IT Security Policies

IT Security Policies, or Information Technology Security Policies, usually refers to a company’s published set of guidelines governing employee use of its computing and other information technology assets. The IT Security Policies usually cover desktop computers, laptops, servers, networks, Internet use, use of company information resources via an employee’s own personal computer, and employer paid mobile phones and tablets.

The Components Of Effective IT Security Policies

IT security policies involve a three-stage process, spanning development, implementation and management. They are the essential elements which protect an organization’s data. These procedures set the boundary for the acceptable access, manipulation, usage, dissemination and destruction of information.

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Private corporations, hospitals, financial institutions, medical clinics, schools, governments and the military compile great quantities of confidential data. Sensitive information may involve products, employees, customers, research activities and financial conditions. The majority of this data is compiled, processed and stored on computers. Frequently, this confidential material is transmitted through networks to other computers.

For more than two decades, the three main components of an effective security policy have been CIA (confidentiality, integrity, availability). However, some experts argue authenticity, accountability and non-repudiation are also among the core elements. In 2004, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development revised the generally accepted principles which were drafted in 1992. The revisions include nine principles. Among them are responsibility, ethics, risk assessment, security management, awareness, response, democracy, design and implementation, and reassessment.

Standards are applied to communications, software and hardware. The mechanisms of prevention and protection have three layers, organizational, personal and physical. Implemented procedures provide guidelines for operators, users and administrators to ensure their activities keep data safe.

There are numerous topics involved in securing data. They include controlling access to systems, information, and sensitive e-commerce data, and purchasing and maintaining effective software which protects data. In addition, peripherals, hardware and other equipment must be protected.

Risk management is a critical component of all protection plans. It involves the identification of vulnerabilities and threats to the data which is used by an organization in fulfilling its business objectives. Further, it involves the definition of counter-measures which should be used to reduce risks, based on the value of the data to the organization.

Risk involves the possibility that something will have a negative impact on an important informational asset. A vulnerability is a fault or deficiency which may allow an important asset to be harmed or corrupted. A threat is anything which has the potential to cause damage. According to research, the most vulnerable facets of information systems are humans. Among them are designers, operators and users.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have defined a Code of Practice for the management of information security. The code recommends a series of steps be conducted during a risk assessment. Among them are examinations of the protection plans, management of assets, security of environmental and physical factors, control of access, incident management, regulatory compliance, organization of secure data, functions of human resources, management of operations and communications, and business continuity. The final element involves the acquisition, development, and maintenance of information systems.

When identifying assets, their values should be determined. An organization’s assets may include people, products, buildings, supplies, data (print and electronic), hardware and software. Threat assessments should take into consideration malicious actions generated within or outside an organization, acts of war, acts of God (hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, flooding, tsunami, etc.), and accidents. Vulnerability assessments should identify each potential weakness and the probability that it will be exploited. Vulnerabilities may include quality control, technical and physical protection, training, policies, procedures and standards.

Members of management may choose to accept a risk if it will likely have a low impact on business and the value of assets, and has a low frequency of occurrence. Risks with the potential for wide-spread negative impacts may be mitigated. To prevent damage, management may choose and implement specific control procedures which will minimize the risk. Sometimes, risks can be transferred to other companies through out-sourcing or the purchase of insurance.

Information protection plans are intended to protect data throughout its lifetime. This spans its initial stages of development through its ultimate disposal and destruction. It must be protected while it’s stable and in motion. During its lifetime, data travels through many different processing systems, across networks, and within numerous sections of processing centers. At many stages, it may become vulnerable. To protect the data, each component of the processing system must have its own mechanisms for protection.

In-depth defense involves building, layering and overlapping measures of protection. This important strategy provides a back-up layer of protection in case one system fails. Many experts recommend incorporating this type of system to provide maximum safeguards for data.

IT security policies are critical components for all organizations, including governmental, non-profit and for-profit. They involve several areas of specialty. Information technology experts may focus on the science of digital forensics, planning for business continuity, auditing information systems, testing security procedures, securing databases and applications, and uniting infrastructures.