I’ve seen first-hand what happens when companies fail to fully implement information security policies and procedures. It’s hard to do it properly on your own. That’s why as the Customer Success Manager at Carbide, a central part of my job is recommending the steps for updating and implementing a new information security program.
Policies and procedures are the foundation of any information security program. Why policies and procedures? Let’s find out.
Security Policies Set Your Baseline
At Carbide, we’ve helped many companies develop and implement information security programs. We always recommend starting with policies and procedures as the first step in the implementation. This helps set the baseline for your infosec program. If you try to implement a program without the framework and guidance of policies and procedures, how can your program be successful?
Policies and procedures outline every team members’ responsibilities at your company, from the CEO down to the newly hired intern. These documents will help your company by defining best practices that secure your company and employees. And also your reputation and client data.
As your company grows, you may be required to have a formal audit performed. Or you may need to demonstrate proof of your information security program. You may also have customers ask you to answer a vendor security questionnaire.
Your policies and procedures demonstrate to auditors or prospective clients that you take security seriously. They show you have a defined program within your company. But don’t try to develop and implement policies and procedures in a rush to meet a deadline for an audit. That will only lead to issues in the future.
Taking your time to set the baseline of your information security program will help secure your company. It also allows your company to grow and secure new business.
Engaging Employees with Your Security Policies and Procedures
Policies and procedures define who does what in the security program. We have talked before about the concept of making information security part of your company culture. Your employees are on the front lines and, in most cases, are the weakest link when it comes to your infosec program.
Once your policies and procedures are defined, they outline what your employees are responsible for and educate them on the best practices. You can use them to explain why your company takes security seriously.
If your employees do not understand why they need to use secure passwords, why they should not give away confidential information to anyone who asks, or what they need to do to secure themselves (and your company)… that could lead to an eventual data loss or a possible security incident. Your employees not knowing what qualifies as a “security incident” or the process for reporting the incident could lead to fines, legal issues, or a decline in your company’s reputation.
Having security policies and procedures defined, communicated, and actively reviewed helps to not only engage your employees with the infosec program but secures your company at the same time.
“Hope for the Best and Never Implement Anything” Is The Wrong Strategy
It will never be a great time to start implementing an InfoSec program.
Don’t wait for the “perfect time.” Waiting or incorrect implementation will be time-consuming, can cause unexpected costs, and could delay business. Many companies wait for the best possible time to implement something. Or they want to try and implement everything quickly, all at once. Unfortunately, this usually leads to poor or short-lasting results.
InfoSec programs take time and patience. Security policies and procedures set the baseline and will provide, at the very least, basic information security best practices in your company. Starting with the policies and procedures helps to break a large project of eventual audits and certifications into a smaller section. It will also help to address shortcomings that will be brought to light when implementing your policies and procedures.
Start with your policies and procedures and go from there. Do not wait for the perfect time to implement your program because there is no perfect time. Starting with the first step of having policies and procedures will then lead you to grow and develop the program as your company scales.
Define The Consequences
Understanding the consequences of what can happen if you do not follow your company’s information security program is vital.
Each employee has the responsibility of representing and securing your company, they must understand how important it is in relation to their daily activities at your company. Defining the disciplinary actions, such as the denial of access, legal penalties, and/or dismissal helps to outline what can happen if you fail to take security seriously.
Employees should be aware of what is a violation of security policies or procedures. They should know what they must report to a supervisor or other authorized representative. All employees need to be held accountable and are not be above any policy.