Cybersecurity and information security are related concepts that are frequently confused with one another. However, while cybersecurity and information security are related, they are not the same. Understanding the differences between them is essential to developing an effective security strategy and selecting solutions capable of meeting an organization’s business and security needs.
Most companies rely on computers for a variety of critical business functions, such as hosting applications, storing sensitive data, and communications. Cybersecurity focuses on protecting these IT assets against external and internal cyberattacks. This includes a wide range of security operations, including cloud security, network security, and application security (AppSec).
An organization can face various types of cyber threats. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack may disrupt access to corporate applications and services. Data breaches may result in the disclosure of sensitive customer and corporate information. Ransomware may deny an organization access to critical files. Cybersecurity focuses on identifying and mitigating these threats to an organization and its operations. This includes identifying potential threats and risks, triaging them, and developing and implementing strategies and solutions that can reduce or eliminate the risk to the business.
As its name suggests, information security is focused on protecting the information or data that is in an organization’s care. Companies both collect data from customers and generate it internally. A breach or destruction of this data could cause serious harm to a company’s customers and may hurt its ability to remain in business and compete in the marketplace.
Threats to corporate information security include risks to both digital and non-digital data. If a corporate database server is broken, wiped, or encrypted, this may harm an organization’s ability to operate and to access critical data. However, the company could experience similar impacts if the contents of a filing cabinet full of critical paper records were destroyed by fire, water, or other means.
A corporate information security strategy should consider all potential risks to a company’s data. This includes both digital and non-digital records and both human and non-human threats to data. A fire in a records room can be equally or more damaging than a ransomware attack depending on the data involved.
While there is significant overlap between cybersecurity and information security, they are distinct concepts. Some of the primary ways in which they differ include the following.
One of the ways in which cybersecurity and information security overlap is that they both address threats to digital systems. For example, both a cybersecurity and information security strategy may include controls designed to protect against ransomware, which is a threat to data stored digitally.
However, while cybersecurity only covers digital systems and the threats to them, information security also includes non-digital forms of data storage. For example, printed files may be covered under an organization’s information security strategy but not its cybersecurity strategy.
Another way that cybersecurity and information security overlap is their consideration of human threat actors. An attacker can target an organization’s data or systems with a variety of different attacks. However, while cybersecurity is mainly focused on human threat actors, information security can also consider non-human threats. For example, a fire in a records room may be considered as part of an information security policy.
A final way that cybersecurity and information security overlap is that they address threats to an organization’s data. As most companies’ most valuable asset, data must be protected for an organization to remain in business. However, while information security is focused on protecting data, cybersecurity also considers other threats to an organization’s IT assets. For example, an organization’s web applications may be the target of an attack and may be covered by a cybersecurity strategy.
Both information security and cybersecurity address threats to an organization’s IT assets. As companies become more dependent on these systems, protecting them against data breaches, disruptions, and other threats becomes critical. The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, and companies face a wide range of potential threats. To learn more about the cyber threats that your organization’s cybersecurity and information security programs should address, check out Check Point’s Cybersecurity Report.
Different organizations face different threats, and security programs may have different strengths and weaknesses. To learn more about where your organization should focus its security efforts, try out Check Point’s free Security Checkup.