Maintaining information security is one of the greatest challenges facing modern businesses. There were nearly 4,000 data breaches in 2020 which leaked more than 37,000 records – more than the six years prior, combined. These breaches ranged from insignificant incidents that the majority of people never heard about to large-scale “events”, such as the breach of Equifax, which exposed the financial information of 147 million people.
Information security is a must. So, what is it and how can you ensure you’re doing everything you can?
What Is Information Security?
Information security intends to maintain the safety of data from unauthorized access, use and changes. Sometimes referred to as InfoSec or data security, this data protection occurs during data storage and data transmission, whether this occurs between machines or physical locations. Knowledge is an asset now more than ever and keeping knowledge and information secure has never been more important.
Is Information Security and Cybersecurity the Same Thing?
Information technology or infotech, is an industry buzzphrase, basically meaning computers and related things. As a result, you might have heard cybersecurity and infotech used interchangeably.
These two phrases aren’t exactly the same thing. Cybersecurity is a sweeping practice in which IT professionals defend assets from attacks. Information security, on the other hand, is a specialized discipline within cybersecurity. App security (maintaining the safety of application code) and network security (ensuring company networks are safe) are under the same umbrella as information security.
There’s a bit of overlap in these definitions. For instance, an insecure network cannot transmit secure data; a leaky app can’t manipulate secure code. Plus, there’s a lot of info that doesn’t get electronically stored that also needs protection. An Information Security Specialist must have a very broad understanding of the entire security landscape – and you must have a specialist that has your back. Hiring in-house isn’t always feasible, but an outsourced IT professional can help protect your business.
Principles of Information Security
Information security can be summed up with three basic tenets:
This is maybe the most important tenet of the three above – when you think of information security, you likely immediately think of keeping confidential information private. Failing to keep confidential information secure means someone who should not have access could get their hands on your private company data. Whether by accident or with malintent, a breach of confidentiality poses serious risks.
Some of the best tactics to ensure your information remains confidential include:
- Data encryption
- Strong passwords
- Two-factor authentication
Integrity refers to the correct data state. Maintaining integrity means keeping your data from improper modification, whether accidentally or maliciously. The techniques used to maintain information confidentiality also assist with data integrity – bad actors can’t alter data they can’t get to. But other tools also exist that help preserve data integrity, such as:
- Checksum: Helps verify the integrity of data
- Version control: Helps return information to a previous state, if necessary
- Frequent backups: Ensures the most up-to-date data and allows for data reversion, if necessary
Information integrity also encompasses non-repudiation – especially in legal terms, you must prove you’ve maintained information integrity.
Availability mirrors confidentiality – you have to ensure that unauthorized users cannot access your information while also ensuring that those with proper permissions can. Data availability assurance encompasses matching resources with the expected data access volume and ensuring there’s a good information security policy that addresses disaster recovery.
In a perfect world, information is always confidential, in its proper state and can be accessed by those who need it when they need it. In practice, however, it’s a much more fluid and complex task, which is why outsourced IT makes so much sense for many organizations.
Implementing an Information Security Policy
How you apply the above information to your business is outlined in an information security policy. This isn’t hard- or software that “polices” your network – instead, this is a document you create based on your company’s own specific needs and traits. Your policy should reflect what information needs protection and how. The policies you create help guide future decisions regarding cybersecurity and tools needed, as well as create a guidepost for employee responsibilities and expected behavior.
Applying Information Security Measures
As mentioned above, cybersecurity and information security tend to overlap to a certain degree. It’s important to frame information security in a broad sense and consider the tools and measures required to ensure data protection, such as:
- Technical: All the hard- and software you use to protect your data, such as encryption and firewalls.
- Organizational: This refers to the measures you take as an organization to create a department dedicated to infosec. Certain staff members from other departments should have some duties related to information security or you can outsource your small business IT.
- Physical: Controlled access to certain offices, locations or data centers.
- The human element: Proper information security training and awareness among staff and other users is paramount.
Reach out to Artemis IT to learn how you can better protect your company’s sensitive information by outsourcing your small business IT.