Defining your IT security policy can help to mitigate threats and reduce the impact of any breaches that occur. The result can be increased productivity, reduction in downtime and reassurance for your customers. In a larger company, IT Management often develops policies. In small business, the task may fall to you as a business owner, which can be overwhelming if you don’t have an IT management background.

For best results, collaborate with your in-house IT staff or a Managed IT Services provider. Here are six areas to consider when crafting your IT security policy:

  1. Acceptable Use – Misuse of digital assets is common and can lead to serious problems. Clearly define what is acceptable and what constitutes a violation for your employees, sub-contractors and management. Explain the penalties for misuse.
  2. Passwords – Create guidelines that help employees create viable, difficult to crack passwords. “1234,” or “Password” are not acceptable. Make sure you explain and train your employees on password security.
  3. Explain the Real World – Real world scenarios help employees to understand their role in security planning. Identify behavior that can produce risk and outline it as policy. For example, sending files from unsecured personal devices to a work computer is dangerous. Using a flash drive can reduce risk.
  4. Have a Plan – Breaches happen! Have a proactive plan in place and keep employees in the loop. Train them in appropriate response and the benefits of swift action. Having a plan in place will minimize downtime and damage when a breach does occur.
  5. Training – The policy should include training and state when it will take place. Training should be ongoing to keep up with changing technology trends and new threats as the need arises.
  6. Enforcement – Employees need to be clear on the consequences on not following policy. When hiring, new employees should be briefed and made to sign a statement of understanding regarding IT security. Your policy should provide layers of non-compliance from an unintentional breach, to willful violation of policy or data theft.

With the proper security policy, you can protect your business against threats and potential liabilities, be able to move quickly to recover after a disaster and train and empower employees to help create a more secure and successful business.