What is a Cybersecurity Policy and How to Create One

cybersecurity policy

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?

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

What Should a Cybersecurity Policy Include?

Here are crucial elements you should include in your cybersecurity policy:

1. Intro

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.

2. Purpose

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

3. Scope

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

cybersecurity policy

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.

You can use a cyber security policy template to save time while creating a security policy. You can download a cybersecurity policy templates form herehere, and here.

Steps for Developing a Cybersecurity Policy

The following steps will help you develop a cybersecurity policy quickly:

Set Requirements for Passwords

cybersecurity policy

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

cybersecurity policy

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.

Integrating Cybersecurity Awareness and Culture

To further strengthen your cybersecurity policy, consider adding sections that emphasize the development of a cybersecurity-aware culture within your organization:

Building a Cybersecurity-Aware Culture

  • Cybersecurity Awareness Training: Regular training sessions for employees to keep them updated on the latest cyber threats and preventive measures.
  • Simulated Cyber Attack Exercises: Conducting mock drills or simulated attacks to assess and improve the response capabilities of employees and the organization.
  • Promoting a Security-First Mindset: Encouraging employees to adopt a security-first approach in their daily tasks and decision-making processes.

Advanced Threat Detection and Reporting

  • Threat Intelligence Sharing: Establishing a system for sharing information about emerging cyber threats within the organization.
  • Incident Reporting Protocols: Detailed guidelines for reporting suspected security incidents or breaches, ensuring prompt and effective action.

Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) Integration

  • Security in SDLC: Incorporating security considerations at every stage of software development to minimize vulnerabilities in company-developed applications.

Cybersecurity Policy Positioning within Organizational Hierarchy

  • Policy Enforcement by Leadership: Ensuring top management’s commitment to enforcing cybersecurity policies and procedures.
  • Cybersecurity Champions Program: Designating cybersecurity champions across departments to promote compliance and awareness.

Vendor and Third-Party Security Management

  • Third-Party Security Standards: Guidelines for assessing and managing the security postures of vendors and business partners.
  • Regular Security Audits of Vendors: Mandating periodic security audits for third-party vendors to ensure compliance with your cybersecurity standards.

Compliance with Global Cybersecurity Standards

  • Adherence to International Standards: Aligning the cybersecurity policy with global standards such as ISO/IEC 27001.
  • Regular Compliance Reviews: Schedule regular reviews to ensure the policy remains compliant with international and local cybersecurity regulations.

Enhancing Data Privacy Measures

  • Data Privacy Compliance: Incorporating elements of data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA into the cybersecurity policy.
  • Employee Data Privacy Training: Educating employees about data privacy best practices and legal obligations.

Continuous Improvement and Adaptation

  • Feedback Mechanism: Establishing a feedback mechanism to continuously improve cybersecurity measures based on employee suggestions and industry developments.
  • Adaptation to Technological Advancements: Updating the policy to address new technologies and cybersecurity innovations.

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 UpdateImplication
Evolving Cyber ThreatsNew types of threats emerge, and existing ones become more sophisticated.
Technological AdvancementsAs technology evolves, new vulnerabilities may arise, requiring policy adjustments.
Regulatory and Compliance ChangesLaws and regulations related to data protection and privacy can change.
Organizational ChangesMergers, acquisitions, or restructuring may necessitate policy revisions.
Incident Analysis FeedbackAfter a security incident, feedback can highlight gaps in the current policy.

The Purpose of Cybersecurity Policies

cybersecurity policy

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?

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.

Cybersecurity Policy Key Points

Cybersecurity is a critical aspect of modern business, essential for protecting sensitive data and maintaining customer trust. A well-crafted cybersecurity policy is not merely a set of guidelines; it’s a comprehensive framework that safeguards your business against the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

This policy should be a living document, continuously updated to reflect the latest in threat intelligence, technology advancements, and regulatory changes.

In developing your cybersecurity policy, it’s important to encompass various aspects including data protection, employee conduct, incident response, and regular updates.

By integrating advanced threat detection, promoting a security-aware culture, and ensuring compliance with global standards, your policy becomes a robust shield against potential cyber attacks.

The inclusion of training programs, simulated cyber attack exercises, and a clear incident reporting protocol empowers your employees to be proactive participants in your cybersecurity efforts.

Moreover, extending these practices to encompass vendor and third-party management further fortifies your defense perimeter.

Your cybersecurity policy should also align with international data privacy regulations, ensuring legal compliance while enhancing customer trust. The introduction of feedback mechanisms and adaptation clauses ensures that the policy evolves in line with technological advancements and emerging threats.

Next Steps: Implementing and Enforcing Your Cybersecurity Policy

With a comprehensive understanding of what a cybersecurity policy entails and the steps to create one, the next phase involves its implementation and enforcement within your business. This process includes:

  1. Policy Distribution and Training: Ensure that all employees, from the executive level to the operational staff, are familiar with the policy. Conduct training sessions to explain the policy’s nuances and importance.
  2. Regular Audits and Compliance Checks: Schedule periodic audits to ensure that all aspects of the policy are being followed. Address any compliance issues immediately.
  3. Feedback and Continuous Improvement: Encourage employees to provide feedback on the policy’s effectiveness and suggest improvements. This collaborative approach ensures that the policy remains relevant and effective.
  4. Technology and Tools Alignment: Equip your IT infrastructure with the necessary tools and technology to enforce the policy. This may include cybersecurity software, intrusion detection systems, and encryption tools.
  5. Incident Response Preparedness: Regularly test and update your incident response plan. Ensure that all employees know their roles and responsibilities in the event of a cybersecurity incident.
  6. Policy Review and Update: Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field. Regularly review and update your policy to incorporate new threats, technological advancements, and changes in legal requirements.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your cybersecurity policy not only exists as a document but as an active, dynamic framework integral to your business’s daily operations.

This approach positions your business to effectively counter cyber threats, safeguard your digital assets, and uphold the trust of your customers and stakeholders in an increasingly digital world.



Image: Envato Elements

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Sandeep Babu Sandeep Babu is a cybersecurity writer. He writes about malware, data security, privacy, and other cybersecurity topics for SBT and other reputed platforms.