Cybersecurity Policies for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
88% of organizations experienced email hack attempts, yet only 77% have an incident response policy and plan. The lack of cybersecurity protocols in a growing company can be for a multitude of reasons: the lack of resources to help develop policies and a misunderstanding of how important cybersecurity truly is just to name a few. Also, a common misconception amongst small to medium-sized businesses is that building a cybersecurity program requires a significant capital investment. When in reality, formulating a program can be a cost-efficient process with the right tools and resources, and not to mention that it begins to protect against additional losses from a cyber attack.
What is a cybersecurity policy?
A Cybersecurity Policy is created to establish standards of behavior for companies and their employees to establish and ensure a secure culture. They detail the protocol for how employees and other company stakeholders should practice secure habits when it comes to operating in their everyday roles.
The Importance of having a policy in place
A study conducted by the Cyber Readiness Institute that includes 412 small businesses notes that only 40% of small businesses have implemented a cybersecurity policy focused on remote work in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This means that the other 60% are operating without essential documentation that business leaders and employees should reference to ensure that they are remaining secure in their everyday practices and what to do in the event of an attack. This is important because it defines how employees should operate in their day to day and who should be granted access for what. Also, these protocols map out how to address threats and implement strategies to mitigate vulnerabilities and recover from an attack if one occurs. Regardless of size, it is important for every company to have a Cybersecurity policy. There are specific regulations (some depending on the industry) that you must remain compliant in to even operate a business so it is imperative that you have a plan of action in place.
Creating a cybersecurity policy
You may be asking, how can small to medium-sized businesses that may have limited technical knowledge begin to apply cybersecurity principles?
A recommended starting point is to create a cybersecurity policy. Policies detail the protocol for how employees and other company stakeholders should practice secure habits when it comes to their specific roles within the organization. Additionally, they’re fundamental in contributing to a secure organizational culture.
Determine the scope and who it applies to
Be direct with who is responsible for following the policy.
Ensure the wording is clear, concise, and accessible to a non-technical audience.
Outline which areas of your business need to be covered and craft the policies. Some examples include:
Physical Security – Noting what protocols must be followed with regard to the company’s physical assets. (eg. laptop management, sensitive physical documentation management, etc.)
Personnel Management – Notes how employees and other stakeholders are to conduct business activities in a secure manner on an individual basis. (eg. password management, confidential information security)
Hardware Software – Notes what type of technology to use and how network controls should be configured on an administrative level. (eg. firewall management)
Disaster Recovery – Notes what should be done to quickly redirect available resources to restore lost data and information systems following a disaster
Set your program up for success
Creating a policy is the first building block when crafting a comprehensive cybersecurity program. When you’ve addressed the elements such as the examples mentioned above, it is equally important to have a deployment plan such as how to establish expectations and train employees on the guidelines you’ve created properly.
This can be done by doing the following:
Getting your senior leadership on board
Educating your employees in cybersecurity awareness
Ensuring policy compliance
Performing policy audits
Regardless of size and industry, it's highly recommended all organizations have a policy in place to help protect their assets and resources. We have also created a list of resources to assist you in your policy-making efforts. Cyber Pop-up has vetted experts ready to help.