Cybersecurity vs. Information Security

Cybersecurity vs. Information Security – Why Organizations Should Know the Difference

The terms cybersecurity and information security are often used interchangeably in corporate spaces. However, they are not synonyms. These are separate, important tools that are essential for protection. But what exactly are they and why should organizations care?

With more and more organizations moving their operations online, cybersecurity has become a crucial part of its execution. Research shows that by 2022, cybersecurity solutions will incur a global cost of $133.7 billion. 

Information security, on the other hand, is often mistaken for cybersecurity but has a much bigger role than just cyber defense. It deals with the security of all kinds of data – be it digital or analog.

In this article, we will explain the main differences between the two, how they overlap, and why they are important for organizations.

Cybersecurity vs. information security

Cybersecurity is the main defense for all things digital. It is involved in the protection of devices, networks, applications, software, and much more from cyber threats, hacks, and anything that jeopardizes digital security. Cybersecurity is a pivotal tool in the framework of an organization and must be efficient and secure to ensure the risk of attacks is low.

The perimeter for the attack surface has exponentially increased with digitalization. As such, cybersecurity is divided into several categories: network security, application security, information security, operational security, cloud security, disaster recovery, and so on. Each of these categories focuses on a part of the framework and the potential risks that lie there. One should be well aware of the most common cyberattacks, their vectors, methods, and the response protocol in the event of being attacked.

Examples of popular cyberattacks include ransomware, social engineering attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks.

Information security is involved in data security in all aspects – not just digital. It works on the principles of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Here, information needs to be shielded from unauthorized access and privacy must be maintained. It should be organized and stored in a precise order to prevent any mix-ups or alterations. Finally, data should be readily accessible by authorized personnel.

For example, data could be stored on removable disks, endpoint devices, physical records or premises, servers, and so on – all of these should have controls and protocols suited for their adequate protection – that’s where information security comes in.

As mentioned before, information security is a tool that is used for the generalized protection and security of all data within an organizational database. In fact, cybersecurity is a sub-category of information security. Other examples of security tools include procedural controls, access controls, technical controls and compliance controls.

A summary of the differences

  • Cybersecurity protects digital resources and data. Information technology protects and stores data and information not just in cyberspace, but on all fronts.
  • Cybersecurity works to defend cyberspace from cyber threats, attacks, and brings in law enforcement, if necessary. Whereas, with information technology, it protects against unauthorized access to confidential or sensitive information, unwanted modifications, scrutiny, operational disruptions.
  • Cybersecurity professionals are trained to mitigate potential cyberattacks, threat actors, and advanced persistent threats (APTs). Information security prioritizes strong resource and data protection protocols and practices before trying to minimize or reduce security threats.
  • Cybersecurity is typically seen as the first line of defense when a cyberattack occurs. Information security, on the other hand, is talked about when any kind of security breach occurs.

What does their overlap mean for organizations?

Cybersecurity and information security do overlap significantly.

For starters, they both work with data and understand that it is a valuable resource. Data is stored in various ways – cloud networks, databases, physical records, and so on. Their main goals are to protect it efficiently. Cybersecurity aims to prevent electronic data loss or theft, and information security is concerned with unauthorized access and modification of stored data. Both tools want to minimize any damage to the organization’s security framework.

Some parallels that are commonly seen include: password protection for databases, preventing insider threats, and storage of digital records on physical devices like USBs.  

The above mentioned examples showcase the culmination of these tools. It’s safe to say that cybersecurity and information security go hand-in-hand. A lot of organizations seem to focus on one more than the other, but both these tools need to be implemented to ensure maximal protection of resources. Most importantly, organizations must have a cybersecurity policy that goes beyond information security.

Security threats are continuously on the rise. However, the risk for these threats can be diminished. For this, it’s vital to put together both information and cyber security to execute a strong defense and security framework. From employee awareness to physical controls and security, all bases should be covered.