The security policy is a technical or organizational document with which the security claim of institutions is to be implemented and achieved. Ensuring the integrity, confidentiality, availability, and authenticity of information are core components.
What is a Security Policy?
Security policy translates as security guidelines and is a term often used in information technology. It is a collection of guidelines designed to ensure information security in companies and organizations. Among other things, the Security Policy ensures that the legally required protection of information must be adhered to. In addition, the policy protects information as a valuable and important component of the company’s assets.
A top-down approach is used to establish the security policy. The board of directors and top management approve the security policy and are responsible for delegating implementation and ensuring compliance.
All employees and business units must understand, observe and comply with the security policy. In the event of violations, sanctions are to be named and enforced by the management. The main objectives of the Security Policy are to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, availability, and authenticity of the information.
The security policy itself is a document that sets out in writing how the protection of information and IT resources is to be ensured. The document is subject to constant updating and adapts dynamically to changes in the company. The security policy also includes procedures that can be used to measure and evaluate compliance with and the effectiveness of the guidelines.
In addition to organizational requirements, security policies can also contain concrete technical rules that are used directly to control IT components such as firewalls or AAA systems (authentication, authorization, accounting).
The goals and components of security policies
As described above, the goal of the security policy is to ensure information security in all areas of the company. The policy is intended to protect against the loss of integrity, confidentiality, authenticity, and availability of data. Monitoring compliance with and implementation of the established security policy is an important task for managers. Employees are responsible for concrete compliance with the policy.
Components of the security policy include the designation of responsibilities, the selection, and description of suitable measures for achieving the objectives, control mechanisms for the security measures, concepts for crisis and emergency situations, concepts for securing data, and concepts for training employees on information security.
The security policy as an organizational or technical guideline
If the security policy is viewed as an organizational guideline, it defines the company-wide security standards. In addition to data, it also aims to protect the company’s reputation and know-how.
The policy summarizes the main Group-wide requirements based on general security architecture. This includes the minimum requirements for all data-processing operations in the company. The policy is approved by the company’s management and is compatible with the general objectives of the company and its business activities.
Building on this organizational security policy, a security concept is developed, with concrete measures such as the configuration of IT access or filter rules for firewalls and other IT security systems. These concrete technical measures are also often referred to as security policies. In this case, however, they are technical guidelines and specifications in the narrower sense that can be directly implemented or applied. For example, the security policy for a firewall specifies how the specific configuration is to be carried out, what access rights are to be granted, what the logging looks like, or what defensive measures the firewall takes in the event of an attack.
Specifically for employees, the technical security policies can include password requirements, data backup requirements, requirements for the use of external data storage, or requirements for the use of e-mail, messenger, or chat applications. Other security policies for employees may cover the handling of confidential information, the use of the Internet, or protection against viruses and malware.