The Consequences of Weak IT Policy

5 min read
Jun 14, 2024 10:00:00 AM

The Consequences of Weak IT Policy





Increased vulnerability, cyber attacks, data losses and fines. These are just some of the potential consequences of weak IT policies. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t know their IT policies aren’t up to scratch.

We’re here to change that.

In this article, we’ll explain what an IT policy is, what makes an IT policy weak in the first place and what can happen if you leave weak IT policies in place.


What is an IT policy?

An IT policy is a set of guidelines that govern how your organisation uses IT resources. It provides a framework for acceptable practices and outlines the rules employees must follow.

Businesses typically have several of these policies in place to cover a range of things, including:

  • Passwords and other security measures
  • Data storage and backup
  • Employee-owned devices
  • Hybrid working and remote access

Almost two-thirds (60%) of businesses don’t even have these kinds of policies in place. But even those that do may not have policies that are as clear and comprehensive as they need to be.


What makes an IT policy weak?

Several factors contribute to weak IT policies. We outline the most common and egregious issues below.


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A lack of specificity

Vague or ambiguous policies are a real problem. When your policy leaves room for interpretation or fails to provide clear guidelines, it becomes all too easy for employees to put the security of your business at risk without even knowing about it.

In particular, unclear definitions or overly complicated terminology can lead employees to misinterpret the policy. In some cases, it can make the policy so off-putting that employees choose not to read it at all. A lack of examples or explanations can also be an issue. It’s no good telling employees to “use a strong password” if you don’t tell them what a strong password actually looks like.


Infrequent Updates

Your business and the cyber security threats it faces change constantly. That’s why it’s so important to keep your employees abreast of the latest threats and why out-of-date policies cause issues. In the worst cases, policies may no longer be relevant to the technologies they cover or meet regulations.


No incident response plan

Every strong IT policy should have an incident response plan that sets out what happens during a breach or other incident. IT policies that don’t have these plans aren’t in place can cause confusion and critical delays that put your business at further risk.


Inadequate coverage

Weak IT policies tend not to cover all necessary areas of information. This can happen because there’s a gap in the coverage that doesn’t cover a particular scenario common in your business (like hybrid work, for instance), or it could miss a component completely.


Poor communication and awareness

You can have the most comprehensive IT policy in the country, but it will still be weak if you don’t make your staff aware of it. Inadequate training can also mean employees lack understanding of their responsibilities and knowledge of keeping the company secure.


What risks do you face?

If your IT policies suffer from some of the issues above, you could be putting your business at risk. Here are five ways weak IT policies threaten your business.


Increased vulnerability to cyber attacks

Weak IT policies often mean your business lacks key security measures that make it much more susceptible to cyber-attacks. And before you ask, yes, malicious actors do target small businesses like yours. In fact, 38% of UK micro and small businesses identified a cyberattack in 2022, according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey.


Poor operational efficiency

Your weak IT policies don’t just threaten your business’s security, they threaten its productivity, too. Weak IT policies can lead to reduced operational efficiency and low morale if employees spend too much time trying to abide by convoluted guidelines and best practices.


Loss of reputation

Should your company suffer a security breach due to weak IT policies, a loss of reputation is inevitable. This is particularly damaging for businesses like law firms and accountancy practices that handle sensitive data. Just a single breach could see customers desert your business in droves.


Financial loss

The costs associated with data breaches and subsequent fines can be significant. The estimated cost of cybercrime to UK businesses is £21 billion per year. The cost to individual businesses can run into seven or eight figures—a cost most small businesses would be unable to swallow.


Non-compliance and legal issues

Weak IT policies can mean businesses fail to meet data privacy laws such as GDPR and guidelines set by industry regulators and trade bodies. As a result, fines and legal action are common.


What IT policies should you have in place?

Below is a non-exhaustive list of common IT policies we recommend businesses adopt. While some may not be relevant to your organisation, there will be at least a couple you should implement immediately:

Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)

An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) defines how your company should use IT assets and services, setting clear guidelines and limitations for accessing and sharing data. An AUP will prevent the misuse of assets and help keep your IT environment secure.


Information Security Policy

An Information Security Policy outlines the measures your business and employees take to secure sensitive information. This includes access controls, password policies and administrative capabilities.


Security Awareness Policy

A Security Awareness Policy is an educational tool that makes employees aware of security risks and the best practices to mitigate them. It also outlines the regular training staff should undertake to reduce the likelihood of a breach.


Remote Access Policy

A Remote Access Policy governs the protocols employees should take when accessing the company network remotely. This can include the use of VPNs and other encryption devices, as well as the use of personal devices.


Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

A Business Continuity Plan outlines what happens in the wake of an incident. It covers the procedures for responding to various attacks or breaches, and includes the roles and responsibilities, recovery tasks, necessary resources, and timelines for restoring normal operations.


Data Backup, Retention, and Disposal Policy

A Data Backup, Retention, and Disposal Policy outlines the procedures for managing data. It will specify the frequency of backups, the duration for which data should be retained, and the methods for securely disposing of redundant information.


Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy

A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy governs the use of personal devices for work purposes. It outlines the security requirements for employee-owned devices, including the use of antivirus software, encryption, and strong passwords.


Create stronger IT policies today

The easiest way to create stronger IT policies is to work with a cyber security expert like Method. Together, we can:

  • Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of your business
  • Identify threats and vulnerabilities
  • Create clear, concise and specific policies that employees will follow
  • Provide ongoing training and support
  • Regularly review and update IT policies
  • Help you foster a security of culture


For more information on how Method IT can help improve your business’ security posture, contact our team today or give us a call on 0345 521 6111. 

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