The Role Of Policies In Driving ‘Secured Productivity’

Don’t hide behind your users if your security and privacy policy is a weak link.  

For anyone who has completed their annual analysis of internal security events, it surely came as no surprise when Verizon reported that in 2022, 82% of breaches involved human elements, including social attacks, errors, and misuse. 

Alerts reporting cyber attacks from criminals who have succeeded in exploiting employee user accounts and devices have become a staple diet in today’s business news.

The ripple effect when these attacks have been perpetrated against software vendors or IT service providers is immeasurable. Especially, when their respective customers must frantically design and deploy their own countermeasures against the threat of ‘back-door-attacks’. Cyber criminals now operate highly sophisticated organizations with a variety of low-cost, readily available hacking tools. By using increasingly refined attack playbooks, cyber criminals are now ransacking all the personal and shared mailboxes to which the user account they have managed to compromise has access to in a matter of minutes.  

So, no matter how much you invest in incident detection and response, it is evident that preventative measures focused on user behavior are critical to your resilience against many cyber attacks.  

While each security or privacy incident may seem different, their causes often trace back to weak information security and data protection policies. As a result, security professionals are forced to rethink the policies they have in place and seal the cracks in their systems to protect their data, people, and the overall company.   

But Where Do Security Professionals Begin?  

Take a hard look at your existing policy and ask yourself what you are really trying to achieve. Does your current policy deliver ‘information for action’ for front-line data processors? Does it arm users with universal instructions, so they know how to act to prevent data breaches or immediately report a suspected security or privacy event? 

A common mistake in many policies is the use of overcomplicated legal language. If a policy is designed to be robust in a court of law, it has inadvertently pitted your organization against its users. In other words, you shouldn’t want to conclude that every user represents an insider threat but instead focus on the aim of enabling trusted and respected specialists to champion ‘secure productivity’.  

Similarly, another flaw in policy design is the inclusion of insights into the methods and governance structure of your security and privacy team. While transparency is vital to build and retain the trust of team members across the business, there are multiple forums such as SharePoint sites, roadshows, or one-to-one sessions where you can provide users with granular insight into how your team does its job.  

Many organizations still maintain governance structures in which information security and data protection are separated by departmental boundaries, each with their own stand-alone policies. In practice, however, security and privacy aspects converge in the secured handling of data and resolution of any potential data breach. Accordingly, security and privacy should always be treated as two sides of the same ‘data protection’ coin.  

How Does A Company Deliver A Strong Security & Privacy Policy?  

Providing evidence of internal security and privacy training completion has become a global requirement for any service provider who processes personal data. When selecting your training tool, the ease with which you can extract records of your organization’s training completion rate should be a key criterion. Not only will this significantly reduce the time your team must spend extracting evidence for training completion requests from customers or external auditors, but it will also increase your team’s ability to drive completion rates through ongoing monitoring and targeted interventions.   

Building a security and privacy policy in tandem with training will focus and streamline the ‘information for action’ a global user base will need to understand and reliably follow your mission-critical instructions. 

If the goal is to enable ‘secured productivity’, the security and privacy policy must tell the user community what they are and aren’t allowed to do in the most simple and clear terms, while being considerate of the productivity requirements associated with their respective roles. For instance, if a policy instructs users not to use certain systems such as unauthorized third-party tools to share confidential data, it must guide them to the appropriate and authorized solutions with which they can meet their business needs. Otherwise, users will either find a ‘workaround’ which poses a new security or privacy risk such as increasing the prevalence of shadow IT or the misuse authorized tools.

Your users may also be more inclined to knowingly commit a policy violation but feel justified in doing so on the grounds that they felt like they had no other choice but breach policy to complete their business-critical task.  

One critical step to achieve the right pitch and scope in a security and privacy policy is to always draft and update the policy in tandem with role-based instructions. This allows a company to drill down and issue task-specific security and privacy rules that are baked into the day-to-day technology-enabled business processes. It also enables a business to provide specialists in those functions with tailored risk awareness.  

Having a strong information security and data protection policy is one of the baseline requirements of any business which is intent on being future-proof. However, if you expect your policy to help drive ‘secured productivity’, it must enable your global user community to achieve their business needs in a secured manner, as part of a wider enablement framework which includes training and role-based instructions. 

Dr. Scott Richardson is CSO of Crayon

You Might Also Read: 

No Slack In The System:

 

« Resilience Is Essential To Protecting Critical Infrastructure
The Current Market For Cyber Security Founders & Investors »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Our Supplier Directory lists 6,000+ specialist cyber security service providers in 128 countries worldwide. IS YOUR ORGANISATION LISTED?

Practice Labs

Practice Labs

Practice Labs is an IT competency hub, where live-lab environments give access to real equipment for hands-on practice of essential cybersecurity skills.

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of automatic cloud backup and critical data protection against ransomware, insider attacks and hackers for businesses and organisations worldwide.

North Infosec Testing (North IT)

North Infosec Testing (North IT)

North IT (North Infosec Testing) are an award-winning provider of web, software, and application penetration testing.

Syxsense

Syxsense

Syxsense brings together endpoint management and security for greater efficiency and collaboration between IT management and security teams.

Tendo Solutions

Tendo Solutions

Tendo Solutions provides intelligence, security, forensics and risk solutions to clients across different sectors and jurisdictions.

NQA Certification

NQA Certification

NQA provides certification to a range of ISO standards including ISO 27001 for information security management.

VNCERT

VNCERT

VNCERT is the national Computer Emergency Response Team for Vietnam.

Disklabs

Disklabs

Disklabs are industry leaders in data recovery, digital forensics and data erasure.

Wireless Logic

Wireless Logic

Wireless Logic delivers a range of secure and resilient value-added M2M/IoT managed services that empower remote devices to communicate cost-effectively, two ways.

Centurion Information Security

Centurion Information Security

Centurion Information Security is a consulting firm based in Singapore that specialises in penetration testing and security assessment services.

TechArch

TechArch

TechArch helps customers to optimize their investments in cybersecurity by providing them independent and vendor-neutral consultation and guidance.

Spanish Network of Excellence on Cybersecurity Research (RENIC)

Spanish Network of Excellence on Cybersecurity Research (RENIC)

RENIC is a membership based sectoral association that includes research centers and other agents of the research cybersecurity ecosystem in Spain.

Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS)

Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS)

Honeywell's Industrial Cyber Security Solutions help plants and critical infrastructure sectors defend the availability, reliability and safety of their industrial control systems.

Root9B (R9B)

Root9B (R9B)

R9B offers advanced cybersecurity products, services, and training to enhance the way organizations protect their networks.

Casque SNR

Casque SNR

CASQUE SNR is the next generation of Identity Assurance that has potential to supersede existing solutions. It provides Identity Assurance for both people and things.

Elemental Cyber Security

Elemental Cyber Security

Elemental is a game changing cyber security compliance automation and enforcement technology provider.

PizzlySoft

PizzlySoft

PizzlySoft is a global company that is seeking convergence of network and security / software and hardware. We put our value on creating the best security.

Softcat

Softcat

Softcat offer a broad portfolio of IT services and solutions covering Hybrid Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Digital Workspace and IT Intelligence.

Web3fied

Web3fied

Web3fied is a seed stage company building the future of decentralized digital identity and credentials management.

Heartland Business Systems (HBS)

Heartland Business Systems (HBS)

Heartland Business Systems serves commercial, public sector and small to medium business with results-driven and dedicated information technology services.