Security should be a matter of concern to all businesses, but it is especially important for SMBs operating in the financial industry. Financial services firms are subject to nearly 300 times more cyber attacks each year than other industries. Considering the constant presence of cyber threats, SMBs must craft security policies to protect their data and assets from malicious actors. Here are four of the most crucial elements to include in your company’s security policy.

Defined security objectives

A well-defined set of security goals and objectives should be at the heart of your security policy. These goals can include maintaining data integrity, protecting technology assets and providing confidentiality for all data sent across your network. These objectives will help to guide your team in making decisions and handling sensitive data. Make the goals in this section of your policy clear enough to be implemented, as vague outlines may lead to confusion.

Access to critical assets

The main purpose of a security policy is to protect your company’s data and technological assets from attack. An important part of your security policy, therefore, involves defining how and by whom those assets can be accessed. A good policy will define how company assets can and cannot be used by employees. Take time to evaluate and catalog all assets and associated risk levels to ensure your policy covers everything. A risk assessment can help with this by providing insight into how vulnerable specific assets are. Conducting a risk assessment is also a good way to shore up hidden network weaknesses.

Clear responsibilities for personnel

For a security policy to be useful, it must define the roles and responsibilities of the various personnel within your organization. This aspect of your policy is extremely important, as some 40 percent of security breaches are the result of employee error and negligence. Ideally, your security policy will establish clear responsibilities at each staff level, from everyday users to system administrators. Though beyond the scope of security policy, requiring employee access to security training will help them meet these responsibilities. The clear definition of responsibilities can also play an important role in disaster recovery planning, where employees may be called upon to execute specific tasks to restore technology systems, resources, and assets.

Data policies and classifications

Loss of data can be extremely damaging to financial SMBs. While each lost record costs the average company approximately $225, a company that provides financial services can expect to incur a cost of $336 per lost record. Given the possible economic and compliance risks, proper data handling should be a major component of your security policy. Data should be classified according to its priority level, giving the highest-priority data the strongest possible protections. All customer financial data should be classified as high-risk and covered by extremely robust network protection.

Besides setting classification types for your data, your security policy should address your company’s data protection, backup and recovery procedures. Encryption requirements, use of firewalls and related precautions should be clearly spelled out. These requirements should include applicable industry standards and government regulations. In addition, the basic requirements of data backup for future recovery should be explained clearly.

Including these elements in your security policy will ensure it is both effective and actionable for implementation. When crafting the specific details of your security policy, it’s also important to consult with your technology service provider and your internal IT staff. Those managing your technology assets can offer useful insights into securing them, so take their recommendations into consideration.