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How to Create a Company Cybersecurity Policy [in 2024]

Tony Caccavo, Esq. is a former educator, attorney, and the CEO of TeamPassword, a password management company. He believes cybersecurity tools and information should be made accessible, to better protect individuals, companies, and society at large.

February 22, 20249 min read

Cybersecurity

The technological era has brought numerous benefits to many businesses. Some areas that rely on technical solutions today include communications, product design, logistics, financial services, and marketing.

But while the use of technology has increased drastically over the last few decades, so has the threat of cyber attacks. 

As more businesses become aware of different tactics and cyber security measures improve, hackers create increasingly advanced attacks that threaten company data more than ever.

In fact, CyberArk research predicts that session hijacking will account for 40% of all cyberattacks in 2024, while 30% of organizations will see an increase in data breaches linked to credential theft.

Why does this matter? Businesses face costly shutdowns if they’re victims of an attack, not to mention potential compensatory damages or fines. While software solutions are available, having a fully comprehensive strategy is more effective.

But cybercriminals show no signs of slowing down in 2024. And with the popularity of new tools like AI, a rise in the use of the Internet of Things, and cyberattacks becoming increasingly sophisticated, there has never been a more crucial time to create a cybersecurity policy. 

Don’t know where to start? Our guide will help you create a robust policy to protect your business, employees, and customers.

[Table of Contents]

What is a cybersecurity policy?

A cybersecurity policy defines the IT systems and data assets that your business wants to protect. It also identifies the type of threats that could occur and how to respond to them. 

Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

The policy aims to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the company’s data. This applies to all business areas, from password-protected databases to ensuring encryption for your cloud phone system features.

The policy outlines the key responsibilities of everyone within the organization and how they should protect data and avoid breaches.

Why do businesses need a cybersecurity policy?

A cybersecurity policy is an essential part of running a modern company, whether a small business or a large one. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. Protect your organization’s reputation

Exposing your business to a data breach and then failing to respond effectively will lead to a lack of trust among customers and staff. It also makes it harder to attract new customers and employees who don’t believe you take data privacy seriously.

A robust cybersecurity policy reduces the risk of a data breach and gives you a clear path for managing cyber threats if you do fall victim to attack. This, then, increases customer and employee faith in your company.

  1. Reduce chances of a shutdown 

A cyber attack can be devastating for a business. Having to shut down operations is a financial strain not all companies can afford to face. The standards set out in the policy ensure that employees understand their roles and how to prevent attacks. Reducing the likelihood of an attack ensures business continuity.

  1. Ensure legal compliance

As a response to increased threats, more laws are coming into effect. Legislation covering data protection is becoming stricter, and you must take the necessary steps to protect personal data. Failure to have appropriate protective measures can lead to hefty penalties and fines. A thorough cybersecurity policy should take into account up-to-date laws and regulations.

3 types of cybersecurity policies

Cybersecurity policies depend on the organization’s needs and, as such, have different objectives and areas of focus. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but cybersecurity policies generally fall into the following three categories.

  1. Program or master policy

This blueprint for the entire organization clearly states objectives and execution procedures to protect digital assets against an attack. These policies are written at a high level and consider future threats, which means they can be updated less frequently. A program policy takes into account the following:

  • Software updates and upgrades (including anti-virus and security updates)

  • Data backup

  • Malware threats

  • Disaster response and recovery plans

  • Password management 

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  1. Issue-specific policy

As the name suggests, an issue-specific policy provides a more in-depth exploration of specific issues and threats. In practice, this could include specific security policies for networks, personal devices, or remote access. A remote access policy, for example, might specify that employees use a remote access VPN.

  1. System-specific policy

You would write this type of policy for a specific system, such as a piece of equipment, virtual PBX software, database, firewall, or web server. System-specific policies often relate to critical people who operate the systems, with IT and security personnel giving their input to design them.

How to create a cybersecurity policy for your company

It’s one thing to understand what a cybersecurity policy is. It’s another to create one. Here are a few essential things to factor into your policy.

  1. Define the purpose and objectives

Having a clear reason and set of objectives before creating a cybersecurity policy helps ensure you make one with all the correct elements. The policy should cover realistic actions that employees will understand. Having a clear mission statement can help clarify why the policy is so important to everyone in the organization.

Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

  1. Identify risks and threats

These may differ for each business, so it’s important to consider where your company’s vulnerabilities lie. This may involve conducting a thorough assessment of the business’s digital assets. Some key questions to answer as part of a review or assessment include:

  • What threats are common in my industry?

  • What threats could have a damaging impact on my business?

  • What channels are attackers likely to use?

  • Who is the policy for?

  • How does it tie into our core business objectives?

The answers to these questions will provide a framework for your cybersecurity policy.

  1. Set realistic and enforceable goals

Any goals should be realistic for your workforce to keep on top of, and any actions should be feasible. So, consider the systems that need protecting, your budget, and your available staff. Overloading employees with unnecessary tasks can affect performance, so a staged approach to implementing cybersecurity policies is worth considering.

For the policy to be successful, it must be enforceable. If not, it’s a waste of time. Linking it to your disciplinary policy may help, given the severity of the consequences.

  1. Ditch the jargon

Most people who need to understand cybersecurity policies won’t be technical professionals. For that reason, it’s crucial to use clear language and avoid technical terms or acronyms that may not be familiar to the majority of employees. 

Doing this means all teams and departments will understand the policy. Clearly communicating with employees helps create a cybersecurity culture throughout the entire organization, which will go a long way in protecting the business from advanced threats.

Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

  1. Align with internal and external compliance requirements

One essential objective of the policy should be to act in line with your data governance security approach as well as external regulations. On top of data protection rules, there are industry-specific ones you must comply with. It’s important to know what these are and act accordingly.

As we mentioned earlier, legislation changes regularly. Stay on top of any changes relevant to your industry, business, and customers, regularly review your policy to ensure it’s up-to-date, and keep staff well-informed.

  1. Have a customer response plan

In the event of a security breach, your customers will likely have concerns. Naturally, they’ll want to know which of their personal details were exposed. 

With this in mind, you must plan how you’ll respond. What information will you share with customers? How will you resolve the issue? How will you inform customers of a breach and share the relevant information? 

As well as having an emergency call center, businesses can utilize AI virtual assistant technology to keep customers informed. You can train these to provide automated answers to common customer questions about the breach and provide general information that might impact your customers moving forward.

How to put your policy into practice

Once you have a cyber security plan, it’s time to put it into practice. This involves several key steps.

Test your approach

Why wait for a real attack to see if your policy works? Simulated testing can highlight weaknesses in your digital infrastructure so you can fix any issues before a hacker finds them. Testing also puts employees’ skills into practice and ensures everyone knows what to do in the event of a real data breach.

Train staff

Once the policy is ready, it’s important to offer staff training. Employees should be clear on what information can be shared and what can’t as well as how to handle sensitive data and confidential assets. They should also know what counts as acceptable use for online access and personal devices. 

Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

Update your policy regularly

As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, it’s crucial to keep ahead of the game by identifying potential threats and updating the policy regularly. Senior leaders, IT experts, and relevant department leaders should work together to keep the cybersecurity policy up-to-date. It’s not just the threats that change; updating software or even buying a new domain name can be enough to prompt a security review.

Final thoughts

A cybersecurity policy is essential for any modern business, particularly as cyber attacks advance in 2024. 

Regardless of your company size, location, or sector, there’s a chance you could have security vulnerabilities. By taking reasonable measures, highlighting threats, and training staff, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of a data breach or reduce the impact if you do have one. 

A cybersecurity policy should take a whole business approach. Everyone from senior management to employees on the shop floor should be onboard in sharing the importance of protecting business assets. Creating a culture of cybersecurity comes from communication and training. If you get it right, it will be one of the best weapons for protecting your business.

As with most things, preparation is better than the cure.

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