It is no understatement to say that IT is the key driver in any business. These days, virtually every business operates out of computers and Internet. Companies should realise that proper usage of IT not only ensures data confidentiality, but can also offer competitive advantages.

An IT policy protects against threats

With such widespread usage, computer networks can pose a danger to the integrity of a business. An organisation without clear rules and guidelines in the usage of computers, emails, and the Internet risks is vulnerable to a variety of serious threats.

Applications designed to steal, corrupt or destroy information can be transmitted in seemingly innocuous “funny” emails. Certain websites can exploit vulnerabilities to install “backdoor” programs that allow unauthorised remote control of the affected workstation. Self-replicating “worms” can proliferate in hours to cripple networks and deny IT services.

Such attacks can cause critical or confidential information to fall into the hands of rivals, alter or ruin important data like customer records and compromise sensitive information like customer accounts and details.

The proper management of IT use within the organisation can eliminate many such risks. In implementing an IT policy, organisations gain protection from external threats and help prevent internal IT & security breaches.

An IT policy improves transparency and efficiency

Implementing and enforcing an IT policy not only protects an organisation from online threats - it can also improve transparency & efficiency in its business.

By determining and communicating what constitutes acceptable use, employees know the boundaries of IT usage. This knowledge will prevent accidental breaches arising from poor awareness and enforcement.

With a clear IT policy, employees understand how to organise information in a standardised format. This facilitates workflow and raises overall business efficiency.

The enforcement of IT security rules reduces damage to computer systems and networks. Users will encounter less downtime caused by malicious activity and enjoy a better quality experience.

Characteristics of a good IT policy

An IT policy is only as effective as the degree to which it is practised within the organisation. Therefore, a good policy is one which is easily and clearly understood. Policies should also be flexible and open to changes as requirements, capabilities and environments evolve. It is also important for policies to be up-to-date so as to remain relevant.

Designing and implementing a meaningful IT policy can present a daunting task. Companies without this core capability should consider approaching professional IT firms to advise and implement its IT Policy.