8 Steps to Create a Cyber Security Policy

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An effective cybersecurity policy has two components. The first part of a cyber security policy aims to maintain a network’s integrity by preventing external threats. The other part of a cyber security policy seeks to lessen internal risks by appropriately using a network’s resources.

To manage how your employees use a network, it’s essential to implement an acceptable use policy or cyber security policy. This policy regulates how employees use a network to ensure their actions do not compromise the system. Such a policy may indemnify your firm from liability in case of a security breach if it can be proven that a series of inappropriate activities violated the policy. An effective cyber security policy should minimize your risks and keep your business safe.

The basic approach to an effective cyber security policy is to ensure it’s transparent, fair, and enforceable. Below are eight steps you need to follow when creating a cyber security strategy that works:

1. Flag the cyber security risks

There’s no one-size-fits-all cyber security policy. Yours will depend on what unique risks you’re confronted with. Begin by identifying your risks before you draft a policy. That way, you can ensure you address the most pertinent areas for your company.

For instance, you will need to identify the inappropriate-use risks facing your system. Is there restricted information? Does your system receive huge files and attachments that could predispose it to cybersecurity threats?

The threats facing your system could range from the harmless-but-annoying to the potentially catastrophic. The latter could cost your company thousands of dollars every month in terms of computer downtime or lost productivity.

You can use reporting or monitoring tools to identify potential or actual risks. However, before using these tools, let your employees know you will be using them to avoid getting entangled in privacy intrusion battles.

2. Learn from the cyber security best practices

Chances are many cybersecurity policies used by other companies could work for your organization as well. No need to reinvent the wheel here. Look around and see what has worked for other organizations. It’s always a good idea is to talk to cyber security and IT support specialists who will be more than willing to give you advice.

Simple online research will reveal many easily customizable cyber security policies, which you can tweak to align with the needs of your organization. There are a host of technologies that help identify and address external threats. These include antivirus software, firewalls, email filters, and intruder-detection systems, among others.

3. Involve staff in developing a cyber security policy

Avoid the temptation to dictate what an appropriate cyber security policy should be. This could be counterproductive since your employees are the ones who use your system.

By allowing employees to add input into what constitutes a system’s appropriate use, you increase the chances of effective adoption and implementation of the policy.

Keep your staff in the loop as tools and rules are implemented. When they understand why it’s essential to adhere to a cyber security policy, they will be more than willing to comply.

4. Make Sure the cyber security policy is legal

Various jurisdictions and data holdings require companies to conform to specific minimum guidelines to safeguard the integrity and privacy of data. This is especially pertinent if you collect personal information from customers. A cyber security policy protects you from liabilities in the event of a cyber security breach.

5. Determine the appropriate level of cyber security

Too much security can be as counterproductive as little or no security at all. Security measures certainly keep intruders and malicious threats out, but they may also curtail the use of internal resources. Having excessive security could straitjacket your operations to the point of stagnation.

Trust in the professionalism of your staff. Instead of installing security protocols at every turn, consider having your team sign a written code of conduct.

6. Train the staff on the cyber security policy

Training is a critical phase in the development of any policy, not just one for cyber security. The success of a policy depends on the ability of relevant staff to understand and implement it.

When training staff, discuss how the policy applies in the real world. Answer any questions they may have and define the policy as clearly as possible to remove ambiguity and ignorance — the top two challenges in the effective implementation of a cyber security policy.

7. Get everyone to sign the cyber security policy

Every staff member should read, understand, and sign the cyber security policy document. New employees should be required to sign the policy before they can take up their position in the company.

That’s not all! Every member of staff should re-sign the document, preferably once every year, to reinforce their understanding of the policy and their willingness to abide by it.

8. Enforce the cyber security policy

The effectiveness of a cyber security policy lies in its enforcement. If it’s not enforceable, it’s not worth having it in the first place. Invest in cyber security enforcement tools.

An effective way of enforcing a cyber security policy is penalizing its breach. Spell out penalties for breaching the policy. Let every employee know that the policy is not a book of suggestions but a requirement for every employee interested in keeping their job.

The penalties should be spelt out and enforced. A haphazardly enforced cybersecurity policy is as good as none.

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