Significant events spark change.
Just as the invention of the computer revolutionized technology in the workplace, the COVID-19 virus and its related complications were no exception to this pattern, pushing thousands of companies to embrace remote work. A recent report by Global Workplace Analytics shares that while only 3% of the U.S. workforce worked remotely (at least half the time) before pandemic-related changes, an estimated 25-30% will work from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
This overnight evolution brought new security concerns to enterprise organizations. Dispersed teams require increased reliance on technology and mobile IP. Consumers turned to e-commerce and home deliveries over shopping in-store, and those who did unintentionally posed increased security risks as mask mandates made it challenging to identify shoppers and prevent potential theft.
No matter what industry or niche your enterprise services, having a workable security plan in place helps protect your data, products, and team better. Here’s a practical, six-step process to help you ideate, create, and implement the security plan you need to help your senior security officer sleep at night.
1. Analyze Your Security Needs
You can’t protect what you don’t know needs guarding. Before you can start developing, implementing, and measuring the effectiveness of your security plan, you need to understand your business, and the information that needs to be secured, and the associated risks that come from not protecting it.
Know your business
The first step in creating an effective security plan is to understand what products’ or information must be secured. Determining what needs to be protected requires a deep understanding of your enterprise. Where it has been, where it’s going, and where it will be in the future all come into play during the security planning phase as you consider revenue sources, client information, leadership goals, existing IP, expansion plans, and more. Questions like “do you have remote employees who need a secure network connection?“, and ”do your high-value products need better in-person support to keep them safe?“ help identify areas of need.
Assess existing risk
Once you know what your corporate security policy will protect, understanding risk early in the planning process helps establish benchmark metrics for success and set a foundation for additional or expanded goals down the road. A thorough risk assessment gauges how much damage an incident or other unforeseen force could do if and when it occurs. Thinking through these worst-case scenarios helps create a realistic security plan, so you’ll be better equipped to respond when the real threat comes.
2. Make a Security Plan
Once you have an understanding of the data that needs protecting and your current risk, you’re ready to create the policies and procedures that form a well-rounded security plan. The risk assessments conducted during the planning phase are invaluable as you determine the specific areas of risk each policy should address. From remote access and password sharing to in-person fraud prevention, each aspect of your security plays a vital role in either protecting the others or leaving them open to vulnerabilities.
If just one security policy or procedure leaves room for error, you leave your enterprise vulnerable to an overall break or larger incident. No company is too small to be targeted, and according to Forbes, every company likely will be at some point. Some points to consider as you make your security plan:
- Research how other companies in your industry successfully handle sensitive data or inventory.
- Ask questions and get feedback throughout the planning process to prevent unintentional blind spots.
- Work within relevant standards (HIPAA, GLBA, etc.) to ensure compliance.
- Set clear standards for handling sensitive data, IP, brick-and-mortar security, etc.
- Have a security officer designated to support and enforce the policy and conduct audits and corrective action when needed.
- Be open: your security policy will need regular updates as your team grows and compliance changes.
After you’ve developed solid policies to make up your security plan, get it in writing and have all employees sign it after they have completed training. This gives employees a clear point of reference by outlining proper security protocols and provides supporting evidence for correction if a policy is violated.
3. Get People on Board
While your team is your greatest asset and the driving force behind continued success, they can also be your biggest security vulnerability if they don’t understand your security plan and how to follow it. Developing a security-first culture—especially in a fully-remote or hybrid workplace—means focusing less on the tech and infrastructure and more on how you can reinforce team members’ behaviors and habits to best protect your data. Employees often unintentionally place your products or information at risk, from falling for phishing scams and compromising passwords to using employee discounts for too many family members and friends.
These types of accidental violations can be thoroughly mitigated through security awareness training. Learning to create a strong password and set boundaries with purchasing are two great examples. As your policies change or expand, continued education helps keep your security plan optimized by making sure your team is properly trained at all times. Once they’re equipped to handle data safely, they’ll also be more ready to help minimize larger incidents when they inevitably happen.
4. Define and Address Incident Response
Incident response should be a collaborative process—not a defensive, last-resort action like many companies think. Outlining how your enterprise and teams define, assess, and respond to an incident or breach is perhaps the most powerful tool in your security plan arsenal.
Your incident response should answer several important questions:
- How can we best prepare for potential incidents?
- What should breach or incident reporting and assessment look like?
- Who will handle incidents when they happen?
- How can we learn from breaches to prevent future incidents?
Asking—and answering—these questions before an incident occurs not only helps you be more prepared when a breach occurs but can actually lessen the chances of a potential breach or incident occurring.
5. Implement Your Security Plan
You’re ready to put your security plan into action—but even the best security policy will fail without full team support and stellar incident response protocols. The easiest way to help your team follow your security policy? Keep it simple, and make it specific. Clear communication, regular security training, and dedicated security professionals empower your team to keep your data safe.
As you implement your new security policy, keep in mind that new regulations are rarely perfectly enforced—especially at first. No one is perfect, and accidental errors are inevitable. Give your team a grace period and offer warnings and corrections instead of penalties as you learn safer security practices together. Encouraging your team members and thanking them for their efforts to support and enforce your policy are the final steps in making your security plan work.
6. Don’t Go It Alone
You’ve developed, created, and implemented your security plan. But that doesn’t mean your work is done. Partnering with a risk management company to augment and support your IT and security team protects your products, systems, and information today and tomorrow. As your team scales and needs evolve, laying the groundwork for adequate continued security gives you the confidence you need to move forward safely and securely.
At Resolver, our sophisticated, easy-to-use solutions are designed to help your growing enterprise reach new heights. Whether you need improved corporate security, best-in-class risk and compliance, or experienced IT management, Resolver’s technology and data-driven reporting help you drive your business forward. Contact us today to request your demo and see how our solutions can work for you.