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ISO/IEC 27040

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ISO/IEC 27040:2015 — Information technology — Security techniques — Storage security



“Provides detailed technical guidance on how organizations may define an appropriate level of risk mitigation by employing a well-proven and consistent approach to the planning, design, documentation and implementation of data storage security.”
[Source: SC27 Standing Document 11 (2021)]


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 is intended to help the purchasers and users of computer storage technologies determine and treat the associated information risks (although unfortunately it doesn’t use that  term as such). 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 describes information risks associated with data storage, and controls to mitigate the risks. It aims to:

  • Draw attention to common risks associated with 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 by facilitating reviews or audits of the information security controls protecting stored data.

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

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

The standard is unusually detailed.  It mentions a number of specific storage technologies which is also unusual for the ISO27k standards that are mostly generic and hence timeless.


Status of the standard

The standard was published in 2015.

A revision project was launched in 2020 with the following aims:

  • Draw attention to the information risks in this area;
  • Help organizations improve security of stored data by enhancing/extending the guidance in ISO/IEC 27002;
  • Support those designing, reviewing and auditing [data] storage security.

The revision project is at Working Draft stage (2nd, 3rd or 4th maybe - the latest one mentions all three!). The draft is about 100 pages. Changes:

  • Scope includes detailed technical requirements;
  • Requirements added to clauses 6 (overview and concepts) and 7 (design and implementation guidelines).

The second edition is due to be published in 2022.


Personal comments

During drafting, the first edition was modified to cover classified systems, an important customer group for the standard, along with general commercial organizations. 

Resilience is covered in the standard - an important information security concept that was barely even hinted-at in ISO/IEC 27002 and deserves more recognition throughout ISO27k.



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