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Data and information protection comprise the third and most important pillar of a sound cyber security strategy. It is crucial to consider the ‘CIA triad’ when considering how to protect our data.
The third pillar is data and information protection
This is the third and final article in a series addressing the three-pillar approach to cyber security. The first two pillars are ‘people’ and ‘process’, The last pillar is ‘data and information’.
Data and information protection is the most technical and tangible of the three pillars. The data we gather comes from multiple sources, such as information technology (IT), operational technology (OT), personal data and operational data. It must be properly managed and protected every step of the way.
What is the CIA triad?
When we discuss data and information, we must consider the CIA triad. The CIA triad refers to an information security model made up of the three main components: confidentiality, integrity and availability. Each component represents a fundamental objective of information security.
The three components of the CIA triad are discussed below:
- Confidentiality: This component is often associated with secrecy and the use of encryption. Confidentiality in this context means that the data is only available to authorized parties. When information has been kept confidential it means that it has not been compromised by other parties; confidential data are not disclosed to people who do not require them or who should not have access to them. Ensuring confidentiality means that information is organized in terms of who needs to have access, as well as the sensitivity of the data. A breach of confidentiality may take place through different means, for instance hacking or social engineering.
- Integrity: Data integrity refers to the certainty that the data is not tampered with or degraded during or after submission. It is the certainty that the data has not been subject to unauthorized modification, either intentional or unintentional. There are two points during the transmission process during which the integrity could be compromised: during the upload or transmission of data or during the storage of the document in the database or collection.
- Availability: This means that the information is available to authorized users when it is needed. For a system to demonstrate availability, it must have properly functioning computing systems, security controls and communication channels. Systems defined as critical (power generation, medical equipment, safety systems) often have extreme requirements related to availability. These systems must be resilient against cyber threats, and have safeguards against power outages, hardware failures and other events that might impact the system availability.
Stability, availability and security
Availability is a major challenge in collaborative environments, as such environments must be stable and continually maintained. Such systems must also allow users to access required information with little waiting time. Redundant systems may be in place to offer a high level of fail-over. The concept of availability can also refer to the usability of a system.
Information security refers to the preservation of integrity and secrecy when information is stored or transmitted. Information security breaches occur when information is accessed by unauthorized individuals or parties. Breaches may be the result of the actions of hackers, intelligence agencies, criminals, competitors, employees or others. In addition, individuals who value and wish to preserve their privacy are interested in information security.
The CIA triad describes three crucial components of data and information protection which can be used as guides for establishing the security policies in an organization. Establishing and maintaining the organization’s security policies can be a daunting task, but using the three-pillared strategic approach to cyber security can help you identify and manage cyber security risks in a methodic and comprehensive manner.