A major challenge for startups is figuring out how to invest in cybersecurity. Despite the financial constraints, it is essential for startups to keep their online security in check, because the consequences are frightening. Statistics show that about 50% of all cyber attacks target small businesses and startups. Often, this is because of a lack of written internal policies.

Without a security policy, there is no reference for what needs to be done when a security threat arises within your startup. An information security policy can be complicated and often expensive to develop, but it is a fundamental component of cybersecurity.

In this article, we present a free information security policy guide for startups.

What should the information security policy cover?

There is no single approach to developing an information security policy that fits all organisations. Despite this, there are certain aspects that every security policy for startups should cover:

  • The security requirements that are going to be met, compulsory ones like GDPR and then either Cyber Essentials, ISO 27001, or the IASME Governance framework.
  • Who is responsible for information security tasks? It can be an internal security expert or a third-party supplier..
  • The startup’s long-term commitment to cybersecurity including what they aim to achieve through the introduction of the policy.

 

What should be included in the information security policy?

Even though there is no fixed format for an information security policy, given below are some key questions that you should consider when framing your security policy.

  • Who is responsible for your startup’s security?
  • What are your security objectives?
  • How are security incidents reported and managed? How can you learn from them?
  • What type of information do you handle? Does it involve customer information?
  • What ways can you use to protect different types of information?
  • How do you measure risks?
  • How should internet, email, and other communication channels be managed to minimise risks?
  • What training and awareness do the employees need?
  • What responsibilities should be given to employees for securing information?

Areas to cover in an information security policy

There are five general subject areas that should be addressed in an information security policy for startups:

  1. Security measures: Guidelines for virus protection, passwords, confidentiality of data, and levels of access to information.
  2. Disaster recovery: Instructions on how to recover from a disaster such as a data breach. Methods of data backup, including how often they should be made, should also be included.
  3. Standards for technology: Details about the types of hardware, software, and other digital systems that can be purchased by the startup. This area will also cover a list of trusted partners or vendors from where systems are to be bought.
  4. Acceptable use of technology: How should technology such as smartphones, desktop computers, email, and the Internet be used. What are the results of misuse and how can security be improved by limiting access to such technology.
  5. IT services: Information about who will be responsible for providing technical support to employees. Often, this is a member of the IT team, but can be an external partner as well. Guidelines regarding planning, installation, and maintenance of computer systems should also be covered in this area.

Conclusion

Startups are at a constant risk of cyber threats, particularly because of a lack of an effective information security policy. It is important to not only have a security policy in place, but to make sure that it addresses the specific needs of your startup and employees. If you have not developed an information security policy yet, you should consider doing so right away to minimise loss.

CyberSmart recognises the budget and time constraints that most startups have when developing their information security policy. If you would like to take the next step towards cybersecurity for your startup, get in touch with our team. We look forward to assisting you in designing a cost-effective information security policy for fortifying your startup’s security.