Having a documented data security policy is a best practice for every organization, especially those that are subject to today’s increasingly stringent data privacy laws, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Here is a data policy template for access control that you can adapt to meet your organization’s unique legal requirements.
Organizations create an access control data protection policy to make sure users can access only the assets they need to do their jobs — in other words, to enforce a least-privilege model. Typically, this policy is implemented with a combination of technical controls and training to educate users about their responsibilities for protection of data.
The data security policy template below provides a framework for assigning data access controls. Once you have developed your policy based on the template, be sure to expand it to cover new assets and operations as they are added to your business.
Here are the key sections to include in your data security policy and examples of their content.
In this section, you explain the reasons for having this policy. Here is an example:
The company must restrict access to confidential and sensitive data to protect it from being lost or compromised in order to avoid adversely impacting our customers, incurring penalties for non-compliance and suffering damage to our reputation. At the same time, we must ensure users can access data as required for them to work effectively.
It is not anticipated that this policy can eliminate all malicious data theft. Rather, its primary objective is to increase user awareness and avoid accidental loss scenarios, so it outlines the requirements for data breach prevention.
2.1 In Scope
In this section, you list all areas that fall under the policy, such as data sources and data types. For example:
This data security policy applies all customer data, personal data, or other company data defined as sensitive by the company’s data classification policy. Therefore, it applies to every server, database and IT system that handles such data, including any device that is regularly used for email, web access or other work-related tasks. Every user who interacts with company IT services is also subject to this policy.
2.2 Out of Scope
Here you define what does not fall under your data security policy. For instance:
Information that is classified as Public is not subject to this policy. Other data can be excluded from the policy by company management based on specific business needs, such as that protecting the data is too costly or too complex.
This is the body of the policy where you state all policy requirements.
The company shall provide all employees and contracted third parties with access to the information they need to carry out their responsibilities as effectively and efficiently as possible.
a. Each user shall be identified by a unique user ID so that individuals can be held accountable for their actions.
b. The use of shared identities is permitted only where they are suitable, such as training accounts or service accounts.
c. Each user shall read this data security policy and the login and logoff guidelines, and sign a statement that they understand the conditions of access.
d. Records of user access may be used to provide evidence for security incident investigations.
e. Access shall be granted based on the principle of least privilege, which means that each program and user will be granted the fewest privileges necessary to complete their tasks.
3.3 Access Control Authorization
Access to company IT resources and services will be given through the provision of a unique user account and complex password. Accounts are provided by the IT department based on records in the HR department.
Passwords are managed by the IT Service Desk. Requirements for password length, complexity and expiration are stated in the company password policy.
Role-based access control (RBAC) will be used to secure access to all file-based resources in Active Directory domains.
3.4 Network Access
a. All employees and contractors shall be given network access in accordance with business access control procedures and the least-privilege principle.
b. All staff and contractors who have remote access to company networks shall be authenticated using the VPN authentication mechanism only.
c. Segregation of networks shall be implemented as recommended by the company's network security research. Network administrators shall group together information services, users and information systems as appropriate to achieve the required segregation.
d. Network routing controls shall be implemented to support the access control policy.
3.5 User Responsibilities
a. All users must lock their screens whenever they leave their desks to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
b. All users must keep their workplace clear of any sensitive or confidential information when they leave.
c. All users must keep their passwords confidential and not share them.
3.6 Application and Information Access
a. All company staff and contractors shall be granted access to the data and applications required for their job roles.
b. All company staff and contractors shall access sensitive data and systems only if there is a business need to do so and they have approval from higher management.
c. Sensitive systems shall be physically or logically isolated in order to restrict access to authorized personnel only.
3.7 Access to Confidential, Restricted information
a. Access to data classified as ‘Confidential’ or ‘Restricted’ shall be limited to authorized persons whose job responsibilities require it, as determined by the Data Security Policy or higher management.
b. The responsibility to implement access restrictions lies with the IT Security department.
The technical guidelines specify all requirements for technical controls used to grant access to data. Here is an example:
Access control methods to be used shall include:
Access control applies to all networks, servers, workstations, laptops, mobile devices, web applications and websites, cloud storages, and services.
This section describes the requirements for reporting incidents that happen.
a. Daily incident reports shall be produced and handled within the IT Security department or the incident response team.
b. Weekly reports detailing all incidents shall be produced by the IT Security department and sent to the IT manager or director.
c. High-priority incidents discovered by the IT Security department shall be immediately escalated; the IT manager should be contacted as soon as possible.
d. The IT Security department shall also product a monthly report showing the number of IT security incidents and the percentage that were resolved.
Here you should state who owns what and who is responsible for which actions and controls.
This paragraph should state the penalties for access control violations.
Any user found in violation of this policy is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Any third-party partner or contractor found in violation may have their network connection terminated.
This paragraph defines any technical terms used in this policy.
This section lists all documents related to the policy and provides links to them. This list might include:
Every policy revision should be recorded in this section.
|Version||Date of Revision||Author||Description of Changes|
|1.0||June 12, 2019||J.Smith, IT Manager||Initial Version|
Using this template, you can create a data security access policy for your organization. Remember that security policies must be both strong and feasible, and they should also be accessible, concise and easy to understand. Strive to achieve a good balance between data protection and user productivity and convenience.