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Why Security Procedures Documentation Is Essential

Some security procedures documentation is being quickly worked on a laptop computer by a technical writer.

Security Procedures Documentation is Essential to Company Security

The age of the internet has made a big world small, with files and data being sent across the world instantaneously. While this has been advantageous for businesses in many ways, the digital environment has also created a greater security risk and the need for cybersecurity documentation.

Having proper security procedures documentation can protect your company and its data from unwanted parties such as hackers. Solid security procedures are a must, and it is also essential to ensure that these procedures are clear and concise. When written by a professional documentation writer, security procedures documentation helps implement security procedures quickly and with a greater impact.

What are Security Procedures?

Security procedures are the steps in a sequence that implement, perform, or enforce a security task or function. An example of a security procedure would be the hierarchy of employee access to company files on a server. By outlining this procedure through documentation, there is a clear delineation between the level of access a new hire has and the level of access a department head has. Thus, security procedures documentation is the technical writing and documentation of security procedures and is essential to maintaining clarity and consistency.

Imagine the following scenario. Your company is in a period of growth and has hired several new employees to accommodate the progress. Currently, your company does not have security procedures documentation in place, but you haven’t had any problems yet. During training, employees are given access to company data and files but have little direction on what they should and should not do with it. A month goes by and one of your new hires emails some company files to his personal account so that he can continue working on a project over the weekend. Unfortunately, the employee’s personal account has unknowingly been the victim of a recent data breach.

As the Federal Trades Commission suggests, “you should know what personal information you have in your files and on your computers, and keep only what you need for your business” and make sure to have a policy in place to keep tabs on all of this essential data. Of course, the best way to prevent your information from falling into the wrong hands and help keep these tabs is with security procedures documentation.

What do Security Procedures Entail? 

Security procedures documentation will vary from case to case. The size and industry of your business, for example, will influence what the documentation includes. However, there are some similarities across most security procedures documentation. A well-conceived security procedure should include the following:

Acceptable Use Policy

An acceptable use policy is a type of documentation written to convey to a user the proper and allowed ways of using a product, interface, or service. These are usually written for corporations and businesses but are also written for website owners and administrators. An acceptable use policy lists out exactly how the website can be used and what the website can be used for, which saves the owner/administrator from the burden of lawsuits if something unfortunate were to happen.

Access Control Policy 

Access control policy documentation dictates which person or group of people get to see and access certain information. If you have higher clearance, generally you get access to more information than someone who is more entry-level. At its least impactful, access control policies stop your employees from accidentally seeing private information, and at its most impactful, the documentation can stop harmful incidents, like corporate espionage, from happening.

Change Management Policy 

Change management policy documentation outlines the minimum requirements needed for any one person to change something within a business’s structure or operations. Often, this type of documentation is concerned with potential changes in production systems and supporting infrastructure throughout an organization, but it can also address smaller changes, such as employee dress code. The roles of managers are written into change management policies, as well as organizers, shareholders, and officers. Anyone who has the power to make changes is detailed in this policy, as well as what they do and do not have jurisdiction over as a part of their position.

Information Security Policy

Information security policy is somewhat of a blanket term for the above-mentioned parts of security procedures documentation, but information security documentation essentially describes what a company wants to get out of its security. This document will normally detail aims and objectives for a company’s security as well as some perceived threats they look out for. Sections of the document might include a policy on password creation within the company or how to handle company-issued hardware if taken home by an employee. 

Incident Response Policy

Sometimes, even with all of your careful planning, a security breach happens in your system. So what do you do? This is where an incident response policy comes in. An incident response policy is written to help constrict and contain security breaches so they don’t spread further or inflict irreparable damage to your company. Whether it be a cyber or a physical breach of company property, you should account for as many reasonable scenarios as possible in this document.

Remote Access Policy 

A remote access policy details who can access company data, information, and software when away from the office, and what exactly they can access remotely. This type of documentation is similar to the access control policy but may be even more restrictive due to the nature of where the user is accessing the information from.

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring rise of remote work highlighted the need for companies to have remote access policies, and the need for this documentation is higher now than ever before.

Email and Communication Policy

Email and communication policies outline guidelines for both internal and external company communication, including email and other forms of communication. Since the popularization of social media, companies have had to expand communication policies to account for different social networking platforms. For example, a contemporary communications policy is likely to include literature on platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) or Facebook, as well as more corporate-geared applications like Zoom, Google Meet, and Slack.

Disaster Recovery Policy

While it is never productive to fixate on the worst possible scenario, it is good to plan for it. Disaster recovery policy documentation is made for these types of situations so that response teams know what exactly is the most important information to restore or reclaim after a disaster, and how they might go about recovering that data.

Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is similar to a disaster recovery policy but differs in that it focuses on the long-term aftermath of a disruption. In focusing on the aftermath of a disaster or disruption to normal business operations, a business continuity plan relays a plan of how to move forward and resume normal business operations. While it can be hard to predict disasters, it is important to remember that people depend on businesses to keep running even though they may also be affected. 

A screenshot of a cursor hovering over a button labeled 'security,' representing the importance of security procedures documentation

Benefits of this Documentation

Security procedures documentation is critical to have. However, it is just as important to make sure it is done well. A job poorly done may be worse than a job not done at all. Technical writers have the unique skills to make your documentation seamless. Protect your data and your company by investing in the best. When written by technical writers, security procedures documentation provides a wide range of benefits. A few of these powerful benefits are listed below:

  • Creating a clear and easy-to-follow plan for the business to implement should sensitive company data or information be compromised helps protect data and company assets
  • Outlining how employees safely and securely handle company data and information creates fewer opportunities for a security breach
  • Giving employees clear guidelines for their level of access to company information or systems leads to greater employee satisfaction through clarity, lessening the odds of an accidental security leak
  • Clearly outlining the procedures for turning over sensitive company information is critical should there be a change in management or the company’s goals
  • Streamlining the processes of recovering company information and mitigating any negative effects from a security breach gets the company back up and running quickly after an incident
  • Shows that a company is professional, prepared, and understands its position in the growing digital world

Security procedures documentation is more important than you might think. Without this documentation, you risk your company’s data, growth, and success. This type of documentation is customized to your specific company and can be updated as time goes on. When beginning the process of creating this documentation, be sure to pick the right partner. Industry jargon and lengthy policies can be difficult to understand, but technical writers are trained to break it down. Put the right foot forward and settle for nothing less than the best!

How EDC Can Help

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 protected] to get started.

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