How To Create An Effective Cybersecurity Policy
Date: 6 January 2022
In 2022, cybersecurity is definitely going to cement its position as the number one concern for business continuity and brand reputation. It is, therefore, important that every business seriously invested in longevity, and privacy of its customer data has an effective cybersecurity policy in place. But how does one write a policy that is actually actionable and effective in protecting your business from rising cybercrimes and complex cyber threats?
This quick guide will show you how to create an effective cybersecurity policy for your company. You can also checkout this free Cyber Security Policy Template or enlist the help of cybersecurity consultants to create your own cybersecurity policies.
Now, in order to write an effective policy, it’s important to know what this policy really is, and why it’s important to implement in your business.
What Is a Cybersecurity Policy?
A cybersecurity policy is a written document that contains behavioral and technical guidelines for all employees in order to ensure maximum protection from cybersecurity incidents and ransomware attacks. The policy contains information about a company or an organisation’s security policies, procedures, technological safeguards and operational countermeasures in case of a cybersecurity incident.
This policy makes sure that operations and security are working in tandem to ensure that the possibilities of a cyber-attack are limited and if an attack does occur, the IT team, operations and business executives are aware of exactly what steps to take to limit damage.
A cybersecurity policy also allows your information technology team to:
- Use the right tools for cybersecurity and continuously evaluate organisational breach readiness.
- Implement the right practices for cyber incident response, including but not limited to having an effective cyber incident response plan and testing this plan on a regular basis with cybersecurity tabletop exercises.
- Establish effective communications within the organisation to ensure that every team is following good cybersecurity hygiene. Good communication and clear communication channels are also critical at the time of crisis management.
A cybersecurity policy, however, can mean different things for different organisations. It can take different shapes or forms, depending on the type of organisation, nature of business, operational model, scale etc. Here are some examples of cybersecurity policies:
- Acceptable use policy (AUP)
- Access control policy
- Business continuity plan
- Data breach response policy
- Disaster recovery plan, AND
- Remote access policy
Why Do You Need a Cybersecurity Policy?
Having an effective cybersecurity policy is important for companies and organisations for a number of reasons. However, there are two main reasons that stand out the most:Cyber-attacks are amongst the chief threats to business continuity today. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid rise in remote work and swift digitization in fields that were still lagging behind, leading to a much wider attack surface for cybercrime.
The years 2020 and 2021 have also undone the assumption that cyber-attacks are usually only targeted at large businesses and small ones are relatively safer. Cybersecurity Magazine suggests that 43% of cyber-attacks involve small- and medium-sized businesses, with 30% of small businesses claiming that the biggest attack that they face is phishing. So, if you’re a small business, then a cybersecurity policy is highly recommended.
The policy should clearly state guidelines for all staff members, technical and non-technical. Ransomware attacks that start as phishing attacks can easily be prevented with the right training and educational endeavours.
You can also download this Ransomware Checklist to make sure your business is adequately prepared for a ransomware attack. Do read this blog on Ransomware Prevention before penning down your cybersecurity policy.
- A cybersecurity policy acts as a roadmap of what to do should a cyber-criminal try to infiltrate your business. In fact, cybersecurity requires consistent monitoring and maintenance, so that you’re one step ahead of cybercriminals. A good cyber incident response plan is a critical component of a cybersecurity policy.
The policy has to clearly spell out what each team and critical stakeholder has to do, say, report in case of a cyber-attack. Even details on how to interact with the media or with investors must be covered in the incident response plan.
Use this FREE incident response plan template to create your own cyber incident response plan.
How to develop a Cybersecurity Policy?
Now that you know what a cybersecurity policy is, and why your business can’t be without one, it’s time to learn how to write an effective one. Here are 5 tips to follow, when writing a cybersecurity policy:1. Understand How Security Matters To You
First, it’s important to understand the importance of cybersecurity in your company or business. When doing this, think about what your business is about, when it comes to:
- Sales (if you’re a retail- or eCommerce-type business)
- Stakeholders and investors
- The product(s) or service(s) that you provide, etc.
These factors play a part in how you structure your cybersecurity policy. You must even make this a part of your employee training since the human element is usually the starting point of a cyber crisis in organisations.2. Identify And Prioritize Assets, Risks, And Threats
According to PurpleSec, only 50% of information security professionals believe that their organisations aren’t prepared to fend off a ransomware attack. This is especially shocking when cyber-attacks can happen from anywhere at any time.
It is critical to identify and prioritize your assets, along with the potential risks or threats that loom over these assets. To do this, remember these 3 objective questions:
- What are the risks or threats to your company or organisation?
- What are the main concerns regarding cybersecurity? AND,
- Which risks and threats would harm your establishment the most?
3. Set Realistic Goals
When writing a policy, it’s important to have achievable goals for cybersecurity. While it’s important to practice cybersecurity, you might run into limitations in your company or organisation when trying to protect your assets.
Therefore, make sure that your policy can be implemented in stages, if you can’t implement it in one go. Also, be sure to communicate your goals to your employees, consumers, and investors. Starting by enrolling key IT & Incident Response team members in an ethical hacking course or high quality cyber incident planning & response training, for example, might be a great first step.4. Compliance-Check Your Policy
Now, just because you choose to implement a cybersecurity policy, doesn’t mean it might pass a compliance check. In fact, there are regulations that many businesses and organisations must follow when it comes to cybersecurity. So, make sure that your policy is aligned with the recognized standards, including federal governmental requirements.
Consider the following regulations:
- HIPAA compliant
- Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
- International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
- PCI Security Standards, etc.
You can check to see if your policy is complaint to with said regulations by going to reputable sites like Dell Technologies, where you can take a quick assessment.
5. Do A Test Run
Finally, test your policy to ensure that it’s doing its job. Don’t ever wait for a cybercrime to happen to evaluate the effectiveness of your cybersecurity policy.
You must conduct regular cybersecurity assessments such as Ransomware Readiness Assessments, NIST Cyber Health Checks as well as incident response tabletop exercises and ransomware tabletop exercises to stay on top of cyber threats. Regular assessments and tabletop exercises are the only way to gauge if all the security measures you have taken are adequate and effective in real-world scenarios.
About the Author: Emily Henry
Emily Henry is a writer at Write my thesis. She is also a freelance writer for various online publications and blogs. As a content writer, she writes articles about cybersecurity, coding, and computer science.