With the growing threat of cybercrime and privacy breaches, information security is more important than ever for businesses. Having robust security policies in place can help protect an organization’s data, systems, and reputation. However, developing comprehensive security policies from scratch requires expertise that many companies lack. 

That’s where information security policy templates come in – they provide a starting point for crafting security guidelines specific to an organization. However, templates also have pitfalls if not carefully considered. 

This article outlines five common mistakes companies make when using templates and how to avoid them. 

1. Not Customizing for Your Unique Needs 

Information security policy templates offer a one-size-fits-all approach. But every organization has different resources, technologies, compliance obligations, and risk profiles. Simply adopting a generic template without customization is a mistake. 

Security policies need to address an organization’s specific regulatory requirements, security risks, business functions, and technologies in use. Templates leave out details pertinent to each company’s unique environment. 

To avoid this mistake, carefully review any information security policy templates and modify language, examples, and procedures to reflect your business accurately. Consult with relevant departments to identify what additions or changes are needed to address internal needs and risks. Don’t assume a template as-is will sufficiently cover your bases. Thorough customization is required. 

2. Failing to Get Executive Buy-in and Support 

The most comprehensive security policies mean little without commitment and enforcement from leadership. Introducing new guidelines requires organizational change, which often faces resistance without executive sponsorship. Yet, too often, companies overlook securing top-level buy-in when starting with a template. 

To avoid this mistake, share the customized template with executives early in the process. Explain why policies are needed, the potential risks otherwise, and how compliance supports business goals.  

Afterwards, get feedback to ensure policies align with strategic objectives and culture. Appoint an executive policy owner to champion development and set the right “tone from the top.” With executives onboard, guidelines have far better chances of successful adoption. 

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3. Not Involving Stakeholders Across Departments 

Security is a shared responsibility, yet development often falls solely to IT when using templates. Policies need input from those responsible for implementation – including departments handling sensitive data and systems. Excluding stakeholders risks policies unrelated to real-world operations or lacking necessary buy-in. 

To remedy this, a cross-functional group will be formed to customize and finalize the template. Include representatives from departments like legal, HR, facilities, and others who hold responsibilities outlined in policies. Solicit feedback on challenges, practical considerations, and existing processes. Addressing concerns early prevents future non-compliance due to unrealistic demands. 

4. Failing to Approve and Communicate Policies Formally 

Once finalized, policies mean nothing if unapproved and unknown to users. Without formal sign-off and communication, suggestions remain rather than binding guidelines that must be followed. The approval and launch processes are critical steps that, unfortunately, get overlooked all too often when organizations hurriedly take a template and call it a day. 

But, skipping these important administrative tasks is a mistake with real consequences. Getting sign-off gives weight and legitimacy to the policies. It affirms that resources will be devoted to implementation and makes clear there will be repercussions for non-compliance.  

Without approval, employees may view the guidelines skeptically and not change behaviors or take the content seriously. Getting the formal stamp of approval prevents such doubts and confusion from undermining the policies. 

Once approved, a comprehensive communication strategy must be implemented to roll out the new policies to all internal staff. Send a formal announcement with the approved policy document attached. Highlight in the message why the guidelines are necessary and how they will strengthen security posture, and emphasize the importance of following the rules.  

As part of the communication, stress that ongoing training will be provided and consequences will be enforced for violating policies. Spell out what disciplinary actions may occur, up to and including possible termination, if policies are flagrantly disregarded. 

Clarifying upfront that non-compliance comes with real repercussions emphasizes the seriousness of properly handling sensitive information and systems. 

5. Failure To Implementing an Effectiveness Review Process 

The best policies accomplish little without monitoring and improvement. Templates typically provide no mechanism for assessing if new guidelines achieve intended results or require refinement. Yet many organizations consider adoption complete once launched. 

To correct this, periodic reviews of policy effectiveness should be built to meet new and evolving risks. Determine appropriate key performance indicators and audit processes to measure compliance, identify gaps, and revise where needed.  

Solicit ongoing feedback and designate owners responsible for continual monitoring and improvement. Establishing this review cycle completes the security governance lifecycle when using templates. 


While information security policy templates offer a starting point, simply adopting one wholesale risks missing relevance to your unique business needs. Thorough customization, executive support, stakeholder involvement, approval/communication planning, and effectiveness reviews avoid common pitfalls. 

With these five mistakes in mind and proper stakeholder engagement, templates provide an efficient way to deploy baseline security guidelines rapidly. Adhering to organizational specifics, templates become robust policies ready to protect your company from modern threats.  

Don’t stop at adoption, but institute continual assessment and refinement as risk landscapes evolve. 

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