You probably already have clearly defined policies on things like paid time off while at work, but do you have a policy that sets expectations for use of company data and technology resources? These are the things we interact with most and carry considerations around confidentiality and security, yet are not always clear—for employers or employees.

Who are Technology & Data Use Policies for?

All businesses should have a Technology & Data Use Policy in place to easily establish a culture of cybersecurity and ensure that policies and guidelines are understood, shared, and consistently enforced.

What is a Technology & Data Use Policy?

A Technology and Data Use Policy outlines how employees use technology and data in the workplace. It’s a crucial cybersecurity tool, setting a clear and strong baseline for employee behavior and training. And since every business is different, not every Technology and Data Use Policy will look the same. A few items frequently seen in a Technology and Data Use Policy:

  • Personal Devices: Share your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and whether personal devices connect to company Wi-Fi.
  • Email and Communication: Specify how employees are expected to use their email and communicate on behalf of the company (e.g. don’t share sensitive data, don’t harass others, don’t sign up for personal accounts, etc.)
  • Reporting an Incident: Cover what employees should do if they think they have fallen victim to a cyberattack, criminal activity, malware, ransomware, or breach.

When do Technology & Data Use Policies matter?

The sooner you get a Technology & Data Use Policy in place, the sooner your employees can start following it and reducing risk to the business. Having a policy in place before an incident or issue arises is always the best-case scenario including helping with employee retention and onboarding, but it’s never too late to add one. Once you’ve got a Technology & Data Use Policy in place, don’t be afraid to update—your policy should be a living document that changes with your business needs. And in the event of an incident it’s often more effective to treat it as an opportunity for improvement rather than punishment.

Where does a Technology & Data Use Policy apply?

To get started, take a comprehensive look at your computer and network systems and obligations, and begin to make some cybersecurity and technology-minded policy decisions. When your policy is complete, the most important step is to ask employees to read and sign it! And when you do, be sure to explain why the changes are important—for them and for the company. Make the policy a central focus for new and existing team members, and encourage questions and discussion.

Why is a Technology & Data Use Policy important?

A Technology and Data Use Policy sets the stage for how everyone should think about and use technology and data at work—both in the office and for remote work environments. Good, simple, understandable tech and data use policies work to reduce the chance for human error while also mitigating insider threats. Ultimately, these key cybersecurity policies help reduce risks associated with a cyberattack by establishing clear procedures, expectations, ownership, and communications around behavior and remediation, driving improved cyber posture including:

  • Culture: From day one, set the stage for a cybersecurity-first mindset with a simple, but holistic policy that provides clear direction.
  • Consistency: Having and sharing cybersecurity guidelines and rules allows for employers, employees, and even partners, to get on the same page and work toward a common goal.
  • Best Practices: It’s not only important internally, but customers, partners, vendors, and government bodies want to see that you’re taking cybersecurity policies seriously–some even institute requirements and compliance around it.

Set it, but don’t forget it

Getting a Technology & Data Use Policy in place for your business may sound daunting and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. By simply addressing a handful of key cyber-safety and security topics, you can start to build a custom Technology & Data Use Policy for employee security behavior.. And once that is done, schedule regular updates and perhaps a well-deserved vacation—just don’t forget to follow the PTO policy!