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Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

What is Information Security

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Speaker
Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM

Introduction

Information security, also known as Infosec, is concerned with more than just protecting data from unauthorized access. Since sensitive data is one of an organization's most valuable assets, it stands to reason that we must prioritize its protection. Information security is the practice of preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, interruption, alteration, inspection, recording, or destruction. Information can be both physical and electronic. Information can be anything from your photos to social media messages. Data security management aims to ensure company continuity and minimize corporate damage by avoiding and mitigating the effects of security events. 

Multi-tier Classification Systems were developed during the first world war, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the information. Moreover, the classification system's proper alignment was done during the second world war. Alan Turing successfully decrypted Enigma Machine used by germans to encrypt the warfare data.

Objectives of Information security 

CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability) are the three objectives for building information security programs.

Let us discuss these objectives in detail:

  • Confidentiality
    Unauthorized individuals, entities, and the process can not disclose or access the information. For example, while we log in to our Gmail or any social media account and if, unfortunately, someone saw our password at that time, we can say that our privacy has been compromised or confidentiality is breached.
     
  • Integrity
    It means that the accuracy and completeness of data are maintained. This means unauthorized ways can not edit confidential data or information. For example, suppose any of your employees leave the Organization. In that case, this information should be updated in all the departments by the authorized person, as accounts and status are 'JOB LEFT' so that completeness and accuracy of data remain maintained. This is also done so that the employee left can not access the Organization's data for unfair means and become unauthorized after leaving the Organization.
     
  • Availability
    When we need information, it should be available at that time. For example, suppose we want to retrieve information about any employee working in the Organization to check whether he has taken more leaves than allowed or not. This process requires the collaboration of various organizational teams like network operations, incident response, development operations, and policy/change management. 
    The denial of service attack can hamper the availability of data.

Apart from these objectives, information security is governed by one more principle, which is ‘non-repudiation’.

  • Non-repudiation
    It means parties can not deny receiving/sending messages or transactions. For example, it is sufficient to demonstrate that the message matches the digital signature signed with the sender's private key in cryptography. Only the sender could have transmitted the message, and no one else could have altered it in transit.
    And now we have two prerequisites for Non-repudiation: Data Integrity and Authenticity.
     
  • Authenticity
    This focuses on checking whether the user is what they say who they are or not and whatever input we get/has arrived at the destination is from a trusted source. If followed, this concept ensures that a valid and genuine message is received from a trustworthy source via a proper transmission.
    For example, the sender transmits the message in the above example, and a digital signature is constructed using the message's hash value and private key. At the receiver's end, the digital signature is decrypted using the public key, resulting in a hash value, and the message is hashed once more to create the hash value. If the two values match, it is a legitimate transmission with an authentic or genuine message received at the receiver end.
     
  • Accountability
    It means tracing action from one entity uniquely to another should be possible. For example, as we discussed in the integrity example, not every employee is allowed or given access to changed information/ data of other employees. But organizations have a different department for making such changes, and the letter should be signed by higher authorities when they receive a request for a change. For example, the biometric of the person who has been allotted to do changes should be verified. Only then he will be able to make changes to record user details with timestamps. As a result, it will be possible to track the activities back to a particular entity if a change occurs.
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Types of Information Security

There are many types of Information security, but here we will discuss some of the following types -

  • Application security
    Software defects in online and mobile apps and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are covered in application security. These flaws can be found in user authentication or software authorization, code and configuration integrity, and mature policies and processes. Application flaws can open the door to significant information security breaches. Application security is a crucial component of InfoSec perimeter defense.
     
  • Cloud security
    We focus on cloud security for building and hosting applications in the cloud environment. The meaning of cloud is that the application is running in a shared environment. Even being in a shared environment, different processes should be isolated from each other, which the business itself should ensure.
     
  • Infrastructure security
    Infrastructure security protects internal and extranet networks, labs, desktops, data centers, servers, and mobile devices.
     
  • Cryptography
    Encrypting data in transit and at rest improves data confidentiality and integrity. Digital signatures are frequently used in cryptography to verify data integrity. The importance of cryptography and encryption is growing. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is an excellent example of cryptography in action (AES). The AES algorithm is a symmetric critical method for encrypting sensitive government information.
     
  • Vulnerability management
    For weak points, the process of scanning an environment is called vulnerability management. And based on risk, we prioritize remedies.
    Businesses continually add apps, users, infrastructure, and other features to various networks. As a result, it is essential to regularly scan the network for potential vulnerabilities. Finding a vulnerability before it becomes a problem can save your firm from the disastrous consequences of a data breach.
     
  • Incident response
    The function of incident response is to monitor and investigate possibly malicious conduct.
    IT workers should have an incident response plan to control the danger and restore the network in the event of a breach. Furthermore, the purpose should be to develop a system for preserving evidence for forensic investigation and possible prosecution. We can use this information to avoid future breaches and assist employees in identifying the perpetrator.

As a result, information security has developed and changed tremendously in recent years. It provides several specialist options, such as safeguarding networks and related infrastructure, securing applications and databases, security testing, information systems auditing, business continuity planning, and so on.

Information security policy

A security policy is used to implement information security concepts in an organization. This isn't a piece of security hardware or software; instead, it's a document that an organization creates based on its own unique needs and peculiarities to determine what data needs to be safeguarded and how it should be protected. These regulations serve as a framework for the organization's cybersecurity equipment purchases and define employee behavior and responsibilities.

The information security policy of a company should include -

  • A statement about the overall objective and purpose of the infosec program.
  • Definitions of essential terminology are used in the paper to ensure that everyone understands what they're talking about.
  • An access control policy establishes who has access to what data and how they can assert their rights.
  • A password policy.
  • A plan for data support and operations ensures that data is constantly available to those who require it.
  • Roles and obligations of employees when it comes to data security, as well as who is ultimately responsible for data security.

One thing to remember is that, in a world where many businesses outsource computer services or store data in the cloud, your security strategy must cover more than just your assets. It would help if you planned how you would handle everything from personally identifiable information kept on AWS instances to third-party contractors who must authenticate to access critical company information.

Information security measures

As should be evident by now, almost all technological measures related to cybersecurity touch on information security to some extent, but it's crucial considering infosec measures in a broader context:

  • Technical measures 
    Include those hardware and software which protect data, everything from encryption to firewalls.
     
  • Organizational measures
    Involve the establishment of an internal unit dedicated to information security and the inclusion of information security as part of the responsibilities of some workers in each department.
     
  • Human measures
    It includes awareness training sessions on proper infosec practices given to the users.
     
  • Physical measures
    Controlling access to office locations, particularly data centers, is one example.

Also read - active and passive attacks

FAQs

  1. What is the difference between Information security and Cybersecurity?
    Cybersecurity and information security are generally confused. Infosec is itself a crucial part of Cybersecurity; however, it only relates to the methods designed for data security. Cybersecurity is a broader word that encloses InfoSec.
     
  2. What is an Information Security Management System (ISMS)?
    When an organization is in a data breach scenario and to help organize, an ISMS was created with a set of guidelines and processes. The risk of businesses can be minimized if we have formal sets of policies, and during the change of staff, the continuity of work is ensured.
     
  3. What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?
    The General Data Protection Regulation was adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2016. In the spring of 2018, the GDPR started to require companies to:
    The notifications of a data breach should be provided 
    The data protection officer should be appointed
    For the data processing, user consent if required
    Anonymize the data for privacy
     
  4. What certifications are needed for cybersecurity jobs?
    Certifications for cybersecurity professions can range from basic to advanced. Some organizations may demand vendor-specific training for their Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).
     
  5. What is Information Assurance?
    Information assurance is at the core of information security. Information assurance means maintaining the CIA of information and ensuring that information is not compromised in any manner. These problems are not restricted to natural calamities, computer/server failures, and so on.

Key Takeaways

In this blog, we learned about the concepts of Information Security. We also learned about its meaning, objectives, and types of information security.

Don't come to a halt here. Check out our Need of Information SecurityCyber Attacks and their types blogs. You can also check out the Difference between Cyber Security and Information Security blogs. Check out more blogs here.

Source - giphy.com

Happy Learning!

Topics covered
1.
Introduction
2.
Objectives of Information security 
3.
Types of Information Security
4.
Information security policy
5.
Information security measures
6.
FAQs
7.
Key Takeaways