6 Steps to Write an Effective Information Security Policy

An information security policy is a set of rules laid out by an organization to protect sensitive and important data. This document should reflect the organization’s security goals, priorities and strategy agreed upon by management. Follow these six steps to write an effective information security policy.

Getting started

The first thing you should do is learn about how management views security, rather than start by trying to teach them about information security. Any good information security policy will be mandated by what management is concerned about, and not just what the security professional believes is important. Good listening skills are crucial in this early stage. Listen for common themes that are coming up as you speak with management. You’ll also need to ask the right questions. Some good questions include “What kinds of information do you depend on for your decision-making process?” and “are there certain types of information you are more concerned about keeping private than others?”

Use a framework

“It’s a good idea to build your policy around an industry-standard framework such as the International Standards Organization’s Security Management series. Starting with such a framework makes it much more likely that external actors will accept your policy, along with management,” recommends Tomas Guess, cybersecurity manager at Coursework Help. Remember that these frameworks are just that, frameworks that need to be fleshed out and tailored to meet the needs of the company it will protect. You should adjust these documents to suit the organization, not the other way around.

Mandates are key

It’s very important your information security policy reflects actual practice at your organization. The best way to ensure that is by getting your mandates right. The mandates you create must be realistic and something everyone in the organization can get behind and follow. There is no sense in creating a complicated and extensive policy if it won’t actually be followed in practice. Write a policy with a limited number of mandates but be very clear that there are no exceptions to these rules. The way you use language is very important to how effective your policy will be. Write your policy so that it is followed as closely as the organization’s sexual harassment policy.

Classifying data

An information security policy should classify data and delineate specific handling practices for each kind. Prioritizing data in this way can save you a lot of resources. Obviously, there are types of data that need high and medium levels of security. But there is also probably a lot of data that is not worth protecting and doing so would be a big and unnecessary burden on an organization’s resources. It is recommended that data be classified into three main groups: high risk class, confidential, and public.

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A big part of creating a good information security policy is effective communication. Write your policy so that it is easy for everyone to understand and comply with.

Share it with your staff

It’s very important you inform your staff about the policy via security awareness sessions. Just because they have read and signed the policy doesn’t mean they fully understand it. Hold a training session where you teach them about using and deleting data, records management, privacy, and proper social networking. Inform them about the procedures and mechanisms that exist to protect the organization’s data. Talk about subjects like levels of confidentiality and sensitivity when it comes to data.


Information is crucial to the success and integrity of any organization, so make your information security policy a priority. There are many threats out there and different ways your sensitive information can be compromised. Get a good understanding of what management considers important information. Use an established framework and adapt it to your organization. Make your mandates straightforward and clear in their intentions and consequences. Educate your staff on how to comply with the policy. Your best defense against information security risks is an effective and comprehensive information security policy.

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