What is an Information Security Policy and What Should it Include?

An information security policy is a crucial document in an organization’s repertoire, providing an overview of its data protection requirements.

A central information security policy provides a broad summary of necessary actions, which is supported by specific policies related to defined requirements – such as staff awareness training, access controls and other technologies, and procedures.

Each policy addresses a risk, or group of risks, and defines the organization’s approach to mitigating it.

Why is an information security policy important?

Information security policies play a vital role in organizational security. Getting your policy right will give you an excellent framework to build on, making sure that all your efforts follow a single goal.

An information security policy can help you:

  • Protect against threats to data confidentiality, integrity, and availability
  • Reduce the risk of security incidents
  • Address regulatory compliance requirements

3 key elements of an information security policy

An information security policy should include relevant details about an organization and its practices. As a starting point, it should contain these three key elements:

1. Scope

The scope of an information security policy should identify where information is and who can access it.

You do not need to be specific when outlining this. Where you store information will change over time, and you don’t want to re-write the policy every time this happens.

For your purposes, it’s sufficient to state that information can be stored in programs, systems, facilities or other infrastructure that’s relevant to your organization.

2. Policy statement

This part of the policy explains the organization’s approach to information security. This could mean, for example, detailing the environment in which the organization operates, the laws and regulations it is bound by, or even the types of information it handles.

The purpose of this section is to acknowledge the factors that necessitate information security and to state how seriously the organization takes its requirements.

3. Objectives

To ensure that your information security program works as intended, you must set objectives to ensure that everything works at intended.

This includes an assessment of whether controls do what they are designed to achieve, whether they operate in accordance with laws and regulations, and whether they fulfil contractual requirements.

Where possible, your objectives should be measurable and quantifiable. This is because individual judgement can lead to inaccurate reporting and possibly even bias – either from those who want greater investment in information security or those who claim that the existing measures are effective.

The objectives you choose will depend on your industry and the maturity of your information security management system. They will probably also develop over time, which is why it’s important to keep track of them.

If you are consistently meeting an objective, you should update it accordingly or focus on other areas.

Simplify the documentation process

Documenting your policies takes a lot of time and effort, and you might still overlook key policies or fail to address critical issues.

However, you can avoid those problems with our bestselling Information Security Policy Template.

This customizable tool enables you to create an information security template that aligns with the best practices outlined in ISO 27001.

Whether you want to make sure you have complete coverage of your information security concerns or simply want to speed up the documentation process, this template is an ideal resource.