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4 Sep 2020

NBlog Sept 4 - standardising ISMS data interfaces



We've been chatting on the ISO27k Forum lately about using various IT systems to support ISO27k ISMSs. This morning, in response to someone saying that a particular tool which had been recommended did not work for them, Simon Day made the point that "Each organisation trying to implement an ISMS will find it’s own way based on their requirements."

Having surveyed the market for ISMS products recently, I followed-up with my usual blurb about organisations having different information risks and business situations, hence their requirements in this area are bound to differ, and in fact vary dynamically (in part because organisations mature as they gain experience with their ISMS: their needs change). The need for flexibility is why the ISO27k standards are so vague (essentially: figure out your own requirements by identifying and evaluating your information risks using the defined governance structure - the ISMS itself), rather than explicitly demanding particular security controls (as happens with PCI-DSS). ISO27k is designed to apply to any organisation. 

That thought sparked a creative idea that I've been contemplating ever since: wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a standard for the data formats allowing us to migrate easily between IT systems supporting ISO27k ISMSs?

I’m idly thinking about a standard file format with which to specify information risks (threats, vulnerabilities, impacts and probabilities), controls, policies, procedures, metrics, objectives etc. - maybe an XML schema with specified field names and (where applicable) enumerated lists of values.

Aside from migrating between ISMS IT support systems and services, standard data formats would facilitate data sharing between application systems, services or sub-functions (e.g. for vulnerability management, incident management and information risk management), and between departments or even organisations (e.g. insurance companies, auditors and advisors and their clients and partners).

Perhaps we should develop an outline specification and propose such a standard to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC 27. A New Work Item Proposal would need sufficient details to be clear about what is being proposed and why, expanding on the requirement. Researching the topic and generating a basic draft as a starting point would ease the process of developing an ISO27k standard, so that's something else to add to my to-do list. I wonder if there are already XML schemas in this general area?

1 comment:

  1. PS NIST has proposed using OSCAL to specify the control from ISO/IEC 27002 in a machine-readable format. See https://pages.nist.gov/OSCAL/

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