Here's why your small business needs a documented IT security policy

22 November 2017 by Mark Williams

You may think your business doesn’t need a formal, documented IT security policy. After all, documentation and worrying about information security is just for big unwieldy mega-corporations right? Wrong. 

Let's take a look at some findings from the UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017. According to the survey, 45 percent of small businesses have experienced cyber security breaches and attacks in the last 12 months, and the average cost of these breaches is £1,380. But despite this:

  • Only 32 percent of small businesses have cybersecurity measures and formal policies in place (compred to 61 percent of large firms);
  • Just 19 percent of small businesses provide cyber security training for staff; and
  • Small businesses are less likely than large firms to seek guidance, information or advice on cybersecurity concerns. 

Whether your business is big or small, IT security breaches aren’t an ‘if’ but a ‘when’. That means your business can no longer afford not to secure itself with a policy, at the very least. 

Why though? What does an IT security policy actually do?

It clarifies your security practices

When it comes to security, informal ideas are not enough. Your business needs a written policy because it will better organise and regulate your security processes.

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You can assign colleagues specific responsibilities, meaning they’ll know what to do and when both in the event of an attack and as part of a regular IT security health check, dramatically reducing the risks to your business.

It tailors your data protection

To know how to protect the different kinds of data your business handles, you need to classify each kind and tailor your protection to fit. Your IT security policy is an opportunity to do exactly that, making it a hugely valuable exercise for your business and your stakeholders.

It educates your team

IT security policy checklist. Picture shows a hand ticking a checklist of IT security policies.

Do all of your colleagues know how to write a strong password? Do they know how to detect a phishing scam? Do they know what warning signs to look for on a compromised website? Can you be sure of that?

The cyber attacker’s toolkit contains scams that deliberately try to trick your less tech-savvy employees. Give those employees written guidelines and they’ll be informed and ready to face the threats your business faces.

It minimises downtime

In the event that an attack manages to breach your business, you’ll have a written plan ready to deal with it. Your team will know whom to alert, how to respond and how to minimise any disruptions their colleagues might face.

It helps you stay compliant

If you want to avoid fines and business setbacks, you have to pay attention to regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  Use your IT security policy to nail down the specifics of these regulations: outline your requirements, set out how you’ll fulfil them and guarantee your business’s continued compliance.

This focus on compliance will also help you secure business. Big clients like assurances that you comply with regulation and have processes for securing their data; your policy will show that.

It prepares you for the future

A good security policy is essential for your business’s growth because it safeguards your security now and well into the future. Put your security process in writing, review it regularly and you’ll dramatically reduce your business’s security risks.

And don’t worry, creating your policy doesn’t need to be difficult. With our business IT security policy template you can write your policy in hours instead of days. Click the link below to download your free copy!


Download Pensar's business guide to ransomware

 

Note: this blog post was originally published on 13 July 2016,  but we have since updated it with new content.

Download Pensar's business guide to ransomware

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