ISO/IEC 27040
ISO27k-aligned security awareness service

ISO/IEC 27040 - Information technology - Security techniques - Storage security (FINAL DRAFT)


The proposers of this standard felt that the information security aspects of data storage systems and infrastructures have been neglected due to misconceptions and limited familiarity with the storage technology, or in the case of [some] storage managers and administrators, a limited understanding of the inherent risks or basic security concepts.

As the New Work Item Proposal put it:

    ”Storage has matured in an environment where security has been a secondary concern due to its historical reliance on isolated connectivity, exotic technologies, and physical security of the data centers.  Even as storage connectivity evolved to use technologies like the Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) protocol over TCP/IP, few users took advantage of either the inherent security mechanisms or the recommend security measures (e.g., using IPsec to secure the communications). Consequently stored information is needlessly placed at risk.”

Scope and purpose

The standard will help the purchasers and users of computer storage technologies determine and treat the associated information security risks.  The scope covers the security of devices and media, security of management activities related to the devices and media, applications/services, and end-users, in addition to security of the information being transferred across the communication links associated with storage.

The standard aims to:

  • Draw attention to common information security risks associated with protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information on various data storage technologies;
  • Encourage organizations to improve their protection of stored information using suitable information security controls; and
  • Improve assurance, for example facilitate reviews or audits of the information security controls protecting data storage.

The information security issues associated with backup/disaster recovery locations and cloud storage will be covered, as well as those associated with primary/local storage on a variety of data storage technologies, media and subsystems (e.g. SAN, NAS and CAS).

Media sanitization (destruction of data stored on various types of storage media) will also be covered.

The standard describes information security risks associated with data storage, and controls to mitigate the risks.

The standard is unusually detailed, being over 100 pages long.  It mentions a number of specific storage technologies which is unusual for the ISO27k standards that are usually more generic and hence timeless.

Status of the standard

The standard is at FDIS stage, publication approved.  We’re anxiously awaiting its birth, like expectant fathers.

Personal comments

Proposed changes have strengthened the standard’s applicability for classified systems, an important customer group for the standard but not the only one so I hope the end result remains applicable to general commercial organizations.  I am relieved that resilience is covered in the draft standard - an important information security concept that was barely even hinted-at in ISO/IEC 27002 and deserves more recognition in ISO27k.

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