To properly examine cybersecurity IT and information security complexities, it’s first important to discuss the vast quantities of worldwide data and assess the implications.
The Rapid Ascension Of Data.
2.5 quintillion bytes of data—give or take–are generated daily. The entire digital universe contains 44 zettabytes of data (equal to 44 sextillion bytes). Also, 70% of global data is generated by users.
There’s no denying that we’re living in the information age. With an ever expanding global computer systems and increasing number of information security professionals. The internet has presented those who stand to benefit from data (like corporations and marketers) near carte-blanche access to it. After all, nobody could access the amount of data listed in the above paragraph when there was no world wide web.
Data’s ubiquity is a product of the digital revolution and the evolution of the internet and its impact to computer systems. The nearly 5000% increase in data generated, harvested, replicated, and consumed over the past 11 years tells much of the story
Unsurprisingly, the international Big Data and Analytics sector is expected to reach $274 billion by 2026. That’s enough for an 11% annual growth rate from where things were in 2021.
Consumers Are Uncomfortable With The Growth Of Data.
The world isn’t black and white. There are pros and cons to the vast amounts of available data.
In many ways, information is freedom. Insights and knowledge provided by data can help improve society in many ways. For instance, data has the potential to help us improve our physical health.
At the same time, unchecked access to sensitive information is rife with ethical and moral road bumps. As such, the public is far from comfortable with the circumstances as they are.
Per the Pew Research Centre, 81% of survey respondents believe the risks presented by data collection offset all the benefits. Almost the same number of respondents are worried about how companies use their data.
Furthermore, nearly 80% of respondents don’t think companies will take responsibility for compromising or misusing personal information. Around 70% of respondents don’t think they’d be comfortable with how firms use their data. Also, only 6% of survey respondents believe their data is more secure now than it was in the past.
Data And Information Security Concerns.
People’s concerns about how businesses use their data aren’t unfounded or unreasonable.
Many companies–which a customer may initially trust with their information–sell their data to third parties without permission.
Plenty of companies don’t sell data and have the best intentions with customers’ personal information. Still, their security protocols aren’t up to the challenge of protection. To that point, 45% of US companies experienced data breaches in 2021 alone.
Moreover, nearly 80% of Canadian businesses experienced a cyberattack that same year.
You may have read the last two paragraphs and thought we used data breach and cyberattack interchangeably–but we didn’t. While there’s plenty of overlap between information security and cybersecurity, they aren’t one and the same (but there will be more on that topic later).
Why Should Cybersecurity And Information Security Be A Top Priority For Your Business?
The sheer quantities of worldwide data mean that cybersecurity and information security are complex by their nature. It also means they are necessities with skyrocketing levels of importance for enterprises.
Combine the abundance of information with its inherent value, and you have a beckoning call for bad actors to try and gain unlawful access, hence, security controls comes to mind. They’ll do everything they can to get their hands on valuable data, including breaching your company’s current lines of defense and security controls to obtain it.
The adverse impact is two-pronged when a malicious actor can obtain your customers’ data and other sensitive company information. Here’s what we mean:
- The immediate financial blow is devastating:
○ Data breaches cost Canadian companies an average of 5.64 million USD in 2022.
○ Data breaches don’t only involve customer data–financial information and critical data about intellectual property are
also at risk.
○ Beyond the monetary value of the data, companies can be subject to steep regulatory fines for allowing a breach and
failing to protect their clients’ personal info.
- Your company suffers tremendous reputational damage:
○ Almost 60% of consumers will stop shopping with a company for multiple months after a breach.
○ 20% of consumers will no longer do business with an organization that’s been breached:
○ Nearly half of surveyed consumers in the US say they’ll only pay for a product or service if they’re confident that a
company will protect their data.
Bolstering your cybersecurity IT and information security protocols, procedures, and systems is the best way to shield your company from the above pitfalls. The first step is becoming more educated on the topic and gaining insights into the complexities and nuances.
For instance, it’s crucial to understand the difference between cybersecurity and information security.
What Is Information Security (InfoSec)?
Below, we’ll delve into the specifics of information security:
An Information Security Overview
InfoSec has a vast umbrella. It covers all organizations’ processes and tools to protect information.
These processes and tools include policy settings that protect sensitive data or stop unauthorized parties from accessing personal or business data. This would allow only authorized users to access your network.
Since information security is vast, it overlaps with and incorporates many fields, including network security, testing, auditing, etc.
Unauthorized data modification, inspection, disruption, destruction, and recording are all prevented by robust information security practices. Moreover, effective InfoSec protocols and execution will protect the following types of information (and more):
● Financial data
● Intellectual property
● Customer account details
Private information theft, data deletion, and data tampering are all possible consequences of InfoSec incidents. Breaches and attacks can cause workflow disruptions on top of the tangible financial losses and reputational damage discussed previously.
In a landscape where your company interacts with data from all directions, your InfoSec should be a top priority. Funds must be allocated toward responding, detecting, and predicting/preventing attacks (e.g., malware, phishing, viruses, ransomware, and malicious insiders).
The Three Pillars Of Information Security.
Below, we’ve broken down the three pillars (or triad) of InfoSec as defined by the CIA:
○ The motivations behind confidentiality measures are to stop the unauthorized or unethical disclosure of
○ Related protocols and principles revolve around maintaining the privacy of personal information.
○ These measures also ensure that private data is only available for people who own it or require it to perform their
○ When integrity is a core part of a company’s information security, there’s formidable protection against
unauthorized changes to data. These changes could be deletions, alterations, additions, etc.
○ Data with integrity is reliable, accurate, and not incorrectly modified maliciously or accidentally.
○ Authorized personnel can readily access data and related software systems as needed with available data.
What Is Cybersecurity?
In this section, we’ll take a close look at the finer points of Cybersecurity.
An Overview Of Cybersecurity.
Almost all data is stored in computer networks and systems in the 21st century, regardless of industry or sector.
Cybersecurity focuses on these computer networks and systems. Related processes protect, restore, and prevent damage to electronic communications systems and services, including the information stored in those systems.
Like information security, cybersecurity has a vast umbrella covering all electronic communications and systems. Multiple fields and subcategories requiring further specialization exist within the cybersecurity space. This includes fields such as critical infrastructure, cloud, and network security.
What Differentiates Cybersecurity From Information Security?
While cybersecurity and information security are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same.
The scopes and purposes of cybersecurity IT and information security are where many of their differences lie.
Cybersecurity’s focus is solely on threats related to technology and incorporates tech-based prevention methods. Data security–which protects company data from unauthorized and malicious exposure–also falls under the cybersecurity umbrella.
Alternatively, information security is far broader, including components of security such as:
● Endpoint security
● Physical security
● Data encryption
● Network security
Information assurance–which protects against server failures and natural disasters–also falls under the InfoSec umbrella.
Another component of information security is–in fact–cybersecurity. Conversely, several aspects of InfoSec go far beyond the scope and limitations of cybersecurity.
To better understand these differences, we can look at the roles of an InfoSec professional and a cybersecurity specialist.
An InfoSec pro will work on big-picture details like establishing security measures and developing safe methods for authorized parties to access data. Alternatively, a cybersecurity specialist will protect information from spyware, ransomware, or other cyberattacks.
How Does Cybersecurity Overlap With Information Security?
Many shared security practices exist between cybersecurity and information security. Both methodologies are guided by the CIA triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
We’ll examine how cybersecurity and InfoSec align in the CIA triad, using the example of an online retail purchase:
● Online retailers are expected to protect and store credit card data and similarly sensitive information like home
addresses. Both cybersecurity and InfoSec practices will help maintain this level of confidentiality.
● Data that an online retailer shares with their customer’s bank must be secure, or there could be discrepancies
between what was paid and the cost of goods. InfoSec and cybersecurity practices overlap to maintain the integrity
of this type of data exchange.
● Suppose a consumer needs to know how much money they have before purchasing from an online retailer. They’ll
need to seamlessly access that information from the bank. Financial institutions can employ top-tier cybersecurity
and information security practices to ensure the availability of this information is never in doubt.
The overlaps between cybersecurity and information security also include the related skills. Professionals in both fields must have–at a minimum–a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity, or another similar field.
Both roles also involve various analysts, specialists, engineers, and testers.
Cybersecurity and information technology professionals are also familiar with query and database user interface software. Moreover, both professions frequently interact with web platform development tools, network monitoring software, and virus protection.
What Are The Most Significant Threats To Your Information Security?
Read on as we highlight the most substantial threats in the InfoSec space. You may find that the threats discussed below overlap with cybersecurity.
Social Media Breaches
Social media is a hub for people oversharing. However, social media users don’t often share information on purpose.
Attackers will use malware via social media messaging as a more direct approach. Indirectly, malicious users will use information from social media profiles to find an organization’s weaknesses to better strategize an eventual attack.
Technology evolves at a rapid rate, and it can be hard to keep up. Therefore, information security systems that were once adequate are suddenly obsolete and need upgrading.
In other scenarios, companies have information infrastructures that weren’t built with security in mind. It’s common for these legacy systems to fly under the radar until a catastrophic incident.
Best InfoSec practices dictate that companies flag unsecured systems and remedy the issue by patching (or securing) them, isolating them, or decommissioning them.
Employees within companies use many endpoint devices (e.g., laptops, tablets, mobile phones, desktop computers). In many scenarios, this equipment isn’t under a business’s control because it’s privately owned by the employee or other users. Furthermore, this equipment connects to the internet like any other privately owned device.
Malware is a looming threat for endpoint devices. It can compromise a specific endpoint, potentially leading to privilege escalation across other company systems.
What’s worse? The standard antivirus software found on these devices can’t block advanced malware.
Fortunately, InfoSec experts continue developin new approaches to endpoint security, including endpoint response and detection.
When attackers send messages and emails to manipulate users into doing something that compromises company security, it’s called social engineering.
These attackers use social and psychological triggers like fear, urgency, and curiosity to trick innocent users into performing harmful actions.
Attackers using social engineering will pretend to be trusted sources. This tactic makes it likelier for users to comply and provide personal info, financial details, credentials, or download malware.
Social engineering efforts can be mitigated by companies educating their users on how to identify and avoid such tactics.
Organizations can also implement various tech tools and systems to block social engineering attempts at their source. They can also prevent users from performing potentially harmful acts by putting in safeguards against downloading suspicious attachments, etc.
Insufficient Encryption Methods
Data is encoded by encryption processes. This way, secret keys are required to decode the data.
Encryption is a proven tool for preventing data corruption and loss when equipment has been lost or stolen.
Also, encryption has proven itself vital when attackers compromise an organizational system.
Too often, encryption is overlooked because it’s a complicated method lacking legal guidelines for best-practice implementation.
Still, companies can shore up encryption-related weaknesses by investing in cloud services or other storage devices compatible with encryption. They can also use security tools that incorporate robust encryption measures.
These days, many companies employ a vast arsenal of technological tools and platforms, such as:
● Web applications
● SaaS (Software as a Service) apps
● IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) apps
These tools and platforms can be accessed through providers like Amazon Web Services.
While these platforms and tools have security features, organizations must configure them. Security breaches can soon follow when security isn’t configured correctly (either due to negligence or human error).
Configuration drift is another issue. This happens when once-adequate configuration becomes obsolete, leaving a company’s systems vulnerable without the knowledge of IT and security teams.
Technological platforms that continually monitor systems can be implemented to offset security misconfiguration risks. Through this constant tracking, the software will detect and identify configuration gaps and alert relevant parties of the issue.
These tools can sometimes automatically manage configuration problems that could leave your company vulnerable.
Work With An IT Service Provider Who Understands The Complexities Of Cybersecurity IT And Information Security.
Are you confident that your company’s cybersecurity and information protection measures are up to standards?
You’re not alone if you’re worried about being at risk of a breach. Data and cybersecurity are highly complex issues, and protecting your information can stretch your knowledge base to the brink.
That said, these problems aren’t going anywhere. You need to protect the information in your organization from malicious actors for the sake of your customers, intellectual property, and reputation. More importantly, you need to act fast.
While educating yourself on these topics is a tremendous first step in mitigating potential issues, there’s still more work to be done. Namely, you have to devise a strategy and then execute it.
You also need to ask yourself if you have time for trial and error with your cybersecurity IT and information security systems. A breach can send your company to the brink, even if you did your best to prevent one. You can’t afford mistakes.
So, why not work with an IT partner with a technical understanding of these matters. At Servall, we’ve worked with companies like yours to introduce successful, continually evolving cybersecurity IT and information security systems. Contact us today to learn more!