Importance of information security policies

The importance of information security cannot be overstated. Protecting the data your business stores, manages, or transmits should be one of your company’s most important priorities. To that end, you need to implement an information security program that includes a robust and dynamic set of security protocols.

Why Is Security Important?

There are numerous factors that underscore the importance of security policies. From a reputational standpoint, your organization stakes its credibility on providing protection for all of the data it manages. In the event of a breach, your management team will be required to demonstrate all of the preventive and mitigation measures it put in place in advance. If the investigation reveals that your enterprise was lax, the financial and credibility-related consequences could be grave.

In addition, any organization that is responsible for personally identifiable information (PIE) or protected health information (PHI) must adhere to regulatory and industry mandates such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and many others. Compliance with these standards is determined by a third-party auditor, and it is essential to obtain regular compliance checks to ensure that your company’s physical and virtual technology systems are well-positioned to protect this information against threats both from within and without. If the assessor determines that the policies that you have put in place provide adequate protection regarding the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data, you can then furnish this regulatory stamp of approval to managers, customers, and other stakeholders.

Definition of Security Policy

Every company contains an intricate web of protocols and processes designed to keep it running smoothly and safely. Your cybersecurity policy is the set of procedures and security practices that provides a fortress against attacks through monitoring, risk assessment, and mitigation efforts. It contains not only digital safeguards but also specific network security guidelines for all users to follow. After all, your cyber assets are only as safe as are the people who utilize them.

A Word about Controls

No consideration of security protocols is complete without an understanding of the concept of controls. These fall into three categories:

  • Administrative. Usually human-generated, these controls usually are seen in guidelines and requirements from management. Common examples are protocols that refer to email, staff training, hiring and firing, disaster prevention, mitigation and recovery, and business continuity.
  • Physical controls such as locks, fences, and other tangible barriers keep property safe.
  • Technical controls. As the name implies, these measures employ technology such as firewalls, access procedures, anti-virus software, and file permissions to allow authorized users in and block access to intruders.

Your company needs a combination of all these types of controls if you want to keep the entirety of your applications, physical premises, and cybersecurity environment as safe as possible from both external intruders and human error.

Understanding the Pillars of Information Security

Any discussion of the importance of security policy must include the three crucial tenets. Confidentiality refers to strategies that ensure that the data you manage is not accessed by unauthorized parties. Techniques such as two-factor authentication, strong passwords and unique IDs are just some of the ways that businesses ensure that only approved users have access to sensitive data and applications.

The second pillar is information integrity. Companies bear the responsibility to ensure that the data they manage remains unchanged and untainted by malicious attacks or user errors. Measures such as strict file permissions and access controls represent important ways to ensure that unauthorized modification and destruction do not occur.

Your customers are entitled to access their data and to your services in a complete and timely manner. Availability, the third security information pillar, offers this protection via regular backups and physical security assurances. In addition, another vital part of this pillar comes when your IT team crafts and institutes a thorough disaster recovery plan that addresses issues such as automated and human monitoring of perimeters, the chain of command, and notification protocols in the event of a security event.

It should also feature strategies to keep business interruption to a minimum and provide analysis of the situation to prevent similar events in the future.

Vital Elements to Include in Your Information Security Policy

Protection of the assets and sensitive documents stored in your company’s computers, applications, and networks mean coming up with a holistic set of practices and protocols that takes all parts of your organization into consideration. The following components should be included in any information security program:

  • Definition and descriptions of the specific risks to which your business is exposed followed by clear policies designed to reduce them. (for instance, if emails are an integral part of the work you do, your business may be in jeopardy of phishing attacks; therefore, write and institute clear policies about personal and work-related electronic communications)
  • User access, including ID and password standards
  • Use of company assets
  • Change management
  • Access controls.

While the importance of information security is clear to most managers in the abstract, putting it into practice with a comprehensive set of controls, recommendations and written protocols can be a challenge. However, experts agree that the time has come for you to secure each and every valuable asset.

If you fail to do so, you will fall out of compliance with industry standards and risk severe damage to your future business prospects. Doing your research and developing a plan that will assist you in preventing and mitigating the effects of cyber attacks could be the single most prescient and vital step you can take to guarantee the success and integrity of your business.

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