A Written Information Security Program (WISP) is documentation that describes the security controls, processes, and policies of an organization. In addition, a WISP is a roadmap for an organization's IT security that is required by law in several states.
A Written Information Security Program is intended to provide your organization with solid security procedures that not only reduce the likelihood of a breach but also limit your liability if one occurs.
A WISP shows law enforcement and the general public that your company has reasonable security measures in place. Similarly, a well-designed WISP demonstrates to your customers and employees that you value their data and take the responsibility of protecting it seriously.
WHAT COMPANIES NEED A WRITTEN INFORMATION SECURITY PROGRAM?
There is data security legislation in place to ensure that businesses that own, license, or keep personal information about customers implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices. Since 2016, the number of states with data security laws has more than doubled, reflecting an increase in data breaches and cybercrime.
WISPs may have begun in the medical field, where doctors' offices, hospitals, and medical providers must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, identity theft has become more prevalent in recent years, and businesses of all sizes are facing cyber-attacks by hackers looking for sensitive customer information.
Businesses in many different industries are now prioritizing cybersecurity protocols, beginning with the creation of a Written Information Security Program, whether out of their own concern for cybersecurity or in response to new laws. Finally, anyone whose business keeps a database with information about their customers or employees can benefit from a WISP.
What does a WISP cover?
The security controls covered by Written Information Security Programs (WISPs) can vary greatly. The scope of your WISP will be determined by your industry, size, and the state laws with which you must comply. As a result, WISPs can vary depending on the security framework that your company employs.
A WISP is a legal requirement for most businesses, ensuring that adequate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards are in place to protect personally identifiable information (PII). Furthermore, proper documentation of these safeguards is required by a WISP.
Specifically, WISPs address the following security areas:
- Designating employees to be in charge of the security program
- Identifying and evaluating security risks
- Creating policies for personal information storage, access, and transportation
- Imposing disciplinary measures for WISP violations
- Restricting or prohibiting access by or to terminated employees
- Monitoring the security practices of third-party vendors and contractors
- Restricting physical and digital record access
- Monitoring and then reviewing the WISP's scope and effectiveness
- Keeping track of data security incidents and responses
WISPs must also meet certain technical requirements, which can include the following:
- Keeping user credentials safe
- Access to PII is restricted to those who have a need-to-know basis.
- Encrypting personal information transmission and storage
- Security systems are being monitored.
- Keeping firewalls, security patches, anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date
- Employee education on security policies and the proper use of computer security systems
Aside from WISPs' legal obligations, creating a well-written and tailored WISP lowers your risk of a data security incident. Furthermore, it allows for a quick response in an emergency. As a result, in most cases, implementing and maintaining a WISP is in the best interests of your business.
The more detailed and comprehensive your WISP, the less likely it is that you will become a victim of a cyber security incident. Your WISP should be tested and updated on a regular basis. A "paper-plan" security program, on the other hand, is preferable to none at all.
How to get started on your WISP
A cyber security assessment is one of the key elements of a WISP that every business is expected to perform. A cyber security assessment appraises and identifies your risks, allowing your team to mitigate them in descending order of threat magnitude and likelihood.
A cyber security assessment gives your business a security baseline, allowing your team to begin creating your WISP with greater insight into your IT security environment.
If your company wants to implement a WISP, a cyber security assessment is an excellent place to start. An assessment will show which areas of your IT security are the most vulnerable and provide your team with a better idea of which WISP will best suit your organization.
As a result, you can construct your WISP and implement security controls in the areas that require the most attention. In most cases, businesses with a WISP are more secure and far less likely to face fines and penalties than their competitors.
At Provisio Technology Solutions, we believe that a well-written and implemented WISP can benefit any company. Our web developers can assist you in conducting a risk assessment for your company, developing the WISP, and training key employees on what is expected of them. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.