In the digital era, information is one of the most critical assets that a business has. The ability to understand and connect with customers and their needs – anywhere in the world in a tailor-made way – has been crucial to developing new business models and reinventing traditional ones.
Still, those advances spawned new risks related to the management of digital information and the protection of information systems. Information security has become a priority for individuals and organizations alike, especially for sensitive and confidential information.
Information security risk management has gained importance by adapting traditional disciplines, such as information assurance, to new risk mitigation methods for cybersecurity that focus on prevention of data breaches and protection of the company’s stakeholders.
But how is information assurance related to cybersecurity, and which is more important for data protection?
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the set of tools, processes, and methodologies to provide computer and network security, digital risk assessment, IT security, and protection of computer systems from unauthorized access. Cybersecurity focuses on:
- Reducing vulnerabilities in a computer network
- Implementing firewall rules that prevent cyberattacks
- Developing authentication methods that prevent the entry of hackers or other malicious actors
- Using software to identify, eliminate, or prevent the execution of malware on computer systems and other related activities.
Cybersecurity has gained importance over the years with the explosion of cybercrime worldwide. That explosion has created more than 500,000 jobs for cybersecurity professionals and data security experts in the United States alone.
From healthcare facilities suffering the devastating impact of Conti Ransomware to the supply chain paralysis caused by the Colonial Pipeline attack, there are many examples of the value a robust cybersecurity strategy provides – and the consequences resulting from its failure.
What Is Information Assurance?
The Department of Defense defines information assurance (IA) as “operations that protect and defend information and information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation.”
Information assurance is directly related to data safety and protecting secrets or sensitive information. The concept existed before the term was coined or information assurance degree programs were created.
Information assurance is often misused as a synonym for information security. Although information security and cybersecurity experts don’t fully agree on whether information assurance is part of cybersecurity or vice versa, they do agree that the two fields are closely related and fall under the umbrella of information security.
Most information nowadays is stored in a digital environment (network, computer, cloud, or server), where cybersecurity becomes paramount. Information assurance, however, is not limited to digital infrastructures; it seeks to protect the entire path of information, whether in digital or physical media.
What Is the Difference Between Information Assurance and Cybersecurity?
Even though cybersecurity and information assurance converge in several ways, there are key differences.
First, cybersecurity is relatively young and constantly evolving due to the daily growth of cyber threats. Information assurance was around before the advent of digital data and computer systems.
Second, cybersecurity focuses on managing cyber risks, protecting digital data, and safeguarding functional systems. Information assurance focuses on protecting both physical and digital information and assets.
Information assurance and cybersecurity share some common strategies and tools, such as employee training, antivirus software, firewall rules, and other high-tech systems.
At the same time, they each have specific tools to achieve their objectives. For example, information assurance uses paper shredders or other physical means of protecting or destroying information, while cybersecurity uses penetration testing or bug bounty initiatives.
Finally, while cybersecurity seeks to avoid threats coming from cyberspace or endpoint communications, information assurance also considers unauthorized access in the physical environment.
Cybersecurity & Information Assurance: Which Is Better?
When protecting your stakeholders, “Which is better?” is not a question worth asking. Cybersecurity and information assurance each consider different threats, and both are necessary to protect your enterprise. In fact, financial and healthcare industries are required to implement both strategies to protect data and information.
This approach is referred to by the National Security Agency (NSA) as “defense in depth.” A defense-in-depth system assures optimal protection with multiple layers of controls. Redundancies assure that if one control fails, another layer of security is there to defend against threats.
ZenGRC is Part of Your Defense-in-Depth Plan
ZenGRC is a governance, risk management, and compliance platform that supplies your security team with a single source of truth for detecting information security concerns throughout your business.
ZenGRC streamlines cybersecurity and information security risk management. It provides complete views of control environments and quick access to information required for risk evaluation and management, enabling your organization to efficiently satisfy the highest defense-in-depth standards.
It’s a simple, user-friendly tool for document storage, automated workflow tracking, and insightful reporting. ZenGRC can also check your compliance status in real-time across several frameworks, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and others, identifying where gaps exist and what must be done to close them, thereby boosting your overall security posture.
Schedule a free demo today to learn more about how ZenGRC will help enhance your defense-in-depth strategies.