Enforcing best security practices through governance and formal procedures
Similar to how firms use employee handbooks to outline all the requirements and expectations for professionalism in the workplace, businesses should also implement rules for how users of company resources and applications must act and operate as it pertains to the company’s data security. Hence, the use of organizational information-security policies.
These are formal rules, guidelines, and procedures that employees must follow to prevent or mitigate risk for any cyber-related issues, such as a breach or system shutdown. While policies mainly apply to regular employee users, certain ones will be exclusively for privileged users or system administrators because their role in the company’s IT or cybersecurity department prompts them to undergo specific processes.
Company policies for information security help protect employees from their negligence through a clear set of rules while offering guidance to users on how they should conduct themselves when handling data, managing credentials, or operating applications. On top of that, they provide privileged users with complete access to network resources for security and maintenance purposes, a step-by-step framework for executing specific security processes.
There are also compliance implications in addition to the security and procedural use cases for enforcing company policies. For example, underwriters for cyber & data breach insurance often want to see certain formalities, such as clear software patching procedures or user password management policies, before offering coverage. Additionally, regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) cite requirements for enforcing employee workstation security policies.
Policies to Incorporate into Your Business
Now that you understand information-security policies and their role within an organization’s security posture, here are some of the essential ones you should use in your business:
Bring Your Own Device
Bring your own device (BYOD) policies allow employees to use their personal devices for work reasons, but layout security and operating practices they must follow in doing so. For example, they may need to use a password on their mobile device if they add their work email account.
Password management policies dictate how employees design, store, and change their passwords for company applications, network systems, or devices. For example, they might require that all passwords are a minimum of 10 characters long — containing uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters but not any personal information. Additionally, it may need to be stored in a secure notepad or a password management tool and changed every 90 days.
Clean Desk/Remote Workstation
A clean desk policy, which now is likely a remote workstation, specifies how employees keep their desk or workstation while they’re using it or after logging off for the day. For example, you may require them to fully log off, lock, or shut down their device if they aren’t at their desk. Similarly, you might have rules for how hardcopy documents containing sensitive data need to be stored.
Encryption and Key Management
Encryption and key management are for both standard and privileged users. Organizations must guide employees as to which circumstances, such as sending a sensitive email or sharing a critical document, require using encryption. Also, IT and security teams need a key management procedure for generating, storing, archiving, renewing, or deleting encryption keys.
Incident Response Plan
Designed for security teams, an incident response plan outlines the procedure for tasks that a firm must complete upon confirming a cyber-related incident. The plan should be tailored to the firm’s specific operations and have unique steps depending on the type of incident and targeted resource.
Disaster Recovery Procedures
Disaster recovery refers to managing the aftermath of a business disruption such as a natural disaster, cyber attack, pandemic, or military incident. In turn, a disaster recovery procedure is the steps a team would take to get their technology systems and operations back and running — allowing the business to recontinue.
Data Backup and Destruction
These data management policies go into the frequency and scope for how an IT team should back up their data and network resources and how they should destroy or dispose of any unneeded data.
Authentication and Identification
These policies enforce how and when an employee or device must authenticate itself to access a company technology resource per the firm’s security policies and standards. It’ll go into circumstances requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) or single sign-on (SSO) and provide procedural guidance to IT teams for machine identity management.
Internet and Email Use
These policies dictate how users need to behave themselves while navigating the web or using their email accounts. It will outline the types of websites they are allowed to access and the way they should securely create and send email messages to others.
Software installation policies detail the procedures an employee or privileged user must go through if they want to download or create an account for a new software system. Ideally, it would require approval by the IT staff and demand one of their reps handle the installation process.
Craft Your Policies with Ascension Global Technology
Company information-security policies are crucial for tightly enforcing best practices and maintaining a strong cybersecurity culture. Additionally, designing and implementing policies help deter negligent behavior and are often required for insurance and regulatory compliance requirements.
Contact us today to speak to an expert and get started on policy development applicable to your unique business needs. Also, be sure to check out our blog for industry updates, cybersecurity news, and valuable insights that can help your company improve its program and security posture.