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Cybersecurity Policy Development 101: What Should be Included in a Cybersecurity Policy?

Written by Emily Jones on October 26, 2021

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Each business should have a cybersecurity policy in place to protect your company’s information and reduce your employees’ risk when it comes to their cyber-related activities.

But, if you don’t have a cybersecurity policy, where should you start?

The Basic Cybersecurity Policy Development Framework

Developing a cybersecurity policy is all about combining your knowledge of your company’s specific needs and employees’ roles with cybersecurity best practices to create a unique policy that works for your organization.

Ultimately, a cybersecurity policy should set expectations and give employees the resources needed to abide by the policy and protect your organization. So, the basic framework of cybersecurity policy development starts with considering:

  • What cyber protection does your company need, and what risks do you have?
  • What expectations does your organization have of your employees concerning those risks?
  • How can you equip your employees to understand and comply with the cybersecurity policy?

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The Four Basic Elements of a Cybersecurity Policy

Once you’ve considered what needs your cybersecurity policy will address and how your employees will be involved (and educated), you’ll have a solid base for establishing the individual pieces of your policy.

Your cybersecurity policy development will depend on your organization’s business needs, the cybersecurity measures you have in place and the role your employees play, but all good polices have a few things in common.

Here, we’ve outlined the four main elements to consider when developing a policy for your organization.

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1. Employee Education

Your employees are the first line of defense against cyber attacks and hacking, so considering their cyber education is a crucial component of cybersecurity policy development.

Your employees need to be aware of the many kinds of phishing emails and scams and how to identify them, as well as the proper ways to identify and report any cybersecurity threats if they do encounter them. However your company chooses to report threats should be readily accessible and easy for your employees to use.

2. Password Management

Considering password guidelines is a vital part of cybersecurity policy development. Some common password guidelines include:

  • Passwords need to be changed every 60 – 90 days on all applications.
  • Passwords need to be different on each application.
  • Passwords need to be 15 characters or longer, must use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, at least one number and one special character.

While some of your employees may find it challenging to have a different password on each application, you can potentially make it easier by providing them with a password manager or offering multi-factor authentication.

3. Device Security

With more people working remotely, it’s difficult to know where your organization’s devices are—much less how secure and accessible they are. If these devices are stolen or misplaced, your organization’s data could be compromised—which is why device security should be a consideration in your cybersecurity policy development.

Consider requiring employees using personal devices to frequently lock their devices and avoid public networks if possible. Personal devices need their own set of guidelines to ensure the safety of your organization’s data.

4. Privacy Settings

Encourage your employees to activate privacy settings on their personal email and social media accounts to limit the amount of personal information people can access.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can make your private information easily accessible. Inform employees about the dangers of including private information on these platforms. If employees are unwilling to remove certain information such as birthdate or location, encourage them to only make this information available to contacts or friends.

Other Cybersecurity Policy Development Considerations

Depending on your organization’s IT structure, you may also have other needs that should be addressed in addition to these four main elements, such as information about email use, general web access guidelines, accessing internal applications remotely, file sharing and more.

In addition, your cybersecurity policy should include information about IT functions within your organization, like who employees should contact if they need IT support or want to report a potential threat. Make your employees aware of any additional resources that you have available that can help them with any IT needs, especially those pertaining to cybersecurity.

cybersecurity policy development image Warren Averett

Get Help with Cybersecurity Policy Development and Connect with an Advisor

While you can’t totally eliminate human error, developing a cybersecurity policy and educating your employees can greatly reduce your chances of cyber risks and insider threats. With your employees acting as your first line of defense, a cybersecurity policy is crucial to protecting your business and its confidential information.

While this is just a general overview of cybersecurity policy development, it’s important to hone a policy that’s specific to your organization’s needs and risks. If you need assistance developing a cybersecurity policy for your organization, ask a Warren Averett Technology Group advisor to connect with you and start the conversation about how you can best protect your organization.

 

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