6 Essential IT Security Policies for All Businesses

6 Essential IT Security Policies for All Businesses

When it comes to cybersecurity, businesses are often focussed on solutions – leaving security policies overlooked. However, for any cybersecurity solution to be as effective as it says on the box, you have to create functional policies around it that set out parameters, best practices and protocols that empower your employees to work securely and confidently within the framework of your security solutions. These are the most essential policies that every company needs, regardless of the size of the business and industry.

#1 – Account and Password Policy

This policy should cover all aspects of password use and account management, from the length and complexity of passwords to be used on business devices and applications to the different types of accounts in use, user policies for these accounts, and additional security controls such as one-time passwords or multifactor authentication.

This policy is fundamental to countering one of the biggest security threats any company can face – everyday users. Although many people are password and security-savvy, the reality is that many employees still use astoundingly simple passwords in both their professional and personal lives, reusing them on multiple sites and accounts (some of which are unsecured), and simply don’t understand why it’s the number one cybersecurity issue we face today. No matter how strong your cybersecurity solution is, a hacker accessing a simple or compromised password can undo all your hard work in one easy blow.

#2 – Acceptable Use Policy

This policy outlines exactly what your business’s IT systems, networks and resources can be used for by employees, contractors and third parties. It’s an important policy because it prevents misuse and abuse of IT resources, confusion and misunderstandings as well as giving your business grounds to act if misuse occurs.

It’s a lot like a terms of service agreement, and gives you and your business an important level of protection, especially in a time where it is so easy to blur the lines between personal use and work use, especially when employees often do not understand the risks of a network breach and data loss that can occur.

Typically, a good AUP will determine when it is okay to send information outside the enterprise and when it is not, what types of information are employees prohibited from sharing on the network, what websites are prohibited and why, and so forth.

#3 – Incident Response Policy

Employees aren’t just your business’s most vulnerable point in your cybersecurity, they are your first line of defence too. When employees are trained to understand the importance of protecting data and preventing breaches, they are also more likely to recognise a problem when it occurs. An IRP will tell them exactly how to report and escalate their concern, ensuring the most rapid response to the threat.

Your IRP should cover aspects such as preparation, identification of a threat, how to contain a threat, the eradication process, the recovery process, and the steps that will be taken to review the incident to prevent future issues.

#4 – Remote Access/Remote Working Policy

Remote working is here to stay, effectively allowing employees to be productive and complete essential tasks whether they are in the office, at home or on the road. Flexible workplace structures bring considerable benefits to organisations, including flexibility, cost-savings and increased agility – but they bring risks too.

The technology that your employees use to access business networks and resources, from personal laptops and home computers to poorly secured WI-FI networks, can open your business up to threats – not to mention leading to some rather funny situations, as this kitten can tell you!

A robust RAP will help employees ensure that the right security measures have been put in place to protect business data and resources from illegal and unauthorised access, including data encryption, password security, VPN access protocols, firewalls and antimalware software.

#5 – Access Control Policy

One of the most effective ways to prevent data and network breaches is to limit employee access to only those systems and files that are related to their role in the business. This has two-fold benefits – it helps limit malicious activity by unhappy, financially-motivated or vindictive employees, and it limits unauthorised access in the event that an employee is unintentionally or accidentally compromised (their laptop is stolen or lost, they fall victim to a phishing scam, etc.).

A good example of an ACP includes standards for user access, network access controls, monitoring how systems are accessed and used, securing unattended workstations and removing access when an employee leaves the business.

#6 – Security Awareness and Training Policy

The more aware employees are of how IT security threats work and the risks they present to the business, the more empowered they are to play a powerful role in protecting the organisation and actively reducing risks. This can include IT security training seminars, monthly newsletters outlining the latest threats (focussing on those that target employees directly, such as phishing attacks, social engineering attacks and ransomware), and education on how to prevent, detect and react to a potential threat.

Few people in your business are IT security specialists or even interested in cybersecurity – but with the right security awareness and training policy, they can better protect the business and their own personal data.

Affordable IT Security for Every Business

DWM is a data security services and cybersecurity specialist providing affordable, custom solutions for businesses of all sizes and industries. We can offer you a comprehensive range of expert IT security services including business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning, server and network monitoring, and network administration. All our services come with onsite and remote support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help secure your business and help you grow.