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Monday, 24 March 2008

ISO9001 Quality Management Standard

ISO9001 has become the most widely recognised standard in the world. In the UK the 'Crown and Tick' logo alongside the Certification Body shows that the certificate of registration is valid worldwide.

What is ISO9001?

9001 or more correctly BS EN ISO9001:2000 (in the UK) is a registration scheme where an organisation is assessed against a set of rules; if successful the organisation can use the logo to endorse the management system incorporated in the organisation.

What does ISO9001 cover?

The standard covers all stages of a product (or service) from customer's order through order acceptance, Design and development if appropriate, planning, production or service delivery and quality control checks such as inspection, and control of calibration devices. Also included are the selection of suppliers and purchase of goods, together with control of customer complaints and the measurement of customer satisfaction.

In short, all the activities normally carried out within a well ordered organisation. There is no rocket science involved.

Below is the ISO9001 model which is designed to turn customer enquiries into customer satisfaction:

The information gathered from the processes is fed to top management to allow for continual improvement. In this way the organisation is able to make decisions based on fact and so develop and evolve.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Encryption and ISO27001

What is encryption?

Encryption is a method of scrambling a message or other data so that is cannot be read by an unauthorised person. Sadly it has become too easy to intercept messages and use them for illegal purposes. Encryption protects that data.

A simple encryption might be to use the alphabet In reverse:


'Please reply to this message' becomes KOVZHV IVKOB GL NVHHZV
Unfortunately this code would be broken very easily. A more secure system would use the shift method where the table is used but each letter is shifted to the right by 3 boxes.

'Please reply to this message' Now becomes SOSWVS FSHLE DI DPOE KSEEWQS. This is better but relies on the person receiving the message knowing the key (what method was used). This type of encryption would be broken in second by an experienced cracker.

Modern computers rely on even more secure methods:

The first of these is the SYMMETRIC KEY where the sender and the receiver know the key and the message is decrypted. Anyone else will see a jumble of letters.
The second method is known as PUBLIC KEY, a typical system uses PGP (pretty good privacy) and relies on a public key which is available in the message and a private key which is know to only to the sender and the receiver. Again anyone else will see gibberish.

The third method is known as DIGITAL CERTIFICATE where the certificate acts as a middleman, checking the identity of both the sender and the receiver; if both are genuine the certificate allows the message to be decrypted.

Additionally financial transactions use a secure system know as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) the user will notice that the usual http:// is replaced by https:// and a small padlock is normally present on the web-site to show that SSL is in use. Credit Card transactions use this very secure method of encryption.

The Information Security Standard ISO27001 recommends the user of encryption to protect data.

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