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What is an IT security policy?

IT security policies are critical not just for carrying out the business operations, but also in ensuring the organization’s security and continual success. These policies clearly define the rules and responsibilities of each personnel within the organization when it comes to data security. These policies are pivotal in shaping any organizations’ preparedness for disasters and having a concrete response to security incidents. The success of this is dependent on well documented policies and how closely all employees at an organization follow them.

Security policies form the backbone of the defense system that protects all critical business information and systems from internal and external threats. For an effective security posture, it’s important to update these policies on a periodic basis and especially after each significant Security Risk Assessments.

Why does it matter?

Updated and comprehensive security policies work to strengthen an organization’s overall security posture. These can help inculcate a culture of security awareness and preparedness for any incident. Well-defined security policies help employees have a guidance system in place whenever there is a breach and they know exactly what to do and how to do it. This automatically leads to fewer security incidents and more importantly minimizes the fallout from any security incident. 24/7 IT Support can help companies devise effective policies for security audits that ensure ongoing compliance with evolving sets of regulations.

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Top 8 Must Have IT Security Policies for Your Business

Training & Security Awareness Policy

“You are only as strong as your weakest link” – Nowhere does this adage hold true quite as much as in ensuring the security of your organization’s network. This makes it critical for any organization to conduct security awareness training for all employees across all the ranks and functions. They need to be adequately trained in order to carry out the rules while effectively safeguarding company data and remaining cognizant of red flags. Security training should be made mandatory with employees signing a confidentiality agreement and providing adequate proof of preparedness in dealing with security issues. Passive methods of providing training through courses may not be as effective as interactive hands-on learning with innovative approaches that actually engage employees’ attention.

The need is for training personnel to recognize broader security issues and make it local and context-specific for employees across different functions. Employees are much more likely to engage with an issue that impacts their day-to-day functioning than pay attention to broader and far-off organizational issues of security. Training personnel must also be cognizant of rapid changes in technology that impact security and how it can impact the organization. Most importantly, the policies should be able to impart a sense of ownership and urgency in all matters pertaining to security, including maintaining workstations, email and internet access policies, and employee data responsibility.

A good training program should demonstrate social engineering tactics, and run simulations of business processes that are hit by a data breach. It’s only by running through hands-on training that employees can learn exactly how to respond in case of an actual breach.

Policy for Remote Access

In the post pandemic world, most companies are continuing to operate on a remote or hybrid work environment. Ensuring security of remote access through clearly defined policies thus becomes critical. Remote access policies must be oriented towards minimizing risks that arise from accessing company assets or network outside the bounds of safe networking spaces.

All users and stakeholders must be cognizant of the dangers of insecure access and the threats to the company network that may result in damage, loss, or abuse of sensitive data and/or systems.

Password Management Policy

Having an effective passport policy in place can literally save your bacon when it comes to Data Security Policy. In order to do this realistically you need to make your employees aware of the importance of strong passwords, how to create them and how to update them religiously. This approach can be cemented through a strong Password Policy and Guidelines on password creation and management that provides some much-needed guidance on creating, modifying, and safeguarding secure passwords for effective user authentication.

The policy should outline clear details on password complexity and length requirements and the potential repercussions of using old or easy-to-guess passwords. It should also include details on password log outs, maximum retry attempts and keeping track of all unsuccessful login attempts for administrators.

Policy for Network Security

A comprehensive network security policy must secure the privacy, integrity, and availability of data on the network. This involves having a clearly outlined procedure for conducting periodic checks on network activity. This includes having the right auditing processes in place for all relevant hardware, software, and procedures. Audits must keep track of all failed login attempts, system access, access of privileged accounts and be able to detect any out of the ordinary events in all activities including firewalls, routers and switches, and device activation or deletion from the network chain.

Having detailed records of each event including date, time, and origin of specific activities can help not only in RCA (root cause analysis) in the event of a security incident but can also help mitigate the damages. Furthermore, network policies must also clearly outline the course of action in the case of auditable events with clear responsibilities for all involved members. Network policies may also include additional provisions for the rules and behavior, standards and security involved in Bluetooth, router and switch, and wireless communication.

Access Authorization & Modification Policy

With most organizations moving towards a zero trust policy, companies should invoke the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) in access authorization. This ensures data access only to organization members that need access to certain data in order to fulfill their roles and responsibilities. The policy should document a clearly defined process for establishing, modifying and deleting system and data access. This usually requires effective communication between both the HR and IT departments who are involved in resource hiring and termination.

Intended system usage must be adequately evaluated by both system administrators and functional team leads before developing and granting access to processes for access authorization. Access authorization and modification needs to be mapped as per the existing access authorization and password management policies. As is common in ensuring the security of all procedures, these policies and processes need to be reviewed regularly and updated as necessary.

Policy for Data Retention

Solid Data Retention Policy has come under the spotlight recently thanks to a renewed emphasis on consumer data privacy and security. Businesses need to pay special attention to document the types of data it retains, the duration of retention and data storage and deletion procedures. Having this kind of policy in place can also help businesses to have better clarity on Data storage, removal of outdated data and effective usage of storage space.

This can also help businesses organize data into specific types, such as documents, customer information, transactional data, financial data, email messages, and contracts. This is particularly critical for businesses that store sensitive information. 24/7 IT Support can help businesses adhere to data responsibilities, regulatory standards and avoid litigation.

Mobile Device Management Policy

Similar to having an Effective Remote Access Policy, Mobile device management policies can help businesses Secure their network even as it is accessed from a variety of endpoints including mobile phones, laptops, desktops and tablets. This can minimize the risks resulting from unauthorized use of company assets. The policy should cover all kinds of employee access and include detailed provisions on receiving emails, acceptable device behaviour, security requirements and using intranet resources through remote access. VPN access and disk encryption should also be covered.

Policy for Vulnerability Management

Regular security risk assessment is the backbone of having effective IT security policies in place. Policies covering Vulnerability Management Process must identify all mission critical assets, vulnerabilities, and controls currently in use. Effective vulnerability management through Managed Security Services can help you determine ways to mitigate security risks.