18 July, 2023

What is the ISO 27001 and why it is so important in healthcare: our certification story

18 July, 2023
  • Digital Health

In today's digital age, protecting sensitive data and mitigating cybersecurity risks has become crucial for organisations across all industries. Digital health companies, in particular, deal with vast amounts of sensitive patient data and are responsible for maintaining the privacy and security of this information. Thus, this is where the ISO 27001 certification plays a vital role. 

Even though cybersecurity is of paramount importance to businesses in all industries, companies who deal directly with personal and health data still choose to not apply for the ISO 27001 certification. They claim that the process is expensive, time consuming and since it’s not mandatory, it only serves for marketing purposes. However, accreditation companies label these claims as myths that should be debunked in order to promote a higher cybersecurity standard worldwide. 

knok has always believed that the ISO 27001 certification was a key accomplishment and an official recognition of all our cybersecurity and data protection efforts. As a digital health company, we deal with an extensive amount of first-party data, as well as health data and other confidential information. Therefore, we believe it would be interesting to share our certification story and the importance of ISO 27001 for companies like us.

This article will explore the ISO 27001 certification, the myths and challenges that surround the certification process and its significance for digital health companies.

Understanding ISO 27001 Certification

ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised standard that sets out the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continuously improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS) within an organisation. It provides a systematic approach to managing sensitive information and ensures that the necessary controls are in place to safeguard against security threats.

The ISO 27001 certification is awarded to organisations that demonstrate compliance with the standard's rigorous requirements. Achieving this certification involves undergoing a comprehensive continuous audit process conducted by an accredited certification body. It validates an organisation's commitment to protecting information assets, managing risks, and implementing robust security measures.

ISO 27001 Myths

Although this certification is of maximum value for companies in several industries, less than 60,000 companies were officially certified in 2021, according to AFNOR Groupe. This may be due to the myths and challenges that surround the achievement of this certification. Based on our process to obtain the certification, we can definitely share some of the myths and real challenges when it comes to applying for ISO 27001.

Myth: High costs

One of the primary deterrents is the cost associated with the certification process. For organisations with underdeveloped security standards, the certification process could mean the need to purchase new IT systems and equipment. However, for companies who are already following rigorous cybersecurity standards, the ISO 27001 certification occurs more smoothly, with costs related to audits and improvements. In the meantime, accreditation companies also claim that those who are certified also see a cost reduction related to security incidents and interruptions in service.

Myth: Time-consuming 

Another major obstacle is the time and effort required to achieve ISO 27001 compliance. The certification process involves several stages, including gap analysis, risk assessment, policy development, staff training, and ongoing audits. This time-consuming process can take several months, diverting resources and attention from the business workload. 

However, companies who apply for the certification with a good definition of staff roles and a well-structured cybersecurity system avoid spending time in building a new security infrastructure and diverting staff attention from key business tasks. In this case, obtaining the ISO 27001 certification is more optimised in terms of time consumption, since companies are only adapting processes that are already in place.

Challenge: Maintaining compliance 

Moreover, ISO 27001 regulations are subject to frequent updates and changes to adapt to the evolving threat landscape and technology advancements. Maintaining compliance with the latest requirements can be a challenge, as it demands continuous monitoring and improvements to their ISMS. This can place a strain on internal resources for companies that lack dedicated cybersecurity personnel or expertise.

This scenario can become a real issue for companies that are not investing in ongoing strategies to maintain compliance to ISO 27001 regulations. These strategies may include hiring in-house IT professionals or consulting companies specialised in cybersecurity to perform internal audits, implementing company-wide training and keeping documentation up to date. Therefore, maintaining compliance to ISO 27001 regulations must be seen as an ongoing task even after the certification is obtained.

In conclusion, the ISO 27001 certification is of indisputable value, being held by several Fortune 500 companies. However the time-consuming and high costs myths combined with the optional claim may be impacting the motivation of some organisations to obtain the official certificate. This only reiterates the commitment of certified companies, who invested in specialised staff to make the certification process more optimised and efficient and are actively investing in compliance. 

Importance for Digital Health Companies

Compliance with Data Protection Regulations

Digital health companies handle a vast array of sensitive health data, including personal information, electronic health records (EHRs), and other confidential data. Compliance with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the United States’ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is mandatory for these companies. Moreover, ISO 27001 certification provides a framework that aligns with these regulations, ensuring that the organisation's data protection practices are in line with legal requirements.

Mitigating Cybersecurity Risks

The healthcare industry has become a prime target for cyberattacks due to the high value of patient data and the potential consequences of breaches. Therefore, implementing the ISO 27001 standard helps these companies identify and assess vulnerabilities, implement appropriate security controls, and establish incident response procedures. By addressing these risks proactively, organisations can significantly reduce the likelihood and impact of cybersecurity incidents.

Building Trust and Confidence

For digital health companies, maintaining the trust and confidence of patients, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders is of paramount importance. Achieving ISO 27001 certification demonstrates a commitment to information security and provides an official validation of the company's practices. It instils confidence in customers, partners, and regulators, showcasing the organisation's dedication to protecting sensitive data and mitigating risks. The certification can serve as a competitive differentiator, giving digital health companies a significant advantage in the market.


1. Does every digital health company need ISO 27001 certification?

While ISO 27001 certification is not mandatory for all digital health companies, it is highly recommended. It helps organisations establish robust information security practices and comply with data protection regulations.

2. How long does it take to achieve ISO 27001 certification?

The duration of ISO 27001 certification depends on various factors, such as the size and complexity of the organisation and its existing security practices. It typically takes several months to a year to implement the necessary controls and undergo the certification process.

3. Is ISO 27001 certification a one-time achievement?

No, ISO 27001 certification requires ongoing efforts to maintain compliance. Organisations must continuously review and improve their information security practices to meet the standard's requirements and address emerging threats.

4. Can ISO 27001 certification prevent all cybersecurity incidents?

While ISO 27001 certification significantly reduces the risk of cybersecurity incidents, it cannot guarantee complete prevention. It provides a framework to identify and address risks, but organisations must remain vigilant and adapt to evolving threats.

knok’s commitment to cybersecurity

In conclusion, ISO 27001 certification holds immense value for digital health companies. It provides a comprehensive framework for managing information security risks, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations, and building trust with stakeholders. By obtaining the ISO 27001 certification, digital health companies can demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding sensitive data, mitigating cybersecurity risks, and enhancing the overall security posture of their organisation.

knok, as a market leader in the digital health industry, has always been committed to ensuring data security and protection against potential breaches or attacks. Therefore, we always knew that the ISO 27001 certification was of paramount importance for us as a digital health company and for all our clients. After months of dedication in order to obtain an official information security management certification, we are proud of being ISO 27001 certified since July 2023. However, our work does not end there. We now have the responsibility of continuously developing our cybersecurity protocols and standards in order to keep our compliance to the ISO 27001 certification and increase our transparency and trust with our clients and stakeholders. 


1. Cybersecurity: ISO 27001 recognized as an essential standard, AFNOR 2023.

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