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How cyber security is different from information security

18 August 2021      
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data centre

Often used interchangeably, you’d be forgiven for thinking that cyber security and information security were the same. However, there are distinct differences between the two and it’s important for any business that’s invested in security to understand them.

In this article, we’ll address what each term means and how they differ, while also looking at some of the similarities between the two so you can see how they get muddled up.

What is cyber security?

In a nutshell, cyber security is the practice of defending electronic information and data from cyber attacks, hacks, or unauthorised access. Cyber security includes the protection of computers, networks, servers, programs, and mobile devices within organisations and on personal devices.

The work that cyber security experts do can be divided into different categories to make them easier to understand.

  • Network security – Securing networks against unauthorised access, use or interruption of service.
  • Application security – Identifying and enhancing security applications to prevent data from being stolen.
  • Cloud security – Protecting cloud-based infrastructures and systems.
  • Critical infrastructure – Use of tools designed to secure the business operationally, including anti-malware software and virus scanners etc.
  • Disaster recovery – Reacting to a cyber attack or loss of data, ensuring operational capabilities can be restored quickly.

What is information security?

Information security is concerned with the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data, whether electronic or not. It is the practice of protecting information from unauthorised access, use disruption, transferal, modification, or destruction.

Information security specialists ensure data in any form is kept secure, working in line with the key pillars of confidentiality, integrity, and availability (known as the CIA triad).

What are the differences between cyber security and information security?

So far it might sound like cyber security and information security overlap in their definitions, especially when it comes to the protection of sensitive data.

As mentioned, cyber security is concerned with protecting information that resides in cyberspace. This includes data, devices, storage sources and networks. Information security however protects data in any form, whether it is stored online or in a traditional filing cabinet!

Just like the data it protects, each type of security also defends against different types of threat. Cyber security protects against hacks and attacks from cyberspace, while information security protects against any form of threat, whether digital or not.

Cyber security experts typically deal with cyber fraud and cybercrimes including phishing, ransomware, and malware (among other threats). They will work to actively protect servers, endpoints, databases, and networks by looking for security gaps that could make sensitive data vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Information security professionals focus more on the CIA of data.

  • Confidentiality – Data including personal or highly sensitive information must be kept confidential, with all unauthorised access blocked.
  • Integrity – Stored data should be kept from deletion or modification by any unauthorised person, with the ability to reverse damage or changes that should not have been made.
  • Availability – Data needs to be available when needed, with authentication mechanisms, access channels and systems working to both protect the data and ensure it’s accessible.

How are cyber security and information security similar?

While there are differences between cyber security and information security, there is some overlap too. For example, both are concerned with data and its value.

Cyber security professionals work to protect a company from unauthorised electronic access to data and cyber attacks, while information security experts deal with unauthorised access in general. This means that both need to know what data is critical to the organisation so they can determine what risk management protocols and systems can be put in place to protect it effectively.

In cyber security and information security, it’s essential to understand what data, if accessed by unauthorised personnel, could be most damaging. This ensures that the two teams can work closely together to establish a secure data protection framework that works for all sensitive information across the business and ensures business continuity.

How do you know whether you need cyber security or information security help?

Simply put, if you need help with any form of data protection in your organisation, you’ll likely need support with both cyber and information security. Each type is equally important to your business, so ensuring you’ve got the right security framework, incident response plans, and cyber security strategy in place to protect you from all angles is imperative.

At Nasstar, we provide a range of cyber security and fully managed IT services to ensure your business stays protected against cyber attacks and other forms of data intrusion.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can support your organisation.