ISO 27001

What Happens in an ISO 27001 Audit

December 22, 2023

What Happens in an ISO 27001 Audit


Understanding what happens in an ISO 27001 audit is crucial for any organisation seeking to bolster its information security management. 

ISO 27001, a globally recognised standard, provides a framework for managing information security. This article delves into the intricacies of an ISO 27001 audit, guiding you through its phases and highlighting essential aspects to ensure your organisation is well-prepared.

The Importance of ISO 27001

ISO 27001 certification signifies a commitment to maintaining robust information security. In today’s digital age, where data breaches are increasingly common, adhering to ISO 27001 standards is not just about compliance; it’s about protecting your organisation’s and your customers’ sensitive information.

Pre-Audit Preparation

Understanding ISO 27001

Before diving into the audit process, it's vital to understand the ISO 27001 standard. It encompasses various aspects of information security, including risk management, physical and environmental security, and access control.

Conducting a Gap Analysis

A gap analysis is a pre-audit activity to assess your current information security practices against ISO 27001 requirements. 

This step is essential for identifying areas that need improvement before the formal audit.

Preparing Documentation

ISO 27001 requires extensive documentation, including an Information Security Management System (ISMS) policy, a risk treatment plan, and records of training and awareness programmes. 

Ensuring these documents are up-to-date and accessible is crucial for a smooth audit process.

The Audit Process

Stage One: Initial Review

The first stage of an ISO 27001 audit involves a preliminary review of your ISMS documentation. 

The auditor examines the scope of your ISMS, risk assessment procedures, and the overall implementation of the standard within your organisation.

Stage Two: Main Audit

The second stage is more comprehensive, involving an in-depth examination of the ISMS's actual implementation. 

Auditors assess whether your practices align with your documented policies and procedures and whether these are adequate for ISO 27001 compliance.

Interviews and Observations

Auditors conduct interviews with key personnel and observe processes to understand how information security is managed in practice. 

This step is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of your ISMS.

Checking Records and Evidence

Auditors review records and evidence of information security practices. 

This includes examining incident response records, access logs, and evidence of continual improvement.

Non-conformities and Areas for Improvement

If auditors identify any non-conformities, they categorise them as either major or minor. Major non-conformities might delay certification until resolved, while minor ones typically require a plan for correction.

Post-Audit Activities

Corrective Actions

After the audit, your organisation must address any identified non-conformities.

This involves implementing corrective actions and, in some cases, scheduling a follow-up audit to verify these actions.

Continual Improvement

ISO 27001 emphasises continual improvement. Regularly reviewing and updating your ISMS, even after certification, is essential for maintaining compliance and improving your information security posture.

Surveillance Audits

Surveillance audits occur annually after certification. These audits ensure ongoing compliance with the standard and assess the effectiveness of your continual improvement efforts.

Preparing for Success

Training and Awareness

Ensuring that your staff is well-trained and aware of ISO 27001 requirements is crucial. 

Regular training sessions and awareness programmes can significantly streamline the audit process.

Choosing an Accredited Auditor

Selecting an accredited and experienced auditor is vital. An auditor with extensive experience in your industry can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Utilising Technology

Leveraging technology, like compliance management software such as that provided by ISOvA, can aid in maintaining documentation, tracking improvements, and preparing for audits.


An ISO 27001 audit is a comprehensive process that assesses the effectiveness of your information security management. 

By understanding what happens in an ISO 27001 audit and preparing accordingly, your organisation can achieve certification, showcasing its commitment to protecting sensitive information. 

Remember, the journey doesn't end with certification; continual improvement is the key to maintaining robust information security in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

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