How to create a cyber security policy?

A company cyber security policy is important for every business (small, medium or large). Not having one is like navigating through a dark alley without a street light. Your business will inevitably get hacked, so it’s better to have cybersecurity policies and procedures and know exactly what to do when something happens.

This blog will look at the different aspects of creating and implementing a cyber security policy. It will look at who, what and where of cyber security and will also look to roll out an example of a policy that can be used by different companies and organizations. You will learn:

  1. What is a cyber security policy?
  2. What can you do to protect your business?
  3. What is the importance of an cyber security policy?

What is a Cyber Security Policy?

A cybersecurity policy is a set of guidelines, procedures, and standards that an organization puts in place to protect its sensitive data and systems from cyber threats. It outlines the measures that the organization will take to secure its networks, systems, and data, as well as the responsibilities of employees, contractors, and other stakeholders in maintaining the security of the organization.

5 Steps to create cyber security policy

An effective cybersecurity policy is a crucial component of an organization’s overall security program. It helps to protect sensitive data, prevent cyber attacks, and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Here are some steps to follow when creating an effective cybersecurity policy:

  • Step #1: Determine the scope of the policy
  • Step #2: Identify the risks
  • Step #3: Establish clear guidelines
  • Step #4: Provide training and resources
  • Step #5: Regularly review and update the policy

5 Steps to Create and Implement a Cyber Security Policy

  1. Determine the scope of the policy: Clearly define the scope of the policy, including what systems and data are covered, who is responsible for implementing and enforcing the policy, and what specific actions are prohibited.
  2. Identify the risks: Conduct a risk assessment to identify the specific risks and vulnerabilities that the organization faces. This will help to determine what measures need to be in place to protect against those risks.
  3. Establish clear guidelines: Develop clear guidelines for employees, contractors, and other stakeholders to follow when it comes to cybersecurity. This may include guidelines for password management, email and internet usage, and handling sensitive data.
  4. Provide training and resources: Provide employees with the training and resources they need to understand and adhere to the cybersecurity policy. This may include training on how to identify and report potential threats, as well as resources such as antivirus software and password managers.
  5. Regularly review and update the policy: Regularly review and update the cybersecurity policy to ensure that it remains effective and reflects the organization’s current security posture. This may involve revising the policy in response to new threats or changes in the organization’s operations.

What are the key Components of an Effective Cybersecurity Policy?

A robust cybersecurity policy is essential for any organization looking to protect its critical assets, data, and reputation. A well-defined policy outlines the necessary guidelines and rules that employees, contractors, and partners must follow to ensure a secure working environment. This section will discuss the six key components of a cybersecurity policy and provide examples for each aspect.

  1. Organization-Wide Password Requirements
  2. Designated Email Security Measures
  3. Handling Sensitive Data
  4. Rules for Handling Technology
  5. Social Media and Internet Access Standards
  6. Preparing for a Cyber Incident

Organization-Wide Password Requirements

Strong password requirements are crucial in protecting sensitive information and preventing unauthorized access. A cybersecurity policy should outline the minimum password requirements, including:

  • Length: A minimum number of characters (e.g., at least 12 characters)
  • Complexity: A mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Expiration: Passwords should be changed every 60-90 days
  • Reuse restrictions: Preventing the use of the same password across multiple accounts or consecutive passwords

Example: “All user accounts must have a unique password consisting of at least 12 characters, including a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Passwords must be changed every 90 days and cannot be reused for at least five password cycles.”

Designated Email Security Measures

Email remains a primary attack vector for cybercriminals. The cybersecurity policy should outline the necessary email security measures, such as:

  • Anti-phishing filters: Implementing technology to detect and block phishing emails
  • Secure email gateways: Encrypting email communications to protect sensitive information
  • Training and awareness: Regularly educating employees on recognizing and reporting suspicious emails

Example: “The organization will utilize anti-phishing filters and secure email gateways to protect against email-based threats. Employees must complete annual security awareness training, including recognizing and reporting phishing emails.”

Handling Sensitive Data

The cybersecurity policy should provide guidelines for handling sensitive data, including:

  • Classification: Defining data classification levels (e.g., public, internal, confidential, and restricted)
  • Storage: Storing sensitive data in encrypted and access-controlled environments
  • Transmission: Encrypting sensitive data during transit
  • Disposal: Securely disposing of sensitive data when no longer needed

Example: “Confidential data must be stored in encrypted and access-controlled environments. When transmitting confidential data, it must be encrypted. Data must be securely disposed of according to the organization’s data retention policy.”

Rules for Handling Technology

The policy should include rules for handling organization-owned devices and technology, such as:

  • Device security: Requiring devices to have up-to-date antivirus software, firewalls, and security patches
  • Remote access: Establishing secure remote access procedures, such as using a VPN
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): If applicable, outlining rules for using personal devices for work purposes

Example: “All organization-owned devices must have up-to-date antivirus software, firewalls, and security patches installed. Remote access must be conducted through the organization’s VPN. Employees must follow the BYOD policy when using personal devices for work purposes.”

Social Media and Internet Access Standards

The cybersecurity policy should address the use of social media and internet access in the workplace, including:

  • Acceptable use: Defining acceptable and unacceptable online activities
  • Privacy: Reminding employees of the potential risks associated with sharing information online
  • Monitoring: Informing employees that internet usage may be monitored for security purposes

Example: “Employees must follow the organization’s acceptable use policy when accessing social media and the internet. Personal information should not be shared on public platforms. Internet usage may be monitored to ensure compliance with security policies.”

Preparing for a Cyber Incident

A cybersecurity policy should include a plan to prepare for and respond to cyber incidents, such as:

  • Incident response plan: Developing a formal plan that outlines roles, responsibilities, and procedures for responding to a cyber incident
  • Reporting: Establishing a process for employees to report suspected security incidents
  • Recovery: Detailing the steps to restore systems and data in the event of a breach or outage
  • Communication: Defining how the organization will communicate with stakeholders during and after a cyber incident
  • Testing and improvement: Regularly testing and updating the incident response plan to ensure effectiveness
  • Example: “The organization has implemented an incident response plan to address potential cyber incidents. Employees must report any suspected security incidents to the designated security team. In the event of a breach or outage, the organization will follow the established recovery procedures and communicate with stakeholders as appropriate. The incident response plan will be tested and updated periodically to ensure its effectiveness.”

What does a cyber security policy outline?

A cybersecurity policy may include guidelines for password management, email and internet usage, and handling sensitive data. It may also specify the types of security measures that the organization will implement, such as firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems.

What is the goal of a Cyber Security Policy?

The goal of a cybersecurity policy is to prevent cyber attacks and protect the organization’s sensitive data from being accessed, modified, or stolen. It is an important component of an organization’s overall security program and helps to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

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