By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Cybersecurity is a major concern for nearly every business today. While proper software and hardware offer a first line of defense against cyber criminals, it’s important to institute company policies that will guide the behavior of employees at every level. Simple human error is often the cause of a cybersecurity breach. Providing proper guidelines and rules for your employees can help protect your company from all manner of online threats.
1. Employee Internet Usage Policy
For most companies, it’s inevitable that employees will spend time online. Since Internet use is an essential part of conducting business, it’s important for your company to clearly define how and when your employees can access the Internet on company computers and company time. Your Internet usage policy may include the following guidelines:
- Employees may only use the Internet for official business
- All file downloads must be scanned with anti-virus software
- Employees may not access company files via a public computer or on an unsecured WiFi connection
- Alternate Internet connections must be protected by a firewall if the employee is accessing company information
Your Internet usage policy should also set out clear consequences for employees who violate the policy. This may include suspension or termination. Employers should always reserve the right to inspect employee computers at any time.
2. Social Media Policy
Social media sites offer a powerful way for companies to connect with their customers on a personal level. However, the same tool that can save your reputation can just as easily destroy it, should it fall into the wrong hands. It’s fairly standard now for companies to implement a social media policy that prohibits employees from saying anything disparaging about the company using their personal social media profiles. Others require employees to clearly state that all opinions are their own, so there’s nothing to blur the line between company statements and those of individuals.
The policy becomes stricter for employees who are allowed to post to the company’s official social media sites. Every brand approaches this differently, but overall, it’s important to have a policy that will create a cohesive brand voice. Whether this is strictly business or fun and whimsical is up to you.
3. Data Ownership Policy
A data ownership policy provides guidelines on how information is accessed and used. Companies must protect sensitive data, and one of the best ways to do this is to set forth detailed guidelines that state who has access to information at every level. To do this, you must determine:
- What authorization is required to access data
- How data is categorized within the policy and what level of protection applies to each file
- Who can alter the data and under what circumstances
- How alterations to data are tracked
- What data can be shared and with whom
- What protection laws apply to the data
4. Cybersecurity Education Policy
Every employee should receive a thorough education pertaining to cybersecurity. A simple slip up on the part of one individual can inadvertently compromise the information of thousands of customers. Train employees to recognize common scams, such as phishing, social engineering, and online fraud. Teach employees how to properly verify someone’s identity before providing them with information online or over the phone. Regularly update this training and inform employees of all trending cybersecurity threats. Outdated knowledge doesn’t serve anyone well, and the world of Internet security is constantly changing and evolving.
5. Prevention, Resolution, and Restitution Policy
Prevention is obviously at the forefront of your mind when building a cybersecurity policy. However, it’s important to go a few steps beyond and put policies in place that define how you will respond to a breach. Incidents like the 2013 Christmas Target hacking have proven that no one is immune to cybersecurity threats. If your data is compromised, it’s important that you have a resolution and restitution plan in place. The best way to save your company’s reputation in the face a cybersecurity breach is to act quickly and decisively.
Cybersecurity policies serve dual purposes. They not only help protect you from preventable cybersecurity threats, but also help you recover quickly and efficiently should you fall victim to an unavoidable hazard. Implement the proper policies now to ensure smooth business proceedings in the future.