The difference between cyber security and information security
The difference between cyber security and information security

Both cyber security and information security relate to the security of computer systems, networks and devices. Understanding the difference between these two concepts can help individuals and business owners take the best action to protect their digital infrastructure and valuable data. Having a secure digital environment means that we can go about our daily online activities without any hiccups or disruptions.

Protecting ourselves online is just as essential as looking after ourselves when we are out and about in the world. Unfortunately, the internet is not a secure place and any data that is shared or stored online can be accessed if someone is determined enough to get it. Experts believe that no data is ever totally secure. Just as we have locks on doors, alarm systems and electric fences to keep us safe in the physical world, the digital world also has tools that we can use to protect ourselves. 

At WonderNet, we hope to make internet users aware of the risks of being online so that we can all take informed action against digital disasters. Let’s unpack the difference between cyber security and information security and learn more about some simple ways to stop cyber criminals in their tracks. 

What is cyber security?

Cyber security relates to protecting networks, devices, servers and electronic systems from attacks. Our mobile phones, laptops and even our internet TVs can be hacked, blocked, or tampered with by tech-savvy cyber criminals. 

There are different reasons why cyber bad guys would want to infiltrate your electronic systems. Firstly, if they can access your personal information, such as your financial records or accounts, they can use this information to commit fraud. Cyber criminals can use personal data to extort money from individuals or businesses. 

Criminals with even bigger ambitions may wish to commit political attacks, using computer systems and networks to rally support or financial backing. Cyberterrorists instill widespread fear in society by manipulating information technology. 

These perps use tools such as malware, including Trojan virus, spyware, adware and ransomware to achieve their sinister goals. Most of us receive phishing emails on a daily basis – another technique that is used to encourage naive individuals to part with their personal information or finances. 

Cyber attacks are continuously on the rise as more and more people join the online world. It is estimated that by 2025, $1-trillion will be spent on cyber security by both individuals and businesses. This illustrates how important it is to keep our networks and devices protected. Preventing data loss, keeping software free from viruses, and maintaining digital operations is essential for anyone who relies on the internet for their work, learning, or play. 

What is information security?

Information security is a branch of cyber security that deals with keeping our personal and professional data secure. When data is transferred or stored, it is vulnerable to theft or modification. To illustrate the significance of data security, consider that in September 2021, 135-million records were exposed to data breaches. Of this, the biggest breach involved 106-million records being lost. This figure is nothing out of ordinary in the world of information security. 

Imagine the consequences of your banking details being leaked, or your company’s intellectual property being stolen. Information security relates to highly valuable or confidential information being accessed illegally and it can have devastating consequences for victims.  

Preventing unauthorised access or modification of data is the key focus of information security. The goals of information security are three-fold: confidentiality, integrity and availability, neatly abbreviated as CIA. 

  • Confidentiality: keeping our personal and professional information private and secure. 
  • Integrity: preventing unauthorised modification of data.
  • Availability: making sure data can be accessed at any time by authorised personnel. 

What are the easiest ways to improve cyber and information security?

The world of information and cyber security is ever-changing. Because of this, it is essential to keep working on digital security to ensure that your personal and professional networks, devices and software are secure. By limiting the exposure of your most confidential documents, you can go a long way in maintaining information security. Being careful who you work with, who you correspond with, and who has access to your computer systems, can help lower the risk of cyber crime. 

Undoubtedly, the easiest way to improve security is through passwords. Password hacking is a piece of cake for even a moderately talented cyber criminal and, yet, it is estimated that most people use the same password for all their accounts. Nearly all computer users have between one and five passwords that they rotate throughout their lives. 20% of people use passwords that are over 10 years old. QWERTY and 12345 are still some of the most popular passwords chosen. Effective passwords can help deal with both types of cybercrime and they’re free!

Remember to change the default passwords on your router and network. Don’t use chains of letters from your keyboard, such as ASDFG or YUIOP, as these are the easiest to hack. The Bruce Schnier method is a great way to set hard-to-hack passwords. To use this method, think of an obscure sentence. Take the first two letters from each word to form your password. For example, my best friend loves small dogs becomes MyBeFrLoSmDo. You can even make this more cryptic by exchanging letters for numbers or special characters – MyB3FrL05mD0.

What can small businesses and individuals do to improve online security?

Researchers have found that 70% of data breaches happen because of human error, process failures and not following effective password protocol. Small businesses should first identify the strengths and weaknesses of their current strategies. Sensitive or valuable data should be protected first. All businesses, no matter how big they are, should invest in cyber security and information security. It’s also advisable to allocate a portion of that budget for continuous training for staff. 

Individuals should also take action to protect their personal and professional data. Regularly updating operating systems and software can help to ward off cyber attacks as updated versions often include improved security features. Whether it is personal or professional data, important documents need to be backed up often so that if something happens, you will have access to your valuable information. 

Cyber security and information security is the new normal when it comes to having a healthy digital infrastructure. For more information about cyber safety, check out our CyberSmart Hub. If you’d like to get a quote for a fibre internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.

WonderNet brings affordable broadband internet to South African homes. We work alongside leading fibre network providers to maximise our reach and to offer fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity to your home. We are owned by SEACOM; one of Africa’s top information and communications technology (ICT) companies with an expansive network of subsea cables, landlines and fibre connections. WonderNet strives to offer the best customer service in the country. We will go above and beyond to ensure that our customers are satisfied with their internet access.

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