Cyber threats are one of the biggest risks in any business in this technology era. Hackers are more advanced than ever, and the damages they are causing are big and expensive—some have the potential to shut down a stable business completely.
This is why you need to pay attention to your cybersecurity policy to ensure everything is accounted for and there are no loopholes for hackers to sneak into your network.
The big question is, how do you create a hack-proof cybersecurity policy? Well, that's what we will discuss in this blog post.
What is a cybersecurity policy?
A cybersecurity policy is a guideline outlined with expectations that everyone in an organization should follow to prevent cyberattacks. It contains a company's security policy, technological safeguards, procedures, and operational countermeasures in case of a breach in cybersecurity framework.
A cybersecurity policy ensures all the departments are working in tandem to limit the number of cybersecurity attacks. It also prepares the business executions, Information Technology team, and operations on steps to take to combat an attack quickly.
What is the purpose of a cybersecurity policy?
A company's private data landing in unauthorized personnel can cause massive damage. Take an example of the health industry; all the patient files have crucial information that shouldn't be exposed to the world. Therefore, as a therapist, your patients' information ending up in the open could lead to several lawsuits and probably a revoked license. This example of cyber risk should illustrate why a the right security measures and a strategic plan are necessary.
Other reasons you should have a cyber security policy include the following:
1. Protecting and upholding an organization's reputation
A data breach can lead to mistrust from your current customers and make it harder to close on potential customers. Ultimately, you could lose investors, potential business partners, and clients.
An effective cybersecurity policy reduces the chances of a data breach, which can help strengthen your relationships with other parties in your industry.
2. Protects a company from disruption of its daily activities
A cyberattack can lower productivity in an organization, affecting everyone, from suppliers to customers. For example, if ransomware enters your company's network, all operations must halt until the problem is solved. Depending on how serious the malware is, it could take hours or days to get rid of it.
A cybersecurity policy teaches employees to have a cyber-safe posture by catching the cues early and protecting their systems from these attacks.
3. Ensuring a company complies with legal regulations
With the alarmingly increasing rate of cyberattacks, all industry leaders and lawmakers are becoming stricter with privacy regulations. This ensures that the employees' and customers' private information is safe. Failure to follow these rules can lead to massive fines and penalties and, in some cases, temporary closure of a business. A good cyber security policy ensures you're updated on all the compliance requirements.
4. It holds employees accountable for their actions
A cybersecurity policy clearly explains the responsibility and the measures an employee is supposed to take to protect an organization against cyberattacks. As a result, employees are more cautious and vigilant in their daily operations to ensure they don't give access to hackers.
It also reduces the possibility of internal threats, which are very common.
How does an organization develop and implement a cybersecurity policy?
Now that you know why a cybersecurity policy is important, let's discuss how you can create an effective one. Here are our top tips.
1. Understand WHY cybersecurity is crucial for business
The first step in developing a cybersecurity policy is understanding what it means to your company. For example, why is it important to your employees, distributors, investors, consumers, etc.?
Understanding what cybersecurity means to every group should be a guide on what to include in your cybersecurity policy.
Be sure to share this information with your employees – instead of telling them not to pass information to no one but the customer, explain why that's important.
2. Identify the potential risks and threats
Cybersecurity is like insurance; you want to cyber-proof all threats that are likely to happen. This calls for a thorough business assessment to determine the potential risk factors and avoid rude surprises.
Some of the questions you need to ask yourself include the following:
- What are the most common cyberattacks in my industry?
- What cyberattacks could adversely affect my business?
- What channels are attackers likely to use?
Asking yourself these questions will ensure you build a strong foundation for your cybersecurity architecture and ensure your program can be usable during a threat.
3. Set realistic goals
When writing your cybersecurity policy, it's important to ensure your goals are achievable with your current budget. You also want a policy that is not too rigid or affects your employees' performance by discouraging innovation.
To avoid overwhelming everyone involved, find a way to implement the cybersecurity policies in bits to allow time for adjustment. Communicate your goals and plans to your employees, customers, and investors so they don't feel blindsided.
You can start the implementation process with a small step, like enrolling your team in a cybersecurity course.
4. Confirm your policy is in line with compliance requirements
Just because a measure is a brilliant idea to protect your assets doesn't mean it's legally acceptable. Many regulations govern businesses and organizations in every industry, and your cybersecurity policy must comply with all the requirements.
Here are some regulations to consider:
- PCI Security Standards
- HIPAA compliant
- International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
- Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
5. Put your policy to test
Instead of waiting for a cyberattack to know whether your cybersecurity policy is effective or not, do a test run. Iron out the kinks before a real attack – it's also a good opportunity to prepare employees to respond.
Make a habit of revisiting and upgrading your cybersecurity policy at least quarterly.
How do you measure the effectiveness of a cybersecurity policy?
There are many metrics you can use to know whether your cybersecurity policy is effective or not. Think about:
- The time to detect cyber threats
- The time to resolve the attacks
- The time to recover from an attack
- The number of security incidents your network is getting
- The number of successful intrusions in your network and their extent
How do you make sure that employees are following the cybersecurity policy?
As the head of security or business owner, it's your responsibility to ensure your employees adhere to cybersecurity policies.
Here are some ideas on how to go about it:
1. Explain the risks to everyone and make them relatable
It's important to explain why protecting the business from cyberattacks is important and the damage they might cause.
When explaining the risks, make them relatable to your employees. For example, instead of saying, "we need to keep our organization safe," say, "security breaches may affect the company's performance leading to layoffs."
2. Help employees identify potential threats
As a security leader, identifying threats is easy for you; this is different for your employees. Provide examples of what a cyberattack may look like.
For example, while employees may need help understanding the theoretics of phishing, they might recognize misspellings, strange links, basic grammar mistakes, or improper logos. Educating them about these clues can help them identify a cyber threat faster than just telling them to be aware of phishing.
3. Educate employees on the importance of passwords
Employees carry a company's private information on their laptops and tablets. A small mistake like forgetting their laptops at their favorite coffee cafe can lead to a security breach. Make it mandatory for employees to have secure passwords on gadgets with company information.
4. Lead by example
Leaders are good at making rules, but they exempt themselves from following them. While this is harmless in most scenarios, for cybersecurity policies to work, it's paramount that everyone adheres to them.
If you're asking your employees to ensure they log out or shut down their computers before leaving the building, be a role model and do the same.
5. Test employees
Testing your employees every once in a while to see whether they understand what they're required to do during an attack is one of the best cybersecurity practices. For example, since phishing has become very common, you can send them a phishing email and see who notices first.
Reward the winner and have different regular security breach tests to ensure your employees are ready.
6. Enforce cybersecurity policies by elimination
After training your employees and ensuring they're well-educated on cybersecurity policies, be aware of the "rotten potatoes." These employees are willing to compromise a company's security for personal gain.
For example, you might learn an employee sold a company's password to a third party. In this case, hold them accountable and discontinue them.
How does a cybersecurity policy fit into a business or organization's overall risk management strategy?
A cybersecurity policy is a major branch of the overall risk management strategy. The latter aims to improve a company's network security and protect your business's plans, data, and secrets from landing in authorized hands.
Cybercrime is also scary because hackers don't always have a monetary motivation. Sometimes, they're just malicious people who want to damage your business reputation, which can be very detrimental. This explains why a cybersecurity policy is the heart of a risk management strategy.
Time to draft your cybersecurity policy
We can't ignore the increase in cyberattacks and how damaging they're becoming, whether by ruining a company's finance or reputation. To be safe, it's important to implement a cybersecurity policy for your company to reduce these risks.
At RiskRecon, we offer tips on how to guard your company against online hackers—you can even request a free demo to see how our software works. We genuinely care about keeping your business safe online.