Information security, or Infosec for short, is the set of practices and tools designed to protect data from unauthorised access, modification, destruction or inspection. Often, the terms infosec and cyber security are used interchangeably, but infosec is exclusive to the processes applied for data security and falls under the general umbrella of cyber security.
What is the purpose of information security?
For many businesses, the information they have collected and stored is an asset that adds value. For example, the personal details of clients and customers. As there is increasing dependence on IT, sensitive data is becoming more susceptible to security threats. Information security will help mitigate the risks if such a threat takes places. Protecting both the physical and electronic environments of data ensures that a company’s reputation and financial well-being are protected. Cyber-attacks can be time consuming and costly to deal with, despite this, information security is usually put on the back burner and the importance of it is only acknowledged after such an attack.
What are the three principles of information security?
The three principles of information security are: confidentiality, integrity and availability. This triad, although simple, is a widely applicable model that is the backbone of many of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which governs how organisations in the EU should operate in regards to personal data and information.
Confidentiality can be defined as only authorised personnel having access to data and information. One example of confidentiality being comprised is a data breach, where private information has been leaked to an untrusted audience. In a business setting, a breach of this nature can destroy client trust and cause dire effects to the business.
Integrity involves protecting data from being modified by unauthorised access and ensuring that the data is stored is accurate. There are controls that can be put into practice in order to maintain the integrity of sensitive information when being stored or transferred.
The final principle is availability. Information is rendered useless if there is no guarantee of access to those who are authorised to do so. The availability principle dictates that information has to be readily available for users to access at any given time, therefore any system that stores and protects data has to be operating faultlessly at all times. Protocols such as backups or duplicating data are a good way to ensure availability of information in the event of an unforeseeable event (e.g., a network crash).
The Definition of IAM
Identity and access management can successfully ensure that the CIA triad are not compromised. The purpose of identity and access management (IAM) is to ensure that the right people have access to the appropriate resources. By identifying, authorising and authenticating users, this system is able to monitor user privileges and the circumstances in which user access is granted or denied. Along with enhancing security, IAM can improve user experience and collaboration as organisations can be confident that any outside access will not jeopardise their resources.
Information security revolves around the business mechanisms that set out to protect and maintain the confidentiality of information. Generating more awareness around the importance of having security controls in place is critical to business operations and company credibility.