ISO 27001 Security Awareness Training Requirements & Best Practices

ISO 27001 security awareness training banner
Sebastian Salla, Chief Executive Officer at CanIPhish
Sebastian Salla July 26, 2023 (Last Updated: September 11, 2023)

Before we delve into the world of security awareness training, let's recap what ISO 27001 is, why it's important, and how you obtain an ISO 27001 certification.

Jump To How Can You Train Employees To Be ISO 27001 Compliant?

What You'll Learn In This Article.

  • Why ISO 27001 is an important information security standard.
  • How you can obtain an ISO 27001 certification.
  • Where security awareness training fits into the ISO 27001 certification process.
  • How to prepare, execute, and continuously improve your security awareness training program.

What Is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 is one of the most popular and widely adopted standards focused on information security. It defines a comprehensive set of controls and best practices, which is called an Information Security Management System (ISMS) once implemented. Organizations use this ISMS to manage and protect their sensitive information.

Numerous industries and governmental entities have embraced ISO 27001 as the prevailing standard for information security management protocols because of how widely used and highly regarded it is.

Why Is ISO 27001 Important?

Every organization has its own unique set of goals. This could be generating as much profit as possible, or it could be delivering a useful service to the community.

Information security is an enabler towards achieving organizational goals. By adhering to the ISO 27001 standard, organizations can demonstrate that they maintain a commitment to information security and provide a level of assurance to customers, partners, investors, and other stakeholders.

An image depicting goals, stakeholders, and legal requirements

The result of this assurance is that it provides a higher level of trust for all stakeholders involved.

How Can You Obtain An ISO 27001 Certification?

The ISO 27001 certification process, like other ISO management system certifications, usually involves a three-stage external audit process.

ISO27001 Stage 1 (Documentation Review)

Stage 1 of the ISMS audit process involves an initial, informal review of the organization's current systems.

This stage includes verifying the presence and completeness of key documentation, such as the organization's information security policies, procedures, and other supporting evidence.

This stage is intended to facilitate mutual understanding between the auditors and the auditee.

An image depicting policies and procedures

ISO27001 Stage 2 Audit (Control Implementation)

Stage 2 is a more detailed and formal compliance audit.

In this stage, auditors are independently testing the ISMS against the requirements that are specified in ISO 27001. The auditors will seek evidence to confirm that the ISMS has been properly designed and implemented and is operating effectively.

If the auditee organization passes this stage, the ISMS will be certified compliant with ISO 27001.

ISO27001 Stage 3 (Control Maintenance)

Once stage 2 is completed, follow-up audits are conducted to ensure that the organization's ISMS complies with the ISO 27001 standard.

While re-certification is usually conducted annually, more frequent audits are common while the ISMS is still maturing. In many cases, it can take up to 3 years before an organization's ISMS is able to mature the adoption of its controls, processes, and procedures.

How Can You Train Employees To Be ISO 27001 Compliant?

Implementing security awareness training is an important aspect of fulfilling the requirements of ISO 27001.

Security awareness training helps to ensure that all employees of an organization understand the importance of information security and their role in ensuring security best practices are followed.

Before blasting out a series of wordy and often overlooked emails about information security, we need to take a step back and consider the audience, the desired outcomes, and the approach that should be taken to achieve the end goal.

With this in mind, here is the 3 step process any organization can follow to implement a security awareness training program for employees that adheres to ISO 27001 domains.

Step 1. Determine The Objective And Scope (Planning)

It's important for employees to understand why security awareness training is important and how it will benefit them.

A good way to do this is to introduce them to the basic concepts of information security. Outline the risks and threats that employees should be aware of and explain the organizational policies and procedures related to information security.

Finally, it's necessary to determine the scope of training, including who needs to be trained, what will be covered, and how frequently training needs to occur.

Step 2. Develop And Deliver Training (Execution)

To ensure employees are engaged, training needs to be relevant to your organization, appropriate to the audience, and leverage engaging features such as videos, presentations, printouts, quizzes, and other forms of micro-learning content.

Well-researched, thought-provoking content that conveys ideas and concepts will stick in learner's minds the longest.

The delivery of security awareness training needs to be consistent and timely. It's key that everyone in the organization is involved to ensure you don't have pockets of people not adhering to policy or are misinformed of organizational best practices.

A reliable strategy is to deliver training assignments via email that link to online training modules. This ensures that learners can access their training from anywhere and complete it at a time that suits them best.

Step 3. Evaluate And Reinforce (Improvement)

Security awareness training should be treated as something other than a one-time event. It's an ongoing and iterative effort that requires progressive refinement as employees mature their knowledge of information security.

Every training should conclude with an assessment, survey, or quiz. The results of these assessments can then be used to gauge the effectiveness of the training that's been delivered.

If employees are taking too many attempts or consistently scoring lowly, it could indicate that the training is too dull or too technical and doesn't explain high-level concepts well enough.

Based on statistics that the team at CanIPhish has gathered, we find that the sweet spot for employee training is monthly to quarterly. By assigning training this frequently, you can divide the overall employee training program into bite-sized pieces. Instead of bulk assigning upwards of 5-10 training modules, you can assign 1 per month.

From an ISO 27001 perspective, you'll need to ensure that employees are well-trained in the following information security topics:

  1. Cyber Security Fundamentals: Providing foundational knowledge that can be built upon by other training modules.
  2. Physical Security: Demonstrating tactics and techniques that can be used to secure the physical working space.
  3. Privacy Awareness: Walking through various privacy-related subject matter, showcasing why privacy is crucial and the impacts that data breaches can have on customer privacy.
  4. Device Security: Explaining how a few easy-to-follow steps can be used to secure devices used in the workplace.
  5. Secure Internet Browsing: Explaining the habits and traits every employee should learn to ensure they can browse the internet safely and securely.
  6. Defence-In-Depth: Walking through the concept of defense-in-depth and how it can be used to protect businesses.
  7. Situational Awareness: Providing a series of practices that employees can incorporate into their daily routine to remain situationally aware of cyber threats.
  8. Insider Threats: How to spot unusual activity from the most common form of attacker. Insiders!!!


Security awareness training not only helps to protect businesses by training employees, but it’s also an essential ingredient in obtaining an ISO 27001 certification.

An image depciting employees who have been trained to be ISO 27001 compliant

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