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6 min read

What is Information Security?- Cyber Security 101 Guide

Prioritizing your organization's sensitive data should be top of mind to your internal IT team. In an increasingly interconnected environment where cyber attacks have become more sophisticated, a data breach can cost your organization money, your customer's trust, and your reputation. Keep your data from falling into the wrong hands by improving your information security.  

What is Information Security (InfoSec)? 

What is Information Security? Guide to InfoSec

Information security, also known as infosec or data security, is the prevention of unauthorized access, alteration, disruption, and destruction of information. To put it simply, using different tools and processes, such as data encryption and user authorization, your organization can keep your sensitive data secure both at rest and in transit.  

Your organization's data should remain private, giving access to just those who need it. If it falls into the wrong hands and is modified, deleted, or released to the public, the consequences could be dire. Information security helps ensure that this doesn’t happen while balancing security policies with organizational productivity. This can be achieved through the information security CIA triad, explained below, and through information security programs.  

Information Security vs. Cybersecurity

Information Security vs. Cybersecurity : What is the difference?

 

Although information security and cybersecurity are often used interchangeably, they are not the exact same concept. 

Information security refers to the processes for data security, both within cyberspace and physical data. This means that data that is stored in physical file cabinets and within computers or cloud-based data centers are covered under information security. Information security experts prioritize the organization's data confidentiality, integrity, and availability over eradication a threat in case of a potential breach. Their job is to have general controls over access, compliance, and procedures, and create a recovery plan in case of breach or other data manipulation.  

Cybersecurity is a more general term than information security. Cybersecurity includes information security of the data that exists within cyberspace, as well as the protection of other systems, networks, programs, and more. Cybersecurity uses multiple layers of protection to keep data and infrastructure safe and is often handled by people who are trained specifically to deal with cyber threats. These experts typically have a deep understanding of malicious software and act as the first line of defense when it comes to cyberattacks. 

There is quite a bit of overlap between information security and cybersecurity. Both focus on the security of the organization, just in different ways. Both take into account how damaging it could be to the organization if an unauthorized user were to access that data. Information security focuses on the confidentiality and integrity of the data, while cybersecurity protects the overall systems and infrastructure to provide a wall around the data. 

Principles of Information Security

Principles of Information Security - What is included in Information Security?

Information security is built around three main objectives, also known as the CIA triad. CIA stands for confidentiality, integrity, and availability which are all crucial aspects to protecting your organization's information. 

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is the most obvious of the three objectives when thinking about information security. This ensures that users who are not authorized to view or alter data are blocked from it entirely. This can be done using passwords, encryption, authorization, or other techniques to defend against attack or accidental manipulation or deletion of data.  

Integrity

Ensuring your data's integrity, or its original and unaltered state, is a crucial part of information security. Confidentiality helps with data integrity, as it doesn't allow unauthorized users access or modification rights. Backup and recovery solutions also helps with data integrity, as snapshots of previous versions are stored in case of accidental or malicious deletion or modification.

The concept of non-repudiation is also applicable within the data integrity portion of information security. Non-repudiation is "assurance that the sender of information is provided with proof of delivery and the recipient is provided with proof of sender's identity, so neither can later deny having processed the information" according to the NIST computer science resource center.  This provides proof of origin as well as integrity of data, so no one can deny the integrity or validity of the information.  

Availability
 
The final part of the CIA triad is availability which is the counterpart of confidentiality. As confidentiality blocks users who are unauthorized from accessing data, availability ensures that those who are authorized do have access. This portion also includes monitoring your network to make sure your organization has the proper networking capabilities to process the volume of commands so information is available to users at any point in time.

When using all portions of this triad, you can set yourself up for the most ideal outcome for information security.  

Measures of an Information Security Program

The best thing you can do to ensure your organization's information security is to build an information security program. This holistic program would consist of initiatives and practices your organization can implement to protect and secure your data with the intention of it maturing over time. Regardless if you put together a formal information security program or not, the same types of measures should be taken including: 

Hardware and software to protect data including encryption, firewalls, email security, access controls, and more. This is the first line of defense, creating barriers around the data to block out cybercriminals or accidental manipulation of data.  

Training your users to provide awareness and best practices. If your users are well-versed in what to do with information security, the chance of an accidental error diminishes.  

Identify organizational set up including specific responsibilities. Building an information security unit within your organization, including staff from each department, can make sure that everyone's information security needs are met and responsibilities are identified and distributed. 

 These basic measures will help to build an information security action plan for your organization, providing enhanced and organized security.  

Why do you need an Information Security program? 

A strong information security program clearly defines how data will be kept safe, assesses risk and how risks will be addressed, consequences of risks, and more. This is incredibly important because poor information security can lead to a data breach, costing your organization money, customer's trust, and your reputation. In fact, in a 2019 study done by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), showed that after small-to-medium businesses experienced a data breach, 37% suffered a financial loss, 25% filed for bankruptcy, and 10% went out of business. 

If your organization needs to meet compliance standards, information security is an incredibly important aspect of this. Even if your industry does not require that you meet compliancy standards, meeting one like ISO 27001 or NIST CSF will both increase your information security and boost your reputation. While getting your security in line and achieving compliance standards sounds like a daunting task, platforms like Orrios OnTrack can help make the job easier. Taking you step by step through the process, OnTrack will help you look at your organization as a whole to identify where gaps might be. From understanding your current organizational set up, to managing current risks, to identifying vendor or partner risks, this platform is thorough and can help you get the job done.  

Conclusion

Information security is crucial to your organization's success. Built on the CIA triad: confidentiality, integrity, and availability, information security's purpose is to protect your data from unauthorized access or modification. To help improve your information security, your organization can build a program that involves measures such as hardware and software, best practice training for users, and organizational setup for responsibilities. These programs can help prevent your organization from experiencing a data breach, which often results in loss of customers, reputation, and financials. Compliance platforms, such as Orrios OnTrack, can help your organization build an information security program and meet compliance in a thorough, organized way. 

 

Need help building an Information Security program? Contact us today to get started. 

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