8 IT policies you should include in your employee handbook

8 IT policies you should include in your employee handbook

An employee handbook is one of the most effective channels through which a company can communicate its mission, expectations, and rules to its staff. If your business uses IT in any capacity, your handbook must contain policies that cover not just the use, but also the security of your hardware, software, and data.

What security-related IT policies should be in your employee handbook?

Ultimately, the IT policies in your employee handbook will depend on what specific technologies and solutions you employ in your company. If your business belongs to a regulated industry like healthcare and finance, for instance, the cybersecurity measures you implement may differ from those used by companies in non-regulated sectors. Consequently, the IT policies in your handbook will also be slightly different.

The following IT policies, however, are applicable to all companies that use IT, regardless of which industry they belong to:

  1. Information security policy
  2. You need to protect all of your company’s data, from cash-flow statements to your customers’ contact information. This policy outlines the rules and guidelines that must be followed to secure data. The policy also defines acceptable and unacceptable use of your systems, as well as the security-related responsibilities of your employees, IT staff, and managers.

  3. Password management policy
  4. Passwords may be risky, but you likely still use them in your company. This policy delivers guidelines on crafting strong passwords and protecting them from being stolen, broken, or compromised.

  5. Mobile device security policy
  6. There has been increasing use of mobile devices for business tasks in recent years. Staff usually own these devices and use them for non-work-related purposes, exposing your business to various security risks. This policy provides guidelines on how your staff can secure their mobile devices in order to protect themselves and your business from cyberthreats.

  7. Remote access policy
  8. Remote work has become more common, thanks in large part to the coronavirus pandemic. This policy lays down how your staff can request and obtain remote access to your company’s network, as well as the process in which this access will be terminated.

  9. User privilege policy
  10. Ideally, users should only be able to access the resources and use the privileges they need to finish their tasks. This policy covers how privileges and permissions will be delegated to users and the guidance provided to administrator accounts.

  11. Security awareness policy
  12. Educating your staff on cybersecurity threats and best practices makes them less likely to commit errors and compromise your data. This policy offers recommendations on how employees will be trained in preventing and responding to security incidents.

  13. Security incident response policy
  14. Should a security incident occur, an appropriate response is key to mitigating damage and keeping everything under control. This policy describes the processes your employees need to follow in case of a data breach, equipment loss, malware infection, or other types of security incidents.

  15. Disaster recovery policy
  16. Extended periods of downtime caused by either natural or man-made disasters will hurt your business. This policy outlines the steps and strategies that must go into your business continuity plan, to ensure that your company can resume normal operations as soon as possible.

How should you write your IT policies?

All IT policies must be written clearly so that they are easily understood. You can begin with an overview that summarises the policy’s contents and briefly explains why the policy is crucial. An overview ensures that even if employees do not read the rest of the policy, they still understand what it’s all about.

The rest of the policy should explain pertinent guidelines and rules in detail. Make bulleted or numbered lists, when necessary, to ensure comprehensibility. If noncompliance with the guidelines warrant penalties, make sure to include these as well. You don’t necessarily have to limit your policy to a specific word-count range, but try to strike a balance between being precise and concise to minimize the risk of misinterpretation and people skimming your policies.

With the right IT policies in place, your employee handbook can be an effective supplementary tool for your cybersecurity strategy. If you need recommendations on crafting IT policies that address your business’s needs, Fidelis is happy to assist.

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