What is Security Policy Management?
Security Policy Management is the process of identifying, implementing, and managing the rules and procedures that all individuals must follow when accessing and using an organization’s IT assets and resources. The goal of these network security policies is to address security threats and implement strategies to mitigate IT security vulnerabilities, as well as defining how to recover from a system compromise or when a network intrusion occurs. Furthermore, the policies provide guidelines to employees on what to do and what not to do. They also define who gets access to what assets and resources, and what the consequences are for not following the rules.
Regardless of size, it’s important for every organization to have documented IT Security Policies to help protect the organization’s data and other valuable assets. It is also important to identify and understand your business’s legal requirements. Depending the types of data you handle, the location and jurisdiction of your organization, and the industry you operate in, there may be minimum security standards which you must implement to ensure the privacy of your network and the integrity of your data. This is especially true for organizations that handle data containing sensitive personal information which include, but is not limited to credit card and social security numbers. In addition, if your organization does business with entities or consumers in the European Union, you must also comply with GDPR.
Formal security policies are a requirement for organizations that must comply with various industry regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, GLBA, GDPR etc. The key factor is to have detailed written security policies that clearly define your organization’s position on security related matters. This can be of critical importance in the event of a data breach and / or litigation discovery.
Security Policy Objectives
There are three core objectives to be achieved within properly written IT Security Policies:
- Confidentiality – The protection of IT assets and networks from unauthorized users.
- Integrity – Ensuring that the modification of IT assets is handled in a specific and authorized manner.
- Availability – Ensuring continuous access to IT assets and networks by authorized users.
The IT Security Policy is a living document that is continually updated to adapt with evolving business and IT requirements. Institutions such as the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have published standards and best practices for security policy formation. As stipulated by the National Research Council (NRC), the specifications of any company policy should address:
- Policy Objectives
- Policy Scope
- Specific Goals to Achieve
- Responsibilities for compliance and actions to be taken in the event of noncompliance.
Also mandatory for every IT security policy are sections dedicated to the adherence to regulations that govern the organization’s industry. Common examples of this include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as many others.
An organization’s security policy will play a large role in its decisions and direction, but it should not alter its strategy or mission. Therefore, it is important to write a policy that is drawn from the organization’s existing cultural and structural framework to support the continuity of good productivity and innovation, and not as a generic policy that impedes the organization and its people from meeting its mission and goals.
Why Can’t I Just Use Someone’s Template?
IT security policies are a unique set of documents for each organization. These policies are cultivated from the company’s perspectives on risk tolerance, how they value their information, and the resulting availability that must be maintained regarding access to that information. For this reason, boilerplate IT security policy templates are inappropriate due to its lack of consideration for how the organization’s people actually use and share information among themselves and out to the public.
In order to be effective, IT Security Policies need to be developed with a multi-layered approach. Larger organizations will have more policies to cover a broader range of topics due to the nature of their business operations than smaller companies. However, every organization should have a combination of policies in place that thoroughly address each of the following topics in order to establish a sufficient IT Security program baseline:
- Physical Security
- Guest Access
- Acceptable Use
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
- Clean Desk
- Remote Access
- Email and email etiquette
- Network Security
- Employee Termination
- Confidential Data Handling
- Data Classification and Retention
- Secure Data Destruction
- Change Management
- Third-Party Providers
- Incident Response
- Breach Notification Plan
- Disaster Recovery Plan
- Business Continuity Plan
- Privacy Concerns
Many of the above topics can be combined to create a comprehensive security policy, although some topics are more extensive and will require their own separate policy. In addition, various forms and templates should be created including, but not limited to:
• Policy Acknowledgement Form(s)
• Non-Disclosure Agreements for Staff and Other Entities (Vendors, Providers, etc.)
• Security Incident Report template
• Notice of Policy Noncompliance
• Change Management template
• Guest Access Request template
• Employee/Vendor Termination Worksheet template
How Are Security Policies Implemented?
Since written security policies are essential to securing an organization, everyone in the company needs to understand the importance of the role they play in maintaining security. One way to accomplish this is to create a “Security Culture”. The key elements of creating a healthy security culture is to create reasonable security policies to protect the organization, and provide and engaging interactive security awareness training platform in support of the company policies. Policies and security training should be continually reviewed and updated at least bi-annually.
Security policies are detailed documents that everyone in the organization should be required to read, accept, and sign in order to continue their employment with the organization. A copy of the signed policy should always be placed in each employee personnel file. In order to be adequately effective, security policies should always be accompanied with adequate security awareness training. Security training sessions should fully explain the company’s security policy and allow ample time for questions and discussions. The key is to build a security culture where staff members understand the “How and Why” behind the security policies, that it’s important to their job function as well as the sustainability of the business, and that these matters must be taken seriously.
We’re Here to Help You Succeed…
We understand that most small and medium sized organizations lack well designed IT Security policies and other resources designed to ensure the success of their cyber security strategies and efforts. The omission of cyber security policies can result from various reasons, but often include:
- Lack of awareness of the importance of having an effective IT security program
- Slow adoption of security protocols by leadership and management
- Limited resources to assist with developing written policies and procedures
However, creating and managing your organization’s security policies doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Our highly experienced certified security team is here to assist you every step of the way. Our Security Policy Management services are designed to coincide with our Security Awareness Training Services. This way we can provide a comprehensive security solution so you can focus on what matters most… running your business securely.
Here’s how our Security Policy Management Services
can benefit your business and save you time and money…
ITNS Consulting is dedicated to providing the very best services to proactively support, maintain, and securely protect your business interests. Our suite of technology solutions are specifically designed to efficiently and effectively save time and money in addition to providing considerable value well beyond what many other providers offer. Here are just a few important reasons to consider our Security Policy Management Services and other solutions over what you may currently have in place:
- Security Policy Management by Certified Security Professionals
- Security Policy Management for Compliance (PCI-DSS, HIPAA, Other PII)
- Incident Response Planning and Mitigation
- Business Continuity Planning
- Business Risk & Threat Assessments to Identify Organizational Vulnerabilities
- Employee Vulnerability Assessments to Identify Employee Vulnerabilities
- Comprehensive Security Awareness Training with Measurable Results
- Customized In-Person Training Seminars
- Interactive Online Security Training and Automated Performance Testing
- Interactive Phishing and Social Engineering Campaigns
- Compliance Management Training (PCI-DSS, HIPAA, Other PII)
- Ongoing Security Training for Continuous Education
- Proven Methodology for Successful Results