Protecting sensitive information should be the highest priority for any business. Information breaches can have a wide range of serious consequences, such as damage to your company’s reputation, leaked personal information, and direct monetary losses. Additionally, your business may need to pay expenses related to reimbursements and legal fees. Some reports indicate that approximately two-thirds of SMBs would be forced to shut down in the event of a data breach.
However, protecting sensitive data is a challenge. Cyberattack methods are constantly evolving and not all businesses have the same resources for cybersecurity at their disposal. Furthermore, different types of data require different security measures. For example, access authorization should be different for consumer data than it is for proprietary information. When it comes down to it, businesses must take extra care when developing an information security program.
What Is an Information Security Program?
An information security program is a collection of procedures and best practices related to maintaining data security. It also acts as an inventory of valuable assets that require strict security, as well as assets your business can use to maintain cybersecurity. Additionally, an information security program catalogs clearance for access to various types of files.
An information security program can keep your cybersecurity efforts organized and provide clear expectations for these efforts. This is valuable for an organization of any size, but can be particularly helpful for small or medium-sized businesses that have more limited security resources. Adherence to an information security program will involve comprehensive training efforts, as well as the support of risk management software programs that automatically assess and manage risk.
Benefits of an Information Security Program
The major benefits of having an information security program include:
- High confidence for confidentiality;
- High confidence for data integrity;
- Highly effective risk management;
- Good reputation for security with clients;
- Clear framework for protocols;
- Clear communication of expectations;
- Easy review of relevant assets;
- Easy to review and amend protocols.
However, these benefits will not be as substantial if the program is not developed appropriately.
How To Create a Successful Information Security Program
To develop a successful information security program, you will need to clearly outline your goals and ensure your strategy is fully fleshed-out before implementation. It is also important to invest heavily in training efforts that emphasize the value of approaching information security as an ongoing, everyday effort. Furthermore, any successful information security program will feature some key characteristics.
First and foremost, an information security program should be built with confidentiality as the primary goal. By emphasizing confidentiality as a key-value and goal, your company’s leaders can help employees better understand the importance of the security program and develop commonsense approaches to security. Emphasis on confidentiality also reflects a good-faith effort regarding ethical conduct on the company’s part.
A company that follows strong ethical principles is more likely to earn a good reputation with its employees, business partners, and customers. Because sensitive information is a particularly valuable asset to all of these interests, integrity in this area will be particularly important.
Before you begin developing an information security program, you will need to determine which parties should have access to different types of information. Additionally, you will need to decide how individuals with clearance should be able to access that information. When making these decisions, it will be important to consider best practices for digital security access such as the use of multi-factor authentication.
Steps for Integrating an Information Security Program
A comprehensive information security program is beneficial for virtually any organization. However, implementing a new set of procedures can be disruptive to operations. As such, it is important to implement new programs or updates in an organized and strategic manner.
Create a Plan
Ensure that you have a clearly defined plan and a designated committee to manage its implementation. There should be little to no guesswork when it comes to the implementation process. It may be helpful to enlist the help of cybersecurity professionals to assess risks and review your existing plan as you iron out any details.
The plan should also include a timeframe for implementation, as well as information regarding follow-up training sessions. Effective follow-up training initiatives are just as important as the initial implementation because you’ll need to inform employees of any updates to the program and remind them about key points of the program.
As with virtually any organizational effort, communication will be key for successful implementation. Management should convey their expectations for the project to the committee overseeing its implementation. Leaders should also ensure that any relevant business partners are aware of the changes and what they can expect during and following implementation. Finally, it is important that employee information and training clearly describes the new program and how these updates will affect their day-to-day workflow.
Set Aside Time for Training
To ensure that employee training is as effective as possible, management should set aside blocks of time specifically for that purpose. Attempting to cram training into too short of a timeframe could result in inadequate training outcomes. Furthermore, without the extra time, employees could become overwhelmed while trying to complete training sessions on top of their usual workload.