Information Security Policy – Everything You Should Know

Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik

Mar 31, 2024

information security policy

Your Information Security Policy needs to be robust and protect your organization from internal and external threats. Its scope should be exhaustive, yet it should make room for updates and edits and keep pace with the changing business environments and threats. It sets the tone and foundation for how you plan to protect your organization’s information assets. In short, it’s serious business!

So, how should you go about drafting your Information Security Policy? For starters, don’t blindly pick a template off the internet. It requires serious contemplation and coordination with key organizational stakeholders to script your Policy. Read on to understand the nuances of your Information Security Policy – what it is, why it is important, and how you should build one for your organization.

What is an Information Security Policy?

Information security policy refers to the procedures, techniques, and technology created and used to safeguard confidential company data and data assets. Information security is primarily concerned with availability, integrity, and confidentiality.

Notably, the ISO 27001 requires the information security policy compliance to have management buy-in. It also mandates that the Policy be shared with all staff (via the company intranet and other venues per the organization’s choice).

So, in essence, the Information Security Policy lays the foundation to educate and empower your staff to become more security-aware and serve as guideposts on the todos in case of a data breach or cyber attack. 

Annex 5 of the ISO 27001 standard sets the tone for the Information Security Policy by highlighting its objectives and must-haves. 

information security policy template

For example,

An organization’s goals and objectives regarding numerous security issues are outlined in an information security policy. A policy might specify requirements for creating passwords or mandate that portable devices be secured off-site for a strong security posture.

Why is an Information Security Policy important?

Information Security Policy is important because it sets the foundation for protecting your organization’s information assets from internal and external threats.

example information security policy

Here’s a quick overview of why you should make a serious effort in drafting your organization’s policies:

1. Acts as a guideline for secure information sharing

It lays the guidelines for the dos and don’ts for information security policy compliance via sub-topic policies such as data classification and access control, to name a few.

2. Defines roles and responsibilities

The policy clearly defines the staff’s role in data protection and assigns ownership of implementation to specific resources.

3. Protects the organization from legal liabilities

Setting the information security policy framework helps organizations protect themselves from legal liabilities due to inappropriate use of information.

4. Outlines incident management and business continuity plans

The policy offers guidance and defines the todos in case of an information security incident such as a data breach or cybersecurity attack to reduce loss of business and ensure business continuity.

5. Is Framework-agnostic

Not just for ISO 27001, you can use the information security policy for other compliance standards such as SOC 2, HIPAA, and FEDRAMP.

6. Helps comply with regulatory requirements

When you create an information security policy, it essentially establishes particular guidelines and security procedures that your firm must follow. Hence, through the policy, you can systematically address any security gaps or find deficiencies in your current practices that help you comply with GDPR or CCPA.

For example, let’s say your current data handling practices do not adequately comply with the HIPAA framework. Identifying any gaps will immediately help you revise the procedures to ensure regulatory compliance requirements with HIPAA.

Maximize your compliance success with Sprinto

Policies to include in your information security process

ISO 27001 isn’t prescriptive. So, you must add topic-specific policies per your organization’s data security goals. Even then, here are some pointers to keep in mind while drafting your policies:

information security policy
  • Coverage

Your policies must cover all the critical information assets of your organization, such as software, hardware, and people.

For example, your software policies should not just be the security protocols for applications and operating systems. It is recommended you add considerations for software development practices, patch management, and licensing agreements.

  • Basis

If we further drill down, your policies should consider your business strategy, regulations, contractual obligations, and the prevalent and projected cyber security risks.

Security Policy is a high-level document; it needs to be rooted in the specificities centered around your organization’s security guidelines, which will be identified and defined in the pack of policies that make it up.

Here are the policies you must include in your information security policy compliance program:

  • Network Security Policy
  • Remote Access Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
  • Access Control Policy
  • Data Management Policy
information security policies

1. Network Security Policy

A network security policy sets out the guidelines for using the network and managing the flow of your website traffic. Here, you need to understand that the available information and services are crucial, as well as identify authorized users, assess potential risks, and evaluate existing protective measures to prevent misuse when developing a network security policy.

2. Acceptable Use Policy

The policy outlines the acceptable and non-acceptable use of your organization’s systems, such as company-issued electronics, computing, storage, or network devices. The scope also covers internet and intranet systems, such as your servers, software, operating systems, storage, and network accounts.

Any inappropriate use of your organization’s assets can have legal, regulatory, contractual, and business implications. Therefore, it’s a good practice to define and set clear boundaries on what’s acceptable and unacceptable and the ramifications of noncompliance.

Looking for plug-and-play policy templates to streamline your security processes? Explore our comprehensive collection of customizable policy templates tailored to your needs.

Explore our policy templates. Speak to our experts

3, Access Control Policy

This policy applies to specific (critical) systems in your organization that, from an access standpoint, have significant business ramifications, such as your ability to meet service commitments and store customer data. It outlines the usage privileges of your staff.

For instance, you should give your engineering team access to your production infrastructure. You needn’t give it to the marketing team. Another example of where you must enforce access control is in access to your systems that store, version, and track changes to the source code of your software.   

4. Data Management Policy

A data management policy outlines the operational guidelines on how you can manage and govern your data assets. Whether you employ online data management or traditional methods, you need to have a hold on how you determine data ownership, storage protocols, and access permissions.

Other relevant policies you should be looking to add:

5. Data Backup Policy

This policy describes how often your operational and customer data are backed up on your organization’s systems. It can mention the rules and procedures that apply, including how long the data should be aged before it must be backed up again. 

In practice, organizations can back up critical data files, databases, programs, software, and hardware elements such as servers and specific computing devices. 

6. Data Classification Policy

This policy establishes a security framework to classify your stored data based on its sensitivity, value, and criticality to the organization. 

Organizations must, based on the classification and access level, map the data to relevant access controls to protect it. This secures sensitive corporate data and customer data appropriately and lowers the security breaches associated with their mishandling. 

7. Encryption Policy

This policy helps secure the data you don’t want others to have access to by enforcing encryption. Encryption encodes data such that it is hidden or inaccessible to unauthorized users. The policy document should outline the scope to define whom it applies to within your business ecosystem and data encryption at rest and in transit.

The policy must apply to the production environment for a cloud-hosted software organization, including endpoints and cloud assets used in hosting customer services and any end-user devices that store such data. You can also bring any third-party systems that support your business into the policy’s ambit. 

8. Endpoint Security Policy

An organization’s endpoints cover a wide array of devices used for business, such as laptops, desktops, corporate- and employee-owned smartphones, and IoT sensors, to name a few. This policy helps define the endpoints and is relevant today when businesses adopt a hybrid/remote work model.

For instance, your policy could enforce the installation of antivirus software on endpoints with access to production systems.

9. Change Management Policy

The Change Management Policy exists to ensure that a standard set of minimum requirements are established for changes made to production systems and supporting infrastructure across the organization.

Some modifications covered by this policy include:

  • Changes to configurations
  • Deployment of patches 
  • Modifications to data schemas
  • System deprecation
  • New access or role creation

10. Remote Access Policy

This is a written document that outlines rules for connecting to an organization’s network from outside the office. Its main goal is to enhance network security measures by defining who can access the network remotely and what devices can connect. This policy acts as a safeguard against potential security threats when implemented correctly.

11. Disaster Recovery Policy

This policy outlines precisely how your company should respond when a disaster strikes. It emphasizes that having a Disaster Recovery Plan in place isn’t enough to ensure business continuity; there must also be a practical policy that all relevant stakeholders understand and adhere to.

12. Identity Access and Management (IAM) Policy

The IAM policy ensures that individuals and job roles within your firm have the appropriate access to the tools necessary for their duties. 

It involves managing identities to grant the right level of access. IAM systems streamline this process, allowing your organization to manage employee applications efficiently without needing to log into each app separately as an administrator.

13. Personal and Mobile Devices Policy

This policy mandates that all employees, contractors, and individuals using either a company device or personal device on company premises must operate their mobile communication devices responsibly and safely. 

This entails adhering to local, state, and federal laws and regulations specific to company locations.

14. IT Operations and Administration Policy

This policy includes the regulations and directives that dictate the delivery, management, and support of IT services within an organization. 

15. Privacy Regulations Policy

A privacy regulations policy is a document that tells you how a company collects, uses, and shares your personal information. This is important because it’s required by law in places like the European Union, California, and other areas.

16. Incident Response (IR) Policy

An incident response policy sets out the steps your organization must take when there’s a problem. Having a plan is crucial for acting fast and effectively. It outlines how to use tools and methods to fix security functions and clarifies who’s in charge of ensuring the plan is followed.

Sprinto for incident response 

Sprinto offers an integrated incident management system, allowing you to add and integrate your own systems seamlessly. It also provides you with a ready-made IR policy template, which you can use and customize according to your use case.

With centralized visibility into incident sources, severity levels, checks, and actions taken, Sprinto empowers you to trace the entire lifecycle of the process effectively.

Automate your way to information security success. Talk to our experts

17. Vendor Management Policy

This policy ensures that outside vendors meet the right standards when handling a company’s information and other security vulnerabilities. It covers:

  • How vendors are picked and checked 
  • What needs to be in vendor contracts 
  • Checking vendors for risks and doing audits 

18. Password Management Policy

A password policy sets the rules for creating, controlling, and managing user passwords. You can customize these rules to suit your needs. This policy applies to the entire organization or enterprise. It’s important to configure the rules for your password policy.

19. Removable Media Policy

This policy’s purpose is to delineate the acceptable usage guidelines for portable storage devices such as USB flash drives, external hard drives, and tape drives within an organization.

The policy aims to reduce the risks associated with infecting IT systems and exposing sensitive data due to the use of portable devices.

20. Security Awareness and Training Policy

A security awareness training policy outlines the specific security training that employees must complete, the format of the training, the schedule for training sessions, and the consequences for not participating.

Sprinto has solved this problem by integrating an information security training module within its platform. When you sign up for Sprinto as your security platform, you gain access to updated security programs that you can utilize to educate and train your workforce on the go. 

Save up to 60% on security training costs. Speak to our experts

How can I create an Information Security Policy Template?

While you can create a robust information security policy in minutes with the many free downloadable security policy templates available on the internet, it wouldn’t really ‘snug fit’ your organization’s security needs.

You can, however, use them as a starting point and customize them to your needs. While you do that, remember that your Policy should be derived from the following:

  • Your Business Strategy &  Legal Requirements
  • Regulations, Legislation & Contracts that impact your business
  • Your Current & Projected Information Security Risks & Threats
information security policy

As per ISO 27002, your Information Security Policy must contain statements concerning:

  • Definition of information security
  • Information security objectives or the framework for setting information security objectives
  • Principles to guide all activities relating to information security
  • Commitment to satisfy applicable security requirements related to information security
  • Commitment to continually improve the information security management system
  • Assignment of responsibilities for information security

The responsibility for developing, reviewing, and approving topic-specific policies can rest with function heads with the appropriate competencies. Remember, all policies should be reviewed and assessed periodically to improve your organization’s data security. Reviews can include inputs from audits (internal audit and certification audit), security incidents, and management reviews.

Your organization’s information security policies must have buy-in from top management at every step.

Also read: 10 Key Elements of Information Security Policy

How to Implement Information Security Policy Templates?

You can draft the best policies and have the best ISO 27001 security controls in place. But that’s all it can ever be – paper perfect; unless it’s internalized and put into action by everyone in your organization. 

So, how can you implement your information security policy? By way of security awareness training for your staff. A well-trained workforce is key to the success of any Information Security Management System (ISMS).

Requirement 7.2.2 of ISO 27001 states: “All employees of the organization and, where relevant, contractors and third-party users should receive appropriate awareness training and regular updates in organizational policies and procedures, as relevant for their job function.”

Build Your Own Information Security Policy Document the Easy Way

We understand that it’s much work to build your Information Security from scratch or borrow the free online templates and build on them confidently.

At Sprinto, we have solved this problem for you by making 20+ editable versions of the oft-used policies in plain-speak English (minus the legal jargon). Hundreds of our customers have embraced our bank of editable policies that security experts authored.

What’s more, our in-house compliance experts work with you every step of the way to ensure your potential risks are covered so you can confidently move forward.

Sprinto’s intuitive mix of compliance automation with human intervention can take away a lot of similar pain points in your compliance journey. Talk to us today to find out how you can breeze your way through an ISO 27001 certification.

FAQs

What is the scope of information security policy?

The scope of an effective security policy includes the aspects the organization intends to cover. This may include networks, physical locations, users (employees, contractors, etc.), and suppliers (third-party vendors, service providers, etc).

What is the purpose of information security policy?

The purpose of an information security policy is to provide guidelines and standards for protecting an organization’s critical assets.

What are the 4 types of information security?

The 4 types of information security are:

  • Network Security: Protects the organization’s network from unauthorized access and attacks
  • Application Security: Secures software applications from threats and vulnerabilities
  • Endpoint Security: Ensures the security of individual devices from malware and unauthorized access
  • Data Security: Protects data from unauthorized access, disclosure, and alteration

What is the difference between cybersecurity and information security?

The difference between cybersecurity and information security lies in their scope and focus. Cybersecurity primarily protects electronic devices, networks, and systems from cyber attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities in cyberspace.  Information security, often called InfoSec, is a broader concept that includes cybersecurity.

What is the information security policy framework?

The Information Security Policy Framework is a set of high-level policies pertaining to security, primarily impacting the UK government and its suppliers. This framework outlines the overarching principles and guidelines for safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring the security of government systems and data.

Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik, is a Content Lead at Sprinto, she artfully transforms the complex world of compliance into accessible and intriguing reads. Srividhya has half a decade of experience under her belt in the compliance world across frameworks such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR and more. She is a formidable authority in the domain and guides readers with expertise and clarity.

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