Importance of Acceptable Use Policy – IT Systems & Services
According to research from Ladders, a U.S.-based company providing career news, advice and tools, 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022. With many businesses allowing employees to work remotely either part time or full time, it’s important to have appropriate IT policies in place. These should address the cyber security and data security risks of remote workers.
One best practice that businesses often overlook is having employees sign acceptable use policies (AUPs) that outline IT policies and procedures.
What is an Acceptable Use Policy?
An AUP is a legal document that stipulates rules and restrictions for accessing company IT networks. This includes things like the internet and email, and also using company-issued equipment. They also provide other IT policies and procedures that protect the user, the business, and its clients from things like cybercrime and unexpected downtime.
Why are Acceptable Use Policies Important?
One benefit of an AUP is that it outlines acceptable and unacceptable employee behaviors. It also provides a business with a legal mechanism to enforce compliance of IT policies by employees.
In a nutshell, AUPs:
- Reduce company liability
- Decrease employee privacy expectations
- Enhance data security
Acceptable use policies are always important. But, they are even more so for businesses that have employees working outside of the office. Remote users are at greater risk of cyberattacks. Requiring a set of acceptable usage guidelines can help protect the user and business from data security breaches.
IT policies that should be included in an AUP
While each organization’s specific IT policies will differ, there are certain things that all AUPs should include.
Cyber security and data security restrictions
An AUP should state what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior when using company technology or accessing the company network. This includes letting employees know that the following actions are unacceptable:
- Taking part in illegal activity
- Bypassing network security
- Installing malicious or unauthorized software
- Sharing confidential information
Remote work policies
If your employees work from home at any frequency, outlining what is acceptable behavior while working remotely is also important. This should include IT policies related to:
- Use of personal devices, including computers, tablets and phones
- Connecting to the internet on an open connection
- Using a computer that does not have a firewall
- Accessing company files without a virtual private network (VPN)
Consequences for noncompliance
As with any good legal document, the IT policies outlined in an AUP are only as strong as their enforcement measures. It’s important that employees understand upfront what the ramifications of noncompliance are. Then, they must agree to the terms outlined in the document.
Failure to comply with the IT policies outlined in the AUP could result in a data security breach. This is another reason it’s important to make this document part of your cyber security protocol.