Having clear policies in place helps cut through the confusion surrounding cyber security. When everyone understands what they’re supposed to do, it’s easier to implement the right measures.
Last year, many UK businesses started to take cyber security much more seriously. While 77% considered cyber security to be a high priority in 2021, that figure rose to 82% just 12 months later.
The fact that organisations are beginning to see cybercrime as a real threat is certainly good news. The bad news is that, despite understanding more about the risk, many still don’t have a policy.
What tends to happen is that businesses approach cyber security reactively, rather than proactively. They’re hit with an attack, and then employ methods to help them recover as quickly as possible. What they should be doing is proactively working to minimise the risk of an attack happening.
And the best way to do that is by implementing a cyber security policy.
What is a cyber security policy?
A cyber security policy acts as a set of guidelines and best practices for proactively reducing digital risk. While policies will vary between businesses, they will essentially all achieve the same things:
- Ensure everyone knows what’s expected of them
- Help employees to make the best decisions when working online
- Make it easier for workers to follow standardised, repeatable processes
- Support all stakeholders should a cyber event occur
Having clear policies in place helps cut through the confusion surrounding cyber security. When everyone understands what they’re supposed to do, it’s easier to implement the right measures; measures that will reduce the likelihood of a breach, and aid recovery should a breach happen.
But how do you create an impactful security policy that really delivers?
How to create an IT security policy
There’s no single way to build a cyber policy. These policies work best when they’re built around the individual needs of the business. They need to take into account the specific risks that exist within that industry, whether that’s the not-for-profit sector, retail, professional services, or anything else.
However, there are five key areas that should be included in most cyber security policies:
1. Data access
How can your employees access confidential data in the safest and most secure way? This part of your policy should explore aspects such as generating secure passwords, the use of multi-factor authentication, and how old or inactive accounts are managed. Sadly, in a recent Government survey, it was found that just 75% of UK businesses and 57% of charities had a password policy in place.
2. Data backup
How often should your data be backed up? Where should it be backed up? Whose responsibility is it? These are things that should all be covered in your cyber security policy. Ideally, data should be backed up off the local network, where it’s better protected. Luckily, you can sometimes find backups included as part of a managed service, so you can leave this critical task up to the professionals.
3. Data sharing
How is data shared securely between users, or between locations? This is a key component of cyber security today as remote working has become the norm. Shockingly, nearly a third of UK businesses admitted to relaxing their IT security procedures to enable staff to work from home following the health crisis. Consider guidelines relating to virtual private networks, or cloud-based storage.
4. Device usage
How often does business-owned hardware get upgraded or updated? What personal devices can be used for work purposes? What apps can be installed on work computers? These are the questions that your cyber security should aim to answer, ensuring that everyone is clear on what is expected of them. We talk much more about hardware and security in part 4 of this series, so check it out!
5. Attack response
Despite best efforts, cyber attacks can – and do – happen. Knowing the right way to respond to an attack is key to a speedy and successful recovery. Unfortunately, just 19% of UK businesses have an incident response plan, and only 39% have assigned roles in case of a breach. Use your cyber policy to outline who does what, and when, should a security breach take place.
It’s important to remember that a cyber security policy, while essential, isn’t a magic solution. The success of a policy is shaped by a range of factors, including the tools you use, the measures that you have in place, and the skills and knowledge of your team. Get in touch with us here at Reliable Networks to find out more about building a comprehensive IT security plan that reduces your risk.