Information Security Policy for a Small Business

An information security policy is the pillar to having strong data security in your business. The policy sets internal security standards that minimizes the chance of a cyber security breach. 

An information security policy is more important than ever, with security risks increasing by the minute (cybint solutions):

  • Computers are hacked every 39 seconds 
  • 43% of hackers target small businesses
  • 95% of security incidents are caused by human error
  • On average, companies’ share prices fall by 7.27% after a breach

A security policy also creates an incident response plan that reduces the impact of a breach and protects the company network. This blog will breakdown what a security policy is and how to create one. 

Information Security Policy Template for Small Businesses

What is an information security policy?

Information security policies are written guidelines for safeguarding your business information. Your security policy serves as the compass to secure your environment internally and externally. 

Why does your business need an information security policy?

Creating the ultimate information security policy involves an in-depth analysis of your past and present security measures.  A reliable information security policy template must take into account both your IT strategy and business objectives.

A strong information security policy is known to:

  • Reduce costs: An effective strategy will prevent the chance of a costly breach and minimize its financial impact.
  • Protect your reputation:  A robust policy can strengthen or repair the image of your business. 
  • Secure all devices: A strong policy will provide visibility into all information assets on all of your devices. This will increase visibility on weak points. 
  • Improves internal procedures: A strong policy will also guarantee that every employee understands the risks and will also take precautions. 

Information security policy examples include strategies for disaster recovery and security measurement. Proactive response plans should evolve throughout the year – and take into account changing company measures/policies/procedures

Information Security Template for Small Businesses

 1. Analyze Your Environment

It’s important to analyze the current state of security in your organization.

A cyber security risk assessment will provide an overview of your entire IT stack. It will also detect if you’re within compliance standards, and any security gaps.

A gap analysis will also show your standing against defined industry standards such as NIST SP 800-53 or ISO/IEC 27002.

2. Set Your Objectives

Before fleshing out your information security policy (ISP), you have to identify your business objective or goal. Typically, an organization will have a number of goals such as:

  • Securing the business environment
  • Protecting the business reputation
  • Achieving business alignmentSet a defined vision and mission, and outline the tasks to be completed to reach your goals. Set clear timelines for tasks..Define the roles and responsibilities of each member of the implementation team. Your objective should also fulfill security obligations from regulations to business stakeholders.

3. Create a Permissions Policy

The next step is to regulate who has access to the data. A sample information security policy includes: 

  • Hierarchical Pattern: A senior manager has the ability to control who has access to certain pieces of data.
  • Network Security Policy: Employees can access data only if they have the right permissions requirements (password, biometrics, ID cards, etc).

4. Create Data Classifications

An information security policy segments data depending on informational importance and value. As a company, it’s important to systematize the information and create a classification system.

The classification could look like:

  1. Top Secret or Highly Confidential: could be data that would be protected by the state  or federal legislation (ex. HIPAA). 
  2. Confidential: data that a business owner would deem as extremely important. 
  3. Public information: information that is available to the public. 

As a best practice, encryption, firewall, or anti-malware protection should be in place as well.

5. Bring everyone on board

One of the most critical steps is to inform and educate all employees. Cyber security awareness training is the best way to share IT policies. 

It’s important to include in your strategy a business continuity plan to create promising results. As a part of the employee training, other best practices can be communicated such as:

  • Shredding documents
  • Securing laptops
  • Changing passwords frequently
  • Restrict access to certain sites like social media platforms. 

6. Develop and track control measures with action plans

Measured controls are a way for management to monitor, control, or improve aspects of your information security plan. Metrics help to measure your security envelope and determine the progress made – especially over time.

Your information security plan should have clear lower limits for your control measures, and actions to be taken if measures drop below an acceptable baseline.   

The bottom line

From the above information security policy examples, it is clear to see that creating the right program can be painstaking. It involves a lot of data analysis and the testing and assessment of your entire infrastructure. 

The process involves regulatory compliance and the challenging task of consolidating IT goals with your business strategy.

You can fast track your information security program by outsourcing to an MSP. The right provider will help create a plan, secure your organization, and reduce your costs.