In the digital age, data security is mission-critical for businesses. Nowadays, modern business is defined by the integration of technology – i.e. digital channels and platforms, constant internet connectivity, etc. – which results in a lot of data.
All IT companies agree that businesses need to focus on data security more than ever. One company we spoke to – TechQuarters, an IT support provider London companies have relied on for many years – described some of the key IT policies and procedures businesses can use to guarantee their data security.
IT companies like TechQuarters highly recommend the use of IT policies and procedures, because they establish guidelines and restriction for protecting different types of data. These guidelines work together to create a comprehensive data protection framework. Below are 10 key policies that businesses should use:
- Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is meant to provide specific guidelines for employees and other users on how they should utilize company resources – this includes IT systems, networks, software, and data. AUPs typically cover issues such as copyright and intellectual property. In addition to advising how users should use company resources, it also outlines unauthorised use-cases.
The purpose of this type of policy is to get stakeholders a handbook on best practices. In today’s digitally-driven business landscape, AUPs outline best practices for handling company data – thus, they aid in supporting a robust data protection framework.
- Password Management Policy
In business, it is very important for all stakeholders to use strong and unique passwords. A password management policy provides guidelines for maintaining good password management. Nowadays, this is a popular policy; for instance, providers of outsourced IT support London businesses use (like TechQuarters) often advise customers on appropriate password management policies. Some of the typical guidelines one might find in a password management policy include:
- Passwords must contain at least 1 lowercase letter.
- Passwords must contain at least 1 uppercase letter.
- Passwords must contain at least 1 number.
- Passwords must contain at least 1 special character.
- Users must not use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Users must change passwords once every 3 months.
- All accounts must have multi-factor authentication in place.
In order to enforce such rules, a company may stipulate that users who do not comply with the guidelines may be help liable in the event of a security breach.
- Data Classification and Handling Policy
The Data Classification and Handling Policy provides a framework for identifying and categorizing data based on its sensitivity and importance to the organization. It defines various data classifications, such as sensitive, confidential, public, or proprietary, and outlines the criteria for each classification. The value of this type of policy is that it helps stakeholders understand the importance of data and their own responsibilities in protecting it. Data classification and handling policies may include guidelines for the following:
- Procedures for identifying, labelling, and handling data.
- Data access and sharing practices.
- Data retention and disposal practices.
- Network Security Policy
Network Security Policies provide an overview of the various security measures in place to protect the organization’s network infrastructure – such measures typically include the implementation of firewalls, for filtering incoming and outgoing network traffic, and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), which monitor network traffic for suspicious activities and take action to prevent unauthorized access or malicious attacks. Other components of a robust network security policy include:
- C. Monitoring and logging practices for network activities
- D. Procedures for responding to network security incidents
- Compliance and Legal Policy
Businesses must also be well-versed in the compliance and legal policies relevant to their sector. These policies provide the guidelines for governing data in specific contexts; for example, educational organisations must abide by regulatory framework – such as the Education (Pupil Information) Regulations 2005. For this reason, many organisations work with a partner to assist them – for example, TechQuarters has provided IT support for education organisations needing help with their compliance policies.