Welcome back to another week in Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Last week, we discussed all things related to Awareness Training. And this week, we are looking at our 2nd Cybersecurity Pillar.
Before we dive in, I have a question for you.
Do you have an employee handbook? A book that clearly outlines the dos and don’ts of your organization?
And in that handbook, are there rules surrounding your technology and data?
I hope the answer is yes.
As you might have guessed, Cybersecurity Policies make up our 2nd Pillar for durable data security.
Policies and security sound like a no-brainer, at least for us in the tech industry.
But according to a new survey by Cyber Readiness Institute (CRI), 60% of small businesses do NOT have a cybersecurity policy.
Even more worrisome, many SMBs have convinced themselves that they are incapable of protecting themselves from cyberthreats, but that is NOT true.
SMBs can take control of their cybersecurity destinies. It all starts with education & policy for business leaders and employees.
We have already shown you must educate your employees on cybersecurity. Now, it is time to look at the policy side of things.
What is a Cybersecurity Policy?
In its simplest form, Cybersecurity Policy is a document that describes a company’s security controls and activities. However, a Cybersecurity Policy does not specify a technical solution.
Instead, these rules outline conditions that will help protect data. Its goal is to help keep tabs on security processes used to protect your company, data, and assets.
For example, a Cybersecurity Policy about Password Creation might state users must use a separate, unique password for each of their work-related accounts. It does not tell the user what that password should be.
In terms of its format, a Cybersecurity Policy can range in size and depth. You want your Cybersecurity Policy to feel like a custom shoe for your organization. You do not want a cookie-cutter policy.
The Benefits of a Cybersecurity Policy
A well-written Cybersecurity Policy will help defend your organization’s data by enhancing the overall security posture. And as a result, there are fewer security incidents and more uptime for applications. That is because a Cybersecurity Policy helps an organization avoid data breaches.
But that is not the only benefit to having one.
Helps Keep Staff Trained.
A Cybersecurity Policy provides your organization with a solid strategy around effective communication of security practices. As a result, your staff will be more capable of protecting company data. And in the event of a breach, they have a playbook to reference.
Avoid Legal Action and Fines.
If you fall victim to a data breach, you may face legal action. And without an adequate Cybersecurity Policy in place, you may be in some big trouble.
Also, if your organization is overseen by a regulatory body, not having a Cybersecurity Policy can result in serious consequences fines.
Lastly, a Cybersecurity Policy helps to make sure the proper security controls are in place. So, if your company falls victim to a cyberattack, there will be clear list of procedures to follow. As a result, your business can recover quicker and get back in the game.
5 Cybersecurity Policy Dos
As I mentioned before, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are some clear dos and don’ts to follow when crafting a Cybersecurity Policy. Let’s first start with the dos.
Analyze your environment.
Before you even think about making your policy, you need to analyze the current state of your organization’s security. There are a couple of ways to go about this. But I would recommend conducting both risk assessment and gap analysis on your environment. https://www.mrwsystems.com/risk-assessments/
A risk assessment will provide an overview of your entire IT environment. It will also show what assets are susceptible to cyber threats.
And a gap analysis will show how your company stands against defined industry standards. It is like getting a report card for your cybersecurity practices.
Consider your policy audience.
Your Cybersecurity Policy should apply to all senior management, employees, consultants, and service providers with access to company data.
Ensure that everyone understands the intention behind a policy. You will also want to address how this policy keeps data safe and what happens if a user neglects to follow it.
The best Cybersecurity Policies are ones that are readable, concise, and easily accessible.
Provide plenty of training.
Remember, awareness is key to a strong cybersecurity posture. -link to awareness blog-
Before you roll out new policies, make sure to provide a series of training sessions around those policies. And please, do not throw the book at your employees without discussing it.
Training helps to ensure that your staff has the chance to understand what the policies are and how they impact their day-to-day workflow.
Make sure your policy fits your organization.
Or in other words, do not use a cookie-cutter template. Every organization is different, so that means their security postures are all different. With that understood, these are the topic I recommend your Cybersecurity Policies address:
- Acceptable Use Policy
- Confidential Data Policy
- Email Policy
- Mobile Device Policy
- Incident Response Policy
- Network Security Policy
- Password Policy
- Physical Security Policy
- Wireless Network and Guest Access Policy
Your company’s Cybersecurity Policies should clearly state the penalties for any violation or breach. And should an employee violate one of these policies, HR should understand what the reprimand and retraining process is.
5 Cybersecurity Policy Don’ts
Don’t let your policy get out-of-date.
Cybersecurity Policies are not a static document that you write once and put on a shelf. Instead, you should think of them as living documents. As you make changes to your IT and network, your policies should change with it.
Likewise, data security threats evolve at a rapid pace. That means your policies need regular updates and modifications.
We recommend you review policies at least twice every year.
Don’t use too many technical terms.
Avoid overusing technical terms as they can confuse your employees. As we stated before, you want your policies to be easily understood. And please remember Cybersecurity Policies are rules, not a how-to guide.
Don’t let one person make your policy.
Policy development is a team effort. You do not want your IT staff to be the only ones developing your Cybersecurity Policies. It is crucial to get multiple departments involved, as they can all offer unique insight to your data & IT infrastructure.
We recommend you include your executives, IT team, legal team, and HR team.
Don’t forget about your remote workers.
Staff working from home are outside the direct oversight of IT support teams and often struggle to deal with cyber threats. Make sure you have policies that cover remote work setups and practices.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I will be the first to admit that Cybersecurity Policies are not glamorous. But by now, you probably realize how critical they are for defending your data against bad actors.
Putting together the right cybersecurity policy can be a painstaking process. It involves a lot of data analysis and testing.
Luckily, you should not tackle this task alone. Instead, you should partner with a managed security service provider, MSSP, to fast-track your security program.
And your security service, NetGarde, can help you do just that.
We have the capabilities to help your organization create a plan, secure your data, and reduce your exposure to threats. To get started, you can schedule a consultation through our website.