Information security Policies, Standards, and Procedures typically fall to the bottom of many companies’ to-do lists. While these documents may seem tedious, the effort you put into the creation and maintenance of them will pay off in the long run!
What They Are
First, let’s break down what each of these governance documents are, and how to take care of them.
Information Policies – The “What”Policies are the high-level statements that communicate a company’s objectives. This is typically the philosophy of solving security problems that may arise. Here you will find out what the organization’s objectives are, and how they are designed to protect the company’s assets.
Information Standards – The “How Often/Much”Policies and Standards are similar but do differ in some very important ways. Standards go more in-depth and elaborate on the Policies. Who will be involved in implementing the Standards? What are the specific responsibilities of the associated departments? Who does the Standard pertain to? Who owns the individual Standard? Specific requirements are laid out here for a comprehensive look at how each control area fits into the overall information security program. Standards are what most compliance requirements and frameworks ask for.
Information Procedures – The “How”Procedures are the step-by-step instructions for fulfilling the Policies and Standards. For every control area your Policy covers, there needs to be corresponding sections for how the company will carry out that Policy. Procedures take Policies and Standards and creates tangible action steps. In these procedures, the business should call out specific employees and technologies that are used to carry out each procedure.
Why You Need Them
Now that we’re on the same page about what these governing documents are, let’s explore why they’re important for your business!
Establishes ContinuityShowing your employees exactly what is expected of them is crucial. Without a clear vision set, there will inevitably be questions. Creating a universal guide for everyone to see and understand will unify the team in times of crisis or confusion.
Allows Easy EnforcementWithout implementing a governance program Executives will have no way to enforce the practices they want employees to follow. If these expectations are laid out clearly in easy to find Policies, Standards, and Procedures there will be proof to hold people accountable for not abiding by them.
Creates a Security CultureUsually if an Executive is involved in the creation of Policies, Standards, and Procedures they’re more likely to understand what’s happening when problems arise. That makes it easier for IT professionals, and other employees, to communicate and understand what is important to the Executives. (Many companies will ask employees to sign a document saying they are aware of the Policies, Standards and Procedures and agree to comply with all security controls and directives.)
How to Get Started!
1. Figure Out Your NeedsWhat an organization’s size or niche is will mandate what their governance documents should be. If you have a large business with several employees, you may need a more detailed plan. If you have a small organization with people who do a little of everything, you should consider what guidelines to put in place to enable employees to effectively perform their job duties in a secure manner.
2. Build an Action PlanNext, address how to get the governance program in place. Talk with your IT operations team to make sure they are in compliance with the program you are trying to build. If not, find out what resources and tools they need to achieve the organization’s security goals. Open communication is key!
3. Maintain and UpdateLast, once you have your Policies, Standards, and Procedures in place, the work is not finished. Maintaining and updating your documents is just as important as the initial creation process. Times change, and so should your security governance. Be sure to do annual reviews of all these important documents to proactively evaluate the security controls related to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your business’ sensitive information.
If you need help creating and maintaining policies, standards, and procedures, Pratum can help. Contact us today.