Safeguarding Critical Data: Why ISO 27001 Certification Matters (& What You Need to Know)

up close image of hands on keyboard with security symbols superimposed over the image, demonstratinng the concept of cybersecurity, secure assessment tools

Cybersecurity is a pressing concern for digital education. Schools, businesses, and institutions entrusted with safeguarding learning data bear a significant responsibility to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. But inevitably, as educational technology continues to advance, so do the risks associated with cyber threats and data breaches. From unauthorized access to manipulation of assessment results, the potential consequences of inadequate security measures are far-reaching and can undermine the credibility of digital education practices.

If you plan to integrate tools from third-party suppliers into your EdTech ecosystem, the challenge is clear: how do you ensure they meet robust security standards? The ISO 27001 standard provides a comprehensive approach to managing security risks. Organizations that achieve ISO 27001 certification demonstrate a serious commitment to high security and continuous improvement, offering you greater confidence in the tools you choose.

What is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security management systems (ISMS). Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), ISO 27001 provides a comprehensive framework for managing information security risks, encompassing policies, procedures, technical controls, and risk management processes.

In essence, ISO 27001 outlines a systematic approach for managing sensitive information, ensuring its integrity and confidentiality. It covers a wide range of security controls and risk management practices aimed at protecting data from unauthorized breaches. ISO 27001 certification requires an organization’s active commitment to making continuous improvements, with regular audits and reviews driving ongoing enhancements to information security practices.

Why Does ISO Certification Matter? 

Certification in ISO 27001 not only demonstrates a technology supplier’s commitment to best practices but also helps organizations meet regulatory requirements related to information security. Many regulatory frameworks and industry standards reference ISO 27001 as a benchmark for assessing the adequacy of information security controls.

The process for achieving ISO 27001 certification (as OAT has) is complex due to several factors: 

  1. Comprehensive Scope: ISO 27001 is a comprehensive standard that covers a wide range of information security controls. It encompasses everything from organizational governance to technical security measures, including risk assessment, incident management, asset management, access control, business continuity, compliance, and more. This wide scope requires organizations to consider all aspects of their operations.
  2. Risk-Based Approach: ISO 27001 requires organizations to adopt a risk-based approach to information security. This involves identifying and assessing information security risks, then implementing appropriate controls to mitigate those risks. Organizations must demonstrate that they have a systematic process for risk assessment and management.
  3. Documentation Requirements: To comply with ISO 27001, organizations must create and maintain extensive documentation. This includes an Information Security Management System (ISMS), policies, procedures, risk assessments, incident reports, and more. This documentation serves as evidence that the organization is following the standard’s requirements.
  4. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Achieving ISO 27001 certification typically involves collaboration across multiple departments, such as IT, HR, legal, and compliance. This coordination requires strong communication and project management skills to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goal.
  5. Internal Audits and Management Reviews: ISO 27001 requires organizations to conduct internal audits to ensure compliance with the ISMS and regular management reviews to evaluate the system’s effectiveness. These audits and reviews need to be thorough and impartial, requiring a disciplined approach to self-assessment and continuous improvement.
  6. External Certification Audit: To achieve certification, an external auditor (from an accredited certification body) must conduct an audit of the organization’s ISMS. This audit involves a detailed examination of documentation, processes, and practices to ensure compliance with the standard. Organizations must demonstrate that they are following the prescribed processes and controls consistently.
  7. Continuous Improvement: ISO 27001 emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement. Organizations must establish mechanisms to identify and address weaknesses or areas for improvement in their ISMS. This commitment to ongoing improvement means that achieving certification is not a one-time event; it requires a long-term mindset.
  8. Resource and Time Requirements: The process of achieving ISO 27001 certification can be resource-intensive, requiring dedicated personnel, financial investment, and time. Organizations need to allocate the necessary resources to ensure that the process is completed successfully.

Validating Vendor Certification

While any vendor may claim compliance, it’s important to remember that this does not necessarily mean they are ISO certified. There are a few ways to verify an organization’s ISO 2007 certification. 

  • Ask to see the certification document. You can see a copy of OAT’s certificate here.
  • Verify accreditation of the certification body. Common accreditation bodies include UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service), ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board), and JAS-ANZ (Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand).
  • Contact the certification body to verify the validity of the certificate.
  • Examine the scope of certification to understand which parts of the organization’s operations are covered.
  • Check the certificate’s validity period. ISO 2007 certification is typically valid for 3 years.


Image of OAT's ISO/IEC 27001 Certification from the Certification body Prescient Security LLC, IAS, IAS Accredited.
ISO 27001 Certification for Open Assessment Technologies

Should Organizations Consider ISO 27001 Certification?

Achieving ISO 27001 Certification demonstrates an organization’s adherence to best practices in information security management, enhancing its credibility and reputation on a global scale. For educational institutions and businesses handling sensitive data, particularly in the realm of digital education, the assurance provided by ISO 27001 certification is invaluable. Not only does it bolster trust and credibility among stakeholders, but it also strengthens the organization’s resilience against evolving cyber threats. However, it’s important to keep proper planning in mind and consider working with outside experts as obtaining this certification can take significant time and bandwidth. 


In an era defined by digital transformation and increasing cyber threats, safeguarding data is paramount. By prioritizing cyber security and obtaining ISO 27001 Certification, entities can mitigate risks, protect sensitive information, and uphold trust with stakeholders. As custodians of assessment data, organizations must embrace a proactive approach to cyber security, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data remains uncompromised.