Cybersecurity vs. Information Security: Is there A Difference

Recently, a friend who owns a website became largely interested in his website security. He had read somewhere about the alarming exponential surge in the number of data breaches and their associated costs. To strengthen his security walls, he began by buying and installing an SSL certificate (I doubt if he knew the significance of the SSL certificate). 

Generally, a small business can go with few popular SSL certs like comodo positive SSL, RapidSSL certificate, etc. These SSL certs are available at low price.He also bought expensive firewalls and installed the latest WordPress themes and plugins. 

He seemed to know what he was doing. But to my utter surprise, he came to me and asked, “Is there any difference between cybersecurity and information security?” From the security measures he had undertaken to protect his website, I expected he should understand the difference between the two terms. However, I am convinced that most people still do not understand the difference between the two terms. This article will analyse the two in-depth and point out the various differentiating factors. 

  • Cybersecurity vs Information Security

Although cybersecurity and information security refer to different aspects and should never be used interchangeably, as has been the case, they both value data or information. The data value is the most significant part of the equation. Other than that, the two stand on their own. To understand the differences between the two aspects, it would be wise to take a bird’s eye view of each element.

  • What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a broader term that refers to all the aspects, tools, techniques, and measures of safeguarding an organization’s computer systems, devices, applications, and networks against any form of cyberattack. Indeed, the inevitable adoption of digital transformation has invited many cybersecurity threats. Every individual or company is somewhat vulnerable to one or more cybersecurity threats. According to an Accenture report, there was a 31% increase in cyberattacks between 2019 and 2021.

Even more alarming is the impact of cyberattacks that has undoubtedly left boardrooms stressed with the next course of action. The same report shows an increase in cybersecurity attacks’ legal (23%), internal (10%), and economic (16%) repercussions. 

These figures show that users’ information is now in great jeopardy due to the increasing cybersecurity attacks. Most organizations have begun to take the cybersecurity issue with the utmost seriousness it deserves, which is why we are witnessing heavy investments in cybersecurity infrastructure and personnel. Most companies have now included the aspects of cybersecurity risks in their general risk management strategies. Even so, hackers still prevail. Organizations’ cybersecurity measures and prevention infrastructure are often rendered obsolete by the increasing ingenuity and erudition of hackers. This is according to the 17th edition of the WEF Global Risk Report

Note that cybersecurity is a broad perspective encompassing application security, network security, information security, and disaster recovery. Moreover, the difference between cybersecurity and information security will not suffice unless we highlight some of the attacks associated with each aspect. Common attacks in the cybersecurity sphere include the following;

  • SQL injections
  • Distributed denial of service attacks
  • Phishing attacks (social engineering attacks)
  • Malware infections
  • Vulnerabilities associated with the poor configuration of cloud services
  • What is Information Security?

Information security and data security mean the same thing. Information security is an element of cybersecurity that focuses on data integrity, confidentiality, and availability. In essence, information security is more concerned with the policies and procedures applied by organizations to protect all forms of data or information against unauthorized access. The data might be biometric information, social profiles, social security numbers, physical addresses, credit card information, or financial records. The following are some of the key aspects of information security; 

Data Integrity- Data integrity is a term used to define accurate and consistent information throughout its life cycle. Any information that is compromised or altered will be of very little value to an organization. Data integrity can be compromised in many ways. For instance, data alterations, modifications, or updates might compromise the integrity of information. Therefore, data integrity will help with information nonrepudiation and ensure utmost information authenticity. 

Data Confidentiality- Data integrity is an aspect of information security that refers to the means, measures, and policies of ensuring that data is not made available to unauthorized parties or other third parties without the data owner’s consent. Data confidentiality also addresses the means of protecting data proprietary and personal privacy that otherwise be disclosed if the information lands in unsafe hands. 

Data Availability- Data availability is the last aspect of information security that deals with how and when information should be availed at a certain performance level and in circumstances that range from normal to calamitous. Data availability is usually achieved by redundancy that involves the data storage source and data access procedure. Data availability also deals with host server failures, data compatibility, slow data transfers, network crashes, and legacy data. 

  • Cybersecurity vs Information Security

The heated debate about whether cybersecurity and information security mean the same thing or different things continues to be so lively. Although drawing a perfect distinction between the two aspects can be tough, you must understand that cybersecurity and information security, although related, do not mean the same thing. First, it is essential to understand what each aspect entails (and this has already been covered above). Secondly, to help with further illustrations of the differences between the two, there are a few distinguishing features that one ought to know. They are explained below; 

  1. Value of Data

Both cybersecurity and information security aim to safeguard the value of data. In today’s era, data is one of the most valuable assets one can have, so it needs to be protected at all costs. Cybersecurity intends to protect an organization’s data value by safekeeping commercial information and safeguarding information security systems from digital breaches that could lead to unauthorized access to valuable information. On the other hand, information security focuses on protecting the value of an organization’s assets from all forms of security breaches, whether digital or non-digital. 

  1. Security Professionals Priority 

Cybersecurity experts direct much of their energy and resources to mitigate active hacking attempts such as malware infections and DDoS attacks. On the other hand, information security experts possess a wider remit that includes formulating policies, defining procedures, and assigning roles to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 

  1. Threats

Whereas cybersecurity is concerned with cyber threats, information security covers all forms of threats, including physical and nonphysical, digital, and non-digital threats. 

Summing It Up

Even before the age of computers, information security was essential. Today, information security has gained even more significance following the amount of information shared via digital platforms. The vast amount of data stored and shared online has also invited many data security threats. To protect data against these threats, one will need to apply the workings of both cybersecurity and information security. This article has explained the two terms at length and some of the differences between the two. While it is vital to understand the differences, it is also crucial to do something about them. Knowing and dealing with data security threats should remain a critical focus for every organization.

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