Why is it hard to implement cybersecurity policies & procedures?

Implementing cybersecurity policies and procedures can be challenging for several reasons, often stemming from the complex nature of cybersecurity and the organizational dynamics involved. This is where How To GRC excels in our ability to work with client needs.

As explained by Tom Cornelius, the Senior Partner at ComplianceForge“In organizations without a dedicated Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) team, writing documentation is often assigned as an additional duty to cybersecurity staff, where it is often avoided at all costs. This tends to lead to frequent personnel change who have the responsibility for the review and updating of the documentation, which can result in conflicting requirements, gaps in coverage and inconsistent writing styles that make it difficult for the average employee to follow. That is just for the policies and standards, so when you look at the decentralized nature of procedures that is where the quality and consistency of cybersecurity documentation significantly breaks down from a lack of standardization for a minimum viable expectation for procedural documentation.”

Here are some common challenges associated with the implementation of cybersecurity policies and procedures:

  • Lack of Awareness and Understanding: Many employees may lack awareness of cybersecurity risks and the importance of policies and procedures. Understanding the potential consequences of security lapses is crucial for fostering a culture of security within the organization.
  • Resistance to Change: Employees and stakeholders may resist changes to their established workflows or practices. Introducing new cybersecurity policies and procedures might be met with resistance, especially if individuals perceive them as cumbersome or hindering productivity.
  • Resource Constraints: Organizations, particularly smaller ones, may face resource constraints, including limited budgets, manpower, and technology. Implementing cybersecurity measures may require investments in training, technology, and infrastructure that some organizations find challenging.
  • Complexity of Technology: The rapid evolution of technology introduces complexities in implementing cybersecurity policies. New technologies, devices, and platforms may outpace the development of policies and procedures, making it challenging to keep up with emerging threats.
  • Human Error: Human error remains a significant factor in cybersecurity incidents. Despite having policies in place, employees may inadvertently violate procedures, neglect security measures, or fall victim to social engineering attacks. Addressing the human element is a persistent challenge.
  • Inadequate Training and Awareness Programs: Effective implementation requires ongoing training and awareness programs. Inadequate or infrequent training can result in employees being unaware of policy updates or lacking the knowledge to follow procedures effectively.
  • Complex Regulatory Landscape: Organizations operating in regulated industries face the challenge of navigating complex and evolving regulatory requirements. Compliance with multiple frameworks and standards can be demanding, requiring a comprehensive understanding of legal and industry-specific obligations.
  • Inconsistent Enforcement: Inconsistencies in enforcing policies and procedures can undermine their effectiveness. If there is a lack of accountability for non-compliance or if enforcement is uneven, employees may not take policies seriously.
  • Insufficient Communication: Clear communication is essential for successful policy implementation. If communication channels are inadequate or policies are not communicated effectively, employees may be unaware of their responsibilities, leading to non-compliance.
  • Rapid Technological Changes: The dynamic nature of technology requires constant updates to policies and procedures. Keeping documentation aligned with the rapidly changing threat landscape and technology advancements is an ongoing challenge.
  • Vendor and Third-Party Risks: Organizations increasingly rely on third-party vendors and partners. Ensuring that external entities adhere to cybersecurity policies and procedures presents a challenge, especially when dealing with a diverse ecosystem of suppliers.
  • Balancing Security and Productivity: Striking a balance between implementing robust security measures and maintaining operational efficiency is a challenge. Overly restrictive policies may impede productivity, while lax measures may expose the organization to security risks.

Addressing these challenges requires a holistic approach, including effective communication, ongoing training, robust enforcement, and a commitment to adapting policies to the evolving cybersecurity landscape. Organizations that prioritize a strong cybersecurity culture and invest in comprehensive programs are better positioned to overcome these implementation challenges.