Why an IT Security & Compliance Policy is Vital to Your Company's Success
Think about all of the factors that contribute to the growth and success of your company. You’re probably tossing around concepts like a deep sales pipeline, a healthy employee program or even a strong commitment to customer service. These are some of the building blocks of a business that’s set to soar.
Yet, none of them will save your company from the likes of a devastating security breach. Regardless of your organization’s size or industry, you are a target for cybercrime. To have any chance of achieving and maintaining the kind of success you’re planning for, it is absolutely essential to implement a proper IT security and compliance policy.
Here are some of the most compelling reasons why.
To Promote a Widespread Culture of Security
The data you manage, store and share is highly valuable -- and therefore highly vulnerable to being hacked, leaked and stolen. Cybercrime is the world’s largest business, with data predators raking in trillions of dollars by exploiting various security vulnerabilities. Identifying and mitigating these risks requires making IT security a high priority, one that’s shared by the entire organization. This is an effort that can only be achieved by developing a strong security culture.
Of course, the people who bring this culture to life must have a framework from which to base their knowledge and actions. An IT security policy serves to outline the information, expectations and requirements everyone must adopt in order to become active members of this culture. It helps to:
- Equip employees with insight into their role in IT security
- Support IT professionals in exercising security controls across the company
- Lay out specific procedures for maintaining data privacy and confidentiality
- Minimize the risk of having valuable files or information mishandled or inappropriately used
- Standardize security protocol and define accountability
With a well-written, detailed IT security policy in place, your company is less susceptible to suffering from the regulatory consequences, reputational damage, productivity losses and other significant outcomes that stem from a cyber breach. You have a much greater outlook in terms of growing your business and maximizing success.
To Meet Critical Compliance Regulations
When it comes to safeguarding private and sensitive information, the government has enacted a number of regulations to protect the public from the dangers that threaten their personal data. These include mandates like HIPAA, ITAR, GLBA, DSS and SOX. A crucial factor in the health and growth of your business is maintaining strict compliance with these regulations. The penalties and consequences for noncompliance could put your organization at risk.
An IT security policy addresses the details surrounding these compliance mandates and keeps everyone informed on how to follow them. It should explain in very specific terms how your files are to be stored, accessed, shared and distributed, as well as indicate infringements and consequences. Because a single data breach has the potential to endanger the personal information of all your customers, compliance is key to your business.
To Preserve Consumer Trust
You’re unlikely to stay in business very long if you lose the trust your customers have in your ability to keep their personal information safe. But that’s exactly what you’re bound to face if a security breach compromises their data. Consumers want to know that you’re working diligently to protect their information.
In order to preserve the trust they place in your organization, it is vital to ensure that you are taking every precaution to handle data in a compliant, responsible and secure way. This can only be accomplished with effective procedures and rules in place to govern the way this data is managed. Risks are present everywhere. From ransomware and phishing attacks to human error, your defenses must be strong, proactive and backed by a well-communicated IT security policy.
To Support the IT Department
The reality? Your IT department simply can’t be everywhere at all times to defend against the infinite dangers that threaten your security. Often, your greatest risk is your own employees. Therefore, it is necessary to involve every member of the organization, at every level. This begins with education. Most employees don’t inherently understand the cyber threats that abound. In fact, they could be opening up your systems to great vulnerabilities and risks without even knowing it. Their primary concern is carrying out their job functions in an efficient manner, not ensuring the security of the business’s data. That’s why it’s vital to communicate the serious security dangers they may be exposing the business to, and give them the tools they need to be integral in mitigating those risks. By developing a solid IT security policy, you set the tone for security awareness and give every user the structure they need to make security-wise decisions in their everyday functions.
To Underpin Security Technology
The technology your company implements to enforce security measures is a critical component of the overall IT security plan. If users are circumventing these systems or using insecure technologies to carry out their responsibilities, they’re putting the success of the business at risk. It is important to develop a set of guidelines that govern the use of technology in the workplace, including consequences for those who choose to violate the policy.
If you don’t have control over the applications and software people are using on their work computers and devices, your organization is facing serious security and compliance risks. By employing any software or applications that are not approved and monitored by your IT team, or by opting for insecure file sharing solutions (email, consumer-grade software, etc.), users open up greater opportunities for intrusion and theft.
An IT security policy that underpins the proper choice and usage of technology helps the company defend against the types of data compromise that lead to productivity losses, overwhelming costs and reputational damage.
With all of these reasons why you need to have an IT security policy in place, you’d be remiss not to make this a priority. For expert assistance on how to construct a policy that hits all the right notes and ensures that every member of your organization understands their role in defending against security threats, take advantage of our free IT security policy template.
About Martin Horan
Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.