The purpose of a policy is to serve as an implementation roadmap, offer guidance for key decision makers, shape behavior, and codify guiding principles. When it comes to information security policies, they often serve as directives that define how an organization should protect its information systems, information assets, ensure compliance with regulatory and legal requirements, and maintain an environment that can support key guiding principles.
What is the Main Objective of Information Security Policies?
The main objective of an information security policy is to protect the organization, its partners, its vendors, its customers, and its employees from harm that can be caused by accidental disclosure of information, misuse, and accidental or intentional damage. As mentioned, these policies also ensure the availability of information systems and protect the integrity of the information.
Simply put, successful policies establish what must be accomplished and why that task must be completed. The policies, however, do not state how to do it. Here is a quick look at some of the main characteristics of an information security policy:
It is Inclusive
In the past, organizations tend to focus only on information systems that are housed within their walls. Today, things are different. You need to include external parties in your policy thought process. You see, systems that process, transmit, and store data are now globally and widely distributed. For example, if you run applications and systems in the cloud, you now face the extra challenge of evaluating and assessing vendor controls that exist across distrusted systems in more than one location.
That’s not all. Successful information security policies must also include guidance on what must be done in case of denial of service attacks, intellectual property theft, vulnerability exploits, unauthorized access, and hacktivism that is carried out in the name of warfare, terrorism, and cyber-crime.
It is Enforceable
The enforceable aspect of an information security policy refers to process of implementing technical, physical, and administrative controls to support it. This way, compliance can be measured as well. If there are no consequences after a rule is broken, it means that the policy is useless. Hence, it is imperative that you define appropriate sanctions and commensurate them with the associated risks. Additionally, you should adhere to a consistent and clear process that treats violations in the same manner.
It is Adaptable
Businesses must be open to market changes and willing to take calculated risks to grow and thrive. It is not advisable to stick with a static set-in-stone information security policy. You should never be hesitant to consult or set up discussions with risk, compliance, and security departments. If you choose to go around security, you may end up introducing services and products that will put your organization at risk.
A good information security program should encourage participants to explore new options, reassess current policy requirements, and challenge conventional wisdom while keeping the organization’s fundamental objective in sight.
It is Attainable
An information security policy should advance the organization’s guiding principles and provide a clear path for success. It is imperative that you seek input and advice from key individuals in every job role, where the policies apply as well. This will have a profound and positive effect on morale and will ultimately improve productivity. Always know what is possible!
Pro Tip: When it comes to information security, and you are looking for a solution that allows you to exchange and source for data securely over the Internet, you can consider setting up private proxies.