The risks of weak IT policies

With cybercriminal activity constantly increasing, strong IT policies have become imperative for UK businesses of all sizes. Without policies in place, companies are constantly at risk of serious consequences that can impact their daily operations, financial status, business reputation and longevity. Here we look at IT policies, their importance and the consequences that arise when they are weak.

What is an IT policy?

IT policies are a set of established protocols and rules that are designed to dictate the practices to follow regarding the security, use and management of a business’s technology resources. A comprehensive IT policy covers a wide range of areas including data security, internet, network and email usage, employee responsibility and software licensing. Built-for-purpose policies state the acceptable practices that all employees must use whenever they interact with technology resources within their working environment. This includes when carrying out their role on premises but also when working remotely from home or during business travel.

What is the purpose of an IT policy?

IT policies are multi-purpose initiatives. They are designed to ensure that companies are fulfilling their legal obligations regarding data security. Firms are required by law to take steps to safeguard the personal data in their care whether it belongs to their staff, customers or third-party companies and collaborators they work with. If found negligent in this duty, a business can face heavy fines from the UK’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

An IT policy is also in place to protect company intellectual properties (IPs) and private data secure ensuring firms are not negatively impacted. They also secure networks, systems, and devices to make sure that daily operations run smoothly and productively and that in the event of an interruption, companies can remain resilient and get up and running again swiftly. Common inclusions in policies involve keeping software and operating systems updated with the latest security patches in place and backing up all company data so it can quickly be recalled.

Policies can keep staff and firms safe from cyberthreats. For instance, by training your team how to spot and react when faced with a phishing scam, incidents which can impact both them and your company can be avoided.

IT policies are preventative measures designed to help companies avoid larger problems occurring which negatively impact their ability to operate.

What are the risks of having poor cyber security?

Inadequate cybersecurity makes companies increasingly vulnerable to threats like cyberattacks as well as accidental and malicious data breaches. It also makes the more probe to inadvertent acts of non-compliance with regulations.

Weak cybersecurity can have short- and long-term consequences. When a data breach or malware attack occurs dues to weak security, companies are often immediately impacted.

When IT systems are affected, firms face reduced productivity and operation efficiency. Business continuity is hindered making it difficult for companies to respond to customer needs or carry out processes. A lack of clear policies regarding data protection and user access control can also lead to internal security breaches.

If a serious data breach occurs, and a firm fails in its responsibilities by having poor protocols in place, the ICO has the power to issue fines as high as £17.5 million or four per cent of a firm’s annual turnover depending on which figure is higher.

However, the long-term repercussions of poor cybersecurity can be even more far reaching. A loss of reputation can see customers lose trust in a company and select its competitors instead. It can also lead to a drop in company stock value and in extreme cases, end enterprises entirely.

Does your firm have an IT policy in place?

Many enterprises underestimate how important strong IT policies are or assume that the present practices they follow are sufficient. However, without routine reviews and regular updates, IT policies can quickly become out of date and no longer fit for purpose. To counter risks and keep compliant, all businesses must carry out comprehensive assessments of the IT policies they adopt, identifying any weaknesses and implementing changes when necessary.

A key step to addressing gaps in your IT policy is recognising you need support. At 127 Solutions, we can help your firm put protocols and procedures in place that protect it against the risks listed above. Reach out to our team today to discuss your current policy and let us help you get your Cyber Essentials Plus or Cyber Essentials accreditation to ensure you have rules in place to remain safe from any cybercriminal activity.