We live in a data-driven world, and for this reason, data has continuously been regarded as the oil of the 21st century.
With the increasing dependence on IT for businesses, organizations, governments, likewise individuals, addressing the security of data and information put out has become a matter of increasing concern. This results from the heightened increase in data threats and scares, reducing the exposure risk of sending data, an essential requirement for today’s businesses and operations.
Information security and cyber security are two sectors primarily concerned with regulating and protecting valuable data and information from these alarming risks. Although both sectors may appear similar in context and purpose and are often used interchangeably, they are two distinct professional career paths.
This article is perfect for you if you’re looking at chiseling out a career in either of the two sectors. However, you’re wondering how they differ or which path might be the right one for you.
In this article, we will look at the relevance of the Information and Cyber Security sectors in today’s digital economy, their areas of similarities, where they overlap, and finally, how they differ.
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security is the activity to protect computers, networks, and software programs from cyber-attacks of any kind. According to the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CIBA), cyber-security is the act of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access a criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.
Cyber security protects sensitive data like customer information, trade secrets, personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), personal information, intellectual property, data, and governmental and industry information systems against unauthorized access and compromise. Without a cyber-security program, your company or organization cannot defend itself against data breaches making it a target to cyber criminals.
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security is the activity to protect computers, networks, and software programs from cyber-attacks of any kind. According to the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CIBA), cyber-security is the act of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.
Cyber security protects sensitive data like customer information, trade secrets, personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), personal information, intellectual property, data, and governmental and industry information systems against unauthorized access and compromise. Without a cyber security program or framework put in place, individual data, companies, or organizations will be exposed to several cyber breaches and attacks, likely to cause catastrophic consequences.
Cyber attacks can take various forms, such as social engineering, malware, man-in-the-middle, denial-of-service, password attacks, and insider attacks. Learn more about the types of cyber attacks here.
What is Information Security?
According to Cisco Systems Inc (CISCO), information security is the processes and tools deployed and designed to protect sensitive business information from modification, disruption, destruction, and inspection. It also involves actions intended to reduce the adverse impact of such incidents. It comprises physical, environmental, and cyber security and access control.
Also called InfoSec, Information Security is the practice of protecting information – electronic, physical, tangible (paperwork), or intangible (knowledge) – by mitigating risks of information compromise, theft, computer/server malfunction, and cyber attacks.
The most common information security threats are software attacks, intellectual property theft, identity theft, information or equipment theft, sabotage, and information extortion. The cornerstone of strong information protection is confidentiality, integrity, and availability also called the CIA triad.
The relevance of Information and Cyber Security in 2022?
Data security is relevant due to the high rate of cybercrime. According to Gartner, 2022 has seen an increase in cyberattacks originating with third-party affiliates and services, with social engineering attacks accounting for 69% of all public administration breaches.
Securing information and data is essential as digital assets are valuable and vulnerable. Due to the acceptance and dependence of businesses, organizations, and individuals on the internet, it’s important to create budgets and policies that capture data security. Hiring InfoSec and cyber security experts to handle these departments and enrolling employees in courses and training that expose them to best practices will minimize cyber-attacks risks.
Also, attention should be given to security measures put in place to allow only authorized person access to systems and databases to manage data integrity, confidentiality, and availability.
The impact of cybercrime on any business can be felt economically by reputation, compromise of physical safety of employees and victims, and regulatory cost. However, securing customer data builds brand trust; ensuring information security remains a top priority.
You have read about the relevance of information and cyber security. Let us explore how both sectors overlap.
Firstly, the physical security of data is a priority for both experts. If your company has a store of confidential customer information, ensuring that it is accessed by only authorized personnel will prevent data leakage. And the best way to ensure that is by putting a lock on the store door. Whether information is stored physically or digitally, ensuring the proper measures are in place to prevent unauthorized access to the information source.
Secondly, both experts take into consideration the value of data. Infosec expert is concerned with preventing all company data from unauthorized access. Cyber security experts are concerned with protecting the company’s digital assets from unauthorized electronic access.
To distinguish between both sectors, keep reading to know how they differ.
How do Information and cyber security differ?
1. InfoSec expert deals with protecting digital and analog data from threats. In contrast, Cyber Security experts are concerned with protecting electronic data from cyber-attacks and data breaches. They are concerned with more than just the electronics/mediums through which attack can happen. They are concerned with securing the environment in which these electronics are housed (office buildings and data centers).
2. InfoSec experts deal with the protection of information from unauthorized access. Have you ever wondered why e-commerce sites request login details and advise that you have a strong password? It is to guard against unauthorized access to your account and help them track when such accounts are being tampered with. Another example will be a notification on your mail whenever you log in to your email from an unrecognized device. These prompts secure your information, as anyone with access to your accounts will have access to all information stored. Protecting information from unauthorized access goes beyond the digital. A common occurrence is a request for an authorization letter from your superior to confirm an employee’s access to specific company documentation. In contrast, Cyber experts deal with the security of plain facts(data). For instance, numbers and letters only mean something once you know that the numbers are credit card details and the letters are the account’s password.
3. Information security is activated when security is breached. Infosec experts act to reduce the exposure and damage caused when security is compromised. They take compliance and policies into consideration. They are the first responders after a robbery attack as police will, after a 911 call, catch the intruders and prevent a recurrence. In comparison, cyber security acts as the first line of defense. They act as the security system put in place to prevent an attack, hardening data through encryption. Firewalls and software to curb attacks are put in place and monitored.
4. Information security involves procedural, access, technical, and compliance controls.
- Procedural controls prevent, detect, or minimize security risks to any physical assets( computer systems, data centers, and filing cabinets). It includes security awareness education, security framework, compliance training, and incident response plans and procedures.
- Access controls detect who can access and use company information and network.
- Technical controls involve multi-factor user authentication at login, firewalls, and antivirus software.
Compliance controls deal with privacy laws and cyber security standards designed to minimize security threats.
Cyber security includes:
- Application security (which involves detecting, fixing, and enhancing the security of applications).
- Network security.
- Cloud security.
- Critical infrastructure (tools that provide security services such as virus scanners and anti-malware software).
5. Information security’s primary concern is protecting the data’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability, while cyber security’s primary concern is protecting data against unauthorized electronic access.
As an information security or cyber security enthusiast, here are some best career practices you should get familiar with:
- The use of a unique password as they are hard to crack. Passwords should contain numbers, upper case, lower case, and symbols. Also, avoid using one password across different platforms to limit the access a hacker may have should he gain access to one platform.
- Use anti-malware software. Install anti-malware soft wares in your system as it automates malware detection and prevention. In addition, it updates regularly, staying on top of new attack methods.
- Enable multi-factor authentication: This is often seen as a two-step verification process for logging in to different devices. One-time passwords (OTPs) also fall into this category. It is sent to registered contact numbers. Others include facial recognition, voice detection, fingerprint, and retina scanners.
- Stay informed on new updates regarding systems and platforms’ security. Check your defense systems regularly and organize training for members of staff. User education is essential as we do not need to rely on available software and solutions only. Employees should understand that certain actions are risky to organizations’ systems.
- Encrypt data where possible. Encryption makes sensitive data unreadable to anyone apart from its intended audience. It is achieved by shuffling transmitted data and giving authorized users a key to unscramble it. Hence encrypted data is useless to a cybercriminal. It also ensures that any sensitive information that leaks will stay private. In addition, multiple encryption types, such as end-to-end and at-rest encryption, keep information extra safe.
Over the years, information and cyber security have become more important as we dive deep into the information and technology age. With more valuable information and data put out there, this era poses an increased risk in data incidents such as breaches, fraud, and threats. In addition, with the increased cybercrime rate, the demand for information and cyber security personnel in companies and organizations positions both sectors for exponential growth in the years to come.
We’ve successfully pointed out the similarities and differences in cyber security and information security in this article. A key question to address is: what is an organization’s critical data, and how can it be protected?
You can kickstart your journey into cyber security with this certification course on Internet/Cyber security to learn more.