6 Critical Elements in an Information Security Policy for Community Banks

by | Sep 3, 2020 | Managed Services, Security

An information security policy is a set of rules that ensures data security by regulating domain and network usage. This policy should protect not only the organization’s data but the customers’ data as well. In this article, we’ll lay out some of the critical elements that a community bank needs to consider when planning its information security policy.

1. You Must Have a Purpose.

Thomas Carlyle once said, “The person without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” Identifying the purpose of any plan in your organization is always the best place to start. There are many reasons why a community bank would need an information security policy. Perhaps bank leadership doesn’t want to find their bank in the next customer information breach story on the evening news. Maybe they see the importance of protecting the reputation of the company and the privacy of their customers. Specifying the purpose for your organization as a first step for your information security policy is paramount to making sure you are working in the right direction.

2. What is the Scope?

The information security policy for banks must encompass all the data, apps, systems, networks, customers, facilities and infrastructure that are under your control. If you miss something, you could be opening your organization or your customers to security risk. A scope that is broad enough to contain everything your organization needs yet specific to your purpose and needs is very important.

3. What are the Security Objectives for Your Institution?

The objectives of your information security policy should be well-defined. Simplicity is key in defining the security policy. Simplicity will allow your objectives to be concise and understood by all involved. This is critical to ensuring everyone understands and upholds their responsibilities.

4. Authorization and Access Control Policy

Access control and authorization are where you define who has what level of access to which resources. This goes hand-in-hand with the rights, responsibilities, and duties of your personnel. The policy needs to answer the who, how, why, and when of the access to your organization’s resources. Is multi-factor authentication needed? For which people, applications and devices? These are the kinds of questions that should be answered at this stage.

5. Data Classification and Security

The data within your organization needs to be classified and prioritized to ensure that only those who are supposed to access and use the data can do so. You may have data that is considered high risk or protected under federal legislation. You will also have confidential data, such as customer information. Then there is public information that is free to be distributed to anyone. Data classification is key to protecting the most important and potentially sensitive information within your organization.

 6. Rights, Responsibilities, and Duties of your Personnel

Finally, your institution needs to specify all rights, responsibilities and duties of your personnel. Who makes the decisions, and who makes the actual changes? What happens when someone leaves the company? Is there training available to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and duties? This information needs to be specific, documented, and communicated to your personnel.

Shoring Up Your Community Bank’s Information Security Policy

Is your information security policy ready and robust enough for your community bank? Does your IT staff have the knowledge and expertise to handle this kind of security policy? Or can you see yourself working with a partner who knows your industry and all of the ins and outs of cybersecurity in banking?

Peters & Associates is a family-owned managed service provider that knows the ins and outs of technology and how it relates to your community bank. We continue to navigate the changes brought on by industry and market conditions as well as customer preferences. We hold a strong, proven bank risk assessment methodology, and we can help you create a bank information security policy that improves your institution’s cybersecurity and makes sense for your business.

To continue strengthening your community bank’s security, download my free Incident Response Plan (IRP) checklist for community banks.

Download My Incident Response Plan (IRP) Checklist