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 procedure 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 will help you implement security procedures quicker and with greater efficiency.

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 hires 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:

Acceptable Use Policy

An acceptable use policy is documentation written, basically, to cover the owner of a product from the actions of the user. These are usually written for corporations and businesses, but most importantly for this article is also written for website owners and administrators. Basically, 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 the burden of negligence if something drastic were to happen.

Access Control Policy 

This would have actually solved the problem laid out in the “What are Security Procedures?” section. Access control policy 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, it stops your employees from accidentally seeing private information, and at its most impactful, it can stop something like corporate espionage from happening!

Change Management Policy 

Not just anyone should be allowed to mess with your equipment! Change management policy deals with the minimum requirements needed for any one person to change anything within a business. This mostly concerns with changes in production systems and supporting infrastructure throughout an organization, but it doesn’t even have to be that big of a change. Managers are written into change management policies, as well as organizers, shareholders, and officers. Anyone who has the power to change anything is detailed in this policy, as well as what they do and do not lord over as a part of their position.

Information Security Policy

This 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. It will normally detail aims and objectives for their security as well as some perceived threats to look out for. This might include 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? Well, that’s where the 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, all or most scenarios should be accounted for in this document.

Remote Access Policy 

This might have a familiar sting to some people, but you definitely need some type of documentation outlining how to access internal information from outside the system. Remote access policy details who can do this and what exactly they can access. It’s similar to the access control policy but might be even more restrictive because of the nature of where the user is accessing the information from.

If it wasn’t being used to its fullest potential before, 2020 definitely changed that!

Email/Communication Policy

Email and communication policy is fairly self-explanatory. It deals in both internal and external communication for a company, usually regarding email but recently other forms of communication since the popularization of social media. For example, contemporary communications policy might also include literature on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook and 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 is made for these types of situations so 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

Lastly, the business continuity plan is similar to the disaster recovery policy, but a bit more future-centric. It focuses on the aftermath of the supposed disaster stated above, where after important information has been recovered, then lays out a plan of how to move forward. While it can be hard to predict disasters, it is important to remember that people depend on some businesses to keep running even though they might as well 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 a critical document 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, including…

  • Creating a clear and easy-to-follow plan for the business to implement should sensitive company data or information be compromised
  • Outlining how employees safely and securely handle company data and information. This creates fewer opportunities for a security breach
  • Giving employees clear guidelines for their level of access to company information or systems, creating greater employee satisfaction through clarity, lessening the odds of an accidental security leak
  • Clearly outlining the procedures for turning over sensitive company information. This 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. This gets the company back up and running quickly after an incident
  • Showing 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 them, 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 sales@edc.us

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