Information technology (IT) and cybersecurity are two crucial aspects of businesses. In our current era, companies depend more and more on digital communication and technology, and cybercriminals have grown increasingly complex in their cyber-attacks. To avoid having digital assets stolen or compromised, experts in the cyberdefense industry have reached a consensus on a “security triad” that powers the best approaches to security. What are the three principles of information security?
What are the Top Three Principles of Information Security?
The top tenets of information security form what many industry experts refer to as the “CIA triad,” an acronym for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. In the sections below, we’ll dive into each principle and its implications, including:
- Confidentiality of information, including its architectural and compliance requirements
- The integrity of information, including threat monitoring and analytical maintenance
- Availability of information across networks, including cloud and third-party considerations
Given how essential the CIA triad is to IT security, another way of asking the leading question above is “what is information security and its types?” Let’s break down these types along with each primary principle.
Principle #1: Confidentiality of Information
The first principle of information security is confidentiality. It’s closely related to privacy, as it requires that information is only available to a defined set of authorized users. Confidentiality refers to data use, including viewing or accessing data. Confidentiality also restricts unauthorized users’ ability to share or act on the information in question.
Architecture Implementation and Confidentiality
One essential component of cybersecurity architecture implementation is defining access rights and restrictions for all data and digital assets within your networks and servers.
Your cybersecurity architecture comprises all devices and hardware in your organization and all safeguards installed onto and across them. Primary components include firewalls and web filters that enforce a strict boundary and screen incoming traffic and antivirus programs that work to identify and eliminate risky software and activities within your systems. Altogether, these systems work to ensure that only authorized users can access protected data.
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Compliance Requirements for Confidentiality
One area for which confidentiality is critical is regulatory compliance. Depending on the nature of your business and industry, you may need to follow one or more frameworks, each of which may define its standards for confidentiality or data type to protect. For example:
- Covered entities both in and adjacent to the healthcare industry need to ensure that protected health information (PHI) remains confidential, as defined by the Privacy and Security rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
- Companies that process card payments need to abide by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS) to prevent unauthorized access to consumer financial data.
What is risk in information security? Any attack vector that threatens confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information. And preventing these risks begins with ensuring confidentiality.
Principle #2: Integrity of Information
Integrity is the second and most critical principle of information security. This tenet’s primary purpose and meaning ensure that any information stored remains intact and unaltered, except for authorized changes to the data by individuals to whom it belongs or who have been given those privileges. It takes confidentiality one step further, focusing less on baseline access and more on restricting information use. It also ensures protected data is not deleted, destroyed, or lost.
Threat Monitoring and Integrity Management
An effective way to ensure information integrity is to implement a managed detection and response (MDR) program that scans threats to the integrity and mitigates them immediately. The best MDR programs consist of four primary components:
- Threat detection in the form of continuous monitoring and assessments
- Incident response, including stopping the breach and recovering assets
- Root cause analysis (RCA) to prevent future instances of similar threats
- Integration of regulatory and legal requirements
An MDR can be a standalone capacity or one piece of broader vulnerability management or incident management program. Optimizing it for integrity requires many of the same settings as optimizing for confidentiality and facilitating availability (see principle #3 below).
How Complex Analytics Ensure Integrity
For companies facing the most complex or diverse cybersecurity threats, a fundamental approach to MDR or threat mitigation might not be enough to ensure integrity. Where root cause analysis falls short, another powerful analytical tool to leverage is penetration testing.
An ethical form of hacking, a pen-test simulates an attack on your systems by a hired “hacker.” In external or “black hat” testing, the hacker begins with little to no knowledge of your security; in internal or “white hat” testing, they start from inside the company. The latter is especially apt for integrity purposes. It offers detailed insights into how hackers would behave once they have access to information: what files or other data they’d edit or remove and how.
Principle #3: Availability of Information
The third and final tenet of information security is availability. Closely related to integrity, it ensures that protected information is fully available to parties who have a right to access it, at all times, and under conditions defined by those parties (within reason). This is integrity’s ultimate goal. The information must not be modified or deleted inappropriately because its rightful owners (or their representatives) have the right to access it on demand.
Maintaining Availability Across Third-Parties
One significant challenge facing all elements of a company’s cybersecurity implementation is accounting for uniformity and safety across a vast network of vendors, suppliers, and other strategic partners. A systematic approach to third-party risk management, also known as TPRM, optimizes visibility, accessibility, and accountability for all stakeholders.
What is an information security system if it doesn’t account for third-party risks? Put simply; it’s meaningless.
Effective TPRM requires inventorying all assets, including relevant ones of third-parties in your network. Collecting data on all software, hardware, and personnel that come into contact with your protected information ensures security and availability across them.
Cloud Security and Availability Services
One area of cybersecurity services apt for delivering availability is also related to a significant risk factor: cloud security. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have accelerated trends toward mobile and remote work across all industries, opening up vulnerabilities latent in home computing environments and threats to availability. A cloud security program that prioritizes availability should include:
- Cloud architecture implementation and management, ensuring delivery of service
- Robust identity and access management, preventing loss of user account functions
- Web and device application security for internally developed and managed apps
RSI Security is the ideal managed security services provider (MSSP) to help your company build out these and all protections detailed above to ensure the CIA security triad.
Professional Information Technology Security
To recap, the sections above focused on answering: what are the three principles of information security? The answer almost universally accepted includes confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA). Each code relates to various security risks, and they detail controls, protocols, and resources to limit those risks. The team at RSI Security is happy to help you ensure all three principles of the CIA triad and bolster all other elements of your company’s defense architecture. To see how secure your IT assets can be, contact us today!
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