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Information security: what is it and what are the most dangerous cyber attacks?
Information is a vital asset for businesses. These can include sensitive data on customers, employees and suppliers, as well as financial and business information. With the exponential increase in cyber attacks, information security, or InfoSec, has become a top priority for companies of all sizes and industries. Taking appropriate measures to protect information from data breaches, unauthorized access and other security threats is critical to business survival.
But what does information security really consist of? The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology defines it as, “The protection of information and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability.” In other words, it is all about protecting corporate information from internal and external threats.
In order to defend against hackers and threats, companies must adopt a comprehensive InfoSec strategy that takes into account different levels of risk and provides different solutions to mitigate them.
Information security is an ongoing and evolving process that requires taking appropriate measures to deal with new threats that arise in the digital world. Attacks by cyber criminals, in fact, are increasingly sophisticated and can exploit different vectors and vulnerabilities in systems to steal or compromise corporate information. Therefore, it is important for companies to ensure that they maintain an adequate level of protection for their systems.
The most common attacks that pose a threat to information security are:
Phishing: these are emails or text messages that pretend to be from a trusted source (such as bank, a vendor, or an e-commerce website), with the purpose of inducing victims to click on a malicious link or provide sensitive personal information;
Malware: is malicious software that can infect a computer and cause serious damage, such as deleting data or blocking access to files. Cyber criminals can use malware to steal personal information, access login credentials, or even block access to the computer until the owner pays a ransom;
Ransomware: is a type of malware that blocks access to the victim’s computer or data and demands a ransom to unlock it. Cyber criminals can use ransomware to block access to victims’ critical business information or personal files;
SQL injection: this is a type of attack in which cyber criminals insert malicious code into a website’s database to perform malicious operations, such as extracting sensitive data or blocking access to the site;
Negligence: employees may unintentionally jeopardize the security of company information, for example bu using weak passwords or sharing sensitive information with unauthorized people. Negligence can also be human errors, such as sending emails to the wrong recipients or sharing sensitive information on social media.
Weak data security can result in the loss of key information, create reputational problems for the company and, in some cases, even lead to business closure. In contrast, robust cybersecurity reduces the risks of attacks on information systems, prevents unauthorized access to sensitive data, and disruption of services (typical, for example, during denial-of-service attacks).
The 3 main characteristics of information security
Information is a fundamental element of an organization, on a par with employees, premises and equipment. It expresses knowledge, experience and values derived from a variety of sources inside and outside the organization. Therefore, information security is essential for the protection of a company’s image, reputation and business continuity.
Information security is based on three fundamental pillars:
- Integrity: information must be protected from unauthorized changes that could compromise its validity, accuracy or completeness. File permissions, identity management, and user access controls are some of the mechanisms that you can use to ensure the integrity of information;
- Confidentiality: information should be accessible only to authorized users and protected from unauthorized access, coming both from inside and outside the organization. Privacy is one of the most important components of InfoSec, and tools such as data encryption or multi-factor authentication can help protect information from unauthorized access;
- Availability: information must be available to authorized users when they need it, according to established service requirements. This means that information must be protected from events that could compromise its availability, such as hardware failures or disruptions to network connections. Service continuity is a crucial aspect of information security, and tools such as data backups and disaster recovery procedures ensure the availability of information in the event of unforeseen events.
Information security vs. cyber security
Is there really a difference between information security and cyber security? One of the main reasons these two terms are used interchangeably is that both are related to the safety of an information system against data threats and breaches. However, there are some subtle differences between the two terms.
Information security is a broader term that includes cyber security, but focuses primarily on preventing information leakage, distortion, and destruction. Cyber security, on the other hand, refers to the protection of networks, devices, programs, and data from attack or unauthorized access. It is important to note that the line between the two terms can be quite unclear, and in some cases it is difficult to make a real distinction between information security and cyber security.
In general, information security is more focused on defending corporate information from internal and external threats, while cybersecurity focuses primarily on the qualities of resilience, robustness, and responsiveness that an information system must have to withstand attacks.