Glossary

IT Security Policy

Information Security’s high-level goal is to ensure the safety and privacy of critical data. An IT Security Policy lays out the rules, roles, and processes for an organization to preserve the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information and systems they use.  

IT Security Policy

Let’s break down these 3 main information security objectives to see how they influence an IT security policy.

Confidentiality – Confidentiality is concerned with ensuring data is only accessed by authorized parties. Keeping information confidential involves organizing or categorizing the data by sensitivity and by who is allowed to access it. It also involves defining and securing the processes that handle the information.

Integrity – Integrity is all about guarding the information’s authenticity. Integrity involves ensuring data is preserved in its authorized state through upload, transmission or storage and doesn’t undergo any unauthorized modification. Practically speaking, it covers all the controls and security that ensure data isn’t tampered with or accidentally changed.

Availability – Availability is all about reliable and timely access to information for the organization’s employees and customers. Data and systems need to be available as and when they’re needed, dictated by operational requirements or contractual commitments. This means supporting processes and controls need to be in place to ensure the required level of availability. 

So the IT security policy (or internal security policy) will need to detail the processes and controls required to achieve these three critical goals. It will be a centralized authoritative collection of regulations, rules and practices that prescribe how an organization manages, protects and distributes information (NIST definition).

Different types of policies

It’s important to distinguish between an:

  • IT Security Policy – As defined above, this internal security policy is concerned with protecting data and systems from any type of unauthorized access, regardless of it being digital or analog.
  • Cybersecurity Policy – A cybersecurity policy is concerned with protecting information and systems in cyberspace particularly from unauthorized electronic access. This can be included as a section in your IT security rules. 

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How to write an IT Security Policy

Reviewing ISO 27001, the international standard for information security, as a prelude to writing your IT data security policy will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of IT security rules. It provides a framework of standards and best practices that can be built upon. ISO 27001 takes into account that every business is different and therefore you can determine and add to the controls that are relevant to you. 

Engaging in a comprehensive IT risk assessment will identify your company’s unique and generic risks and the areas your IT security policy will need to cover. This will help you get organized and determine the scope of your policy.

You can use an IT security policy template but keep in mind that your policies must be relevant to your organization, rather than generic, and be backed up in action across your organization.

What is included in an IT Security policy?

By no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the most common sections required. Remember that each organization is unique and take into account your company’s individual requirements when writing your policy. 

Begin by defining your organizations:

  • Objectives
  • Scope
  • Goals
  • Responsibilities 

Consider and define policies, rules, procedures, controls, consequences and responsibilities for:

  • Acceptable Use
  • Remote Access
  • Password Management
  • Access Management
  • Change management
  • Network Security (Firewalls, VPN etc)
  • Application Security
  • End-point security
  • Encryption
  • Physical Access
  • Staff Training
  • Sections pertaining to specific standards or regulations mandated by your industry (such as HIPAA, PCI DSS etc.)

An IT security policy can be a valuable asset to a company, driving best practices, boosting productivity, and, of course, practically ensuring security. Spend time developing your policy to fit your organization to ensure it aligns with company objectives whilst informing decisions and direction. 

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

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