The series provides best practice recommendations on information security management—the management of information risks through information security controls—within the context of an overall Information security management system (ISMS), similar in design to management systems for quality assurance (the ISO 9000 series), environmental protection (the ISO 14000 series) and other management systems.
The series is deliberately broad in scope, covering more than just privacy, confidentiality and IT/technical/cybersecurity issues. It is applicable to organizations of all shapes and sizes. All organizations are encouraged to assess their information risks, then treat them (typically using information security controls) according to their needs, using the guidance and suggestions where relevant. Given the dynamic nature of information risk and security, the ISMS concept incorporates continuous feedback and improvement activities to respond to changes in the threats, vulnerabilities or impacts of incidents.
The ISO/IEC standards are sold directly by ISO, mostly in English, French and Chinese. Sales outlets associated with various national standards bodies also sell directly translated versions in other languages.
Many people and organisations are involved in the development and maintenance of the ISO27K standards. The first standard in this series was ISO/IEC 17799:2000; this was a fast-tracking of the existing British standard BS 7799 part 1:1999 The initial release of BS 7799 was based, in part, on an information security policy manual developed by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1993, what was then the Department of Trade and Industry (United Kingdom) convened a team to review existing practice in information security, with the goal of producing a standards document. In 1995, the BSI Group published the first version of BS 7799. One of the principal authors of BS 7799 recalls that, at the beginning of 1993, "The DTI decided to quickly assemble a group of industry representatives from seven different sectors: Shell ([David Lacey] and Les Riley), BOC Group (Neil Twist), BT (Dennis Willets), Marks & Spencer (Steve Jones), Midland Bank (Richard Hackworth), Nationwide (John Bowles) and Unilever (Rolf Moulton)." David Lacey credits Donn B. Parker as having the "original idea of establishing a set of information security controls", and with producing a document containing a "collection of around a hundred baseline controls" by the late 1980s for "the I-4 Information Security circle which he conceived and founded."
The published ISO27K standards related to "information technology - security techniques" are: