Understanding Your Information Security Policy, Its Purpose, and Key Elements

An information security policy assists in the reinforcement and coordination of security programs across an organization. Learn more here.
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Understanding Your Information Security Policy, Its Purpose, and Key Elements

There has been a rise in security threats in business. This calls for more complex compliance requirements to protect organizations from losses and liabilities. Regardless of the size of your business, you must invest in a reliable security program to minimize threats and help you manage complex compliance requirements. This is where information security policy assists in the reinforcement and coordination of security programs across your organization. Moreover, it is easier for you to communicate the necessary security measures to external auditors and other relevant third parties.

What Is An Information Security Policy?

Abbreviated as ISP, information security policy is a set of rules dictating security roles in an organization.

The policy governs information protection which goes important it is, keeping in mind that information is one of the most valuable assets in an organization.

The information security policy also defines the amount of risk that the senior management can accept or handle.

Information security policy aims to:

  • Ensure the protection of critical, sensitive information in organization networks by restricting access
  • Offer multi-level protection for different classes of information and user profiles
  • Ensure employees use information systems such as computer security appropriately
  • Monitor employees web-browsing activities
  • Restrict access to shared data systems
  • Ensure safe transfer of sensitive data across networks

Information Security Policies Ranks

Businesses have many policies, ranked hierarchically, the master policy being the top or highest ranked. Below master policies are issue-specific policies, also known as functional policies. These address security issues individually.

In return, the issues get more attention to develop a comprehensive structure that is understandable by all employees. The aim is to ensure that all involved parties comply with the requirements.

After the issue-specific policy is the system-specific policy. Like issue-specific policy, this one pays more attention to individual data storage systems such as computers, applications, and networks.

The policies outline how different systems containing sensitive data should be protected to keep unauthorized hands at bay. The policies define who can access the systems and how auditing should be done.

The system-specific policies show how computers lock and by whom.

Security Information Policy Key Elements

Ideally, a security policy can be as broad as you would like it to be in regards to IT security. However, there are a few key elements to pay attention to as follows;

The Reasons Behind the Information Security Policies

Organizations need information security policies for numerous reasons. It could be that you want to define your preferred information security approach or to detect any underlying risks that could compromise your business information security, such as data and network misuse.

Determine the key purpose for the security policies to help you develop a strategy that fulfill the policy’s purpose.

Audience

The audience is made up of parties to whom the security policies apply. In a business setup, the primary audiences are the employees and the IT management team.

Make sure to define the audience, as this will promote compliance across the teams.

Access Control

Access control is determined by the authority ranking of the involved parties. For instance, a senior manager will automatically access the information and grant permission to the individuals below them. The manager becomes liable for establishing which information can be shared and with whom.

Besides ranking, information security policy dictates the logins such as passwords that the staff can use to access the organization network.

The Objective

Besides purpose, you should define the objectives of information security. In return, this helps you define a compelling security strategy.

Note that the management team must be on the same page in terms of objectives. Otherwise, the entire project becomes dysfunctional.

For starters, the management should simplify the policy language to eliminate any differences or misunderstandings. The security team must also use the correct terms and their meanings.

Any writings should be brief and concise and avoid any information that will make it hard to achieve compliance.

The main objectives of information security should be; availability, to ensure all users have access to the system or information when necessary, and confidentiality which ensures that only authorized individuals can access the information.

Data Support

An effective information security policy should include data operations and support. These include protection regulations that ensure the protection of all systems that entail personal and other forms of sensitive data. The systems should be protected as per the organization’s best practices and industry compliance.

Data support should also include data backup and transfer. The data should have an encrypted data backup while meeting the industry’s best practices. In case of data transfer, the process should be carried under strict security protocols while ensuring that no information is open to unauthorized hands.

Data Classification

There is classified based on its value. You should invest in a data classification system to help you establish which information has significant essence in your organization, hence the need for extra protection.

This strategy saves you from focusing too much on information that has no value or is a burden to your business resources.

The main data classifications are:

  • Confidential Data: This is sensitive information but doesn’t enjoy the benefit of law protection. It is, therefore, up to you to protect it from unauthorized hands; otherwise, you will face liability charges from the owner.
  • High-Risk Data: This data has the privilege of protection by federal legislation, HIPAA, and FERPA. It also entails privacy and financial requirements.
  • Public Data: The information does not require protection and is therefore accessible by the public.

Learn More About an Information Security Policy

Information security policy is the foundation for a competent security program. It promotes data protection, thus saving you from data losses and liabilities.

However, the requirements are complex. You should consider hiring IT experts who will help you meet compliance and data security requirements. V&C Solutions are your go-to providers for all your IT needs in San Francisco Bay Area. Contact us today to get a free immediate quote for IT services, and let’s get started with outlining your information security policy.

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