security. The Communication Plan sets out the communications for the year across media and approaches.

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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. Not interested in ISO 27001 templates, then you can skip to the next section.

The ISO 27001 Toolkit includes everything you need to demonstrate leadership and commitment, and satisfy the requirements of this clause.

How to pass an audit of ISO 27001:2022 Clause 5.1

To pass an audit of ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 you are going to make sure that you have followed the steps above in the implementation guide.

You are then going to conduct an internal audit, following the How to Conduct an ISO 27001 Internal Audit Guide.

What will the auditor check?

The audit is going to check a number of areas for compliance with Clause 5.1. Lets go through them

1. An interview with senior leadership

Part of the audit process will be a series of interviews and at least one will be with senior leadership. Here they will ask questions about the information security management system. They will ask about the objectives for information security, when they last did a management review, where the policies are, if there are incidents in the last 12 months. This is a general interview but will catch you out if your senior leadership is not actually involved.

2. Your documentation

It is simple but they will check the required documents and processes of the information security management system (ISMS) that relate to leadership and commitment. This usually means the communication plan and communications sent, that management reviews have happened and you can evidence them. That all document and processes have been signed off and communicated. Work through the implementation guide above and be sure to complete it.

3. That you have resources

Part of leading and showing commitment is to have adequate resources in place to run the ISMS. Here they are looking at roles and responsibilities, the competency matrix, the training plan. Are people allocated to roles and do they have the skills to perform the tasks.

Top 3 Mistakes People Make

In my experience, the top 3 mistakes people make for ISO 27001 clause 5.1 are

1. Leadership are not engaged

It is easy to document roles and responsibilities and say leadership is engaged and committed but it is another thing for it to actually happen. If they pay lip service, come the audit and the interviews you will get caught out. Putting aside not having commitment means it is highly likely your ISMS isn’t actually effective and if you are responsible for it you are going to spend most of your career there frustrated.

2. You cannot evidence management reviews

The guides and toolkit give you the resources to address this but many organisations just don’t do reviews. Or when they do the wrong people attend making it ineffective. Be able to evidence management reviews that follow the structured agenda of the standard.

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.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 Summary

Getting this right is important. Without the leadership and the commitment the information security management system will fail. Think about why you are doing it and check that the management agrees. If they do not, or they see it has a burden then you are doomed to fail from the offset. It can be just a tick box exercise, to succeed, it really really should not be.

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 FAQ

What are the ISO 27001:2022 Changes to Clause 5.1?

There are no changes to ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 in the 2022 update.

What is ISO 27001 Clause 5.1?

ISO 27001 is an ISO 27001 Control that requires and organisation’s leadership team to be accountable and demonstrate commitment to information security and the information security management system (ISMS).

Who is responsible for ISO 27001 Clause 5.1?

Responsibility for ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 lies with the Information Security Manager.

Who is accountable for ISO 27001 Clause 5.1?

Accountability for ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 lies with senior management and leadership.

Who owns ISO 27001 Clause 5.1?

Ownership of ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 lies with the Information Security Manager.

What are the benefits of ISO 27001 Clause 5.1?

Improved security: You will have an effective information security management system that is led by senior leadership and their commitment
Reduced risk: You will reduce the risk to your information security management system by having the most senior leadership on board
Improved compliance: Standards and regulations require leadership commitment to be in place
Reputation Protection: In the event of a breach having leadership commitment will reduce the potential for fines and reduce the PR impact of an event

Why is ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 important?

ISO 27001 Clause 5.1 is important because without it your information security management system will fail and you won’t achieve your ISO 27001 certification. It is a simple as that.

ISO 27001 Toolkit Business Edition

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ISO 27001:2022 requirements

Organisational Controls - A5

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.1 Policies for information security

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.2 Information Security Roles and Responsibilities

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.3 Segregation of duties

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.4 Management responsibilities

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.5 Contact with authorities

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.6 Contact with special interest groups

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.7 Threat intelligence – new

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.8 Information security in project management

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.9 Inventory of information and other associated assets – change

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.10 Acceptable use of information and other associated assets – change

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.11 Return of assets

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.11 Return of assets

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.13 Labelling of information

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.14 Information transfer

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.15 Access control

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.16 Identity management

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.17 Authentication information – new

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.18 Access rights – change

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.19 Information security in supplier relationships

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.20 Addressing information security within supplier agreements

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.21 Managing information security in the ICT supply chain – new

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.22 Monitoring, review and change management of supplier services – change

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.23 Information security for use of cloud services – new

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.24 Information security incident management planning and preparation – change

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.25 Assessment and decision on information security events 

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.26 Response to information security incidents

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.27 Learning from information security incidents

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.28 Collection of evidence

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.29 Information security during disruption – change

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.31 Identification of legal, statutory, regulatory and contractual requirements

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.32 Intellectual property rights

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.33 Protection of records

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.34 Privacy and protection of PII

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.35 Independent review of information security

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.36 Compliance with policies and standards for information security

ISO 27001 Annex A 5.37 Documented operating procedures 

Technology Controls - A8

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.1 User Endpoint Devices

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.2 Privileged Access Rights

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.3 Information Access Restriction

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.4 Access To Source Code

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.5 Secure Authentication

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.6 Capacity Management

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.7 Protection Against Malware

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.8 Management of Technical Vulnerabilities

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.9 Configuration Management 

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.10 Information Deletion

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.11 Data Masking

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.12 Data Leakage Prevention

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.13 Information Backup

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.14 Redundancy of Information Processing Facilities

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.15 Logging

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.16 Monitoring Activities

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.17 Clock Synchronisation

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.18 Use of Privileged Utility Programs

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.19 Installation of Software on Operational Systems

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.20 Network Security

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.21 Security of Network Services

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.22 Segregation of Networks

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.23 Web Filtering

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.24 Use of CryptographyISO27001 Annex A 8.25 Secure Development Life Cycle

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.26 Application Security Requirements

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.27 Secure Systems Architecture and Engineering Principles

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.28 Secure Coding

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.29 Security Testing in Development and Acceptance

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.30 Outsourced Development

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.31 Separation of Development, Test and Production Environments

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.32 Change Management

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.33 Test Information

ISO 27001 Annex A 8.34 Protection of information systems during audit testing