How ISO 27001 contributes to GDPR compliance
Jessica Doering

April 8, 2024



 min reading time

The important purpose of the GDPR

It’s a long-time love affair between GDPR and ISO 27001…

So let's take a closer look at the GDPR and how, together with ISO 27001, it makes an unbeatable team.

What is GDPR?

In short, the GDPR is a regulation. It protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons and in particular their right to the protection of personal data.

The General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on May 25, 2018, replacing the 1995 Data Protection Directive, which was created when the internet was not yet widespread and new technologies had not yet been taken into account. The GDPR  updates these rules to reflect the way data is collected and used today. 

There is a set of rules to protect your personal data. This includes things like your name, address, and email address. The regulation requires companies to get your consent before collecting and using this data. They must also tell you how they plan to use the data and give you the opportunity to change your mind.

The GDPR has the strictest data privacy and security regulations in the world. Although it is an EU regulation, its impact is felt globally, as any cloud-hosted company, regardless of location, must comply with it if they want to do business with EU citizens.

Who is affected by the GDPR?

The regulation applies to any company that processes or intends to process the data of individuals in the European Union. This includes companies based outside the EU if they provide goods or services to people in the EU. This means that all employees of such organizations must be familiar with the requirements of the GDPR.

Requirements of GDPR

Organizations can demonstrate their compliance with the regulation through a variety of means, including:

  • Adopting best practices and following guidance from relevant regulatory bodies and organizations

  • Conducting privacy impact assessments (PIAs) and regularly reviewing and updating privacy policies and procedures

  • Implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data, such as encryption and access controls

  • Providing clear and concise information to individuals about how their personal data is processed and used

  • Keeping records of processing activities and being able to demonstrate compliance upon request from supervisory authorities

By taking these steps, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to protecting personal data and ensure that they are complying with the requirements of the GDPR. While there is no official certification for GDPR compliance, organizations can still take steps to build trust with their customers and stakeholders by demonstrating their commitment to data protection and privacy.

Hold on, there is no certification? Yes, it does, but not a common one. Let's break it down…. 

How can i get GDPR certified? 

Yes, there are certifications related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but there is not yet (!) an official GDPR certification recognized by all European Union (EU) member states. 

This is because the regulation contains various opening clauses that allow individual EU member states to regulate certain aspects of data protection themselves, including at the national level. For this reason, the General Data Protection Regulation is also referred to as a "hybrid" between a directive and a regulation. 

Instead, there are several courses and certifications offered by various organizations and institutions that can give you a good understanding of the regulation and how to comply with it. 

 These courses typically cover topics such as data protection principles, data subjects' rights, the role of data protection officers, and the legal basis for processing personal data.

To be eligible for these certifications, you typically need to have a good understanding of data privacy and information security, and some courses require additional prerequisites, such as previous experience in a related field.

Some approved accreditation bodies include EuroPriSe, TRUSTe, Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 Information Security Management Systems. 

Ultimately, the best way to ensure compliance with the GDPR is to have a thorough understanding of the regulation and implement appropriate data protection measures within your organization.

With GDPR certification, companies can demonstrate to their country's supervisory authority that they have taken technical and organizational measures to meet GDPR obligations.

On the subject of "Still no uniform certification at EU level:

At the national level, regulators are working to develop certification criteria and a certification mechanism based on the International Standard on Assurance Engagements, which was originally intended for auditors and accountants.

Article 42 states that certification of compliance with the GDPR may be carried out either by the competent supervisory authorities, accreditation and certification bodies, or ultimately by the European Data Protection Board (EDPS), which will offer "joint certification".

Note that the certifications offered by these accreditation bodies are not a definitive assessment of compliance with the GDPR. Rather, they help cloud-hosted organizations demonstrate accountability by expending effort and resources to fully comply with the GDPR. In short, they have their affairs in order.

If a personal data breach occurs, the relevant supervisory authority will audit the company and impose fines and penalties for non-compliance. So companies should be GDPR compliant.

ISO 27001 and GDPR  

ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security management and is not directly related to the General Data Protection Regulation.

However, ISO 27001 certification can demonstrate to customers and stakeholders that a company takes information security seriously and has best practices in place to protect sensitive data.

GDPR compliance and ISO 27001 certification will definitely be seen as a competitive advantage, as they demonstrate a commitment to data privacy and information security. 

Implementing the standard can help organizations meet the requirements of the GDPR, such as conducting data protection impact assessments, implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data, and responding to data breaches in a timely manner.

However, it is important to note that while ISO 27001 provides a useful framework for compliance with the GDPR, it is not a substitute for the Regulation's specific requirements and guidance. Organizations still need to fully understand and comply with the specific requirements of the GDPR, as well as relevant national laws and regulations. Organizations should therefore be constantly vigilant and implement and possibly even redevelop appropriate personal data protection measures to fully comply with both the GDPR and ISO 27001.

In the fintech industry, for example, where sensitive financial and personal data is processed and stored, compliance with both ISO 27001 and the GDPR is particularly important. Implementing both standards can help organizations develop a comprehensive and effective approach to protecting sensitive information and ensuring the privacy and security of their customers' data.

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Jessica Doering

Jess is the marketing mind at Secfix. She loves every dog on this planet!

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