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A Complete Guide to Information Security

  • Yashoda Gandhi
  • Dec 24, 2021
A Complete Guide to Information Security title banner

The "information" part encompasses considerably more than gathering and safeguarding sensitive data. Complex inquiries, extrapolating data, forecasting future occurrences, and even counseling officials are now all possible with today's systems.


The definition of information technology has changed dramatically since the dawn of the twenty-first century. IT no longer refers just to the capacity to do keyword searches on the internet, nor does it refer solely to cumbersome desktop computers. 


IT has evolved to cover a variety of components, ranging from programming,  engineering to security and analytics and beyond, as technology has progressed.



What is information security?


The procedures and strategies used to safeguard personal, private, and sensitive information or data in print, electronic, or any other form against unauthorized access, use, misuse, disclosure, destruction, alteration, or disruption are referred to as information security.


Information security is more than just protecting data from unwanted access. There are two types of information: physical and electronic.


Personal information, social media profiles, mobile phone data, biometrics, and other types of data are all examples of information. As a result, Information Security covers a wide variety of academic subjects, such as encryption, mobile computing, cyber forensics, and online social media, among others.


Security incidents can result in the theft of personal information, data modification, and data deletion. Attacks can hinder business operations, damage a company's reputation, and cost money.


Phishing, malware, viruses, malicious insiders, and ransomware are all dangers that organizations must budget for and be prepared to recognize, respond to, and avoid.



Principles of information security


The three essential principles of information security, sometimes known as tenets, are confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 


As described by CSO Online, at least one of these principles should be applied to every part of an information security program (and every security control deployed by an organization). Their combined moniker is the CIA Triad.


  1. Confidentiality


To prevent unauthorized information distribution, confidentiality precautions are in place. The purpose of the confidentiality principle is to keep personal information private and only make it public and accessible to those who need it to complete their organizational duties.


You must be able to determine who is attempting to access data and prohibit those who do not have permission. Passwords, encryption, authentication, and security against penetration assaults are all methods for maintaining privacy.


  1. Integrity


The term "integrity" relates to the safeguarding of data against unauthorized alterations (e.g., additions, deletions, or changes). The integrity principle ensures that data is accurate and has not been tampered with in any manner.


Many of the techniques for ensuring confidentiality will also protect data integrity—after all, a hacker can't change data that they don't have access to—but there are other tools that can help you provide an in-depth defense of integrity: checksums, for example, can help you verify data integrity, and version control software and frequent backups can help you restore data to a correct state if necessary.


  1. Availability


The capacity of a system to make software systems and data completely available when a user requires it is known as availability (or at a specified time). The goal of availability is to make technological infrastructure, applications, and data available when they're needed for a business process or by a company's customers.


In a perfect world, your data would always be kept secret, in good working order, and accessible; in reality, you'll have to make decisions about which information security principles to prioritize, which would need reviewing your data. 


(Also read: Security Analytics)



Information security VS cyber security


Although the phrase "cyber security" is generally used in the United States, it is also known as "information security" in other parts of the world. This, along with other considerations, has fueled the argument over cyber security vs. information security.


Information security and cybersecurity are sometimes used interchangeably since information technology has become the recognized business buzzword that really means "computers and associated stuff." Information security is a specialized discipline inside the cybersecurity umbrella, while cybersecurity is the larger activity of safeguarding IT assets from assault.


Other contrasts exist in the cyber security vs. information security debate. While cyber security is concerned with safeguarding information in cyberspace, information security is concerned with safeguarding data in cyberspace and beyond.


To put it another way, the Internet or the endpoint device may only be a small portion of the whole picture. Both entail defending cyberspace from attacks, which might include ransomware, spyware, malware, and other sorts of malicious software capable of wreaking havoc. Professionals in cyber security, on the other hand, have a more specific concentration.


Finally, debating cyber security vs. information security may be the incorrect way to approach two things that are mutually beneficial. Both jobs guard against data theft, access, alteration, and deletion. The key distinction is the scope of their interests. Learn more in detail about information security vs cyber security.



Types of information security


  1. Cryptography


Cryptography is an information security approach that uses codes to protect firm information and communication against cyber threats.


Cryptography is a phrase that refers to secure information and communication techniques that employ mathematical concepts and a sequence of rule-based calculations known as algorithms to transform messages in difficult-to-decipher ways.


Cryptography, cryptology, and cryptanalysis are all intertwined topics. Microdots, mixing words with pictures, and other means of disguising information in storage or transportation are among the techniques covered.



  1. Vulnerability management


Vulnerability management is a security approach that aims to avoid the exploitation of IT vulnerabilities that might affect a system or organization in the future.


An IT administrator could employ vulnerability scanning to uncover security flaws in an organization's hardware, software, and data transfer. They'd next perform a formal risk analysis to assess the possible impact of a known risk before addressing the vulnerability and reducing or eliminating the danger. If the risk cannot be completely eliminated, the organization's management must formally acknowledge the risk.



  1. Cloud security


Cloud security is jeopardized by the theft, leakage, and destruction of data stored online via cloud computing services. Cloud security may be achieved by the use of firewalls, penetration testing, obfuscation, tokenization, virtual private networks (VPNs), and the avoidance of public internet connections.


Cloud security is concerned with the creation and hosting of secure cloud applications, as well as the safe use of third-party cloud apps. The phrase "cloud computing" simply refers to software that operates in a shared environment.


Instead of keeping files on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device, cloud-based storage allows you to save them in a remote database. As long as an electronic gadget is connected to the internet, it has access to both data and the software programs required to run it.



  1. Application security


Software faults in web and mobile apps, as well as application programming interfaces, are all examples of application security (APIs). User identification or authorization, code, and configuration integrity, and well-developed rules and procedures are all examples of weaknesses.


Hardware, software, and methods that discover and mitigate security vulnerabilities may be included in application security. Hardware application security refers to a router that stops anyone from viewing a computer's IP address over the Internet.


However, application-level security restrictions are frequently embedded into the software, such as an application firewall that strictly limits what activities are allowed and disallowed. A process is something like an application security routine that includes things like frequent testing.



  1. Incident response


The function of incident response is to keep an eye out for and investigate possibly harmful conduct. The method an organization employs to respond to and manage a cyberattack is known as incident response. 


Customers, intellectual property, corporate time and resources, and brand value can all be harmed by an attack or data breach. The goal of incident response is to minimize the damage and go back to normal as soon as feasible.


In order to learn from the assault and better prepare for the future, an investigation is also necessary. Because so many businesses nowadays encounter a data breach at some point, having a well-thought-out and repeatable incident response strategy is the best approach to safeguard your business.



  1. Network Infrastructure security


Network Infrastructure Security is a method of safeguarding the underlying networking infrastructure by putting in place preventative measures to prevent unauthorized access, modification, deletion, or theft of resources and data.


It's most popular in corporate IT setups. Security approaches include access control, application security, firewalls, virtual private networks (VPN), behavioral analytics, intrusion prevention systems, and wireless security.


Hackers and malicious programs that target and seek to seize control of the routing infrastructure pose the biggest danger to network infrastructure security. Routers, firewalls, switches, servers, load-balancers, intrusion detection systems (IDS), domain name systems (DNS), and storage systems, as well as all other network-related equipment, make up the network infrastructure.


(Suggested reading: Components of Intranet Security)


In the end, Information security is concerned with safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of computer systems and physical data from unwanted access, whether malevolent or not. The CIA trio stands for confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The CIA trinity must be protected while organizational productivity is maintained in every information security effort.

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