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Why Policy Management Helps Your Companies Cyber-Security Program

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Elliot Bolland
A lot of people ask how policy and cyber security are related to one another. In this blog post we’ll look at showing how these inter-related topics can support each other for robust risk management
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What is Policy Management?

Let's begin by defining what Policy Management is:
Policy Management, or Policy Management software is the role of legal contracts in a business, which will define and set the parameters for the way the business functions.This will change from business to business, but the general purpose of Policy Management is to ensure employee compliance.
So, you might wonder, what does this have to do with Security Awareness?

Creating A Complete Cyber Security Management System

Policy Management becomes an integral part of a complete Security Management System. Without managing both it is impossible to build a complete and secure Cyber-Security Management System.
This is because ensuring every employee is up-to-date with both knowledge, and accepted the terms of the policy of the business security ensure both education and compliance. So, despite education it's necessary to ensure employee's are aware they must also agree to the terms which keep the company secure. 
Just as it would be unfair to punish an employee who has not been properly trained on security awareness, without compliance it is difficult to enforce the necessary steps to count on employees to adhere to the security rules.  
We have discussed in many articles [hyperlink] that human error is by far the largest risk to any organisation. So, ensuring you have cyber security aware employees, is vital to the businesses security. Therefore,“If your employees are educated about policy and compliance best practices, they represent assets to your company’s IT security.”
Combine IT security and compliance training with onboarding, and then remember to refresh this regularly to keep up-to-date with the changing landscape.
Having highly educated employee's is vital for cyber-security within a business, but awareness cannot be effective without compliance.
Therefore, policy and security are tied with one another, as staff will have to do both to maintain the integrity of the company's human element of its security systems.

Ensuring Employee's Maintain Cyber Security Awareness

Making sure that all staff have these two assets is the key to understanding the relationship between cybersecurity and policy management.
In regard to security, building accountability throughout the entire organisation is essential. By confirming this, every member of the organisation realises they are part of the security of that organisation, not just the IT department.
As well as this psychological implication, a signed agreement should ensure that an employee will act responsibly when they are online on behalf of the company.
This system should work both ways, trained staff cannot take the blame for not following policy, in the same way without a policy, any staff member who consistently ignores training cannot be held accountable were something to go wrong.
Errant employee's are surprisingly large cause of data hacks and breaches. One study found that Internal Actors were responsible for 43% of data loss.This shows there is a threat of intentional as well unintentional data breaches internally.
By ensuring the user's role through policy, it is clearly defined what they can and cannot do. This should ensure that employee's avoid accessing sensitive information unrelated to the user’s role without following the proper procedures [5]
It should state what the user should and should not have access to, therefore if they were to download sensitive information that they should not be in possession of, which was then subjected to a leak, the employee is informed and therefore can be held responsible.

Types of Security Awareness policy

Email, Clean desk and Bring Your Own Device policies, are all security related policies, which can help protect your team. Therefore, they are integral to initiate when implementing a security awareness programme.
Again the policies for each business will vary, and the policies implemented should be guided by many things, industry type, threat level etc.
There are a number of things which will contribute to a good policy management system:
  • Template Library (Formulating a simple Security policy, which applies to everyone is the first step to creating a successful security awareness training programme.)
  • Track Approvals (This is vital to any successful policy management, many people will try to put off or ignore policies, and therefore are a vulnerability to the organisation.)
  • Version Management (Security policy and Security training both need to be regularly updated, implemented and maintained for a robust Cyber security implementation in a business organisation.)
  • Online and Automated (eSignature technology ensures that it is easier to both track and manage who has agreed to the policy. Storing data online avoids confusion and paperwork, which could be a vulnerability in the management process)
Again, we go back to the phrase "risk management", both of these systems in place alongside each other mitigate the risk of human error, and the threat that the error could have to the business.
Ensuring both high quality training and backing this up with secured policy management, will help mitigate risk from; hackers, scammers and internal malicious actors.

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