Cybersecurity vs. Information Security – What Is the Difference?
The internet and the fine range of technologies it has blessed us with have changed the landscape of the business world. Productivity is multiplying, data storage is a matter of a click, and there is no limit to growth and outreach. With each passing day, technology is becoming more powerful and effective. However, security concerns are only rising with our increasing dependence on technology.
Cisco’s latest cybersecurity special report portrays an alarming picture of the current state of cyber threats. What’s more worrisome than the rising number of attacks is the lack of preventive measures to deal with these threats. Why do small and mid-sized businesses do not take security seriously?
That is because there is a lot of confusion surrounding the subject. It is confusing to the point that many businesses do not understand the difference between cybersecurity and information security.
Often used interchangeably, cybersecurity and information security are distinct terms with different scopes. They may have certain similarities but they are not synonymous. A better understanding of the differences and similarities can help you make better decisions pertaining to security across your organization.
So, let’s start the discussion with the basic definition.
What Is Information Security?
The term predates cybersecurity as it is related to all forms of information regardless of how it is stored, processed, or used within an organization. Information can be business records, personal data, transactional data, financial records, or any intellectual property owned by your business.
Information security is about all the measures and steps taken to secure that information from any form of damage or loss. This includes protection of the premises holding physical records against all kinds of disasters such as flooding, theft, fire, etc.
That process of securing all the information your business holds owns, or uses is information technology.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is more specific to digitally stored and accessible data. It is about preventing hackers and cybercriminals from intruding your network through any mean. The means can include a malware, phishing attack, hacking, or even social engineering.
It won’t be wrong to say that cybersecurity also comes under the umbrella of information security. However, as we are moving towards a more connected environment where data is stored in the cloud, cybersecurity is becoming too broad a term to contain under another umbrella.
So, it is, in essence, the process of keeping the cyberspace a safer place to navigate.
Where Do They Collide?
An interesting example to clarify the difference would be if information security is about putting a digital lock outside the room holding all your data and information, cybersecurity is about choosing the right authorization method for that lock.
Now, while they may be different terms, there are areas where information security and cybersecurity overlap. These similarities can further clarify the differences and establish the importance of both the concepts.
Data Is at the Center Stage
No matter the size, business data is worth millions. Even if you are a small business, you can’t afford to have your data in the wrong hands. It is not just a company asset’ it is something your stakeholders trust you with.
The ultimate purpose of security and cybersecurity is to protect data. The latter protects it by securing all digital access. For many organizations, data is stored in both physical and digital formats. If that is the case with your company, you can’t rely solely on cybersecurity. You will need to block and prevent all the ways someone can physically access the data without authorization.
So, we can break down the purpose of both the terms in three parts:
- Data integrity: To make sure data isn’t changed, destroyed or used by any unauthorized person
- Confidentiality: To make sure data is accessed or viewed by anyone not authorized to do so
- Availability: To make sure data is available whenever needed by an authorized person
Physical Security Is Imperative
Even for companies who do not have a single bit of data that isn’t stored electronically, physical security is important. No matter what, there is always some physical access to the data. For instance, digital data can be compromised through server room access. Digital security is not something you can completely rely on for such instances. The world’s most sophisticated server rooms have invested in some of the best physical security, which included mechanical locks and a team of security guards.
Cybersecurity may be a newer term but our increasing inclination towards digitalization doesn’t render information security obsolete. It is still important. Businesses need to understand the scope of both cybersecurity and information security for their organization. This way they can create and implement a comprehensive security strategy that covers all the vulnerabilities and prevents all forms of security incidents.