Information security, sometimes shortened to infosec, is the practice of protecting information by mitigating information risks. It is part of information risk management.
It typically involves preventing or at least reducing the probability of unauthorized/inappropriate access, use, disclosure, disruption, deletion/destruction, corruption, modification, inspection, recording or devaluation, although it may also involve reducing the adverse impacts of incidents.
Information may take any form, e.g. electronic or physical., tangible (e.g. paperwork) or intangible (e.g. knowledge). Information security’s primary focus is the balanced protection of the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data (also known as the CIA triad) while maintaining a focus on efficient policy implementation, all without hampering organization productivity.
This is largely achieved through a structured risk management process that involves:
- Identifying information and related assets, plus potential threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts;
- Evaluating the risks;
- Deciding how to address or treat the risks i.e. to avoid, mitigate, share or accept them;
- Where risk mitigation is required, selecting or designing appropriate security controls and implementing them;
- Monitoring the activities, making adjustments as necessary to address any issues, changes and improvement opportunities.
To standardize this discipline, academics and professionals collaborate to offer guidance, policies, and industry standards on password, antivirus software, firewall, encryption software, legal liability, security awareness and training, and so forth.
This standardization may be further driven by a wide variety of laws and regulations that affect how data is accessed, processed, stored, transferred and destroyed. However, the implementation of any standards and guidance within an entity may have a limited effect if a culture of continual improvement isn’t adopted.