Essential IT Security Policies Every Business Should Have
IT security policies form the basis of your organisation’s data security – and it’s not something that only large businesses should be concerned about, as the stakes are often higher for small and medium-sized businesses. SME’s can be devastated by a malicious attack or a user error that corrupts, deletes or blocks access to critical data and often don’t have the additional resources to recover as effectively as larger businesses. So, what IT security policies should you have in place and how do they help you keep your business and customer data safe?
Acceptable Use Policy
This is a critical policy that outlines what your business’s resources can and cannot be used for. Not only does it educate clients, staff and third parties about responsible use of your IT resources, having all parties sign the agreement prior to allowing access also ensures that you have grounds for acting in the event of misuse.
Security Awareness and Training Policy
These policies ensure that each employee, regardless of their role or level in your organisation, is on the same page when it comes to understanding and supporting data security. This training should include education on how the security policies work and protect the business as well as employees and clients, how to maintain security while at work/using email/using IT resources, and how to identify possible security risks or breaches.
Password Management Policy
Passwords are one of the most basic and most critical elements of data security, and this policy will help prevent breaches that arise from the all-too-common issue of weak or non-existent passwords. By setting a policy and standardising staff password creation and management, businesses can effectively eliminate one of the biggest security concerns.
The policy should set out how to create a strong password, terms for how often a password needs to be changed, complexity and length requirements, password logouts and procedures for forgotten passwords, maximum login attempts, and being locked out due to maxing out your login attempts.As a general rule, personal information and common substitutions (using ‘3’ for ‘E’, for example) should not be used, 8 or more characters should be used (including a mix of cases, numbers and symbols), and characters should be nonsequential.
Incident Response Policy
Once your employees understand how to recognise a real or potential breach or IT security issue, they need to know exactly how to report it in order to get a rapid, effective response. It should cover several steps including preparation, identification, containment, eradication, recovery, and post-incident steps.
This way, not only does your organisation and IT department know exactly what is happening and how to progress, users also know exactly who to report to and what to do in the case of a security event.
Remote Access Policy
As recent world events have shown us, remote working is not only a more likely feature that will be seen more frequently in the workplace, it can also become a necessity in emergency situations. Whether you are embracing a more flexible workplace structure or not, a remote access policy is critical for situations where employees are accessing IT infrastructure and resources from home or anywhere other than the office itself.
A remote access policy will ensure that personal devices are secured before accessing the network, that requirements for VPN access, password security, antimalware software and data encryption are formalised and in place, and that illegal or unauthorised access or resource use is prevented effectively.
Access Management Policy
This policy is all about ensuring that data and resources are only accessible by certain individuals as defined by their role, project or level within the organisation. Usually developed and managed by your IT partner and your Human Resources department, this policy will determine who can access what, as well as their permissions while doing so. For example, can a person view the data or extract it or change it? It will also include considerations like guest access, special privileges (for example, if you outsource to a managed IT provider), temporary access and shared users. It should also cover necessary processes for onboarding new staff and removing access for terminated staff.
Network Security Policy
A well-secured network ensures that the integrity and confidentiality of all resources and data on the network is maintained while also ensuring that the correct, authorised parties are able to access necessary data and resources easily and efficiently. This policy will ensure that your system has the appropriate software and hardware, as well as auditing mechanisms, firewalls, and activity logging/reporting mechanisms in place. It should also designate certain responsibilities to specific roles to create a clear and defined chain of command for escalating issues and requests.
Secure Your Business with Managed IT Services
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