Many organizations approach security documentation as a tedious exercise to check a compliance box rather than a critical component of a security program. Despite the massive migration to remote work during the pandemic, only 40% of small businesses have bothered to implement remote work security policies. But a cybersecurity team without effective security policies is like a police force without coherent laws to enforce. Confusion, unreliability and a breakdown in trust are natural consequences.
Policies and procedures that go beyond basic compliance to provide practical guidance can benefit organizations in numerous ways, including:
- Standardizing security practices and enhancing transparency across departments and vendors
- Streamlining risk evaluation and acceptance
- Improving incident response and disaster recovery times
- Simplifying audits
- Responding to vendor security assessment questionnaires
- Providing organization-specific training material
Let’s look at some best practices for developing policies and procedures that meet your entire organization’s needs, not just your compliance department’s.
Get Everyone Involved
Don’t write your security documentation, especially your policies, in a vacuum. Identify and include diverse stakeholders throughout your organization. Any departments that are impacted by a security policy or can provide insight into organizational risks and business priorities should have a seat at the table.
Writing good cybersecurity policy means striking a balance between security and business objectives. Gathering input from all sides helps ensure that policies are calibrated to your organization’s specific risk profile, neither overzealous nor too permissive. It also promotes policy ownership, reducing the chances of push back from teams that weren’t consulted about requirements they find onerous or unrealistic.
Write for Your Audience
Highly technical or esoteric terminology may be fine in a server hardening procedure used solely by security engineers, but documents that apply across various departments must be written for non-technical readers as well. Consider gathering direct feedback from your target audience to ensure documentation is readily comprehensible.
Ensure Awareness and Accessibility
Your policies and procedures won’t do much good if no one knows they exist or how to access them. Your security training and awareness program should familiarize employees with any policies and procedures that impact them and provide instructions on how to access those documents. You should store these documents in a secure repository that can provide ready access to general policies and procedures, while restricting sensitive documents to specific personnel.
Keep Documentation Up to Date
Policies and procedures are living documents. They need to evolve in step with your organization and industry regulations. Security documentation that isn’t regularly reviewed and updated quickly loses both its utility and authority. And outdated documentation can lead to all kinds of problems during an audit or a breach.
Ready to start writing, but not sure how to begin? Let MBL Technologies help you build an actionable documentation suite that meets your security objectives and compliance requirements. Using our streamlined, repeatable documentation process, we can guide you every step of the way.