An information security policy is the foundation of a company’s security program. It defines the rules and processes and establishes standard procedures for how a company protects its most valuable asset – data and information. With cybercrime at an all-time high, and cybercriminals using advanced layered approaches to breach systems, companies must be vigilant to create an information security policy that protects their intellectual property and data. A valued technology partner can be invaluable in helping create a defined information security policy. Let’s explore information security further.
Information Security Defined
Information Security, or IS, is a range of practices established to protect data from theft, misuse, alteration, or forbidden access. Data is regularly moved from one place to another, and in today’s IT environment, it’s moving faster and to more places than ever before. As such, it’s at risk, and information security seeks to mitigate all possible risks.
While the terms cybersecurity and information security are often used interchangeably, they are technically different. Cyber security is a blanket definition for all protection against online attackers, and information security is one of the many categories incorporated under cyber security.
Three broad principles of information exist, and all three of these principles govern the structure, policies, and nature of information security systems.
1 – Data confidentiality
The first principle is confidentiality. Company information must first and foremost be reserved only for those authorized to access it. There are various techniques used within information security to keep data safe. These include strong password creation, authentication methods, and encryption techniques. It also has principles such as the principle of least privilege, which established different tiers of permissions to determine access rights.
2 – Data Integrity
Integrity refers to ensuring that company data is never modified, changed, or interfered with. Breached or altered information is one of the biggest threats to any company, and it’s also one way for cybercriminals to breach security protocols. Additionally, data integrity can be breached via internal and external sources, so strong security measures need to be in place.
3 – Data Availability
Data availability is all about making sure that data is accessible correctly, in the right way, and to the right people. Information security systems must ensure that data is always available, even in worst-case scenarios like ransomware attacks and virus threats. Data availability is guaranteed through several measures such as archiving, cloud backups, and remote server access.
The Importance Of An Information Security Policy
A company’s information security policy is put in place to ensure that data is kept safe. It outlines how employees should interact and handle data and creates rules to ensure the responsible use of data.
IS policies should also stipulate the procedures involved in cases where data has been breached or misused. Severe consequences should be established for employees who maliciously or unintentionally cause data breaches. These can include retraining or, in some instances, disciplinary procedures.
Information security policies are vital for the following reasons.
- IS policies are a guideline for employees – Without an effective IS policy in place, employees will not know the boundaries and rules related to the access and handling of company data.
- IS policies reflect management policies and mindset for all security-related issues.
- IS policies are the basis on which security frameworks are built so that companies can be protected from both internal and external threats.
- IS policies provide a framework and support mechanism for the legal and moral obligations and procedures that a company must establish.
- IS policies allow companies to hold people accountable for data breaches and also establish the work instructions to follow for disciplinary and potential legal consequences.
Important IS Policy Inclusions
The following elements should be included in an information security policy.
- Acceptable use definitions
- Access control
- Change management
- Data classification
- Employee on/offboarding
- Identification and Authentication
- Malicious code protection
- Physical security
- Remote access
- Server security
However, the most critical inclusion for information security is the assistance of experienced IS security support. Business owners have enough on their plate and trying to navigate the complex world of information security should be left to the professionals.
Conscious Networks has over 20 years of experience providing technology consulting and strategy services to businesses of all sizes including developing active information security service protocols and policies. We also assist with a variety of compliance issues related to these guidelines. Get started with a free assessment of your information security needs today.