Cybersecurity Policy Best Practices

Security should always be a priority for companies and cybersecurity policy best practices must be considered in security management. To implement these practices successfully, enterprises need security policies with clear instructions regarding data use and protection, device management and enforcement.

security policy best practices

The Purpose of a Cybersecurity Policy

A cybersecurity policy provides a central framework for company-wide security and guards against the devastating financial and reputational effects of data breaches. The average cost of a breach is expected to reach $150 million in 2020, which is often enough to put a company out of business. Those able to bounce back often lose customers due to the negative effects of breaches on public image.

Detecting breach activity early and protecting the organization against outsider and insider threats continues to be of utmost importance when developing security policies. The number of personal records hackers stole increased 126% between 2017 and 2018, and 95% of such breaches result from human error. As an increasing number of devices and third-party connections become part of enterprise networks, IT departments and cybersecurity professionals must hone in on key enterprise information security policy elements.

Identify and Define Confidential Data

Proper data protection requires knowledge of all data types within an enterprise network. Common categories of information include:

• Customer and employee profiles
• Financial data
• Health records
• Vendor accounts
• Proprietary company details

There should be a core set of standards applicable to each data type, although who requires access to data and how data is used may differ according to department-specific responsibilities and nuances in workflows.

Create Network Use and Device Management Rules

Because a growing number of employees are accessing enterprise networks with personal devices, rules for network use and device management go hand in hand. Network use policies may govern:

• Permitted and forbidden actions
• The collection, use, transfer and storage of data
• Encryption and VPN requirements
• Email use
• Password management

Device security directly impacts the effectiveness of such policies. Remote access management is a vital component of information security guidelines and must incorporate specific rules regarding how employee-owned devices are allowed to interact with networks and access data. This includes specifying trusted sources for applications, keeping devices up to date and implementing a protocol for reporting lost or stolen devices.

Include Cybersecurity Best Practices for Employees

Problems arising from insider threats account for 43% of business data loss. Therefore, security policies must include ongoing employee education in order to be effective. Policies demonstrate how to prevent security incidents through changes in network use habits. Training clarifies the importance of cybersecurity and shows employees how strategic security protocols protect company data.

Making employees aware of their roles in protecting the company minimizes risk from careless practices and increases discernment to protect against known and emerging threats. Targeted educational efforts may be required to guide employees in identifying subtle threats, such as spear phishing.

Establish Rules for Enforcement

Putting consequences for policy violations in place highlights the critical role of enterprise cybersecurity. Employees need to understand their actions can have tangible repercussions with the potential to do significant damage to the company. Rules and regulations may be enforced by:

• Determining threat severity through individual incident evaluations
• Issuing a series of warnings based on incident type and policy violation history
• Pursing termination in the event a violation results in a breach

A responsible individual or team must be put in charge of policy reinforcement and enforcement to maintain a chain of accountability and ensure consequences are consistent across the board. It should always be possible to trace incidents back to an identifiable source and execute the proper disciplinary actions to prevent future violations.

Formulate a Disaster Recovery Plan

Cybersecurity best practices for companies involve more than breach prevention; both data recovery and business continuity are also vital. IT teams must create and implement plans for routine data backup using reliable tools and storage solutions. Any third-party backup options must be thoroughly vetted to ensure reliability and security before being incorporated into an enterprise security policy.

If disaster recovery is to be successful, it’s critical for an enterprise to determine how quickly systems must be brought back online and data must be recovered to minimize losses and provide customers with uninterrupted service. These numbers should inform the creation of detailed protocols for each department and employee during the recovery process, which reduces downtime and aids in preserving a company’s reputation.

Learn About Identity and Access Management Certification Path

Implementing network security best practices starts with a core security policy encompassing these key areas. Each department may require additional policies pertaining to specific needs and workflows, so the IT team must stay in communication with the rest of the company to ensure all details conform with the main policy. By formulating a concrete policy governing enterprise-wide network use, companies create strong foundations for cybersecurity and have reliable frameworks for moving forward as new security needs arise.