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Secure Data Protection

What Are the 3 Components of Information Security?

April 04, 2023

5 minutes

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The 3 components of information security (InfoSec), otherwise known as the CIA triad, ensure organizations protect important data. The CIA triad is named so because it is made up of the following three pillars of data security:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Integrity
  3. Availability

The CIA triad is a framework for safeguarding data and is a fundamental cybersecurity standard.

The CIA Triad (Confidentiality, Availability, Integrity) | Identity and Access Management (IAM) Standards | DOT Security

If you’d first like to learn about the different factors affecting an organization’s cybersecurity, download The State of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses eBook.

The Three Elements of the CIA Triad

1. Confidentiality

Data confidentiality means that data should only be available to those with authorized access. In your organization, employees should have access only to the data and assets they need to do their job.

For example, if sensitive data is available to a former employee who can still log in using their previous employers’ credentials, the data in this account is no longer confidential.

To achieve confidentiality, businesses can take advantage of data encryption technology and implement MFA (multi-factor authentication). Data encryption is the process of “scrambling” data to make it unreadable until it is delivered to the right person or user where a decryption key is used.

MFA requires a user to validate their identity by multiple methods, such as using a code delivered to a device or a biometric like a fingerprint.

MFA definition | What Is Multi-Factor Authentication and What Are Some Examples? | DOT Security

2. Integrity

Data integrity means information should be intact, complete, and accurate.

To ensure data integrity, businesses can maintain and optimize their IT infrastructure, back up their data, and create a data loss prevention plan.

This is so, if your network experiences an unexpected shutdown or a data breach occurs, you will still have access to critical assets.

Data integrity is necessary so that users and organizations can trust the information in their systems. For example, if an employee makes a data backup but does not follow the correct protocol, this information could be corrupted and therefore useless to the organization.

3. Availability

The last of the three CIA components of information security, data availability means that a network, systems, and necessary devices are ready to use as intended by the authorized people.

To ensure the data availability of your organizations, you can regularly maintain your hardware, promptly repair any IT network issues, and ensure you use reliable cloud storage solutions.

The 3 components of information security are important because access controls and proper protocols for data handling reduce the chances of losing vital information or opening vulnerabilities that could lead to a breach.

Why Is Information Security Important?

Information security is important for businesses because it fundamentally exists to protect the most sensitive data that they house.

Organizations should include employee cybersecurity awareness to their information security initiatives. Having your employees understand the goals of any new technology and protocols will help them follow these procedures that protect data.

“Sometimes people do unsafe things to get around a security control designed to protect the data from exposure. While some controls may make it harder for people to get their jobs done, it is important to pair these controls with education to at least let people know the “why” behind the process.” – Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon

It’s crucial 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.

core aspects of a quality cybersecurity solution

Why Are These Information Security Components Important?

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 information is protected, accurate, and accessible for users.

To measure the effectiveness of any basic cybersecurity initiative, check that each of the information security components (confidentiality, integrity, availability) will be protected by it.

Rising Attacks, Volume of Data, and Remote Work

It would be remiss not to call attention to some key factors that are quickly shifting the cybersecurity environment for organizations 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. The price of losing information to a data breach is an increasing burden for organizations.

In fact, the cost of data breaches is expected to rise from $3 trillion each year to more than $5 trillion by 2024.

Businesses that fell victim to a data breach 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. Therefore, the 3 components of information security—confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data—are factors every organization must consider when outlining their cybersecurity strategy.

Bottom Line

The 3 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.

To discover current trends and threats affecting an organization’s data security, download The State of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses eBook.