Humans are the weakest link in building a robust defense against cyber threats. According to the latest report, 82% of data breach incidents are caused due to the human element. A strict cybersecurity policy can help you protect confidential data and technology infrastructure from cyber threats.
What Is a Cybersecurity Policy?
A cybersecurity policy offers guidelines for employees to access company data and use organizational IT assets in a way to minimize security risks. The policy often includes behavioral and technical instructions for employees to ensure maximum protection from cybersecurity incidents, such as virus infection, ransomware attacks, etc.
Also, a cybersecurity policy can offer countermeasures to limit damage in the event of any security incident.
Here are common examples of security policies:
- Remote access policy – offers guidelines for remote access to an organization’s network
- Access control policy – explains standards for network access, user access, and system software controls
- Data protection policy – provides guidelines for handling confidential data so as to avoid security breaches
- Acceptable use policy – sets standards for using the company’s IT infrastructure
The Purpose of Cybersecurity Policies
The primary purpose of cybersecurity policy is to enforce security standards and procedures to protect company systems, prevent a security breach, and safeguard private networks.
Security Threats Can Harm Business Continuity
Security threats can harm business continuity. In fact, 60% of small businesses become defunct within six months of a cyber attack. And needless to say, data theft can cost a company dearly. According to IBM research, the average cost of a ransomware breach is $4.62m.
So creating security policies has become the need of hours for small businesses to spread awareness and protect data and company devices.
READ MORE: What Is Cybersecurity?
What Should a Cybersecurity Policy Include?
Here are crucial elements you should include in your cybersecurity policy:
The intro section introduces users to the threat landscape your company is navigating. It tells your employees about the danger of data theft, malicious software, and other cyber crimes.
This section explains the purpose of the cybersecurity policy. Why has the company created the cybersecurity policy?
The purposes of the cybersecurity policy often are:
- Protect the company’s data and IT infrastructure
- Defines rules for using the company and personal devices in the office
- Let employees know disciplinary actions for policy violation
In this section, you will explain to whom your policy applies. Is it applicable to remote workers and on-site employees only? Do vendors have to follow the policy?
4. Confidential Data
This section of the policy defines what confidential data is. The company’s IT department comes with a list of items that could be classified as confidential.
5. Company Device Security
Whether mobile devices or computer systems, make sure that you set clear usage guidelines to ensure security. Every system should have good antivirus software to avoid virus infection. And all devices should be password-protected to prevent any unauthorized access.
6. Keeping Emails Secure
Infected emails are a leading cause of ransomware attacks. Therefore, your cybersecurity policy must include guidelines for keeping emails secure. And to spread security awareness, your policy should also have a provision for security training from time to time.
7. Transfer of Data
Your cybersecurity policy must include policies and procedures for transferring data. Ensure that users transfer data only on secure and private networks. And customer information and other essential data should be stored using strong data encryption.
8. Disciplinary Measures
This section outlines the disciplinary process in the event of a violation of the cybersecurity policy. The severity of disciplinary action is established based on the gravity of the violation – It could be from a verbal warning to termination.
Additional Resources for Cybersecurity Policy Templates
There is no one-size-fits-all cybersecurity policy. There are several types of cybersecurity policies for different applications. So you should first understand your threat landscape. And then, prepare a security policy with appropriate security measures.
Steps for Developing a Cybersecurity Policy
The following steps will help you develop a cybersecurity policy quickly:
Set Requirements for Passwords
You should enforce a strong password policy, as weak passwords cause 30% of data breaches. The cybersecurity policy in your company should have guidelines for creating strong passwords, storing passwords safely, and using unique passwords for different accounts.
Also, it should discourage employees from exchanging credentials over instant messengers.
Communicate Email Security Protocol
Email phishing is the leading cause of ransomware attacks. So make sure your security policy explains guidelines for opening email attachments, identifying suspicious emails, and deleting phishing emails.
Train on How to Handle Sensitive Data
Your security policy should clearly explain how to handle sensitive data, which includes:
- How to identify sensitive data
- How to store and share data securely with other team members
- How to delete/destroy data once there is no use for it
Also, your policy should prohibit employees from saving sensitive data on their personal devices.
Set Guidelines for Using Technology Infrastructure
You should set clear guidelines for using the technology infrastructure of your business, such as:
- Employees must scan all removable media before connecting to the company’s systems
- Employees should not connect to the company’s server from personal devices
- Employees should always lock their systems when they’re not around
- Employees should install the latest security updates on computers and mobile devices
- Restrict the use of removable media to avoid malware infection
Make Guidelines for Social Media and Internet Access
Your policy should include what business information employees should not share on social media. Make guidelines for which social media apps should be used/or not used during working hours.
Your security policy should also dictate that employees should always use VPN to access the Internet for an extra security layer.
Without having a good firewall and antivirus software, no system in the company should be allowed to be connected to the Internet.
Make an Incident Response Plan
An incident response plan outlines procedures to follow during a security breach. Steps to create an effective plan include:
- Identification and Reporting: Utilize intrusion detection, employee feedback, and system logs. Establish a clear reporting channel.
- Assess and Prioritize: Categorize incidents based on severity and type, such as data breaches or malware.
- Containment: Implement immediate measures like isolating systems, followed by long-term containment strategies.
- Eradication and Recovery: Determine the root cause, then restore systems using patches or backups.
- Notification: Keep internal teams informed and, if necessary, alert customers or regulators.
- Review and Lessons: Analyze the response post-incident, identifying areas for improvement.
- Continuous Improvement: Train staff on the plan and stay updated on evolving cyber threats.
Update Your Cybersecurity Policy Regularly
Cybersecurity policy is not something carved in stone. The cyber threat landscape is constantly changing, and the latest cybersecurity statistics prove it.
So you should review your cybersecurity policy regularly to check if it has appropriate security measures to address the present security risks and regulatory requirements.
|Reason for Update||Implication|
|Evolving Cyber Threats||New types of threats emerge, and existing ones become more sophisticated.|
|Technological Advancements||As technology evolves, new vulnerabilities may arise, requiring policy adjustments.|
|Regulatory and Compliance Changes||Laws and regulations related to data protection and privacy can change.|
|Organizational Changes||Mergers, acquisitions, or restructuring may necessitate policy revisions.|
|Incident Analysis Feedback||After a security incident, feedback can highlight gaps in the current policy.|
Is there Software for Creating a Cybersecurity Policy?
You don’t need a specialized software program to create a cybersecurity policy. You can use any document creation tool to write a security policy.
You can also download a cybersecurity policy template and customize it according to your needs to save time.
Now that you know what a cybersecurity policy is and how to create one, the next step is preparing a cybersecurity policy for your business and enforcing it.
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- Cybersecurity Terms You Should Know
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- What is a Password Policy and How to Create One
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