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What Is Information Security (InfoSec)?

Information security, or InfoSec, includes the tools and processes for preventing, detecting, and remediating attacks and threats to sensitive information, both digital and non-digital. InfoSec is also concerned with documenting the processes, threats, and systems that affect the security of information. What follows is an introduction to information security.

Information Security vs. Cybersecurity vs. Network Security

InfoSec focuses on information, whether digitized or not. Cybersecurity focuses only on computer systems and their information and does not include non-digital resources. Network security is a subset of cybersecurity and focuses on protecting the network and its various components. 

The information security vs. network security discussion hinges on whether the system is limited to a network or includes other information, including non-digital information.

The Goals of Information Security In an Organization

InfoSec seeks to accomplish the following primary objectives, commonly referred to as the CIA triad (confidentiality, integrity, and availability).

Confidentiality

An information security analyst aims to ensure the information that needs to be kept secret does not get into the wrong hands.

Integrity

Integrity refers to the accuracy and completeness of data. Information security policies aim to make sure data is not just present but is whole and unaltered.

Availability

In addition to being secure, correct, and complete, information has to be readily available to those who need it. Ransomware and other kinds of malware can block users from freely accessing the information they need.

What Are the Types of Information Security?

Application Security

Application security seeks to protect computer programs and application programming interfaces (APIs). These programs depend on information that conforms to CIA guidelines to function properly, and InfoSec ensures this.

Cloud Security

Cloud security aims to shield cloud assets from threats. One of the primary concerns about InfoSec is whether it can protect cloud-based resources, particularly because the cloud is an increasingly important component of business operations.

Infrastructure Security

Infrastructure security protects the physical assets that support a network. These include servers, mobile devices, client devices, and data centers.

Incidence Response

Information security management also involves responding to threats and breaches, such as phishing attacks, identify theft, malware incursions, and others.

Cryptography

Cryptography involves the use of encryption to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing data or secure transmissions. With cryptography, only someone with the appropriate decryption key is able to read the encrypted information.

Disaster Recovery

An important part of InfoSec awareness is how to recover from disasters. Therefore, information security includes tools and methodologies designed to help an organization bounce back from disasters and malicious events.

Vulnerability Management

Every system has vulnerabilities, and InfoSec seeks to identify and limit them. In this way, IT admins can limit exploitation and exfiltration.

What Is a CISO and What Are Their Responsibilities?

A chief information security officer (CISO) is the person responsible for making sure an organization’s information is well-managed and protected. They often have information security certificates that serve to verify their qualifications. A CISO may also facilitate an information security awareness and training service for employees and leadership.

CISO responsibilities include:

Cyber Risk and Cyber Intelligence

Cyber risk and cyber intelligence involve understanding the risks your system faces, as well as staying on top of the most recent cyber intelligence. This responsibility also involves disseminating that information to the appropriate stakeholders.

Security Architecture

Security architecture involves the application of techniques and tools to protect software and hardware from threats.

Program Management

Program management includes staying on top of upgrades and audits of software and hardware to ensure their security.

Governance

Governance involves making sure everything is operating as it should and relaying necessary information between leadership and the IT team that is charged with security.

Security Operations

Security operations encompass monitoring, analyzing, and addressing threats in real time.

Data Loss and Fraud Prevention

Data loss and fraud prevention aim to monitor and protect the organization from the exfiltration of data and its abuse for fraudulent purposes.

Identity and Access Management

Identity and access management (IAM) ensures only authorized individuals can access a system and those that can access it have only the rights they need to perform their duties.

Investigation and Forensics

With investigation and forensics, security personnel investigate what caused an incident and gather evidence about how a threat initiated and behaved to prevent a similar incident in the future.

The Common Information Security Risks

Advanced Persistent Threats

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) access your system and remain inside for a long period of time, collecting information and setting up further attacks.

Social Engineering Threats

Social engineering uses mental games to fool targets into downloading malware or providing the attacker with access to sensitive information. The attacker may try to gain the target’s trust or use fear to manipulate them into compromising the organization’s security posture.

Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking involves an attacker hijacking your computer and using it to mine cryptocurrency, often overwhelming the system or some of its resources.

Insider Threats

Insider threats refer to people within your organization who, willingly or accidentally, compromise security, They may download malware, exfiltrate information, or abuse their privileges to access sensitive areas of the network.

Ransomware

A ransomware attack takes control of the victim’s computer, preventing them from using it until a ransom is paid.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

In a DDoS attack, the attacker sends an overwhelming number of fake requests to a server, preventing it from being used by legitimate end users.

Man-in-the-Middle (MTM) Attacks

In a MITM attack, the attacker is able to intercept information and then read it, change it, or redirect it.

Information Security Technologies

Firewalls

Firewalls protect a system by analyzing data packets for signs of threats. If a threat is detected, the data is discarded before being allowed to enter the network.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM tools enable you to detect threats and manage alerts and use this information to support threat investigations.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

An IDS incorporates monitoring and detection tools and uses them to check traffic, inspecting it for malicious content.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

A DLP system protects data from exfiltration by examining the content of emails being sent outside the system, as well as backing up and monitoring data within the network.

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

An IPS blocks traffic that appears to contain a threat. The data is discarded, sessions are ended, and requests are blocked by the IPS.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

An EDR system monitors the endpoints connected to your network for suspicious files and activity.

Blockchain Cybersecurity

Blockchain cybersecurity uses a blockchain where requests and interactions are verified by users on the blockchain using mathematical equations called hashes. Solving hashes provides secure keys that are used to ensure data transmissions are secure and accurate.

User Behavior Analytics (UBA)

UBA analyzes the behavior of users while a network is safe. This information is used to create a baseline. When future activity displays a pattern significantly different from this baseline, it is flagged as potentially malicious.

How Fortinet Can Help

With Fortinet FortiGate next-generation firewall (NGFW) that inspects incoming and outgoing traffic for threats, discarding malicious data packets. FortiGate can also detect never-before-seen or zero-day attacks using machine learning that can recognize malicious activity.

In addition, FortiSIEM provides you with visibility, automated response, correlation, and threat remediation all in one solution. In this way, FortiSIEM streamlines your incident and event management, simplifying your InfoSec.

FAQs

What is information security (InfoSec)?

Information security includes the tools and processes for preventing, detecting, and remediating attacks and threats to sensitive information.

What is the difference between information security and cybersecurity?

Information security covers all of an organization’s sensitive information while cybersecurity only involves computer systems and information. 

What is the difference between information security vs. network security?

Information security covers all of an organization’s sensitive information, but network security focuses only on information and systems directly connected to computer networks.

What are the types of information security?

The types of information security include:

  1. Application security
  2. Cloud security
  3. Infrastructure security
  4. Incident response
  5. Cryptography
  6. Disaster recovery
  7. Vulnerability management

Who is a CISO and what are their responsibilities?

A chief information security officer (CISO) is the person responsible for making sure an organization’s information is well-managed and protected. They often have information security certificates that serve to verify their qualifications. A CISO may also facilitate an information security awareness and training service for employees and leadership.

What are the common information security risks?

The most common information security risks include:

  1. Advanced persistent threats
  2. Social engineering attacks
  3. Cryptojacking
  4. Insider threats
  5. Ransomware
  6. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
  7. Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack