Technical Documentation in the Era of IT Security

Posted by
Anastasia in Technical Writing on 11/3/20204 min read

hands on laptop

Cybersecurity was a hot topic for many movies in the 1990s. Hackers were always lurking on the Internet to steal the top secrets. Although it was displayed incorrectly, for the most part, the danger was really there. Before the Internet became our closest companion, following us wherever we go, security felt simpler - just turn the Internet off, and you will feel safer.

But the connection itself didn't feel nearly as dangerous as the idea of actually storing your data online. Gen Z wouldn't think twice before uploading something to the cloud, wouldn't blink an eye. But when cloud services first started gaining popularity, people were acting cautiously. And, mind you, companies who were providing cloud services knew that so the question of security received the highest priority. This is when the need for cybersecurity documents got real.

Who Are Cybersecurity Technical Writers?

What became clear at once - cybersecurity needs a strong voice. This is how cybersecurity technical writers came to be. People needed this open communication so that they could rest assured their data is safe. And, not just because someone told them so, but they actually know the details, and this can help make the right judgment call. The techcomm specialists who are writing about security are hired to create manuals, reports and process documentation, and other types of technical documentation. It can be aimed internally or at clients.

What Are Internal Cybersecurity Docs?

Cybersecurity technical writers are the evangelists of the whole data safety concept inside their company. Their job is not only to write the docs but to find appropriate ways to communicate the message and the overall importance of security. This type of documentation describes HOW the company is going to protect the data and WHAT should be done if something has already gone wrong. It is a plan, so to say, to eliminate the risks. As a rule, the following documents are created for internal use:

  • Corporate network use policy. Describes what devices can and cannot be used to make the workflow safe.
  • Incident management plan. Describes the actions of the company if an incident has taken place.
  • Recovery documentation. Describes how to act further to minimize the damage.

picture of keybord

Are Cybersecurity Documents Aimed at Clients?

Clients have a right to know everything about where their data is stored and how exactly it is secured. This is the basis of a healthy business partnership for sure. So, technical writers are doing their best to explain to clients the efforts their company is putting into security matters. Today, all vendors (and not only vendors) have a privacy policy section on their websites, for example. But clients, as an audience, are completely different from the internal users. They might not be experts in cybersecurity questions. They do not have to know all the details of cybersecurity processes.

What they really need to know is that their data is safe, and their password is strong enough to protect their privacy. Of course, if they do not use their dog’s name as a password =) Documentation created for clients is different: the language is simpler, more examples, schemes, and diagrams are used. In other words, these documents are written in a way that makes them clear for everyone.

Skills Required to Be a Cybersecurity Technical Writer

I'd say all skills that make a good technical writer in general apply. But, since this is a rather specific field, the emphasis will be different. Skills that will work best for a cybersecurity tech writer are:

  • Great attention to details
  • Cybersecurity documentation is no joke - to make a mistake in it is one way to damage your relationships with clients. So, attention to detail becomes the main focus for tech writers.
  • Understanding the ABC of cybersecurity
  • It will be so much easier for a tech writer to work on cybersecurity documents when they know a thing or two about it. It is not easy for a company to find a person for this role, so some knowledge can become a real competitive advantage.
  • Communication skills
  • Being an evangelist presupposes superb communication skills. Otherwise, you won't be able to make people listen and take things seriously. Communication also helps to get information from subject-matter experts.
  • Strategic thinking
  • Cybersecurity technical writers often take part in discussions of the company's strategy in this regard. They need to be part of this conversation to understand the issue at hand better. And strategic thinking can help them dive deeper into the planning process, see things through to figure out what's more important, and even suggest their own vision of the direction cybersecurity should take in the company.

dog and laptop

Conclusion

Cybersecurity technical writing is definitely an interesting opportunity for techcomm pros looking for a new field. This is a challenging job that requires maximum concentration and the ability to focus on solutions. Also, the SaaS sector will keep growing, meaning that more demand for technical documentation will appear in the future to say nothing about cloud technical writing tools and cloud storage. Being a SaaS vendor, ClickHelp supports the idea of creating secure documentation online. For example, not all the documents are meant for public use. Some information should always be private. Consider publishing those sensitive documents as password-protected documentation and give access to those who really need it - that is how companies may manage the visibility of their documentation.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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