HomeBlogGuidesbooksPolicy and ProcessesDesigning your Cyber Security Infrastructure: A Quick Guide | EP — 2 IT Security Policy.

Designing your Cyber Security Infrastructure: A Quick Guide | EP — 2 IT Security Policy.

This is Episode 2 of the series where we guide businesses on how to design a secure IT Infrastructure. In this episode, I will discuss the challenge of designing an IT Security Policy. I have also provided resources to download a template to create your own IT Security Policy.

In other words, an IT Security Policy tells people everything you’re doing to prevent a cyber attack or data breach, and how you expect your users to help you achieve those goals.

Furthermore, an IT Security Policy establishes what happens if there’s a data breach. It sets out clear instructions for people to follow, which helps people report security incidents without delay

Do you need an IT Security Policy?

By Law? No. But it is always advised to have one.

Here’s Why…

  • A clear IT Security Policy makes it easier for everyone to understand the rules. If users understand the rules, there’s less chance of a data breach.
  • An IT Security Policy is also useful when you need to make a change to your IT structure, whether it may be a small change such as adding a website to the whitelist, an IT admin can easily check the policy to make sure it is within the accepted rules set by upper management.
  • Another use case — If for some reason key members of your IT Team are unavailable, the IT Security Policy has the necessary Definitions and SOPs to guide an equally competent person in maintaining normal workflow in case of any emergency requirements.
  • And, if there is a data breach, a written Security Policy helps you identify what procedures to follow, which minimizes disruption.
  • Discrepancies and weaknesses in policies are often brought up during audits, so it’s best to prepare in advance.
  • It’s also common for clients, employees, and shareholders/management to have safety concerns about their data and systems, so it’s advised to distribute the IT Security Policy to alleviate their concerns.

How to prepare a security policy

Follow these steps when preparing a security policy:

  1. Identify the business purpose for having a specific type of IT security policy and decide what Sub-Policies need to be created.
  2. Secure approval from senior management to develop the policy.
  3. Adapt existing security policies to maintain policy structure and format, and incorporate relevant components to address information security.
  4. Establish a project plan to develop and approve the policy.
  5. Create a team to develop the policy.
  6. Schedule management briefings during the writing cycle to ensure relevant issues are addressed.
  7. Invite internal departments to review the policy, particularly the legal team and HR.
  8. Invite the risk management team to review the policy.
  9. Distribute the draft for final review before submitting it to management.
  10. Secure management approval and disseminate the policy to employees.
  11. Establish a review and change process for the policy using change management procedures.
  12. Schedule and prepare for annual audits of the policy.

Deciding what Policies need to be created.

Every business has a different set of business operations and IT Infrastructure so the policies might vary from business to business. The first step is to identify your IT infrastructure and its configurations, where your Valuable Data is stored, how it is used, how you conduct day-to-day business, etc.

Once you have identified these things, you can decide what policies need to be created to cover the complete IT Infrastructure of your organization. Here is a list of basic IT Security Policies that we recommend for any business. Of course, you can remove or add any extra policy as per your business needs.

  1. Acceptable Use Policy: An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a set of guidelines that defines the acceptable use of an organization’s IT resources, including computers, networks, and internet access. The policy typically outlines the permitted and prohibited uses of these resources and the consequences of violating the policy.
  2. Access control policy: This policy outlines the procedures and guidelines for granting access to resources and data within the organization, including user accounts, passwords and permissions.
  3. Password Policy: A Password Policy is a set of guidelines that outlines the proper creation, storage, and use of passwords within an organization. The policy typically covers topics such as password complexity requirements, password expiration and password storage.
  4. Asset Management Policy: An Asset Management Policy is a set of guidelines that an organization puts in place to manage its physical and digital assets throughout its lifecycle. The policy typically covers the acquisition, use, maintenance, and disposal of assets, including hardware, software, data and intellectual property.
  5. Backup and recovery policy: This policy outlines the procedures and guidelines for backing up data and recovering from data loss or corruption.
  6. Network security policy: This policy outlines the measures and controls that the organization has implemented to protect its network from unauthorized access, including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems and other security technologies.
  7. Email and Communications Policy: An Email and Communications Policy is a set of guidelines that an organization puts in place to regulate the use of email and other electronic communication methods by employees or other authorized personnel.
  8. Data and Media Disposal Policy: A Data and Media Disposal Policy is a set of guidelines that an organization puts in place to manage the secure disposal of sensitive or confidential information stored on digital media or other physical storage devices. The policy typically covers the secure deletion, destruction, or sanitization of data, as well as the disposal of physical media.
  9. Business Continuity & Incident Response Policy: This policy outlines the procedures and guidelines for responding to security incidents, including reporting procedures, investigation processes and communication protocols. It is also a document that outlines how a business will continue operating during an unplanned service disruption.
  10. Employee Training Policy: An Employee Training Policy is a set of guidelines that an organization puts in place to ensure that all employees receive appropriate training on cybersecurity and information security best practices. The policy typically outlines the requirements for cybersecurity awareness training, including the frequency and types of training that employees must complete.
  11. Security Audit Policy: The policy typically outlines the requirements for security audits, including the frequency and scope of audits, as well as the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the auditing process.

Components of an IT Security Policy

Policies for information security and related issues don’t need to be complicated, a few paragraphs are sufficient to describe relevant security goals and activities. More detail can be included as needed.

First, every IT Security Policy should have, at minimum, clauses covering the following information:

  • The policy’s objectives (in this case, cybersecurity)
  • Who does the clause apply to, and what laws apply
  • The person(s) responsible for implementing the policy
  • Using the Internet safely
  • Good cybersecurity practices, including passwords and multifactor authentication
  • Hardware processes, including network security
  • How you use software, and how you protect personal data
  • It should be developed by a team that can address operational, legal, competitive, and other issues associated with information security;
  • Should have input from internal departments on their security requirements;
  • Should be discussed with HR to ensure uniform compliance by employees;
  • Should be supported by senior management;
  • Specify security requirements for physical devices, such as laptops and firewalls;
  • Specify hardware and software security requirements;
  • Identify the frequency of change to security controls;
  • Should be periodically tested, reviewed, and updated to ensure relevance to the organization; and
  • Should periodically be audited to ensure security controls are being followed.
  • The ways you handle data breaches and mitigate risk
  • Where someone can go for more information, or how to contact you

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you create your IT Security Policy:

  • Use concise, user-friendly language
  • Try to keep sentences short
  • Bullet points can help get a point across
  • Put everything in a logical order
  • Include links to your other important documents so that people can access everything from one location

The following outline can help your organization start the process:

  • Introduction. States the fundamental reasons for having a security policy.
  • Purpose and scope. Provides details on the security policy’s purpose and scope.
  • Statement of policy. States the security policy in clear terms.
  • Statement of compliance. Specifies security laws, regulations, standards, and other guidance with which the policy aims to comply.
  • Policy leadership. States who are responsible for approving and implementing the policy, as well as levying penalties for noncompliance.
  • Verification of policy compliance. States what is needed, such as assessments, exercises, and penetration tests, to verify security activities are in compliance with policies.
  • Penalties for noncompliance. States penalties for noncompliance, such as a verbal reprimand and a note in the noncompliant employee’s personnel file for internal incidents and fines and/or legal action for external activities.
  • Appendixes. Includes additional reference information, such as lists of contacts, service-level agreements, and additional details on specific security policy statements.

Upon completion, the policy should be reviewed by IT management and the legal department. It’s also important to circulate the policy to appropriate internal departments and external parties. Then, deploy the approved policy, and schedule ongoing review, audit, and maintenance activities.

Additional Resources

IT Security Policy Template

Click on the link above to download the template and get started with creating your own IT Security Policy for your organization.

And if You Need Help…

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