Cybersecurity Policy Template

Customize this cybersecurity policy for your organization, including guidelines and expectations for employees to maintain cybersecurity measures, report violations, and more.

March 15, 2024
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Halah Flynn
Senior Content Marketing Manager
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What should a cybersecurity policy include?

A comprehensive company cybersecurity policy should include guidelines for the following key components:

  • Confidential or sensitive data
  • Security of personal and company devices
  • Security of emails and other digital communications
  • Password management and secure data transfer
  • Reporting violations and disciplinary actions

What is a cybersecurity policy? 

A company cybersecurity policy is a set of guidelines and rules established by an organization to safeguard its information assets, including data, networks, devices, and systems, from cyber threats and unauthorized access. This policy outlines the responsibilities of employees in maintaining cybersecurity measures and defines the protocols to be followed in the event of a security incident related to company data.

Why do you need a formal cybersecurity policy? 

A formal company cybersecurity policy is essential to ensure the protection of information security, maintain regulatory compliance, and mitigate the security risks associated with cyber threats. By establishing clear guidelines and expectations, the company can minimize the likelihood of security breaches and protect its reputation and integrity.

Company Cybersecurity Policy Template

Disclaimer: This sample policy is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is a generic template that may not suit your specific circumstances, and should therefore be customized to fit your company’s specific needs, culture, and policies. When adopting or revising code of conduct examples, consult legal counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Our Commitment 

At [Company Name], we recognize that cybersecurity is paramount in today's digital landscape. As custodians of sensitive information and stewards of trust, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in safeguarding our information assets against evolving threats.

Our commitment to upholding company values extends to every aspect of our business operations, including cybersecurity. We understand that the security and privacy of our employees, customers, and partners are of utmost importance. Therefore, we have implemented stringent data security measures and protocols to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our data and systems.

By adhering to our cybersecurity policy, each member of our team plays a critical role in protecting our organization from potential security risks and vulnerabilities. Through continuous education, proactive security measures, and swift incident response, we strengthen our defenses and reinforce our commitment to excellence.

Together, let us prioritize data security as a collective responsibility and uphold the values that define us as a company. Thank you for your unwavering dedication to maintaining the highest standards of security and integrity.

Handling Confidential Data

Confidential data refers to any sensitive company data that, if disclosed or compromised, could harm the company or its stakeholders. Examples include:

  • Customer Information: Personal identifiable information (PII) such as names, addresses, contact details, and purchase history.
  • Financial Records: Financial statements, transaction records, banking information, and payroll data.
  • Intellectual Property: Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and proprietary research and development.
  • Trade Secrets: Formulas, algorithms, processes, and other proprietary information critical to the company's competitive advantage.

Guidelines for Handling Confidential Information:

  • Keep it Safe: Protect data with encryption, both on devices and during transmission.
  • Control Access: Only authorized personnel should access confidential data. Make sure to use passwords and permissions effectively.
  • Store Securely: Save confidential information in encrypted databases or password-protected systems. Avoid storing on personal devices or unsecured platforms.
  • Handle with Care: Follow procedures for classifying, labeling, and disposing of data properly. Shred documents and securely wipe digital files.
  • Stay Informed: Attend training sessions to understand security threats like phishing emails or scams.
  • Report Incidents: If you suspect a breach or incident, report it immediately to our IT or security team.
  • Follow Regulations: Comply with data protection laws like GDPR or HIPAA by following these guidelines.

Securing Personal and Company Devices 

Keep Software Updated: Regularly update operating systems, applications, and antivirus software to patch vulnerabilities and defend against cyber attacks or threats.

Use Strong Passwords: Set strong, unique passwords for all accounts and devices. Avoid using easily guessable passwords or sharing them with others.

Enable Device Encryption: Activate encryption features on devices to safeguard data in case of theft or unauthorized access. Encrypt hard drives or utilize built-in encryption tools.

Beware of Phishing Emails: Exercise caution when opening emails from unknown senders or clicking on suspicious links. Report phishing attempts to the IT department immediately.

Install Antivirus Software: Only install company-endorsed antivirus software on personal and company devices to detect and remove malware, ransomware, and other malicious software. Do not download antivirus software that hasn’t been approved by the company or the IT department.

Utilize Firewalls: Enable firewalls on devices to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic, providing an additional layer of defense against cyber threats.

Secure Wi-Fi Connections: Connect to secure Wi-Fi networks and avoid using public or unsecured networks whenever possible. Use virtual private networks (VPNs) for added security when accessing company resources remotely.

Implement Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA on accounts and devices to add an extra layer of security beyond passwords. This helps prevent unauthorized access even if passwords are compromised.

Regularly Back Up Data: Backup important data regularly to external drives or secure cloud storage services. In the event of device loss or data corruption, backups ensure data recovery.

Report Lost or Stolen Devices: Immediately report lost or stolen personal or company devices to the IT department to initiate remote wiping procedures and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Email Security

By following these best practices, you contribute to maintaining the security and integrity of our email communications, safeguarding sensitive information, and mitigating the security risks posed by phishing attacks and other email-based threats. 

  • Stay Vigilant Against Phishing Attempts: Be cautious of emails requesting sensitive information, urging immediate action, or using urgent language. Verify the sender's email address and scrutinize unexpected requests for personal data or financial information.
  • Utilize Secure Email Protocols: Only send work-related emails from a company email address, to recipients that you know and trust. Do not share attachments or links with anyone outside the company unless they are a contractor, freelancer, or other known external stakeholder. 
  • Avoid Clicking on Suspicious Links or Attachments: Exercise caution when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown or unexpected sources. Hover over links to verify the URL's legitimacy, and only open attachments from trusted senders. When in doubt, verify with the sender through a separate communication channel.
  • Enable Spam Filters and Email Filtering: Enable spam filters and email filtering mechanisms provided by your email service provider to automatically identify and divert suspicious or malicious emails to the spam or junk folder. Regularly review the spam folder to ensure legitimate emails are not mistakenly flagged.
  • Report Suspicious Emails: If you receive a suspicious email, report it immediately to the IT or security department. Provide details such as the sender's email address, subject line, and any suspicious links or attachments. By reporting suspicious emails promptly, you help protect yourself and your colleagues from potential cyber threats.

Password Management

To ensure the security of your accounts and data, follow these criteria when creating passwords:

  • Complexity: Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (!, @, #, $, etc.) to increase the complexity of your password.
  • Length: Aim for a minimum password length of 12 characters or more to make it harder for attackers to crack.
  • Passphrases: Use a long, nonsensical phrase (not song lyrics or famous quotes), with each word separated by a space.
  • Avoid Dictionary Words: Avoid using dictionary words or common phrases, as these are easily guessable by attackers using automated tools.
  • Randomness: Generate random passwords using a mix of characters to enhance security. Avoid using easily guessable patterns or sequences.
  • Uniqueness: Ensure each password is unique and not reused across multiple accounts. This prevents a single compromised password from compromising multiple accounts.

Regular Password Changes: While regular password changes were once recommended, recent guidelines suggest focusing more on creating strong, unique passwords rather than frequent changes. However, it's still a good practice to change passwords periodically, such as every three to six months, especially for critical accounts or in response to security incidents.

Storing Passwords Securely: Use a reputable password manager to securely store and manage your passwords. A password manager encrypts your passwords and stores them in a secure vault, accessible only with a master password or biometric authentication. Additionally:

  • Master Password: Choose a strong, memorable master password to access your password manager. Avoid using easily guessable information, such as birthdays or common phrases.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enable multi-factor authentication where available for an extra layer of security. This typically involves verifying your identity using a second factor, such as a code sent to your mobile device.
  • Backup and Sync: Regularly back up your password manager's vault and enable synchronization across your devices to ensure access to your passwords from anywhere while maintaining security.

Data Transfer Security

Identify Sensitive Information: Before transferring any data, identify the information that is considered sensitive or confidential. This includes personal identifiable information (PII), financial records, intellectual property, and any other proprietary data.

Use Encryption Protocols: Encrypt sensitive data before transferring it to ensure that it remains protected during transit. Utilize strong encryption algorithms such as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) to encrypt files and communications.

Secure File Transfer Methods: Choose secure file transfer methods that offer encryption and data integrity verification. Examples include:

  • Secure FTP (SFTP): Transfer files securely over SSH (Secure Shell) protocol, which encrypts data during transit.
  • HTTPS: Use secure HTTPS connections when transferring files via web-based platforms or cloud storage services. HTTPS encrypts data using SSL/TLS protocols.
  • Encrypted Email: Use email encryption tools or services that support end-to-end encryption for transferring sensitive information via email.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): Establish VPN connections when transferring data over public networks to create a secure and private communication channel.

Password Protection and Access Controls: Implement password protection and security controls for accessing shared files or folders to restrict access to authorized individuals only. Use strong passwords and enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) where possible.

Verify Recipients' Identities: Before transferring sensitive data, verify the identities of the recipients to ensure that they are authorized to receive the information. Avoid sending sensitive data to unknown or unverified email addresses or contacts.

Provide Instructions for Data Handling: Include clear instructions for recipients on how to handle the transferred data securely. Encourage them to use encryption and secure storage practices on their end to protect the data from unauthorized access or data breaches.

Maintain Audit Trails and Records: Keep detailed records of all data transfers, including timestamps, sender and recipient information, and the type of data transferred. This helps maintain accountability and facilitates auditing and compliance efforts.

Reporting Violations

As an employee, it's essential to promptly report any violations or suspected breaches of our cybersecurity policy. Follow this process to ensure timely and effective resolution:

Recognize and Document Violations: Be vigilant and identify any actions or behaviors that may constitute violations of our cybersecurity policy. Document relevant details, including the nature of the violation, individuals involved, and any evidence or observations.

Report to Designated Channels: Report cybersecurity policy violations to the designated channels within our organization. This may include contacting the IT department, security team, or designated compliance officer through established communication channels such as email, phone, or internal reporting systems.

Provide Detailed Information: When reporting violations, provide as much detail as possible to facilitate investigation and resolution. Include specific information about the incident, such as the date, time, location, and any supporting evidence or documentation.

Assurance of Non-Retaliation: Rest assured that our company prohibits retaliation against employees who report cybersecurity policy violations in good faith. We value transparency and accountability and encourage open communication regarding security concerns.

Protection for Whistleblowers: Employees who report security incidents or violations in good faith will be protected from retaliation or adverse actions. Our company is committed to fostering a culture of trust and accountability, where employees feel empowered to raise concerns without fear of reprisal.

Confidentiality and Privacy: Information provided during the reporting process will be handled confidentially and with respect for employee privacy. Only individuals involved in the investigation and resolution process will have access to relevant information on a need-to-know basis.

Follow-Up and Resolution: After reporting a cybersecurity policy violation, expect timely follow-up from the appropriate department or team responsible for handling security incidents. Updates on the status of the investigation and resolution will be provided as necessary.

Continuous Improvement: Our company is committed to continuously improving our cybersecurity policies and practices based on reported incidents and feedback from employees. Your contributions to identifying and addressing security concerns are invaluable in strengthening our overall security posture.

Disciplinary Actions

As part of our commitment to maintaining a secure and trusted computing environment, it's imperative that all employees adhere to our cybersecurity policy. Violations of this policy undermine the integrity of our organization's information assets and may pose significant security risks to our business operations and company reputation. Therefore, we have established clear consequences for violations, which will be enforced consistently to uphold accountability and deter future misconduct:

  • Warnings: In cases of minor or first-time violations of the cybersecurity policy, employees may receive a formal warning. Warnings serve as a reminder of the importance of compliance with company policies and provide an opportunity for corrective action.
  • Suspension: More severe or repeated violations of the cybersecurity policy may result in disciplinary action, including suspension from work. Suspension serves as a temporary security measure to address the violation and prevent further harm while investigations are conducted.
  • Termination of Employment: Serious breaches of the cybersecurity policy, such as deliberate sabotage, unauthorized access to confidential information, or failure to comply with security protocols, may lead to termination of employment. Termination is a last resort and is implemented when violations jeopardize the security and integrity of our organization or its stakeholders.
  • Legal Action: In cases where violations of the cybersecurity policy involve criminal activities, such as hacking, data theft, or fraud, legal action may be pursued. This may include civil lawsuits, criminal charges, or other legal remedies to protect our company's interests and hold individuals accountable for their actions.
  • Consistent Enforcement: It is essential to enforce disciplinary actions consistently and impartially across all levels of the organization. Consistent enforcement demonstrates our commitment to upholding cybersecurity standards and ensures accountability for all employees. By maintaining consistency in disciplinary measures, we deter future misconduct and promote a culture of compliance and responsibility.

Frequently asked questions

How often should employees update their passwords?

Employees should update their passwords at least every three months or as required by company policy.

What should employees do if they suspect a phishing email?

Employees should report suspected phishing emails to the IT department and refrain from clicking on any links or attachments.

Can employees use personal devices for work-related tasks?

Employees may use personal devices for work-related tasks, but they must adhere to company policies regarding device security and data protection.

What should employees do if they lose a company-issued device?

Employees should immediately report the loss of a company-issued device to the IT department and follow any additional instructions provided for remote device wiping or tracking.

Can employees share their passwords with coworkers?

No, employees should never share their passwords with coworkers or anyone else, as it compromises the security of company systems and data.

Are employees required to attend cybersecurity training sessions?

Yes, all employees are required to attend regular cybersecurity training sessions to stay informed about emerging threats and best practices for maintaining security.

How can employees recognize potential security threats?

Employees should be trained to identify common security threats such as phishing emails, suspicious links, and unauthorized access attempts.

What are the consequences of violating the cybersecurity policy?

Consequences for violating the cybersecurity policy may include disciplinary actions ranging from warnings to termination of employment, depending on the severity of the violation.

What information is considered confidential data?

Confidential data includes any sensitive information that, if compromised, could harm the company or its stakeholders, such as personal identifiable information, financial data, and proprietary business information.