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Writing Effective Information Security Policies
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Fraud Summit. Data Breach Summit. RSA Conference. Infosecurity Europe. Cybersecurity Summit: New York City. Cybersecurity Summit: Toronto. For instance, policies typically contain a scope section. This identifies whom a policy is directed toward. Information classification is also another area that may be owned by your organization's legal department.
If classifications of data have been established by legal, resulting IT security policies around data ownership, data classification and data retention should be written to comply with legal's directive. As the legal department sets the organization directive to protect against litigation, it should be the secondary source of policy metadata. HR policies are usually developed as a partnership between Legal and HR and can serve as the tertiary metadata policy source.
Setting context is a method for aligning your policies to the business and a control for eliminating unnecessary policies. Additionally, it defines the conceptual layer that will drive the parent-child relationship of taxonomy-based policies. Without establishing the parent-child relationship of your policies, you will likely write policies that are not matched to its intended audience or that are beyond the scope of your environment.
Parent-child relationships are mapped as follows: 1 Audience is legal professionals, external end-users, internal end-users and technology professionals; 2 Logical boundaries are defined from a network domain perspective of extranet, intranet and departmental; and 3 The scope of the policies is point, enterprise and hybrid. These mappings set the base for policy design across the enterprise. They enable the policy manager to determine if a policy is physical e. The concept map below results from applying context to a policy system that has been aligned to an organization's business needs.
It provides decision makers with an understanding of relationships, boundaries and intended scope. This concept map becomes the straw man from which you'll develop individual policies. Use-scenarios in policy design are important because policies written without use cases often contain inappropriate information for the audience, or add complexity to a simple policy. If the use-scenario is targeted toward humans, then the language and content will reflect actions that are taken by humans.
If the target is technology, the content will reflect what actions the technology solution will be configured against to protect authorized users and deter unauthorized users. One of the single most important reasons to understand use-scenarios is to understand policy ownership. Policies are legally binding artifacts that protect an organization's brand and information assets. Additionally, they serve as a protection in the event of litigation.
Accurate interpretation and jurisdictional scope are best understood by lawyers, and as such, should be driven out of your organization's legal department. The majority of an organization's policies are owned by the legal department with assurance professionals as the content provider. The exception is usually seen with security policies that govern the technology and staff of the IT department. By combining the information you've gathered for your straw man and analyzing your use-scenarios at a high-level, a taxonomy schema is developed. Development of a policy schema is essential as it provides the business with the representation of policy concepts.
Defined are the policy system and the relationships between those concepts, target audience, and business function. A well designed policy schema is the tool for driving artifact maturity. Artifact maturity can be measured by the frequency of updates. The more updates that are required, the less mature your policy system is seen functionally. Updates and additions to policies are typically done to address a gap.
Gaps should be the cause of unknown factors that arise in dynamic environments. When a gap where all necessary factors are known occurs, it points to a lack of thorough analysis during the requirements-gathering phase of policy design. The resulting effect is a continuous stream of gaps with updates to address each gap. Defining a schema provides assurance that the organization will invest only in the artifacts they require. Perhaps the greatest benefit is a schema-enforced consumer focus.
Let's face it: policies are not the top priority for end users. The more policies you foist upon them, the greater the chance you have to lose your audience. Likewise, the greater the variety of policies following no specific flow that your organization builds, the greater the chance to confuse the policy consumer because policies may appear arbitrary. When a policy audience is lost, it is difficult to regain their trust and attention.
Policy schema design sets the necessary boundaries around scope, policy and domain of influence to eliminate policy mismatch and uncontrolled propagation. The schema above contains the necessary policies for the organization, defines the scope, and defines audience and boundaries.
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The schema is overlaid on a legal backplane to indicate overall authority and ownership of the policies. To actually begin writing policy, a taxonomy chart in the form of a spreadsheet to capture and design component taxonomy. The component taxonomy defines the meta parent policy and micro child policy. The meta policy is the primary policy you want your readers to adhere to. Micro policies are introduced to further define the target areas the meta policy enforces. A network acceptable use policy is an enterprise policy meant to influence the physical human behavior of technology.
The policy communicates to the user how they are to use the technology they've been entrusted with as well as the scope of support the organization is able to provide for its technology. Below is a component taxonomy chart for a network acceptable use policy. The final outcome is a consumable amount of polices for the end user. If the individualistic approach were used, the outcome would be structured policies that are singular in their influence.
More policies are required to support a singular influence.
5 information security policies your organisation must have
With controls in place, a schema and metadata source, the artifact component taxonomy can be created to drive the final policy artifact. To create a component taxonomy for an internal network acceptable use policy, you should write basic industry policies using the floor control first, and then include any policies that support global, federal and state mandates. Then you should add policies that relate to the technology the company has already invested in, and finally, write exceptions to address future technologies they are considering, but have yet to implement based on the technology roadmap of the organization.
The component taxonomy table below also establishes another crucial element of policies. That is establishing the business view of policies by asking the what we must protect through meta policy followed by answering the where we protect through micro policy. To create a component taxonomy for the IT security policy, you should obtain the IT organization's org-chart to categorize your policies by functionality as the various teams inside of IT require different types of policies.
Using the floor control, write basic policies you'd expect of any IT security policy; add policies that relate to the technology the company has already invested in, and finally, write exceptions to address future technologies the organization is considering but has yet to implement based on the technology roadmap of the organization and permit activities that are required which may impact compliance and security.
What is an Information Security Policy?
Now you are ready to populate with the meta data source in a narrative format. These will become the policy artifacts of your organization. As mentioned previously, policies are legally binding. If policy is not followed by the consumers of your organization, increased risk is introduced. Awareness of where risk exposure has occurred can help you adjust the manner in which your policies are deployed or influence the manner in which consumers are educated about the policy. Lack of policy compliance by most users is due to lack of understanding the policy.
When this disconnect occurs, you now have a metric that tells you more documentation is needed to guide your users. An FAQ or how-to document may be created to provide deeper understanding and guidance to the consumer.
Below are sample metrics to gather around policy artifact effectiveness:. Are you part of an organization that is just starting and requires policy artifacts? If so, use this guide to start your journey and it will greatly simplify the expected work effort. Does your organization already have policies, but you now realize they should be overhauled? Use this as a guide for taking what you have and re-architecting your policy system. Using taxonomy to drive policy development will ensure your policies are treated as a system whole, rather than disjointed segments.
The resources invested can provide you a policy system where updates are rare and result in re-investment of people resources to concentrate on the more dynamic areas that drive the business. Ravila Helen White is currently an enterprise security architect on assignment at an invention company in Seattle. Automating security in the cloud can be invaluable for threat detection and mitigation.
The Role of Information Security Policy Essay - Words | Bartleby
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