Under Article 47 in the “Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection”, the Korean government introduced the Korea-Information Security Management System (K-ISMS). A country-specific ISMS framework, it defines a stringent set of control requirements designed to help ensure that organizations in Korea consistently and securely protect their information assets.
To obtain the certification, a company must undergo an assessment by an independent auditor that covers both information security management and security countermeasures. It covers 104 criteria including 12 control items in 5 sectors for information security management, and 92 control items in 13 sectors for information security countermeasures. Some of these criteria include examination of the organization’s security management responsibilities, security policies, security training, incident response, risk management, and more. A special committee examines the results of the audit and grants the certification.
The K-ISMS framework is built on successful information security strategies and policies. It also accounts for security countermeasures and threat response procedures to minimize the impact of security breaches. These procedures have a significant overlap with ISO/IEC 27001 control objectives but are not identical. K-ISMS provides a more detailed investigation against requirements than a general ISO/IEC 27001 assessment.
Under the supervision of the Korean Ministry of Science and Information Technology (MSIT), the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) is the K-ISMS certifying authority. Certification is valid for three years, and certified entities must pass an annual audit to maintain it.
ISMS-P certification system
In November 2018, the MSIT, Korea Communications Commission, and Ministry of the Interior and Safety merged the K-ISMS and the Korea-Personal Information Management System (K-PIMS) into a new certification system, Personal Information and Information Security Management System (ISMS-P).
The integration of these two systems reflects the recent trends in the integration of information security and the protection of personal information. The goal was both to strengthen the links between these systems and to reduce the compliance burden on organizations due to the considerable overlap of requirements. Instead of 104 K-ISMS controls and 82 K-PIMS controls, the new consolidated certification has 80 controls related to information security and 22 controls related to the protection of personal information.
Azure and K-ISMS
Based on a rigorous evaluation by KISA, Microsoft Azure achieved the K-ISMS certification based on the new ISMS-P certification system. This certification applies to the datacenter infrastructure of the Microsoft Korea Central and Korea South regions. It covers Azure services that encompass compute, storage, networking, databases, and security. The specifications for K-ISMS certification are based on ISO/IEC 27001, ISO/IEC 27018, and other international standards that govern information security.
Achieving the K-ISMS certification means that Azure customers in Korea can more easily demonstrate adherence to local legal requirements to protect key digital information assets and meet KISA compliance standards. Moreover, Korean organizations that have a legislated mandate to obtain their own K-ISMS certification — certain internet and information network service providers, large hospitals and schools, and so on — can more efficiently meet their own K-ISMS compliance requirements by building on the Azure certification.
The audit covered the measures Microsoft takes to secure data and protect its confidentiality including:
- Certification of Microsoft business cloud services according to ISO/IEC 27001.
- High level of privacy protection based on Microsoft compliance with ISO/IEC 27018.
- Layered approach in how Microsoft datacenters are designed, built, and operated to enable strict control of physical access to the areas where customer data is stored.
Services in scope
For a list of Microsoft cloud services in audit scope, see the Azure K-ISMS certificate or Cloud services in audit scope:
The Azure K-ISMS certification covers 80 controls for information security based on the new ISMS-P certification system. It is effective for three years from the certification date with an annual reassessment by KISA, the certifying body.
- Azure K-ISMS certification (Korean)
Frequently asked questions
Who must obtain the K-ISMS certification? There are voluntary and compulsory subjects. Voluntary subjects, like Microsoft, apply for K-ISMS certification if they wish. However, KISA mandates certification for compulsory subjects that include:
- Internet service providers that are authorized by Article 6, Section 1 of the Telecommunication Business Act and provide information network services in Seoul and all metropolitan areas.
- Internet datacenters designated as an “integrated information and communication facilities” by Article 46 in the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection.
- Any organization that meets these conditions:
- Hospitals categorized as a “higher general hospital” in Article 3, Section 4 of the Medical Service Act whose annual sales or tax revenue is at least $150 million (USD).
- Schools, per Article 2 in the Higher Education Act, where the number of enrolled students is at least 10,000 as of December 31 of the immediately preceding year.
- Information network service providers whose sales of information and communication services are at least $10 million (USD) or an average of at least 1 million users per day in the previous three months; excluding, however, a financial company under subparagraph 3 of Article 2 of the Electronic Financial Transactions Act.
How does the integration of the K-ISMS and K-PIMS impact the Microsoft certification? Cloud service providers such as Microsoft can apply for an audit under the new ISMS-P certification system. Organizations can apply for the K-ISMS certification based on the 80 controls for information security, or they can apply for the ISMS-P by complying with the 22 additional requirements for personal information protection. Microsoft's latest K-ISMS certification covers 80 controls for information security based on the new ISMS-P certification system.