Secure Data Protection
October 21, 2021
The components of information security primarily concern the ability of users to access and handle data within an organization.
Information security can be considered a constituent aspect of broader cybersecurity and is a crucial element in as much as access controls and proper protocols for data handling is a vital part of cybersecurity strategy.
In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at the components of information security.
You’ll learn what the most important aspects of information security are and what you can do to get a plan in place for a quality infosec strategy.
Information security is important for businesses because it’s fundamentally about protecting the most sensitive data that they house.
It may—or may not at all—come as a surprise that almost half (49%) of all data breaches occur because of accidental causes like a system glitch or human error.
The fact that human error remains a key area of concern in an organization’s ability to safeguard its most sensitive data sets is an indication that for many, information security leaves a lot to be desired.
For this reason, it’s very important for modern businesses to understand the role of information security, its components, and what standards should be in place so that they can put themselves in a position to effectively ensure their data is secured.
It would be remiss not to call attention to some key factors that are quickly shifting the cybersecurity environment for organizations that must be acknowledged in order to understand why infosec is such an important consideration today.
Firstly, data breaches are a common occurrence in companies today, and not just for large enterprises, but for SMBs, too.
*According to a 2020 report, 55% of SMBs have experienced a cyberattack.
This is due to a number of reasons.
Firstly, businesses (particularly SMBs) frequently lack the necessary cybersecurity capabilities to fend off attacks.
Then there’s the simple fact that organizations today have more data than ever—and much of this is growing at a rate that is exponential.
For cybercriminals, this means that not only are smaller businesses viable targets because of the sensitive information they handle, but also that they are an easier target to breach than their larger counterparts.
The circumstances of the COVID pandemic only increased the severity of cybersecurity concerns, with millions of workers operating outside the safety of their office network—something cyber attackers have sought to take advantage of.
In short, all of these factors have made information security an absolute necessity for organizations.
Let’s take a look at the components businesses should have in place for their infosec strategies.
The “CIA Triad” is an initialism that refers to the core primary components of information security.
These components are confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
Confidentiality is arguably the most important aspect of information security.
It chiefly concerns the access controls that are put in place to avoid unauthorized access and handling of data.
When it comes to what kinds of controls are put in place, many will already be familiar with the most common, like passwords, encryption, and authentication.
These controls are frequently expanded upon with further measures, for example with end-to-end encryption to ensure information sent between two employees at an organization cannot be intercepted; or with multifactor authentication, which ensures a more secure method for users to gain access to information and systems.
Aside from this, confidentiality protocols tend to operate on the basis of providing the least amount of access privileges necessary.
In other words, users in a system should have only access to information that is necessary to perform their jobs.
This prevents not just unauthorized access to data by users but also reduces the number of vectors that can be used by cybercriminals to penetrate a business network.
In a business cybersecurity strategy, confidentiality access controls will typically be overseen by a configuration management system.
This allows security professionals to monitor user access controls and have a clear overview of who has what level of access, which can be adjusted when appropriate.
Data integrity is the second important component in information security and concerns the accuracy and completeness of data.
The primary concern of this aspect of information security is that unauthorized users do not modify or alter information in any way, thereby damaging its integrity.
Data integrity for the most part will be well served by the protocols and access controls established by solutions pertaining to confidentiality.
After all, information can hardly be altered if access control measures are doing their job properly.
Nevertheless, further measures can be taken to ensure that the integrity of information within a system is upheld.
This will usually involve hash verifications and digital signatures that can provide stakeholders with a demonstrated history of any given data’s modification—in addition to alerting security professionals to occasions when information is modified without the correct verification process.
Data integrity is a more important function in some industries than others because of compliance regulations that must be followed.
In pharmaceutical companies, for example, the FDA requires that data workflows be validated and exact copies of information be backed up so as to be able to check its integrity.
Finally, we have availability, which is virtually the opposite to confidentiality.
Availability practices ensure that access to the necessary data required by a given stakeholder is made available to them in a manner that is timely and unobtrusive.
This is a very important component of information security, as it has wider implications for data protection as a whole as far as the organization is concerned.
This is because availability needs to take into account system resources—can a business’ network systems effectively sustain the volume of data that is being processed?
If it can’t, then there’s an issue with availability. If it can, is it being backup properly so that the data is instantly available in the event of a disaster (like a data breach)?
These are key considerations that must be made in making sure that availability is ensured.
All three components of the CIA Triad are necessary when putting together a strategy for information security.
Each plays a role that is significant in ensuring sensitive data and information is protected, accurate, and available to users.
The components of information security are confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
By putting a strategy in place that accounts for all three of these—which is principally done through access controls, verification and data classification, and a clear understanding of resource allocation and workflows for information—businesses can ensure their data is protected.
All of this in turn is part of a larger cybersecurity strategy, of which information security serves one function.
DOT Security provides information security services to businesses for their cybersecurity and compliance objectives. To kickstart your cybersecurity plan, get in touch with us!