IT Security and Information Security are commonly used interchangeably since both terms apply to the safety of data held on computers. Those who are ignorant of the distinction between the two expressions should be aware that their meanings and definitions are completely separate and should not be interchanged, regardless of how frequently this occurs. Simply expressed, one is concerned with data protection in cyberspace, while the other is concerned with data protection in general. However, novices may find it challenging to comprehend. In the course of this article, let us attempt to establish a foundation for information security and appreciate its contrasts from IT security.
The fundamental difference is in the entities that they are aiming to safeguard.
IT Security will place a higher focus on protecting the infrastructure (computers, networks, and servers) that information and data are kept on. This may be achieved by appropriately setting servers, ensuring that all company-owned devices are equipped with antivirus software, and monitoring computer systems and networks for possible threats. In other words, information technology security preserves digital data by maintaining the network’s overall integrity.
Information security, however, focuses on preventing unauthorised access to the data kept on an IT infrastructure and/or modifications to the data while it is being stored or delivered. This is achieved by the protection of the information itself.
Several potential components of this strategy include access control mechanisms, least-privilege access strategies, and data encryption. These are merely some of the potential outcomes. Information security focuses primarily on the strategies and tactics designed to prevent data breaches from compromising critical organisational information.
Information Security (InfoSec) is concerned with preserving the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of an organization’s data, whereas IT Security is just concerned with maintaining the secrecy of the data.
The primary practise of information security is the prohibition of unauthorised access to information, use of information, disclosure of information, disruption of information, modification of information, inspection of information, recording of information, and destruction of information. There can be both physical and digital kinds of information. The phrase “information” incorporates several notions, such as “your details,” “your profile” on social media platforms, “your data on your phone,” “your biometrics,” etc. Consequently, information security involves a vast array of academic disciplines, such as encryption, mobile computing, cyber forensics, and online social media.
During the First World War, the first Multi-tier Classification System was devised in recognition of the delicate nature of the material. In connection with the outbreak of the Second World War, the Classification System was formally aligned. Alan Turing was finally successful in decrypting the secrets that the German Enigma Machine safeguarded during World War II.
Information security initiatives are constructed around three goals, which are often referred to as the CIA, which stands for confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
- Confidentiality ensures that information is not divulged to people, organisations, or processes that are not authorised to receive it. Take, for instance, the scenario in which I had a password for my Gmail account, but someone overheard it when I was attempting to get in to my Gmail account. In such situation, the confidentiality of my password has been violated, and there has been a breach of security.
- Integrity refers to the process of ensuring that data are both accurate and comprehensive. This ensures that the data cannot be altered in a manner that is not approved. For instance, if an employee leaves an organisation, then the data for that employee in all departments, such as accounts, should be updated to reflect status to JOB LEFT in order to ensure that the data is complete and accurate. In addition to this, only authorised persons should be permitted to edit employee data.
- The information must be accessible at the appropriate time, which is meant by the term “availability.” For instance, if one needs to access the information of a specific employee in order to determine whether or not that employee has exceeded the allowed number of leaves, one will require the collaboration of multiple organisational teams, such as those responsible for network operations, development operations, incident response, and policy and change management. An assault that constitutes a denial of service is one of the factors that might make information less accessible.
An additional notion governs the functioning of information security programmes. This practise is known as non-repudiation.
This indicates that neither side can deny sending or receiving a message or conducting a transaction. Neither party may assert that the other sent or received a communication or transaction. In cryptography, for instance, it is sufficient to demonstrate that the message matches the digital signature signed with the sender’s private key and that the sender could have transmitted the message and no one else could have altered it during transit. This is because the digital signature is signed using the sender’s private key. Non-repudiation requires both the data’s integrity and the source’s validity.
- Authenticity refers to the process of confirming that a user is who they claim to be and that the origin of each piece of data that is sent to a destination is a reliable one.
If this concept is adhered to, it assures that the valid and authentic message will be received from a reliable source via a successful transmission.
For example, in the case mentioned in the previous paragraph, the sender would transmit the message along with a digital signature generated by computing the hash value of the message using the private key. At this stage, the digital signature is decoded at the receiver end using the public key, resulting in a hash value. The message is hashed again to generate the hash value. When the two values are identical, the transmission is deemed valid and the recipient is said to have received a genuine or authentic message. If the values do not correspond, the transmission is deemed invalid.
Information Assurance serves as the foundation for information security. This relates to the process of protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility (CIA) of information and ensuring that it is not compromised when critical issues arise. These issues are not limited to natural calamities, faulty computers or servers, and so on. Consequently, the field of information security has witnessed significant growth and development in recent years. It offers options for specialisation in a vast array of domains, such as protecting networks and related infrastructure, securing applications and databases, performing security testing, auditing information systems, and planning for business continuity.