Most businesses start with a hope and a dream. As businesses evolve, grow, and scale the need for written policies, procedures, and documentation emerges. One of the key areas that can be very easy for business owners to forget about is a WISP (Written Information Security Plan).
This is one area where you want to take the time to build out a solid plan. You want to have a well-documented, thought-out plan, that you have communicated across your organization. Every single team member should know exactly what to do and what to expect.
The lack of a WISP (Written Information Security Plan) is a fast track to a cyber-attack. When you haven’t taken the time to thoughtfully protect the data that you hold it certainly makes it easier for cybercriminals to access it. As business owners, we need to take the responsibility of the data we hold very seriously. The data can come from clients, your employees, or may even be your own intellectual property.
8 Steps to Create a Written Information Security Plan
1. Identify the scope: Start by identifying the information that needs protection, such as financial data, customer information, intellectual property, or trade secrets. Determine the scope of the WISP by identifying the systems, devices, and networks that process, store, or transmit the information.
2. Conduct a risk assessment: A risk assessment helps identify potential threats and vulnerabilities to your information assets. It involves identifying potential risks, analyzing their likelihood and impact, and developing mitigation strategies to reduce risk.
3. Develop policies and procedures: Develop policies and procedures that address the risks identified during the risk assessment. Policies should provide clear guidance to employees on how to handle sensitive information and outline their responsibilities.
4. Establish access controls: Access controls help limit access to sensitive information only to those needing it. Establish user access policies and procedures, including password policies, account management procedures, and access restrictions.
5. Implement technical safeguards: Technical safeguards include measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, encryption, and anti-malware software. These tools can help prevent unauthorized access to your systems and protect against data breaches.
6. Train employees: Train employees on the policies and procedures established in the WISP, including identifying and reporting security incidents and using the technical safeguards in place.
7. Test and update the plan: Test the WISP regularly to ensure it is effective and up to date. Conduct regular security audits, vulnerability scans, and penetration testing to identify potential weaknesses and implement updates to the plan as needed.
8. Review and revise the plan: Review the plan annually or when significant changes occur in the organization’s information systems or operations. Update the plan to address any new risks, threats, or vulnerabilities that have been identified.
By following these steps, you can begin to develop an effective Written Information Security Plan that helps protect your organization’s sensitive information.