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The 6 Must-have Elements of a Good Cybersecurity Policy

Every day, millions of devices are attacked, infiltrated or otherwise victimized in a cyberattack. With each passing year, attacks seem to become more brazen and their consequences more severe.

Contrary to widespread opinion, small companies are neither off hackers’ radar nor immune from attack. Organizations of all sizes must therefore be ready to deal with what is fast becoming their biggest existential threat. Yet, no cybersecurity program can work if it isn’t underpinned by a robust and well-thought-out cybersecurity policy.

A good policy should contain the following elements.

     o Security Audits

If you think about it, security policies and procedures are simply a collection of typed text. Policies and procedures only come to life when they are enforced in everyday operations. It’s good to have policies but you have to be certain that employees are actually applying them.

Ergo, your cybersecurity policy should have a requirement for regular security audits. The audits would seek to review user practices and system configurations to confirm compliance with company policy. For example, you could examine SharePoint rights management to ensure user rights match employee responsibilities.

     o Critical Vendor Audit

No organization exists in a vacuum. You have vendors and partners you depend on in order to realize your goals. Not all vendors are created equal though. A select few will need access to some of your most sensitive systems in order to fulfil their contractual obligations to you. These vendors should adhere to at least the same cybersecurity controls as you do.

Ideally, the vendor should allow you to visit and audit their systems and procedures once a year. If that isn’t workable, the vendor should annually submit to you external IT security audit reports.

     o Social Engineering Safeguards

Hackers are often depicted as hyper-techy individuals who are always on the lookout for the most sophisticated means of penetrating complex systems. In reality though, attackers seek to save on time and are therefore most interested in low hanging fruit.

Social engineering is the easiest means through which unauthorized parties can infiltrate your systems. The cybersecurity policy should specifically address how you’ll ensure social engineering attacks are prevented or foiled.

     o Employee Awareness and Training

Your employees are simultaneously your greatest asset and greatest vulnerability when it comes to the protection of your organization’s systems and data. Social engineering is just one of the ways your workers could compromise your cybersecurity.

Recklessness, malice, deliberate data theft and ignorance are some of the avenues your employees can become your worst cybersecurity nightmare. Of these, ignorance poses the biggest danger.

The overwhelming majority of your workers are well-meaning individuals who want to do the right thing. A good cybersecurity awareness and training program should equip your staff with the knowledge they need to make the right security decisions.

     o Data Backups

Data is arguably the modern business’ biggest asset. Loss of company data can at best disrupt operations for a couple of hours and at worst lead to a complete shutdown of the enterprise. Data backups are a lifesaver.

If, for instance, your production systems are destroyed or disrupted by a natural disaster, computer virus infestation, ransomware or accidental deletion, backups would allow you to retrieve all (or nearly all) the data.

But backups are of no use if they do not work when they are most needed. So your backup routine must include a manual or automated testing process to be certain that the systems and data can be retrieved on demand.

     o Physical Security

Even if your network, hardware and software security controls are of the highest possible standard, it won’t mean much if your computers, servers and network routers aren’t physically secured and/or their movement controlled.

Server rooms should be off limits to all employees except those tasked with server management. No physical asset should leave the company premises without following a rigorous clearance process that includes sign-offs from the line manager, department head and a security officer.

Protecting your organization’s systems and data begins with a solid cybersecurity policy. Incorporating these principles will help you get there.

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