The Proper Construction of Information Security Policies

Many methods exist to protect a company’s data, and one of the most reliable of these is an information security policy. Constructing the policy often falls under cybersecurity, since the data of today is moved between and stored inside computers. Now, even though cybersecurity is the preferred field in which to make a security policy, it does not follow that a policy only affects cybersecurity. 

After a policy has been created, it becomes the responsibility of the entire business to uphold the standards contained in the policy. Rules are laid out, and having agreed to the policy, employees are expected to fulfill their duties, including promises to keep sensitive data safe and, if need be, enforcing the policy rules in the case that people violate any part of the agreement. Think of these types of policies as part of the process of NDAs. An NDA is meant to keep, among other things, industry secrets safe, and with it, employers can be assured that their employees can be trusted.

What Do Information Security Policies Look Like?

The federal government, and specifically the U.S Department of State, is familiar with information security policies. It works commonly with security clearances ranked as Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. Each rank allows access to different kinds of security information, and candidates must go through rigorous interviews to be granted access. Should a governmental worker reveal a secret, they will have their clearance revoked.

This goes similarly with other companies. Once a security policy is agreed to, it has to be followed according to its terms. See, on paper, the difference between matters of national security and those of company data is of little concern—on paper, the information is the point, not the field to which it belongs. If any tip is to be taken from the government’s process, and there are many to consider, then it is that it conducts a Continuous Evaluation Program that carries out reinvestigations into whether follow-through is taking place. This strategy could prove useful for companies that cycle through different versions of security policies, updating them, perhaps, annually.

A well-made security policy is direct and comprehensive, the answer to frequently asked questions, however complicated they get to be. That does not mean, either, that one policy is for new employees, another for experienced members of the team. Questions come with experience, which is to say that questions never stop. The policy accounts for this fact, or it fails at its purpose. 

With its security policy, the Environmental Protection Agency gets purpose, scope, and audience out of the way in the first three pages. It explains its rationale and lists the elements that the policy will cover, as well as designating responsibilities to different employees. When faced with the predicament of who needs to do what, the valuable thing for companies to do is reflect on who needs the information to get a job done. Such a group may include everybody, and on the other hand, it may exclude the employees who work in an area where security is less of a priority and in competition with other aspects of the workplace formula. As long as the policy reaches the right people, it will get the right kind of attention, with the support to match it.

Everybody Has A Role To Play

Though it gets stated in every policy, the need for a united effort seriously affects the outcome of an information security policy. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it is in the employees’ best interests to uphold the policy because it also protects them. The moment they start their jobs, they are a part of the data, and every task they complete changes its form. From that perspective, regulating access pertains to personal privacy and intellectual property. The human element adds depth to these policies, and in the absence of it, any and all significance, whether it is tied into the mission statement or the extrinsic goals advancing the company, declines in importance.

Above all, a policy wants a sturdy foundation, preferably made of laws and standards that can evolve as they climb with the construction. It is best to maintain a realistic outlook during this work; an earlier focus on practicality makes the jump to idealism that much more sensible. The policy needs to fit inside the regular parameters before it extends its reach, i.e., big picture thinking ought not to distract from detail-oriented thinking, the latter of indisputably higher importance in technical work. In the event that the reverse is true, the foundation stays, even as it may be converted into a “big picture” model suited for analyzing risk assessment.

Once the analysis is done, companies start mitigating risks in two ways. One, they implement the new policies and deliver them via email, meeting, or memo, so that the word can be said to be out. Two, they remind employees of their duties in regular intervals.

When dealing with any new process, the slow approach, as seen in instructional scaffolding, typically beats out the plunge into cold water, and it applies here. Approaching with one concept a day lets employees combine experiences with education and help their peers who might be struggling to understand a key facet. Ideally, nobody will struggle if the writing style is economic, and the piece is structured around questions and concerns common to the company. The audience knows what it wants, and the more expectations the product satisfies, the more likely the audience is to pay attention to the details.

We Are Here For You

At Essential Data Corporation, we also believe that the audience knows what it wants. We treat our projects as responsibly as you do your company, and we make sure that your specifications are heard and included. An information security policy keeps a company safe as the other work continues. Why not hand the policy over to us? You have enough things to worry about already, and we can guarantee that the completed policy will be better than you expected.

Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, the quality of our work is guaranteed. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or sales@edc.us

Written by Will Boswell

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