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Cyber Security vs. Information Security: A Comparative Analysis

Cyber Security vs. Information Security: A Comparative Analysis

by
Nausheen Fatima
“My Message for Companies that Think they Haven’t been Attacked is: You’re Not Looking Hard Enough” - James Snook (Deputy Director of OCSIA (Cabinet Office)

Is it necessary that if two things are associated with the same fundamental idea, they can really be thought of as substitutes to each other? If you would have answered the question with a ‘yes’, then you may feel that Cyber Security and Information Security are essentially the same and in face the question of Cyber Security vs. Information Security is essentially a pointless debate.

However, the actual answer to the above question is a ‘no’. This means that even though the two ideas of Cyber Security and Information Security are ultimately associated with the basic idea of digital security; they serve different levels of objectives.

Thus, the debate around Information Security vs. Cyber Security is quite a real one and in fact, worthy of discussion.

In this blog, we will try to undertake a comparative analysis of the issue of Cyber Security vs. Information Security by considering the similarities as well as the differences.

Additionally, we will try to take up certain more specific topics of concern, such as Information Assurance vs. Cyber Security as well as Information Security Analyst vs. Cyber Security Analyst.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber Security can be seen as a discipline which deals with providing protection and security measures to servers, computer systems, mobiles, programs, systems and networks; with the objective of defending them against malicious digital attacks (Cyber Security threats and Cyber Security attacks).

These attacks are essentially aimed at transforming, destroying or acquiring access to critical data; demanding ransom from the owners of data, or seeking to disrupt the normal procedure of business.

Cyber Security

For a more detailed understanding of the topic, refer to our blog on “What is Cyber Security?

What is Information Security?

Processed data is referred to as information. Safeguarding and protecting this information is conducted through the process of Information Security.

It can be understood as the process of according protection to information systems in order to prevent it from being exposed to destruction, disclosure, disruption, modification and unauthorized access. Thus, Information Security as Data Security can be held to have three objectives:

  • Confidentiality: Prevention of unauthorized access to sensitive information. It helps protect propriety information and personal privacy.
  • Integrity: Protection of modification or deletion of sensitive data by unintended person. It helps ensure non-repudiation and information authenticity. 
  • Availability: Ensure the availability of data as and when needed. It helps guarantee timely access and reliability.
What is Information Security

Cyber Security vs. Information Security: Points of Overlap

When we do try to provide a comparative analysis on the issue of Cyber Security vs. Information Technology, it is not always a question of one against the other. Cyber Security and Information Security are not watertight compartments and in fact, the former can be regarded as the subset of the latter which is a much broader phenomenon.

Notwithstanding the issue of Information Technology vs. Cyber Security; in this section, we will look at some of the similarities between the two concepts.

Importance of Data: Both Cyber Security as well as Information Security, ascribe ultimate importance to the protection of data.

Cyber Security happens to be concerned with unsanctioned electronic access to data which might result in data breach, loss or leakage. Information Security too, seeks to prevent unauthorized access to data ‘of any kind’ which might prove to be detrimental to the organization. In both cases, the value of data is of prime significance and is aimed at protecting data.

Cyber Security vs. Information Security: Points of Overlap

Perhaps, the most important point of overlap between CyberSecurity and Information Security is the fact that one of them has a far greater scope.

Thus, while Cyber Security is essentially concerned with providing protection to everything within the ‘cyber realm’; Information Security fulfils the same objective for all kinds of information, irrespective of the realm. 

Having said that, there are still certain notable distinctions between the two concepts and the issue of Information Security vs. Cyber Security is indeed a real one. Consequently, let us look at some of the point of dissimilarities between the two.

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Information Security vs. Cyber Security: Points of Differences

The issue of Cyber Security vs. Information Security is not an easy territory to investigate. This is more so because the two terms are often used interchangeably in common parlance and their usage only differs from country to country.

However, for someone who is looking to understand the intricacies of the field of digital security; it is imperative to understand the technical distinctions between the two.

Cyber Security Information Security
It pertains to the protection of data, its storage sources and related technologies from cyber threats and attacks. It pertains to the protection of information (processed data) from unauthorized and unsanctioned access.
It is concerned with safeguarding the safety of the cyber realm. It is concerned with safeguarding the safety of the overall security landscape.
To a large extent, Cyber Security involves the need to be able to think like a cyber criminal and develop ways for abating cyber attacks. Since the scope of Information Security is broader than Cyber Security, it involves the need to develop ways for abating all kinds of threats.
It is more of a defensive strategy and focuses on instituting precautionary measures. It is more of a mitigating strategy and focuses on developing plans for recovery.
Examples of Cyber Security might include Application Security, Network Security, Critical Infrastructure and Cloud Security. Information Security includes Cyber Security and also provides for Access Controls, Compliance Controls, Procedural Controls and Technical Controls.

It is evident from the above comparison that the issue of Cyber Security vs. Information Technology is definitely a topic of consideration. On the face of it, the points of similarities between the two ideas are so easily identifiable that it is quite easy to think about Cyber Security and Information Security as synonyms, for the purpose of convenience. However, an informed understanding of the two should include an acknowledgement of the differences between the two as well.

Information Assurance vs. Cyber Security

Information Assurance can be understood as a collection of a set of measures and strategies undertaken for the protection of physical as well as digital information systems. It helps in ensuring supervision of sensitive information by monitoring its access to specific authorized users.

In other words, Information Assurance can be understood as “the technical and managerial measures designed to ensure the confidentiality, possession or control, integrity, authenticity, availability and utility of information and information systems”. Given so, it is only understandable that the terms Information Assurance and Information Security are often used interchangeably.

Information Assurance

Given the above analysis, the issue of Information Assurance vs. Cyber Security is quite close to that of Information Security and CyberSecurity. While pointing at the differences between Information Assurance and Cyber Security, it is important to remember that these points do not imply either/or, but to some extent can be common to both.

Information Assurance vs. Cyber Security = Strategy vs. Practice

Since Information Assurance happens to be primarily concerned with the usage of information, a considerable amount of work undertaken by IA professionals is strategic.

This implies that they are required to undertake task prioritization as well as develop rules which pertain to the handling and management of sensitive information.

On the other hand, the field of Cyber Security is often considered to be more technical and practical. This implies that Cyber experts are largely occupied with developing tools, means and solutions for defending against and abating cyber attacks and threats.

Issue of Data vs. Information

It is impossible to draw a clean line of distinction between data and information. This is because, data happens to be the building blocks of information in its processed form. However, for the purpose of convenience, the issue of Information Assurance vs. Cyber Security can be understood in terms of the difference between data and information.

Thus, while IA happens to be largely concerned with safeguarding information and even prioritizes them in terms of its utility to the organization; Cyber Security seeks to protect the data which underpins that information, without necessarily prioritizing them.

Difference in Scope

One of the most significant points of difference between Cyber Security and IA happens to be in terms of the difference in scope of the two concepts. Cyber Security deals with ensuring the safety of the cyber realm and to that extent, it oversees threats from the usage of the Internet as well as other forms of computer-to-computer attacks.

On the other hand, the scope of Information Assurance is much broader as it covers information within the cyber realm as well as beyond that. It deals with ensuring the safety of the overall security landscape involving corporate networks spanning across IoT and computing devices.

Information Security Analyst vs. Cyber Security Analyst

The question of Information Security Analyst vs. Cyber Security Analyst should directly be seen against the backdrop of the larger issue of Information Security vs. Cyber Security. First and foremost, since Cyber Security is considered to be a subset of Information Security; the roles and responsibilities of Information Security professionals, consequently spans over a much larger area of data security as compared to a Cyber Security Analyst.

An Information Security Analyst or an Info Sec Analyst happens to be primarily concerned with ensuring protection against any kind of computer related crime; while a Cyber Security Analyst ensures the same against cyber related crimes. Having said that, it is important to remember that the absence of clear cut distinction between the two fields, automatically allow for much overlap in the roles and responsibilities of personnel from each of the fields.

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Conclusion

It is quite evident that the matter of Cyber Security vs. Information Security is not quite a straightforward one. It is difficult to look at it in terms of two separate fields, completely unrelated to each other. This is precisely because, Cyber Security happens to be one of the crucial parts of Information Security which is a much broader phenomenon. As both seeks to respond to different aspects of the security landscape, it would be better to look at the issue of Information Security vs. Cyber Security as being complementary and not contradictory. 

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Author:
Nausheen Fatima
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