Guide 101: How To Design An Effective Cybersecurity Policy 

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As threats to businesses escalate on a daily basis, particularly in the digital age, cyberattacks have emerged as a top concern. Consequently, companies worldwide are increasingly investing in sophisticated security systems. This trend is underscored by statistics indicating that the global cybersecurity market is projected to reach $1 trillion in 2021.

Despite the cybersecurity innovations, businesses continue to record breaches. Therefore, it’s always better to remain prepared with an effective cybersecurity policy. 

But what are the factors that make a cybersecurity policy effective? Read this blog to learn more about how to craft one for your business that safeguards you from cyber threats.  

What is a Cybersecurity Policy? 

Photo by Dan Nelson 

A cybersecurity policy serves as a comprehensive document outlining the technical and behavioral standards that every employee must adhere to to safeguard against cybersecurity breaches. This policy encompasses critical information concerning the company’s security protocols, technical security features, operational countermeasures, and backup procedures in worst-case scenarios.

Your cybersecurity ensures that security and operations are working hand-in-hand to protect your organization and its infrastructure from cyberattacks. Or at least, it must help limit the damage when a breach occurs and enable those responsible to contain the situation. The policy achieves these goals by containing the required steps to limit the damage, using the required NIST 800-171 Policy templates. However, a cybersecurity policy can look different for different businesses, depending on their IT needs and possible vulnerabilities.  

Examples of Cybersecurity Policies 

There are several types of cybersecurity policies. Some good examples are as follows: 

  • Disaster recovery plan 
  • Access control policy 
  • Acceptable use policy (AUP) 
  • Data breach responsibility policy 
  • Access control policy 
  • Remote access policy 
  • Business continuity plan 

The key to an effective policy is determining which type is most relevant to your needs.  

What Makes a Cybersecurity Policy Effective? 

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko 

Designing an effective cybersecurity policy is essential for companies of different sizes for several reasons. However, two reasons stand out.  

The first is to preserve your business’s continuity since cyber hacks are among the principal threats to growth today. According to Cybersecurity Magazine, 43% of cyber breaches involve small—to medium-sized companies, while 30% of SMBs claim phishing is their biggest cyber threat.  

Secondly, a cybersecurity policy eliminates guesswork when disaster strikes in the form of cyber attacks. It’s the primary roadmap in the event of any infiltration. These are the same things that make an effective cybersecurity policy. 

The policy is effective when it categorically spells out the role each team and crucial stakeholder must play in case of a cyberattack. Now, let’s find out how you can design such a policy.  

5 Steps to Designing an Effective Cybersecurity Policy 

Below are the five steps to craft a robust cybersecurity policy.  

1. Understand Your Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities And Needs 

First things first, you should have a clear picture of what the right cybersecurity feature means for your company. When making this evaluation, consider your business’s core values and operations regarding: 

  • Sales (retail or e-commerce) 
  • Investors/stakeholders 
  • Technology 
  • Services/products you offer 
  • Consumers/target market 

These factors play a vital role in the form your cybersecurity policy takes. These considerations should even go into your employee training program because the human element is fundamental to most cyber crises. A recent report from a cloud research firm showed breaches due to cloud misconfigurations in 2018 and 2019 leaking a total of 33.4 billion records. Most of these misconfigurations would have human error to blame.  

2. Identify and Prioritize Risks, Assets, And Threats 

Research from PurpleSec suggests that 50% of information security experts claim their organizations aren’t ready to overcome cyberattacks. This comes as a surprise since cyberattacks are so frequent nowadays.  

Therefore, it’s crucial to pinpoint and prioritize your assets while remaining mindful of the potential threats or risks that loom over them. You can do this by asking the following vital questions:  

  • What are the threats facing your organization or firm? 
  • How would you rate these risks from lowest to highest? 
  • What are the primary concerns about cybersecurity? 

Honestly, answering these questions will prepare you for the next step. 

3. Set Achievable Targets 

Photo by Mati Mango 

Writing a policy should start with attainable cybersecurity goals. Although implementing cybersecurity is crucial, you may encounter obstacles in your company or organization when attempting to safeguard your assets.  

Therefore, if you are unable to execute your policy all at once, ensure that it can be adopted gradually. Ensure you share your objectives with your staff, clients, and investors. It may be a good idea to start by signing up for high-quality cyber incident prevention and control training or an ethical hacking program for important IT and incident response team members.  

4. Check Your Policy For Compliance 

Not every cybersecurity policy that you decide to implement will be able to pass a compliance audit. Many firms and organizations must comply with specific cybersecurity requirements. Thus, ensure your policy complies with all applicable laws and regulations, including federal ones.  

Take into account the following rules: 

  • Export Administration Regulations (EAR),  
  • International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR),  
  • PCI Security Standards,  
  • and other regulations that apply to HIPAA. 

If you visit trustworthy websites like Dell Technologies and complete a brief evaluation, you may determine whether your policy complies with some of the standards above. 

5. Run Tests 

Lastly, make sure your policy is functioning properly by testing it. As always, assess the efficacy of your cybersecurity policy without waiting for cybercrime to occur before relying on it. 

To maintain a proactive stance against cyber threats, it is imperative to regularly conduct cybersecurity assessments. These assessments should encompass various aspects such as ransomware readiness evaluations, NIST cyber health checks, incident response tabletop exercises, and ransomware tabletop simulations.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of security measures can only truly be gauged through consistent testing and tabletop simulations. These exercises serve as vital tools in assessing the functionality of existing protocols in real-world scenarios.

Consequently, after conducting these tests, it may become apparent that adjustments to certain policy components are necessary. Embracing change is paramount in this process; policies must be continually updated to ensure they remain current and robust in the face of evolving threats

Conclusion 

It is vital to know that several stakeholders must be considered while crafting your cyber security policy. These consist of partners, clients, staff members, and compliance organizations. Before employing your services or products, every party must consent to your policy. 

The policy needs to include sufficient details about the objectives, duties, data classification, scope, and implications of violations. Finally, don’t forget to seek legal advice when necessary during the policy-writing process. 

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