What is security policies ?

Every organization has something that someone else wants. Someone might want that something for himself, or he might want the satisfaction of denying something to its rightful owner. Your assets are what need the protection of a security policy.

Determine what your assets are by asking (and answering) the following questions:

  • What do you have that others want?
  • What processes, data, or information systems are critical to you, your company, or your organization?
  • What would stop your company or organization from doing business or fulfilling its mission?

The answers identify assets in a wide range, including critical databases, vital applications, vital company customer and employee information, classified commercial information, shared drives, email servers, and web servers.

A security policy comprises a set of objectives for the company, rules of behavior for users and administrators, and requirements for system and management that collectively ensure the security of network and computer systems in an organization. A security policy is a “living document,” meaning that the document is never finished and is continuously updated as technology and employee requirements change.

The security policy translates, clarifies, and communicates the management position on security as defined in high-level security principles. The security policy acts as a bridge between these management objectives and specific security requirements. It informs users, staff, and managers of their obligatory requirements for protecting technology and information assets. It should specify the mechanisms that you need to meet these requirements. It also provides a baseline from which to acquire, configure, and audit computer systems and networks for compliance with the security policy. Therefore, an attempt to use a set of security tools in the absence of at least an implied security policy is meaningless.

The three reasons for having a security policy are as follows:


  • To inform users, staff, and managers
  • To specify mechanisms for security
  • To provide a baseline

One of the most common security policy components is an acceptable use policy (AUP). This component defines what users are allowed and not allowed to do on the various components of the system, including the type of traffic that is allowed on the networks. The AUP should be as explicit as possible to avoid ambiguity or misunderstanding. For example, an AUP might list the prohibited website categories.

A properly defined security policy does the following:


  • Protects people and information
  • Sets the rules for expected behavior
  • Authorizes staff to monitor, probe, and investigate
  • Defines the consequences of violations

The audience for the security policy is anyone who might have access to your network, including employees, contractors, suppliers, and customers. However, the security policy should treat each of these groups differently.

The audience determines the content of the policy. For example, you probably do not need to include a description of why something is necessary in a policy that is intended for the technical staff. You can assume that the technical staff already knows why a particular requirement is included. Managers are also not likely to be interested in the technical aspects of why a particular requirement is needed. However, they might want the high-level overview or the principles supporting the requirement. When end users know why a particular security control has been included, they are more likely to comply with the policy.

In the policy, users can be organized into two audiences:

  • Internal audience
    • Managers and executives
    • Departments and business units
    • Technical staff
    • End users
  • External audience
    • Partners
    • Customers
    • Suppliers
    • Consultants and contractors

know more at : http://www.ciscopress.com


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