What is an IT Security Policy?
An information technology (IT) security policy sets the rules and procedures for users who access a company's IT resources. These rules protect an enterprise's data and systems from unauthorized access, use, modification, or destruction. They establish the incident response actions that will be taken if IT systems are ever compromised. These security standards are also used to configure authentication services and other security-based software.
Every business needs to be concerned about information security. Data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other malicious actions cost companies millions of dollars each year, forcing some out of business. Network and data security begin with an IT security policy.
IT Security Policy Explained
What Makes a Good Security Policy?
Three principles should be the cornerstone of every organization's security infrastructure, and they should be the goal of an IT security policy. These principles are called the CIA triad. This stands for:
- Confidentiality: This refers to a company's ability to keep its data private, ensuring that authorized users only have access to data they need to do their job and unauthorized users have no access.
- Integrity: This refers to ensuring that data is whole and has not been tampered with, so it can be trusted to be authentic.
- Availability: This refers to the ability of users to access the network, data, and systems. It means that everything needed is running and responding on time.
What Are the Components of an IT Security Policy?
An information security policy is a living document that should be updated regularly to keep up with changes in technology and the organization itself. The components of a security policy will vary based on the size of a company, the type of IT infrastructure, and the type of data and information the company deals with.
Both the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have published standards for creating security policies. You can also find many security policy templates online to help you get started creating a security policy.
Here are typical elements you will find in an IT security policy.
Every security policy should define what security means to a business. The definition section of a policy should be concise and tell the reader the intent of the document.
User Access Rules
A security policy should define the roles and responsibilities of users that access resources on the organization's network.
A good security policy will identify how security profiles will be applied across devices like servers, firewalls, and workstations on the network.
A security policy will define the minimum complexity of user passwords because weak passwords are an enormous security risk.
A security policy should define what actions will be taken if policies are not followed or security breaches occur.
To ensure a security policy is being followed, audit the organization. The policy should define how these audits are performed.
Training is a necessary part of your security program. A trained staff that is on the lookout for security issues is the first line of defense in data security.
Data and network security is a concern of every business. To improve security, a business should start with an IT security policy. It will set the standard of how data and IT assets are handled within the company.
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