ISO/IEC 27032:2012
ISO27k-aligned security awareness service

ISO/IEC 27032:2012  Information technology — Security techniques — Guidelines for cybersecurity

Introduction

Officially, ISO/IEC 27032 addresses “Cybersecurity” or “Cyberspace security”, defined as the “preservation of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information in the Cyberspace”.  In turn “the Cyberspace” (complete with definite article) is defined as “the complex environment resulting from the interaction of people, software and services on the Internet by means of technology devices and networks connected to it, which does not exist in any physical form”.

Scope and purpose

In practice, the standard is about Internet security. 

The standard does not directly address cybersafety (such as cyberbullying), cybercrime, Internet safety, Internet-related crime or protection of critical information infrastructure, although there are oblique references to these aspects.

Structure and content

The main sections are:

  1. Overview
  2. Assets in the Cyberspace
  3. Threats against the security of the Cyberspace
  4. Roles of stakeholders in Cybersecurity
  5. Guidelines for stakeholders
  6. Cybersecurity controls
  7. Framework of information sharing and coordination

Annex A.  Cybersecurity readiness

Annex B.  Additional resources

Annex C.  Examples of related documents

As defined, ‘the Cyberspace’ appears to mean a complex, highly variable or fluid virtual online environment, and hence it is hard to pin-down the associated information security risks.  While a variety of information security risks are connected with ‘the Cyberspace’, many (such as network and system hacking, spyware and malware, cross-site scripting, SQL injection, social engineering, plus information security issues relating to “Web 2.0”, cloud computing and virtualization technologies that typically underpin virtual online environments and applications) could be classed as normal or conventional system, network and application security risks and,  in practice, the standard is largely concerned with information security risks associated with the Internet, rather than ‘the Cyberspace’ per se.  However, since these risks are already pretty well covered by other ISO or ISO/IEC information security standards, either published or under development, it is uncertain what information security risks are truly unique to ‘the Cyberspace’.  Risks to virtual assets belonging players of MMORPGs (‘Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games’) are mentioned in the standard but not directly addressed, for example.  Frequent innovation in the realm of ‘the Cyberspace’ makes it especially tough to set international standards in this area and could itself be classed as an information security risk, albeit one not covered by the standard.

Section 7 of the standard distinguishes threats to personal and organizational assets, which appear to boil down to compromises of privacy/identity and corporate information, respectively: there are of course many information security standards covering both aspects.  [For some obscure reason, section 7 also mentions threats to online governmental services and infrastructure including terrorism, although quite what these have to do with ‘the Cyberspace’ is unclear to me since I am not aware of any governments offering virtual environments or MMORPGs, unless perhaps ‘managing the nation’s economy’ is classed as a game!].

Status of the standard

The standard was approved for publication by a majority vote on SC 27, despite lingering concerns over the title, scope and purpose of the standard.  In particular, the standard primarily concerns Internet security although the poorly-defined and oft-misunderstood term “Cybersecurity” persists. 

It was published in July 2012.

Personal comments

If you are actually using it, or intended to do so but aren’t in fact, I would be fascinated to hear from you about this standard.  What do you make of it?  Is it helpful, worthwhile, useful, valuable?  What are its strengths and weaknesses, from your perspective?  Please contact me directly or start a thread on the ISO27k Forum: your comments may help revise the standard on the next cycle.

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