7 Essential Items to Include In Your IT Security Policy

A critical document for any company is its IT security policy. When hackers breach companies’ systems, it’s often done through social engineering. This means your employees need to be up to speed on security.

Your IT security policy should be more than a set of rules to follow; it should also be an educational document. When it comes to drafting your IT security policy, here are 7 essential items you need to include.

1. The Importance of IT Security Policy Itself

Cybersecurity is an important aspect of your business and your IT security policy should reflect this. You should consider working with a professional security company to help shape your policy; read more here about security solutions.

Make sure your policy reiterates how important cybersecurity is and how seriously you’ll take infractions at your company. A lot of people tend to underestimate how serious cybersecurity threats are. They’re complacent, taking an “it won’t happen to me” approach to the whole thing.

In your IT security policy, you have the opportunity to make sure people are taking cyber threats seriously.

2. Password Management

Another important aspect of your company’s security is password management. When people practice bad password security, it makes your company an easy target for hackers.

In your IT security policy, you should lay out the kinds of passwords you intend for your employees to use. These should be strong passwords which contain numbers, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and special characters. When you use simpler passwords, you open yourself up to brute force attacks or dictionary attacks.

Not only is it important to have a strong password, but you also need to practice good habits. Your employees should have a unique password for their work account. If they use passwords which they use on other sites and services, it presents a security concern.

Databases often get breached and people’s passwords get leaked. If someone uses the same password everywhere, an attacker could identify their other accounts and use the password they’ve obtained to access everything.

Employees should also take care not to write down their passwords and leave them in obvious places. A Post-It note on a laptop shouldn’t be acceptable.

3. Describe Phishing Scams

Phishing scams differ from other cybersecurity threats in that the attacker isn’t breaching your systems. Instead, the victim voluntarily gives up their password to an attacker by mistake.

A sophisticated phishing scam might set up a fake website that looks identical to the one your company uses. If someone enters their details into the fake site, their account on the real site is now compromised.

You should ensure your cybersecurity literature describes exactly what a phishing scam is and how to spot one. You should also require people to immediately report any suspected phishing scams. Ideally, there should be someone at your company who’s responsible for taking reports on any potential security threats.

4. Keep Systems Updated

You should hold everyone responsible for keeping their workstations completely up-to-date. When a vulnerability or glitch in a piece of software comes to light, hackers can use this information to their advantage, allowing them to gain access. When you update operating systems and pieces of software, they often contain critical security upgrades that block hackers.

Your IT security policy should require all employees to keep every piece of software up-to-date. The way software handles updates is often different, so make sure your policy outlines exactly how to ensure programs are always running on the latest version.

You should make it clear that stalling updates is not an acceptable practice. For instance, they should never delay a Windows update for more than an hour or so.

5. Keep Devices Secure

Hold your employees responsible for keeping all of their work devices secure. This means they should be required to lock their workstations whenever they step away. If your employees use laptops, these should be locked away when they’re not in use.

There should also be a policy that lost or stolen devices are reported immediately. Your IT department should have the ability to wipe devices remotely.

When the loss of devices is immediately reported, it means less harm can be done to your company. Early discovery can make a big difference.

6. Handle Information Appropriately

Businesses often need to deal with confidential information. It’s vital there’s a proper system in place for dealing with this kind of information.

For example, if you wanted to send another company confidential information, it shouldn’t be acceptable for your employees to send this information in an email in plain text. Instead, they should use some kind of secure file transfer system.

Handling data incorrectly can have some serious consequences for your company. If confidential customer data was leaked, it could open up you and your business to legal action. It’s essential your security policy outlines exactly how to handle confidential information about your customers.

7. Empower Your Employees to Take an Active Role

Your employees are capable of providing critical intelligence that could be used to fend off an attempted attack. You should always empower your employees to report any suspicious activity.

Ideally, you should have a specific person at your company who’s responsible for listening to security tips from employees. This person should always provide a safe environment for tip-offs, even if the reports turn out to be false positives.

The aim is to create a “see something, say something” culture. It’s worth it to have 99 false reports if one ends up being a genuine threat.

Your IT Security Policy Is a Constant Process

One important thing to bear in mind is that a successful IT security policy is about much more than writing up some rules. In order for your security to be truly effective, you need to create a security-centric culture at your company.

Consider having regular security seminars for your staff so they’re never treating security as an afterthought. Taking security classes once isn’t enough. New threats are always emerging, so it’s important for people to have up-to-date knowledge about security trends.

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