Have you ever heard of the term CIA? When it comes to information security, it is not connected to the CIA intelligence agency in any way. CIA in information technology or InfoSec refers to confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Together they are known as a CIA triad.
They function as the security objectives and goals of any organization. So, companies can refer to them in case of security incidents like leaked data, hijacked accounts, attacked computer systems, etc.
Security professionals examine threats on apps, systems, and data depending on the CIA of information. This guide will discuss the three principles of information security in depth.
Confidentiality refers to measures put in place to prevent unauthorized disclosure of information. It is more like privacy as the information is available to authorized users. The main aim of the confidentiality principle is to make sure private information stays private and can be accessed only by those who need it to do the other duties.
Confidentiality focuses on data use which encompasses assessing or viewing data. It also prevents unauthorized users from sharing information. Organizations use this principle to prevent hackers from accessing their client’s personal information, including their contact, credit card shipping, or other personal details.
Confidentiality is compromised when a company experiences a data leak or a data breach and criminals access individuals’ information. Having security controls in place helps maintain confidentiality, including:
- Strong Passwords: Strong passwords reduce the likelihood of anyone accessing resources or accounts.
- Encryption: Encrypting information helps maintain confidentiality because if an unauthorized user manages to access the data, it will be in unreadable format since they don’t have the decryption key.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM): IAM refers to the practice of giving access to resources to the right individuals only. Users get access to what they need to perform their job and nothing more to maintain the confidentiality of information.
- Two-Factor Authentication: It requires an additional code other than the conventional login information (username and password) before giving anyone access to any source.
- Firewalls and Web Filters: They establish a strict boundary by screening antivirus programs and incoming traffic to locate and eliminate risky activities and software within your system.
- Physical Doors and Locks: They include door locks, vaults, cabinet locks, and biometrics scanners to prevent people from getting inside the company to steal company documents.
Integrity refers to protecting data from unauthorized modification to ensure that the information is accurate and trustworthy. The purpose of this triad is to make sure that information remains unaltered and intact apart from authorized changes made by individuals to whom the data belongs.
It is the second principle of information security because it takes confidentiality a step further by restricting information use more than baseline access. It ensures that data is not lost, destroyed, or deleted.
Any person who modifies information that they are not authorized to do so violates the information’s integrity. An example of such violation is when the chief financial officer (CFO) sends a document to the director of finance for review, and they manipulate the information without the knowledge of the CFO to make their department look good.
Organizations should have a cloud security program to know when a document has been modified without their knowledge for integrity purposes. Also, in data loss, they should recover most of it or all of it from a trusted source.
Implementing a managed detection and response (MDR) program that mitigates threats to integrity immediately is an excellent way of ensuring information integrity. A good MDR program has four main components:
- Continuous monitoring and assessment for threat detection
- An incident report which includes putting an end to the breach and asset recovery
- Analyzing the root cause to prevent similar threats in the future
- Legal and regulatory requirements integration
Other controls that you can use to maintain integrity include:
- User access controls: Controlling access to the information that other users can edit.
- Hashes: Creating a fixed-size value known as a hash of a message of any size. A different hash is generated when a person messes with a single character in the message. Creating a hash means that you can test it later to detect any changes in the message.
- Secure backups: Secure backups ensure that you can reboot the system using the details found in your backups. You can use hashes with the backup to ensure that the information has not been altered. If your company experiences a ransomware attack and you cannot recover the data, you can reboot the system and be confident you will get accurate information.
Availability refers to ensuring all systems and networks are up and running. If you cannot access the information needed, it becomes useless. Authorized users need to have timely access to the information they want, which means high availability is crucial in businesses.
Availability is closely linked to integrity as it ensures that protected data is available to authorized users at all times. Power failure, human error, natural disasters, and hardware or software failure are some of the incidences that impact the availability of information. Also, hackers can bring down servers, denying access to users.
The purpose of availability is to ensure data is available when needed to make decisions. Most companies want 99.99% availability for clients to access their services whenever they want. Here are practices you can implement for your company to have high uptime.
- Disaster recovery plans: These plans need to clearly outline how your company should respond to different situations such as hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.
- Offsite backups: Offsite backups are crucial because if anything should happen to your company, you will have a copy of your data to restart your systems.
- Failover: Refers to a backup system that switches on automatically if your primary system fails.
Hopefully, you have cleared doubts and added knowledge around information security and its principles. The CIA triad comprises the three main objectives of information security. They help protect the company’s interests and consumers’ information by keeping it out of the hands of unauthorized users and hackers.
Fulfilling these principles is an ongoing process because of the constant changes and improvements to data flows between different systems. Companies should implement security controls for all three triads to ensure they are well-protected.