*Post Updated in April 2021
After speaking with Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) leaders, we’ve learned and summarized several challenges organizations face when creating a successful cybersecurity policy compliance program.
4 Tips for a Successful Cybersecurity Policy Compliance Program
1. Policy Development
Creating a new policy from scratch is time-consuming, and the thought of, ‘what am I forgetting?’ is enough to keep a GRC team up at night. GRC leaders recognize that while templates and frameworks can be leveraged for simplification, corporate policies should be customized to an organization’s industry, geographical location, risk assessment, organizational hierarchy, and other factors.
The responsibility of creating cybersecurity policies primarily falls on the CISO or GRC leader. Cybersecurity and compliance leaders (together with their teams) ensure that rules are being properly communicated to employees in all departments.
2. Policy Storage and Dissemination
Many organizations store corporate policies on an internal Intranet site, Google Drive, Wiki Page or distribute them via email. But how does the GRC team know if those policies are being read? To do this, you need to visualize if your employees can access your policies easily or not. You can’t expect them to know a policy if they can’t even access it conveniently. This should be your priority as only after you achieve this can you move on to everything else.
3. Policy Awareness
If ensuring employees read a policy is a concern, then measuring each policy’s understanding and awareness would be a challenge. In many cases, organizations rely on users to check a box stating that they’ve read and understood the policy.
To more effectively raise policy awareness, organizations can run training and assessments to test employee’s understanding of different policies. By doing this, they can estimate the current standing of the employees and see where each team member stands. The assessment results can be analyzed for a clearer understanding of employee’s behaviors and attitudes towards cybersecurity policies.
To make this process more engaging rather than seem like an ordeal, organizations can make the assessments gamified and straightforward. By introducing an element of gamification, employees will be motivated to participate and better understand the policy.
4. Policy Effectiveness
Quantifying user change in behavior over time as a result of a corporate policy is perhaps the most challenging of all, given the sheer volume of policies that most organizations institute. A common theme from GRC leaders was that they prioritize which policies address the highest risks, then focus on measuring behavior change for those first.
The ability to improve awareness and education is one of the most important aspects of a compliance program. The ultimate way to analyze if employees are adhering to a specific policy is to evaluate behavior improvement by checking if you had any data breach or cyber incident related to non-compliance. This acts as a good measure to see if the employees are adhering to the policies.
Although a bulk of the responsibility for a successful cybersecurity policy compliance program falls on the CISO and GRC leaders, the higher executives should also regularly enforce these regulations and keep their team members updated. Compliance leaders should be allowed to create, edit, store, and disseminate policies clearly and concisely.