How to Create a Strong Information Security Policy
When it comes to business IT security, no amount of prevention is ever enough. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Maryland, hackers attack every 39 seconds, on average 2,244 times a day. The increasing prevalence of cybercrimes is forcing business organizations to re-think their security strategies.
To mitigate the risks before they arrive, every organization should invest the time to create a robust information security policy. An information security policy is simply a group of rules and security protocols that are followed in a company to reduce the risk of malicious attacks and breaches.
It is a well-known fact that employee errors like weak and stolen passwords are the number one reason for data breaches globally. An information security policy can help safeguard against this by outlining a set of guidelines and procedures for all users to follow when accessing or using the system.
In this article, we will discuss the most important steps required if a business organization wants to create a strong information security policy, and the key elements it should contain.
Key Elements of a Strong Information Security Policy
The International Standard for Information Security (ISO) document is a good starting point for any organization looking to create a strong information security policy. Every business has different needs and requirements, and ISO 27001 provides a great framework for constructing these unique policies. Following the ISO 27001’s framework and advice, any information security policy should include the following objectives:
- Provides a sound information security direction for the organization.
- Includes information security objectives.
- Explains how an organization will meet its business, contractual, legal, and regulatory requirements.
- Provides a commitment to the continual improvement and revival of the company’s ISMS (Information Security Management System).
Now it is time to peek into the key steps needed to create an effective information security policy.
A key to any business success is leadership commitment. Typically, it is the chief information security officer (CISO) that takes the lead in developing a cybersecurity plan or person that holds that role within the organization. The CISO, CEO, and top executives should be on the same page while crafting an information security policy as they are the ones who can bridge the gap between a company’s business and technological needs.
Identify the Risks
The most crucial step before creating a security policy is creating a baseline of all the available network resources to identify potential risk factors. These threats can include anything from data breaches resulting from poor encryption techniques, circulation of offensive material between employees, or the sharing of user profiles. These risk factors not only contribute to data breaches but they can result in downtime and loss of productivity as well. After identifying the risks, the next step is educating employees on both external cyber threats and how their daily behaviors could potentially compromise the security of the organization.
Do Not Go Overboard with Threat Management
Going overboard with threat management and mitigation techniques sometimes negates the purpose of an information security policy. The extent of security measures taken should always reflect the actual level of perceived threat. As an example, a small start-up advertising agency may not need the same level of stringent security policies as a major health insurance company or a government agency. Also, no matter how loose or strict the policies are, they must be presented in a detailed and well-written document, so it is easier for all staff members to follow.
Creating an information security policy should be a balancing act between the business needs and the need for security. Favoring one over the other can sometimes end in steep costs. As an example, a sales department might need full access to customer information but the need to protect the data from outside threats might negate that access. Eventually, it is up to the organization to come up with a clear consensus regarding its security policies. Debating and collaborating over the policies to achieve a middle ground is healthy during the initial stages of the development process, but any disagreements carried over after the policies are in place can disrupt enforcement.
Any organization concerned about corporate security and data breaches should provide security awareness training to their staff. This step is overlooked quite often and without proper training, employees remain the most significant source of security risk. Training not only presents an opportunity to discuss the practical implications of the policies but also provides employees with a chance to ask questions. It can also bridge any information gaps or reveal inconsistencies. As such, a training protocol should be well-crafted and laid out before the information security policies are finalized. Providing proper training, good password awareness, and digital hygiene among end-users is crucial for maintaining a secure and optimal corporate network.
The Final Steps
After a strong information policy is created and implemented, it should be re-evaluated and updated periodically to reflect changes in infrastructure and security best practices. Things change drastically over time and it is important to review policies at least once a year. Policies can be reviewed for conditions like obsolete rules, temporary exceptions that should be converted to either new rules or simply removed, or rules that can be made more specific or switched over to more stringent requirements.
At times it can get very complex for businesses to manage Information security policies effectively, or review and revise them regularly based on security best practices. Thankfully, there is always the option of hiring an experienced IT provider with team members certified in IT security, such as Outsource IT.
Outsource IT employs only the strongest IT security best practices in our Business IT Security services. Our services can be tailor-made to the needs of each organization we work with, even those with highly sensitive data. Contact an Outsource IT account manager to learn more.