Cybersecurity vs Network Security vs Information Security: What’s the Difference?
Cybersecurity, network security, and information security play critical roles in the management of modern-day organizations. With so much information being sent and stored digitally, the lines between all three have become increasingly blurry. Still, there are important distinctions that set them apart, with each one adding unique security aspects to the business environment.
What Is Information Security?
Also called “infosec,” information security is at the top of the chain. In a sense, it encompasses both cybersecurity and network security. This type of security protects all kinds of confidential, private, and sensitive data from unauthorized access, modification, use, destruction, or exposure.
What differentiates infosec from the other types of security is that it applies to physical, intangible, and digital data. It includes everything from paperwork and process knowledge to PDF documents. It’s an essential part of protecting a business. Its comprehensive nature means information security mitigates risk across several areas that businesses that only focus on digital often neglect.
How Does Information Security Work?
There are many forms of infosec — physical data might be protected via security systems on a building, fire suppression systems to preserve an archive, or policies about taking confidential documents outside of the office. Specifically, policies are also a common approach to preventing the nonphysical release of data, such as employees sharing proprietary business processes, quarterly results, or client information.
In the digital realm, there’s no shortage of infosec strategies to keep data safe, but they usually fall under the umbrella of cybersecurity.
Common Information Security Risks
Some of the cyber threats posed in information security include:
- Access: From leaked passwords to stolen ID badges, infosec professionals need to prevent data from being leaked, modified, or destroyed.
- Destruction: Events like a flood or fire in the building, a power outage, or ransomware can significantly interrupt business processes.
- Availability: This kind of security also aims to make sure data stays available. It may involve strategies like organizing maintenance during downtime or having backups in place.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Unlike information security, cybersecurity focuses on digital information. It can get incredibly complex, and the field involves the storage systems, transmission networks, people, and display programs that all work with the data. As with infosec, cyberattacks cover the access, modification, and destruction of confidential or sensitive information. However, cybersecurity can also extend to standard business processes such as website access.
As a subset of infosec, cybersecurity is nothing short of critical for modern-day businesses. Poor cybersecurity can pose problems for compliance, finances, reputation, and much more. It’s especially important for companies in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare.
How Does Cybersecurity Work?
A computer network’s cybersecurity needs to encompass many aspects, including:
- Application security: All of the platforms used within an organization must provide a secure environment for data across aspects like architecture, code, validation measurements, and more.
- Data storage and transit: While data is at rest and in transit, it needs to be kept safe with appropriate storage and encryption.
- Disaster recovery: Both data backups and contingency plans are necessary for keeping systems safe and running smoothly in the event of a hack or business interruption.
- Mobile security: If you have a bring-your-own-device policy or distribute devices to workers, mobile security involves the policies and strategies used to protect the devices and the information on them and prevent them from offering access to company data.
- Identity management: To ensure only authorized users can access data, cybersecurity requires systems for authentication and authorization.
- Training: Users must also know how to use devices safely and identify and report malicious attacks or suspicious events.
Common Cybersecurity Risks
While cybersecurity risks encompass a broad range of topics, they often refer to threats made to data at rest. In comparison, threats to in-transit data usually fall under network security. Outside of network security, at-rest data risks include:
- Social engineering: By preying on human behavior, hackers can trick or manipulate people into exposing information. These bad actors may launch a phishing attack and pose as a legitimate organization, or they might blackmail an employee into sharing their credentials.
- Baiting: A threat agent might leave a USB drive in a conspicuous place, waiting for a well-meaning employee to find it, plug it in, and unknowingly install malware.
- Brute force: Some hackers use brute force to crack passwords and access data.
- Ransomware: By preventing access to the data via malware, a hacker can request a ransom. (Read our top 4 tips for preventing ransomware.)
What Is Network Security?
Lastly, network security, a type of cybersecurity, is about protecting the network’s infrastructure from attacks such as interception, denial of service, or destruction. The definition of network security is essentially creating a secure environment for business functions while data moves to and from the network.
As with the other types of security, network security is key to protecting data and business processes. An attack on your network could jeopardize data, impact your standing with the public and regulatory agencies, and bring your site to a standstill. Even without malicious actors, networks need to be stable and well-performing to reach customers.
How Does Network Security Work?
This version of security is often made up of barriers like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus programs, and virtual private networks (VPNs). These setups serve to let good traffic through and keep malicious traffic out, primarily affecting data in transit.
Common Network Security Risks
Most network security risks entail specific attacks that affect data in transit:
- Viruses, worms, and trojans: A single download can lead to malware, having a wide range of effects.
- Denial of service (DoS): A DoS attack prevents your network from delivering data to legitimate users and can quickly shut down a website.
- Zero-day attacks: These attacks target known vulnerabilities when a user has yet to download a patch.
Where Do Information Security, Cybersecurity, and Network Security Overlap?
When digital data was a relatively new concept, it was easy to separate infosec, cybersecurity, and network security. As it became the norm, cybersecurity took on the role of protecting data. Many professionals understand the technology behind it, but the umbrella of information security tends to have more emphasis on data evaluation, such as prioritization and vulnerabilities.
In each type of security, most professionals use the CIA triad, referring to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data. While they may use different methods, infosec, cybersecurity, and network security all aim to preserve the CIA tenents of data security. Of course, because network security is a part of cybersecurity, which is a part of information security, the three have considerable overlap.
Talk to the Experts at Agio
Agio’s proactive, experienced team can help you offload your cybersecurity needs, so your employees can focus on what’s important. Learn more about how our experts can protect your data and your business by reaching out to us today.
Connect with us.
Need a solution? Want to partner with us? Please complete the fields below to connect with a member of our team.