Editable cybersecurity procedures template example

Editable Cybersecurity Procedures Templates

Documented procedures are one of the most overlooked requirements in cybersecurity compliance, but procedures are also a minimum expectation that an auditor is going to look for. For anyone who has written procedures, the answer for why companies routinely fail to maintain procedures is clear - it can take considerable time and effort to properly document processes. Part of that is tied to a lack of best practices around what good procedures look like - every organization tends to do something different, based on internal staff preferences or auditor pressure. This leads to a lack of standardization across departments and business functions, which can be an issue when trying to maintain "what right looks like" if a benchmark does not exist.

cybersecurity procedures template example

One of the most important things to keep in mind with procedures is that the "ownership" is different than that of policies and standards:

Given this approach to how documentation is structured, based on "ownership" of the documentation components:

cybersecurity compliance vs security

Procedures Operationalize Policies & Standards - This Is A Key Concept To Being Both Secure & Audit-Ready

We leverage the Operationalizing Cybersecurity Planning Model in creating a practical view towards implementing cybersecurity requirements. Organizations are often not at a loss for a set of policies, but executing those requirements often fall short due to several reasons. Standardized Operating Procedures (SOPs) are where the rubber meets the road for Individual Contributors (ICs), since these key players need to know (1) how they fit into day-to-day operations, (2) what their priorities are and (3) what is expected from them in their duties. When looking at it from an auditability perspective, the evidence of due diligence and due care should match what the organization's cybersecurity business plan is attempting to achieve.

The central focus of any procedures should be a Capability Maturity Model (CMM) target that provides quantifiable expectations for People, Processes and Technologies (PPT), since this helps prevent a “moving target” by establishing an attainable expectation for “what right looks like” in terms of PPT. Generally, cybersecurity business plans take a phased, multi-year approach to meet these CMM-based cybersecurity objectives. Those objectives, in conjunction with the business plan, demonstrate evidence of due diligence on behalf of the CISO and his/her leadership team. The objectives prioritize the organization’s service catalog through influencing procedures at the IC-level for how PPT are implemented at the tactical level. SOPs not only direct the workflow of staff personnel, but the output from those procedures provides evidence of due care.

The diagram below helps show the critical nature of documented cybersecurity procedures in keeping an organization both secure and compliant:

editable cybersecurity procedures template example

What Can Be Done To Make Writing Procedures Easier?

The good news is that ComplianceForge developed a standardized template for procedures and control activity statements, the Cybersecurity Standardized Operating Procedures (CSOP). 

Given the difficult nature of writing templated procedure statements, we aimed for approximately a "80% solution" since it is impossible to write a 100% complete cookie cutter procedure statement that can be equally applied across multiple organizations. What this means is ComplianceForge did the heavy lifting and you just need to fine-tune the procedure with the specifics that only you would know to make it applicable to your organization. It is pretty much filling in the blanks and following the helpful guidance that we provide to identify the who / what / when / where / why / how to make it complete. 

cybersecurity editable procedures template 

Take a look at an example to  see for yourself. We even provide a matrix to help identify the likely stakeholders for these procedures. There are five (5) versions of the CSOP:

Procedure Documentation Expectations

Procedures should be both clearly-written and concise, where procedure documentation is meant to provide evidence of due diligence that standards are complied with. Well-managed procedures are critical to a security program, since procedures represents the specific activities that are performed to protect systems and data. The diagram shown below helps visualize the linkages in documentation that involve written procedures:

cybersecurity procedures template example

What Can Go Wrong If I Do Not Have Written Procedures?

What can possibly go wrong with non-compliance with a law, regulation or contract? 

Below is a short list of statutory and regulatory requirements, as well as leading cybersecurity frameworks, that EXPECT every organization documents and maintains cybersecurity-related procedures. If you need to address one or more of those frameworks, then you need to maintain documented procedures.

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  • Cybersecurity Standardized Operating Procedures (CSOP) Template - Digital Security Program (DSP) Version

    DSP & SCF Procedures Template

    Secure Controls Framework (SCF)

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  • Cybersecurity Standardized Operating Procedures (CSOP) Template - NIST 800-53, NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO 27002 Versions

    NIST CSF Procedures Template

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  • Cybersecurity Standardized Operating Procedures (CSOP) Template - NIST 800-53, NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO 27002 Versions

    ISO 27002 Procedures Template

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  • Cybersecurity Standardized Operating Procedures (CSOP) Template - NIST 800-53, NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO 27002 Versions

    NIST 800-53 R5 (moderate) Procedures Template

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  • Cybersecurity Standardized Operating Procedures (CSOP) Template - NIST 800-53 & FedRAMP low, moderate and high baseline

    NIST 800-53 R5 (high) Procedures Template

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