Humans are the weakest link in building a strong defense against cyber threats. According to the latest report, 82% of data breach incidents are due to the human element. A strict cybersecurity policy can help you protect sensitive data and technology infrastructure from cyber threats.
What is a cyber security policy?
A cybersecurity policy provides guidelines for employees to access company data and use the organization’s IT assets in ways that minimize security risks. The policy often includes behavioral and technical instructions for employees to ensure maximum protection against cyber security incidents such as virus infections, ransomware attacks, etc.
Additionally, a cybersecurity policy can provide countermeasures to limit damage in the event of any security incident.
Here are common examples of security policies:
- Remote Access Policy – provides guidelines for remote access to an organization’s network
- Access Control Policy – explains the standards for network access, user access, and system software controls
- Data Protection Policy – provides guidelines for handling confidential data to avoid security breaches
- Acceptable Use Policy – establishes standards for the use of the company’s IT infrastructure
The purpose of cyber security policies
The primary purpose of the 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 disappear within six months of a cyberattack. And it goes without saying that data theft can cost a company dearly. According to IBM research, the average cost of a ransomware breach is $4.62 million.
Therefore, creating security policies has become the need of the hour for small businesses to spread awareness and protect company data and devices.
READ MORE: What is cyber security?
What should a cyber security policy include?
Here are the crucial elements you should include in your cybersecurity policy:
The introduction section introduces users to the threat landscape your company navigates. Educate your employees about the danger of data theft, malware and other cyber crimes.
This section explains the purpose of the cyber security policy. Why has the company created the cyber security policy?
Cybersecurity policy goals are often:
- Protect your company’s data and IT infrastructure
- Set rules for using company and personal devices in the office
- Inform employees of disciplinary action for policy violations
In this section, you will explain who your policy applies to. Does it only apply to remote workers and on-site employees? Do sellers have to follow the policy?
4. Confidential data
This section of the policy defines what confidential data is. The company’s IT department includes a list of items that could be classified as confidential.
5. Security of company devices
Whether it’s mobile devices or computer systems, be sure to establish clear usage guidelines to ensure security. Every system should have good antivirus software to prevent virus infection. And all devices should be password protected to prevent any unauthorized access.
6. Keep emails secure
Infected emails are one of the main causes of ransomware attacks. Therefore, your cybersecurity policy should 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. Data transfer
Your cybersecurity policy should include policies and procedures for transferring data. Ensure that users only transfer data to private and secure networks. And customer information and other essential data must be stored using strong data encryption.
8. Disciplinary Measures
This section describes the disciplinary process in the event of a breach of the Cyber Security Policy. The severity of the disciplinary action is established based on the seriousness of the infraction – It can range 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. Therefore, you should first understand your threat landscape. And then, draw up 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 form of cyber security policy templates here, here and here.
Steps to developing a cybersecurity policy
The following steps will help you quickly develop a cybersecurity policy:
Set requirements for passwords
You should implement a strong password policy, as weak passwords cause 30% of data breaches. Your company’s cybersecurity policy should have guidelines for creating strong passwords, storing passwords securely, and using unique passwords for different accounts.
It should also discourage employees from exchanging credentials via instant messaging.
Communication 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.
Training on how to handle sensitive data
Your security policy should clearly explain how to handle sensitive data, including:
- How to identify sensitive data
- How to securely store and share data with other team members
- How to delete/destroy data once it’s no longer useful
Additionally, your policy should prohibit employees from saving sensitive data on their personal devices.
Establish guidelines for the use of the technological infrastructure
You should establish clear guidelines for using your company’s technology infrastructure, such as:
- Employees must scan all removable media before connecting to company systems
- Employees should not connect to the company server from personal devices
- Employees should always lock their systems when they are away
- Employees should install the latest security updates on computers and mobile devices
- Restrict the use of removable media to prevent 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 work hours.
Your security policy should also state that employees should always use VPNs to access the Internet for an extra layer of security.
Without a good firewall and antivirus software, no company system should be able to connect to the Internet.
Make an incident response plan
A cybersecurity policy should let your employees know about the appropriate security controls to mitigate security risks.
All employees must be clear about their roles to maintain a strong defense against cyber attacks.
Update your cybersecurity policy regularly
Cybersecurity policy is not set in stone. The cyber threat landscape is constantly changing, and the latest cybersecurity statistics prove it.
Therefore, you should review your cybersecurity policy periodically to check whether it has adequate security measures in place to address current security risks and regulatory requirements.
Is there software to create a cybersecurity policy?
You don’t need a specialized software program to create a cybersecurity policy. You can use any document authoring tool to write a security policy.
You can also download a cybersecurity policy template and customize it to your needs to save time.
Now that you know what a cybersecurity policy is and how to create one, the next step is to prepare a cybersecurity policy for your company and enforce it.
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