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how to create an IT policy

The right IT policies help minimize uncertainty and risk while maximizing accountability and efficiency.

Policies help your employees make good decisions when using company technology. They also better define your culture, eliminate inconsistency, reduce human error, and ensure security and productivity.

Despite the many benefits of having a clearly defined set of IT policies, many growing businesses still haven’t spent the time and effort to develop them. Often, they lack the right skills. Meaningful IT policies must be customized to the needs and goals of your organization, and without the right in-house expertise, the task can quickly become overwhelming.

In this article, we’ll guide you through some of the best practices for building the three most important types of IT policies in 2020.

Acceptable Use Policy – Define Expectations for Staff Behavior

An acceptable use policy (AUP) – sometimes called an Internet usage or acceptable IT usage policy – is a document that explains how your staff can use your company’s technology. It outlines permissible behavior, helps to clarify forbidden activities, and ensures that company contracts and agreements are all honored.

Having an AUP helps your organization in several important ways.

  • It gives new employees an introduction to your company culture and establishes a professional work environment
  • It creates an inclusive community that prevents users from unduly offending each other or violating the company’s trust
  • It safeguards the business from litigation by shifting liability for violations onto offenders
  • It protects sensitive information and intellectual property from exfiltration

Designing an AUP takes careful planning. You should start by considering the greater legal environment. What are the state and local data security laws, or compliance requirements, that should inform the content of your AUP? Are there cloud computing systems, social media tools, or marketing software that could cause legal problems for your business?

Once you’ve done a thorough analysis of your network, you can begin drafting an AUP. Some of the best practices for designing an AUP include:

  1. Start by defining a scope, including the systems, users, and type of communication that are going to be covered by the AUP.
  2. Determine fair and ethical standards for the handling of company technology and data assets
  3. Provide use cases to illustrate how the AUP should guide employee behavior in a variety of scenarios
  4. The AUP’s power derives much of its power from its persuasive ability, though you may also consider creating penalties or sanctions for AUP violations

Information Security (InfoSec) Policies

Small and midsized businesses have faced an annual increase in the number and financial impact of cyberattack for several years in a row. While next-generation threats like AI-powered malware and advanced phishing techniques are partially to blame, employee error is still the most common cause of network infiltration, data loss, and downtime.

Developing a strong information security policy is one of the most effective tools to protect your business from attack. It can help to ensure that intrusion attempts are dealt with in an organized and effective way. An InfoSec policy can help your organization achieve the following:

  • Define a general approach to cybersecurity at your company, including steps to detect and defend against the misuse of data and applications
  • Protect the rights of your customers and clients by facilitating fast responses to queries and complaints related to personal information
  • Create on-boarding and off-boarding procedures that account for cybersecurity risk

Within the general information security policy, you may also want to define policies for the security of specific systems, ensuring the CIA triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability are maintained across your entire organization. 

IT policy considerations

VPN Usage Policy
As more users access company resources from outside the office, establishing and enforcing a clear VPN policy can ensure that VPN access is only used for company affairs, that copyright infringement and other illegal activities are restricted during VPN usage, and that you properly establish personal responsibility for any illegal activity.

Password Policy
Strong passwords can be an effective first line of defense if they’re implemented uniformly across all systems. An effective password policy will ensure that staff members are creating strong passwords, not reusing them across different applications and devices or not updating them frequently enough, and more.

Remote Access Policy
In a time of increasing work-from-home jobs, it’s important that businesses have a clear set of rules to govern the access of company resources from remote locations. This should include the following elements:

  • How staff can connect to your systems
  • Acceptable methods of user authentication
  • What information will be retained by security logs
  • Standards for data encryption and retention on remote systems

Even more than the AUP, designing an InfoSec policy requires the expertise of a skilled IT team, like Complete Network. We’ll analyze your organization’s technology and processes, develop InfoSec policies that balance the needs of your security and business departments, then guide you through the implementation and enforcement of those policies, helping to ensure program success.

Mobile Device and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy

The need for strong policies around mobile devices is urgent. Shadow IT and IoT devices, unauthorized devices that are not managed by the IT department, are connecting to business networks in greater numbers every year. These devices are a major security liability for companies without strict rules for user behavior.

Mobile device policy is a balancing act. It should both be comprehensive enough to protect company assets and reasonable enough that you reap the cost savings and convenience of BYOD. Below are some of the current best practices for mobile policy making, which you can use to guide your own efforts:

  • Provide a process for approving each new mobile device for company use
  • Ensure that management software has been installed on every device, allowing remote management of both the device and its contents.
  • Define clear identity and access management procedures to ensure only authorized users have access to company data and resources
  • Create a clear process for mitigating the threat of lost or stolen devices
  • Protect employee privacy by outlining exactly what personal data will be collected as part of the mobility strategy.

Define and Optimize IT Policies and Procedures with Complete Network

For over 20 years, Complete Network has been helping organizations optimize the reliability and security of their technology with clearly defined processes, procedures, and policies. If your company needs help developing or enforcing IT management policies, our team of network engineers would be happy to help.

Contact the friendly Complete Network team any time with your questions at 1-877-877-1840 or [email protected].