Every business should invest in cybersecurity. To ensure their defense is both strong and scalable, companies must prioritize cybersecurity documentation. This should be the first line of defense for an organization, regardless of industry, size, or location.
The unfortunate reality of cyber attacks is that they will never go away. Even when they decline in relative terms, they are still pervasive and are a major threat to businesses. For instance, there were about 52 million data breaches in the second quarter of 2022. If that number seems low, it’s only because major cyber breaches have become commonplace over the years.
Business owners can never take a break from cybersecurity threats. Defending their companies is a 24/7 job. Even with the latest security tools and skilled technical personnel, they still contend with sophisticated cyber threats daily. One attack can cripple a business, costing it millions.
What is Cybersecurity Documentation?
Cybersecurity documentation outlines an organization’s efforts in responding to cyber disasters or incidents. It is a critical type of business document because it not only lists standard operating procedures when digital attacks happen but also educates employees about them.
Personnel can be a company’s biggest vulnerability when it comes to cybersecurity. Many regular staff members at an organization are not well-versed in basic cybersecurity protocols. They may open every email and click on links without thinking that they could be from cybercriminals. Good cybersecurity software should prevent those emails from reaching inboxes in the first place. However, those solutions won’t work every time.
The First Line of Defense
To set up the first line of defense, organizations must document all cybersecurity practices, from technical protocols in IT to training sessions for all employees. This ensures that if there is an attack, no one will panic before, during, or after the incident. Instead, they’ll follow the necessary documentation.
They’ll know how to establish good communication among their teams. This will enable them to respond faster, improve decision making, and reduce further damage. It will also provide clarity for every employee in the entire organization, not just the incident response team.
What does cybersecurity documentation look like? Let’s break down nine standard technical writing documents to help mitigate data breaches in your organization.
9 Types of Cybersecurity Documents
Cybersecurity solutions require a great deal of documentation, from policies and procedures to guidelines and standards. These cybersecurity documents must be written in a clear and precise manner tailored for internal and external audiences.
Other audiences include employees, clients, investors, business partners, stakeholders, and more. While these documents do not have a one-size-fits-all approach, they overlap in their fundamental policies, procedures, and plans to build a successful security program.
1. Information Security Policies
An information security policy is a pillar of cybersecurity defense documentation. It contains the company’s rules and guidelines to ensure employees adhere to security protocols and procedures in order to minimize security risks. These protocols may include physically or digitally safeguarding corporate information, IT assets, security strategies, and other preventative measures.
2. Business Continuity Plans
Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) detail the procedures and processes an organization must take to continue operating in the event of an emergency. Due to the wide and evolving range of threats, organizations must regularly update this document. Often, BCPs are discussed in the context of natural disasters, but it is critical to also consider the potential for cyberattacks as a disruptive event to business operations.
Each BCP is unique and must be coordinated with business objectives, security measures, and likely emergencies. This way it can restore essential business operations, ensuring continuity and a minimization of damages.
3. Disaster Recovery Plans
Companies create disaster recovery plans in conjunction with business continuity plans. They describe the specific steps needed to resume business operations after an event, whether it’s a power outage, cyber attack, pandemic, natural disaster, or anything else.
Disaster recovery plans include the response manager and the protocols around testing, which may involve drills or orchestrated threats. They also help monitor and update information as business operations change. Businesses must update their disaster recovery plans on a systematic basis in order to remain ready to respond.
4. Security Awareness Training
Security awareness training exists because human error is responsible for many successful data breaches. Cybersecurity learning programs or awareness training should teach employees to avoid target attacks like phishing.
This training should occur regularly. As cyber-attacks evolve, so must employees’ understanding of how to identify them. Training should involve interactive learning to keep employees engaged. Awareness training can also cover how to handle personal devices and identify different types of security threats, and critical protocols in a remote work environment.
5. Incident Response Policies
An incident response (IR) plan is similar to a disaster recovery plan in that it specifies the roles and responsibilities in the event of a disruption. However, incident response plans focus more on IT and security occurrences.
In incident response policies, it is a priority to reduce any damage caused by a data breach. This includes business operations, financial losses, or customers’ data. An IR plan also monitors and updates security information as the digital landscape evolves and cyberattacks become more frequent and advanced.
6. Risk Assessment Standards and Procedures
Risk assessment standards and procedures contain the process of identifying, analyzing, and evaluating any cyber risk. This type of documentation is critical for preventing data loss, avoiding data breaches, saving money, meeting compliance, and gaining knowledge for future assessments.
7. Change Management Policies
The purpose of this policy is to manage changes in a well-communicated, planned, and predictable manner that minimizes unplanned outages and unforeseen system issues. This document explains how any changes can avoid impacting business operations or customers.
8. Data Backup Policies
A data backup policy is an action plan that outlines the guidelines in the case of data loss, deleted or corrupt files, or other cybersecurity events. This includes implementing strategies on how to restore important documents and how to resume business services after an emergency has occurred. It also details the type of backup needed to best serve your organization.
9. Remote Access Policy
COVID-19 challenged organizational cybersecurity protocols when millions of office workers began working remotely without warning. So while remote access policies have always existed, since 2020 they have become more prominent and valuable. That’s because they describe how employees will interact with company systems remotely.
This policy may include information about storing devices securely or following bring-your-own-device (BYOD) guidelines. It must also provide detailed information about unauthorized apps and visiting non-work-related websites. It should also provide best practices on maintaining strong passwords, using multi-factor authentication, accessing third-party services, and following basic email security regulations.
How Can Essential Data Corporation Provide Cybersecurity Documentation?
With the growing threat of cyber attacks, cybersecurity documentation is essential for staff members in every department. It helps them perform quickly and efficiently in the event of an attack. This level of preparedness helps prevent further financial and brand image damages, and allows the organization to mitigate risks and recover quickly should a breach occur.
If you need policies, standards, and procedures for the NIST cybersecurity framework or other common frameworks like FISMA, Essential Data has the technical writers to keep your documents accurate, up-to-date, and compliant. We offer high-quality documentation that will prepare every employee on the latest tactics and techniques cybercriminals use to gain unauthorized access to your data, protecting your company and data from unwanted threats.
Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or email@example.com to get started.
Updated September 13, 2022