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9 key elements of an internal IT security policy

Every day, hackers discover new ways to break into your network, malware becomes more malicious, and office workers everywhere drop the cybersecurity ball in more ways than one. Because of this, your organization needs to go above and beyond the latest cybersecurity solutions to remain secure.

To do this, it’s important to develop a strong internal IT security policy that works in tandem with your protective measures. Here’s a good place to start.

1. Training

Some companies reserve cybersecurity training for people who work directly with IT. However, this would be a mistake.

Anyone in your organization can receive a phishing email or connect a compromised personal device to the network. A strong training program that is contextually appropriate for each position gives staff members the knowledge they need to understand and properly respond to cyberthreats.

2. Passwords

Strong passwords can be your first and greatest line of defense — especially when hackers are trying to force their way into your network. Because of this, it’s critical to work password management into your IT security policy.

This should cover areas such as password duplication (no employee should ever reuse the same password), creation (when creating a password, certain guidelines should be followed), and resets (passwords should be reset every few months).

3. Mobile Devices

Many companies have Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies to manage and track the mobile devices brought in by employees. These policies set expectations for which devices employees can use, the security these devices require, and how the data on these devices will be managed.

A BYOD policy should also touch on things like remote wiping of data, device locks, and WiFi access.

4. Internet Use

Certain types of internet usage can put your organization at a higher cybersecurity risk. To combat this particular risk, write clear policies that define how employees may use the internet, what types of content should be avoided, and what devices should be used to do so.

5. Social Media

Hackers can leverage social media to distribute malware and gain access to user accounts. In particular, the messenger functionality associated with many of these networking sites provides a convenient way for attackers to send compromised files or misleading messages.

A social media use policy dictates how employees can use these sites and explains which activities are prohibited. Some organizations decide to do away with social media altogether, but since this can hurt company morale, others take a more moderate approach and apply the appropriate restrictions as needed.

6. File Storage

USB drives and personal cloud storage accounts might be convenient, but they can open up many problems in the business environment — mostly because you can end up with data in places it shouldn’t be.

To keep your data secure, every file should have a designated storage location that the organization can control, and employees should be trained on the risks associated with storing company documents in unsecured places. This information should be contained within your security policy and updated on a regular basis.

7. User Access

All user accounts in your organization don’t need the same level of access. When people have too many permissions, the only thing you’re doing is opening yourself up to more risk.

This facet of your internal security policy should cover user account audits and management as a whole. For example — What happens when an employee is fired? Who is responsible for removing user access? And at what point does this removal happen?

8. Company Culture

Does the culture of your company support your IT security efforts? If not, things need to change.

You need to have systematic support at all levels of the company if you want to fight back against sophisticated attackers. Cybersecurity should be presented as a serious topic for each employee, and ongoing training should be delivered to keep your staff knowledgeable and trained.

If cybersecurity is treated as an afterthought or a chore, then that mindset will transfer to your employees and your network will feel the negative impact of it.

9. Communication

Sometimes staff members fall victim to security threats simply because they don’t know who to contact if they run into problems. Part of your cybersecurity strategy should involve communication channels — who to contact, for what specifically, and how. While this approach does add to an already busy IT workload, you may be able to identify cyber threats earlier with open communication.

A strong IT security policy is critical for the modern-day business. But for this policy to be successful, it should cover every aspect of your organization. These nine pieces touch on many different facets of your operations and can provide your company with a solid starting point.