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Security is one of the most important feelings for people. Since the dawn, humans have sought to feel safe from looming threats and unpredictable events. The search for security remains fundamental in the digital age. For this reason, a company or public administration must carry out a security policy assessment to analyze their compliance and effectiveness.
This verification will assess the organization’s security level and strengthen its protection in a volatile context plagued by cybersecurity challenges.
The rise of IoT devices, the proliferation of mobile apps, the use of software to perform multiple business and professional tasks and processes, the migration of data to the cloud… These processes have brought with them a host of benefits for companies and individuals. But also threats. Hence, cybersecurity has become a crucial issue for companies, institutions and citizens.
The design and evaluation of an organization’s security policies are a central element in its security strategy.
It stipulates how information is managed within the organization and what measures must be implemented to protect the company’s data and assets against attacks and the development of security incidents.
This article will analyze the keys to evaluating security policies and the benefits they bring to companies.
1. What are security policies?
An organization’s security policies are a set of guidelines that regulate the treatment of information and the protection of an organization’s systems.
The security controls and measures to be carried out to guarantee the organization’s security are established through a series of procedures and protocols. These measures range from purely technical aspects to the good practices to be followed by all organization members in their relationship with IT resources and information management.
The two main objectives of security policies are:
- To guarantee the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.
- To protect the assets, processes and systems of the organization.
To design security policies and ensure their effectiveness, companies must:
- First, identify critical assets, systems and processes.
- Second, collect and select the best practices in cybersecurity at a global level.
- Third, establish security objectives, considering the company’s characteristics.
- Fourth, define the most appropriate security protocols and mechanisms to meet the objectives.
- Finally, continuously analyze the effectiveness of the implemented security policies.
What do security policies include? Best practices, the establishment of responsibilities, system access procedures, security permission levels, actions to be taken when managing security incidents, business continuity and disaster recovery procedures, training actions, and protocols for the transfer of information.
2. What does the security policy assessment consist of?
The purpose of any security policy assessment is to check their level of implementation and the accuracy with which they have been carried out. It is also to analyze the validity of the company’s security policy, considering the sector’s best practices and the emergence of new threats.
To do so, companies and institutions can hire security policy compliance verification services from professionals specialized in cybersecurity. This type of service makes it possible to:
- Study the technical compliance with security policies in each one of the information systems that are part of the organization.
- Validate that all organization members comply with cybersecurity guidelines to protect the company or institution against threats.
- Use verification tools capable of identifying weaknesses or security breaches.
- Continuously adapt security policies and infrastructure protection, considering the emergence of new technologies and the development of new cyber-attack methodologies and techniques.
2.1. A comprehensive analysis of strategic value for companies
All this means that the security policy assessment must be a holistic analysis that takes into account the technical measures implemented to ensure the security of an organization’s information and assets and the role played by the people who make up the organization, from senior management and those responsible for security to professionals with a lower level of permissions to access data and systems.
This allows the security policy assessment to take into account two realities of great relevance in the field of cybersecurity:
- Digitization and the phenomena we noted earlier, such as the spread of IoT devices, have increased the attack surface on which criminals can impact to breach a company’s systems.
- Users are often the weak link in a company’s security strategy. This is why measures such as multi-factor authentication have been implemented to access critical assets such as corporate email.
3. Complying with regulations and avoiding security incidents
In light of the above, it is easy to understand why companies should carry out a security policy assessment.
Even so, we can point to two main motivations that should drive companies to hire security policy compliance verification services:
- Regulatory requirements. The GDPR has meant a before and after in the efforts organizations must make to guarantee the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information. In addition, the security policy assessment makes it possible to ascertain the correct functioning of protocols and data safeguarding. As if this were not enough, other standards have also been approved, such as the DORA regulation or the NIS2 directive, which focus on securing company systems against cyber-attacks and seek to guarantee business continuity and reduce the impact of security incidents, especially in strategic sectors such as finance.
- The increase in cyber-attacks and their pernicious effects has put the focus on cybersecurity. As a result, information and technological infrastructure security have become a strategic issue for thousands of companies. The economic, reputational and legal consequences of a security incident can devastate a company and call into question its viability.
By assessing security policies, an organization can know precisely whether its protocols and mechanisms for protecting information and systems are effective and up to date. If they are not, it can take the necessary measures to optimize them, ensure compliance with legal requirements and reduce its security risks.
4. Benefits of analyzing the implementation and effectiveness of security policies
Beyond the issues we have just addressed, the fact is that the security policy assessment yields five major benefits that strengthen any organization’s security strategy.
4.1. Verification of the asset inventory and its configuration
When implementing a security policy assessment, it is crucial, as mentioned above, to inventory the assets of the organization in question.
Thus, security policies must be designed to protect critical assets. Therefore, the security policy assessment must pay special attention to them.
The analysis must validate the configuration of the assets and ensure that they are consistent, avoiding contradictions that could jeopardize the systems and the company.
4.2. Adoption of system security settings
The protection of an organization’s systems is a basic purpose of the security policy assessment. Studying all the procedures and protocols makes it possible to study their effectiveness and provide the necessary information for adopting security adjustments.
The main methodological references in cybersecurity, such as NIST or CIS guides, provide a series of measures that can be adopted to optimize security policies, pointing out the steps that must be taken to implement each measure successfully.
For example, the NIST 800-53 guide includes a set of controls that can be put in place to protect information systems and organizations. From awareness and training of all personnel to protocols for managing supply chain risks, contingency plans, to procedures for controlling access to systems.
As we always argue, cybersecurity is an extraordinarily changing industry, subject to multiple innovations and stresses. For this reason, the professionals who evaluate an organization’s security policies must be up to date and incorporate their cutting-edge knowledge into the services they provide, helping to adopt the necessary adjustments to improve the organization’s security policies.
4.3. Analysis of the evolution of technological infrastructure security
In line with the above, another benefit of security policy assessment is the possibility of conducting an in-depth analysis of the evolution of a company’s infrastructure security.
By performing a security policy assessment on an ongoing basis, it is possible to compare the level of protection of systems and information at different points in time.
In this way, the effectiveness of the changes implemented in security policies and their validity in successfully dealing with the threats and risks of the present can be studied and measured with greater precision.
4.4. Automation of security policy compliance monitoring
Professionals in charge of security policy assessment can install and configure verification tools to detect false positives and automate some security policy compliance and non-compliance checks.
Using such tools makes it possible to continuously evaluate security policies and find weaknesses before malicious actors can exploit them.
4.5. Implementation of a process of continuous security improvement
In light of the above, the security policy assessment contributes significantly to continuously improving an organization’s security measures, protocols and procedures.
Strict compliance with well-designed and implemented security policies is crucial for securing an organization’s systems and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information they store.
The establishment of ambitious security policies requires technical, economic and human resources. Therefore, this set of measures must follow each company’s characteristics, needs and peculiarities, as well as the legal requirements it must comply with.
By evaluating security policies on an ongoing basis, companies can protect themselves against cyber-attacks, safeguarding their assets, processes and work dynamics.
Getting all professionals in an organization to become cybersecurity experts is a pipe dream. However, security policies can contribute to the awareness and training of all users, reducing the possibility that human error can lead to security breaches.
In conclusion, the security policy assessment is a fundamental service to verify that security policies are correctly implemented within an organization.
As well as to verify that the controls, measures and protocols designed are the most adequate to:
- Protect information systems.
- Reduce the risk of a security incident occurring.
- Facilitate business continuity and the recovery of normality in case the incident occurs.
This article is part of a series of articles about Security Assessment
- The 5 keys to a security risk assessment
- Global security assessment: Knowing the weaknesses to address them
- Network Security Assessment: Protecting assets, preparing for attacks
- 5 benefits of a security policy assessment