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How to Implement Cyber Policies That Protect Your Organization

Originally published:|Last updated:|Dashlane

With so many cyber threats out there and so much sensitive information to document and share with employees, cyber policies are becoming an essential part of the business and IT landscape. A cybersecurity policy allows companies to lay out important security guidelines in a living document that adapts to the latest conditions, tools, and best practices.

What is a cybersecurity policy?

A cybersecurity policy documents the rules, processes, and strategies all company employees must follow to protect digital assets, maintain confidentiality, and ensure sensitive information remains uncompromised. Cybersecurity policies and procedures establish standards for each employee and department to follow while defining how the security controls should be implemented and maintained.

What makes up a cybersecurity policy?

With the number of IoT devices expected to reach almost 30 billion by 2030, the potential for tampering and unauthorized use continues to grow. Many IoT devices do not include built-in security features, which creates a large number of unprotected endpoints for cybercriminals to target. In addition, many IoT devices operate over unencrypted channels and are not monitored by network security systems.

IoT security practices (and their benefits)

The contents of the cybersecurity policy will vary depending on the size, goals, and type of organization. Most cybersecurity policies include the following:

  • Roles and responsibilities. This section defines who the cyber policy applies to and the role of each individual. For example, IT or Security team members actively work on deploying new security tools and practices, while all employees participate in maintaining secure data and devices.
  • Email encryption rules. Company email is protected through the implementation of encryption practices. With over 300 billion email messages sent around the world each day, email security is an important application of asymmetric encryption. Email encryption practices should be clearly defined in the cyber policy.
  • Access controls. Defining access controls helps to determine who has access to company information and resources and how that access is granted and protected through authentication and authorization. Many companies choose to implement a principle of least privilege access to ensure users only have access to the resources they need.
  • Credential guidelines. Each company should create and document credential guidelines to outline secure password creation policies, multi-factor authentication, and password manager utilization policies to protect all employees and the organization from unauthorized access and data breaches.
  • Rules for device use. With so many workers using personal devices for work, some companies choose to create standalone bring your own device (BYOD) policies or include this topic with other cybersecurity policy examples. BYOD policies define rights and responsibilities, including what, where, and when personal devices can be used for work purposes.
  • Legal and compliance considerations. Depending on the industry, your company may be subject to cybersecurity standards, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and many others. Your company should document ongoing compliance steps  in the your  cyber policy.
  • Physical security guidelines. In some cases, cybersecurity may be impacted by physical threats such as device theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. It’s important to consider the impact of physical threats and the steps your company must take to mitigate their consequences.

Importance of a strong cyber policy

The growing number and sophistication of cyber attacks each year underscores the need to continually reduce vulnerabilities and protect important assets from cyber threats. Financial losses, reputational damage, and the compromise of sensitive information can be minimized or avoided through the implementation of effective cybersecurity and computer security policies that improve awareness and resilience. A strong cyber policy allows you to:

  • Minimize the impact of hacking and data breaches. Cyber policies help to prevent data breaches and minimize the impact of hacking by conveying information to all employees on common cyber threats, including:
 An example of a phishing email with a strange URL that doesn’t match the company name, a subject line with an urgent request, misspellings and bad grammar throughout the email, and a suspicious attachment.
  • Protect data privacy. Mandated privacy policies and data security tools, such as VPNs and password managers, protect data privacy and prevent unethical uses of personal data, such as identity theft. All tools and practices put in place to protect data privacy should be included in the cybersecurity policy.
  • Demonstrate compliance. Cybersecurity policies help companies demonstrate compliance by clearly stating their commitment and actions taken to follow relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards. This includes the security processes and procedures adopted to meet legal requirements using the latest tools and industry best practices.
  • Preserve company reputation. A well-designed cyber policy aims to protect company assets, and the most important asset is the company reputation. The negative publicity associated with a data breach can significantly damage company reputation, especially when customer information is impacted.
  • Build a culture of security. A strong cybersecurity policy helps reinforce a culture of security by getting all employees on the same page and helping them understand the importance of their role in protecting company health and reputation. Group training on the policy also improves the culture by giving employees an opportunity to share and exchange cybersecurity ideas and experiences.

8 steps to developing a secure cyber policy

Creating or revising a cybersecurity policy is a step-by-step process that begins with an evaluation of the overall security landscape and ends with an actionable, meaningful, and effective policy.

  1. Define the scope. The policy's scope sets boundaries for the assets, locations, tools, and behaviors that are included. Scoping also includes outlining roles and responsibilities for employees and third parties.
  2. Perform a security risk assessment. Performing a security risk assessment allows you to baseline existing threats and protection measures to determine the likelihood and impact of potential issues. The risk assessment also allows you to prioritize threats so that the appropriate controls are captured in the cybersecurity policy.
  3. Review existing policies and assets. You should review existing company cybersecurity policy and procedures, including incident response plans, access control policies, and compliance policies for industry-specific regulations. Established network security policies examples can either be referenced or rolled into the overall cyber policy. 
  4. Develop appropriate BYOD rules and restrictions. Establishing sensible BYOD rules is a good prerequisite for creating the cybersecurity policy, so the expectations for employees who use personal devices to access company data, networks, and systems are understood and agreed upon. This guidance should include recommendations for avoiding public WiFi and reporting lost or stolen BYOD devices immediately.
  5. Develop credential requirements. The computer security policy is a good place to capture credential strength and protection requirements. This includes guidelines for creating strong passwords, avoiding the reuse of credentials, and preventing credential sharing over unencrypted channels like text messages and Slack.
  6. Implement email protection practices. In addition to security tools like firewalls, encryption, and email security software to prevent account compromise and data theft, email protection practices encompass education and training resources to ensure all employees recognize the dangers of phishing, impersonation, and other common email scams that pose a security risk to the organization.
  7. Test run the policy. Social engineering tests and penetration testing are among the methods used to verify the effectiveness of the computer security policy. After the policy is enacted, ongoing training, quizzes, and simulations help engage employees while gathering important feedback on policy strengths and weaknesses.
  8. Perform regular reviews and updates. When defining what is cybersecurity policy for your organization, it’s important to remember the policy is a living document that adapts to company changes, new security threats, and industry best practices. Regular review intervals help to keep cyber policies from becoming outdated.

How to mitigate future cyber threats

The cyber policy is just one element of an overall security strategy that continually minimizes risks, protects private information, and improves company culture. The effectiveness of the cyber policy is magnified when you:

  • Create a response plan. SEC cybersecurity reporting requirements include periodic reporting on incident tracking and response plans. Even when they are not required for regulatory purposes, response plans help the company and IT team prepare for, control, and recover from security issues efficiently.
  • Implement cyber training. Regular cybersecurity training keeps employees well-informed and educated on potential threats and best practices. Periodic training on threats like phishing prevents awareness deficiencies from creating a point of entry for ransomware and other serious threats.
  • Conduct security audits. Performing a security audit to review all important assets, threats, and existing protection strategies is a good way to identify any weaknesses and ensure they are mitigated before an attacker can exploit them. Security audits also help to safeguard ongoing regulatory compliance.
  • Utilize ethical hacking. Computer experts known as white hat hackers or ethical hackers use their cybersecurity skills and experience to seek out vulnerabilities and potential sources of data breaches in a controlled fashion. Utilizing these experts allows organizations to locate and correct weaknesses proactively.
 A graphic comparing white hat versus black hat hacking. White hat hacking is approved by the organization, based on a defined scope, vulnerabilities are reported, and information is kept confidential. Black hat hacking is not approved by the organization, unpredictable by design, vulnerabilities are exploited, and information is not kept confidential.
  • Keep software updated. When software vendors release new revisions, they often include security updates along with bug fixes and performance improvements. Keeping software updated regularly ensures the latest security patches are applied while minimizing the likelihood of compatibility issues.
  • Use a password manager. A password manager is an important tool for protecting company and personal assets and minimizing the impact of cyber attacks. The best password managers raise your security profile by creating strong credentials for each account, and then storing them in a secure, encrypted vault. This helps to protect you from hackers who steal or guess at credentials to gain system access.
  • Use encryption. Scrambling email messages, VoIP calls, and passwords through encryption makes them unreadable to cybercriminals and lessens the impact of a data breach. Dashlane and some other password managers utilize AES 256-bit encryption, widely accepted as the strongest encryption type available, to protect your credentials and other data.
  • Create strong, unique passwords. A strong password is one that is at least 12 characters long and contains a random combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The password generator feature of a password manager makes it easy to quickly create strong, unique passwords.  

How Dashlane supports cyber policies that protect your organization

Password managers are versatile cybersecurity tools that offer a way for employees to consistently comply with the credential guidelines of your cyber policy. Dashlane provides automated password generation, secure vaults for credential storage and sharing, AES-256 encryption, and customizable autofill that prevents you from logging in to unsecure websites. A Password Health score tracks weak, reused, and compromised passwords for the entire organization, while a VPN creates a secure connection option for employees on public WiFi networks.

With the workforce expanding into mobile and remote locations, it’s essential to develop a password policy that’s both practical and secure. By carefully balancing cybersecurity concerns with employee needs, you can create an effective password policy for your organization.

References

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  2. Dashlane, “A Complete Guide to Asymmetric Encryption: Definition & Uses,” March 2023.
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  5. Dashlane, “BYOD Policies for Organizations (4 Examples),” June 2023.
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  17. Dashlane, “How to Conduct Your Own Internal Security Audit,” April 2021.
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  19. Dashlane, “How to Mitigate BYOD Risks with a Password Manager,” May 2023.
  20. Dashlane, “How Strong Is Your Password & Should You Change It?” August 2022.
  21. Dashlane, “Email Security Best Practices to Protect Your Business,” August 2023.
  22. Cloudflare, “What is penetration testing? | What is pen testing?” 
  23. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, “SEC Proposes Rules on Cybersecurity Risk Management, Strategy, Governance, and Incident Disclosure by Public Companies,” March 2022.
  24. Dashlane, “What Is Ethical Hacking & Why Is It So Important for Cybersecurity?” December 2023.
  25. Dashlane, “Why You Should Keep Your Apps Updated,” March 2022.
  26. Dashlane, “Putting Security First: How Dashlane Protects Your Data,” October 2023.
  27. Dashlane, “Build the Case for a Password Manager in 8 Steps.”
  28. Dashlane, “A look at Password Health Scores around the world in 2022,” 2022.
  29. Dashlane, “How to Create an Effective Password Policy for Your Organization.”
  30. Dashlane, “What To Do If a Scammer Has Access To Your Email Address,” April 2023.
  31. Dashlane, “Security Terms 101: What Zero-Knowledge Architecture, Encryption, and More Really Mean,” June 2023.

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