If a company stores accounting information, customer base, employee profiles, or corporate secrets, then it is essential that these data do not fall into the wrong hands; that is, they are protected. Information security deals with data protection.
What is information security?
Information security is a variety of measures to protect information from unauthorized persons. In the pre-digital era, people locked essential documents in safes, hired security guards, and encrypted their messages on paper to protect data.
Information security protects systems from penetration and attacks. This includes not only hacking: these are DDoS attacks, resulting from which the site server can “lie down,” data leakage, and much more. There are a lot more attackers than you think. And no one wants their service to fail and the data to be available to everyone. This is what information security is for.
Companies have another reason: they are legally responsible for leaking confidential user data. So for them, security measures are also a way to avoid legal problems and loss of customer confidence.
Without information security measures, anyone could gain access to confidential information or hack into any site or system. Computer space would become virtually unusable.
What is information security responsible for?
It is responsible for three things: confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. The concept of information security they are called the principles of information security.
- Confidentiality means that only those with the right to access the information have access. For example, only you know your email password, and only you can read your emails. Confidentiality will be violated if someone knows the password or gains access to the mailbox.
- Integrity means that the information is stored entirely and is not changed without the owner’s knowledge. For example, letters are stored in your email. If an attacker deletes some or changes the text of individual letters, then this will violate the integrity.
- Accessibility means that whoever has the right to access information can get it. For example, you can access your email at any time. If hackers attack the servers, the mail will be inaccessible, breaking the availability.
Three principles of information security
Information security is responsible for three things: availability, confidentiality, and data integrity. Now we will tell you what this means.
This means that information can be accessed by those with the right to do so. For example, a user can log into their account and see everything. The customer can go to the catalog and look at the products. An employee can access the internal database for his access level. And if an attack is made on the system and it stops working, availability sometimes drops to a complete failure.
The second principle is confidentiality. It means that the information must be protected from people who do not have the right to view it. That is, a stranger will not be able to enter the same user account. Without registration, you can not comment on something on the site; without a personal statement – you pay for the order. A person who does not work for a company cannot access its internal network and look at confidential data there. If the system is hacked, confidentiality is violated.
Integrity means that the information in question is intact, exists in its entirety, and is not changed without the knowledge of its owners. An outsider cannot edit a comment – only the author or sometimes a moderator. The information in the database changes only at the request of those with access. And your account will not receive letters written on your behalf without your knowledge. When a system is hacked, the integrity can again be violated: information can be modified, damaged, or erased.
What data is protected by the information security
Personal data is information that is associated with some people. This is the full name, phone number, residence address, email, and more. According to Russian laws, this data must be protected from unauthorized access. Therefore, companies ask permission to process personal data if you register on websites or order some services. They are required to do so. And then – to store this information so that strangers do not get access to it.
You have probably heard stories about the violation of the confidentiality of this data. For example, scammers can call bank customers, obtaining their numbers from merged databases. Here is an example of what insufficient information security can lead to.
Another category of information is those that constitute a secret: state, commercial, professional and official.
State secrets include information that is important for the country’s security and are classified as strictly as possible. A trade secret is a data critical to a company’s regular operation: if disclosed, the organization may lose money or a competitive advantage. At the same time, the company does not have the right to classify some information: the names of the owners, working conditions, etc.
Separately, there are professional and official secrets. A professional secret is, for example, a medical one: the patient’s medical history should not be disclosed to strangers or data on his condition. And also – a lawyer, a notary, and some others. And an official secret is some information that belongs to certain services, for example, tax.
All this information must be protected: its leakage or damage can cause serious problems.
Information that is known to everyone still needs to be accessible and consistent. Therefore, it should also be protected. Otherwise, anyone can change the price of goods in an online store and expose buyers to this. Or “drop” the site so that no one can enter it.
What threats does information security protect against?
Security threats are divided into two categories: internal and external.
These are threats that come from within the system. Most often, we are talking about data leakage or data damage. For example, someone bribed an employee, and he stole data that is a trade secret. The second option – an authorized user turned out to be an attacker.
Another internal threat is the risk of a stale error, resulting in confidential information being in the public domain or damaged. For example, a part of the database turned out to be in the public domain, or the user inadvertently damaged the files. This has already happened in history. And such cases mustn’t arise: the client could not disrupt the system even by accident, and the information remained protected.
This includes threats that come from outside, and they can be much more diverse. This is, for example, an attempt to hack the system through a found vulnerability: an attacker penetrates the network to steal or damage information. Or a DDoS attack, when many requests from different addresses come to a web address, the server fails, and the site stops working.
This also includes the activities of computer viruses: they can seriously harm the system’s operation. The actions of such malicious programs can be very diverse: from sending spam on behalf of a hacked address to completely blocking the system and damaging files.
Other external security threats include force majeure and accidents. For example, a data warehouse was damaged due to an accident or fire. Such risks also need to be foreseen.
Data protection trends for 2022
Widespread use of multi-factor authentication
In 2022, more companies will be using multi-factor authentication as additional protection against data leaks and malicious attacks. Such authentication involves using two or more different factors to allow users to access secure data, forcing people to use more than one device to prove their identity. An example in action is a one-time passcode sent to two or more devices.
New modifications of encryption software
In 2021, ransomware attacks, on average, cost the world more than the moderate damage from all types of data breaches, reaching $4.44 million. Ransomware is one of the most common data security threats in any organization, and this threat continues to evolve as a top information security trend in 2022. Ransomware attacks steal data from companies and organizations, inflicting severe financial blows on them and forcing them to bear the additional cost of recovering from these attacks.
New solutions for remote work
To ensure the continuity of business operations, many companies have rushed and had to relax several security measures (or even abandon some of them altogether), creating new levels of vulnerabilities and risks.
But remote work is not going anywhere after the pandemic. Organizations will need to assess their current security infrastructure for unaddressed weaknesses during the sudden move to remote work and start thinking about a long-term security strategy.
A leap in the development of artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming more sophisticated and powerful, and companies will continue to improve these technologies in 2022 as part of their security infrastructure. AI is increasingly being used to create automated security systems that replace humans, allowing vast amounts of risk data to be analyzed much faster. This benefits large companies dealing with enormous amounts of data and small or medium-sized companies whose security teams may be under-resourced.
Criminal networks are taking advantage of AI to automate and improve their attacks. However, organizations should take advantage of AI: those companies that suffered a data breach but fully deployed AI technology saved an average of $3.58 million in 10M 2021.
Increasing attacks on cloud services
While cloud services offer many benefits, such as scalability, efficiency, and lower costs, they are still a prime target for attackers. Organizations should assess the security implications associated with the cloud and identify any vulnerabilities in their current infrastructure. For example, misconfigured cloud infrastructure settings were the leading cause of data breaches in 2020, with an average loss of $4.41 million. In addition, cloud migration increased the average data breach cost by $267,469.
Tightening data privacy requirements
With high-profile cyber-attacks exposing millions of personal information records, concerns about data privacy, governance, and security have skyrocketed. In 2022, the importance of data privacy issues will increase dramatically, becoming not just one of the components of security but a separate area. Regulatory compliance requirements will continue to tighten in 2022, and organizations will need to focus on their data privacy efforts in the future.
Data privacy impacts virtually every aspect of an organization’s operations, from the development and implementation of corporate strategy to security compliance and human resource management. Companies should consider introducing a dedicated data protection officer, securing and destroying records, implementing role-based access control, encryption in transit, and network segmentation to enhance their data privacy.
The need for information security specialists
Finding well-trained cybersecurity professionals has been challenging in all industries, but the ongoing shift to remote work creates a greater need for such professionals. Organizations will need to seek out well-trained security professionals and experts to help improve the security of their corporate networks.
While it may take some time to adequately staff your organization with the required security experts, implementing enterprise-wide training can provide a buffer for attacks in the interim. Learning must be continuous, and companies must continuously measure its effectiveness.
Phishing attacks are even more problematic due to the widespread use of remote work, and attackers target people connecting to their corporate network from home because they are the easiest targets. To combat this, companies should review their user identity and security management strategy to ensure that only authorized users (such as their employees) have the appropriate level of access to only the resources they need at the right time. Organizations must carefully evaluate their current infrastructure to align it with this goal and implement it company-wide.
Development of insider threats
In late 2021 and 2022, companies will pay more attention to the risk of insider threats and data theft from their employees. Although it is sometimes hard to believe, the data does not lie – 95% of all data leakage incidents occurred due to human error or intentional or accidental breach of information security. Insider threats need to be taken seriously and viewed as a real risk by security leaders. Challenging questions about whether organizations have the proper tools to detect and stop them will need to be asked.
Increased need for Chief Security Officers (CSOs)
While the need for increased security across industries is well known, only 11% of companies report high confidence in managing or responding to cyber attacks. Security risk management is still evolving, so while this data isn’t surprising, these questions should become necessary for companies. One of the more common barriers is the lack of alignment between security operations and business strategy.
To combat this, CSOs need to become more vigilant in identifying risks in the context of business objectives and be able to explain why they matter to company leaders. By pinpointing these risks and articulating how they plan to mitigate them (and at what cost), CSOs can create a shared understanding of security issues among company management that can significantly strengthen information security initiatives across the board.
The problem of data security is highly relevant to both ordinary users and companies. The qualifications of cybercriminals are constantly growing. The number of privacy thefts will increase, and to minimize the risks, users and corporations must not only use existing security methods but also continuously implement advanced protection technologies.