Information Center

What is Information Security? How to Safeguard Digital Assets.

The transition from a physical existence to a digital-centric one often feels like an overnight occurrence. Online interactions have become as routine as face-to-face encounters, transforming how we communicate, work, and live. Part of this new reality is how information has become instantly accessible, including to those looking to exploit it for malicious purposes.

Digital technologies are now an indispensable part of business operations, enabling organizations to streamline processes, enhance collaboration, and drive innovation. However, despite all their benefits, they’ve also opened the door to constant threats to information security, with malicious actors continually refining their tactics and employing increasingly sophisticated methods to breach defenses and compromise sensitive data.

To ensure information security, organizations across all sectors must employ a proactive, multi-layered approach to protecting their digital assets. Just as homeowners use locks, alarms, and surveillance cameras to keep their properties safe, enterprises must invest in data loss prevention and other security measures that defend against cyber threats.

Information Security Overview

The term “information security,” also known as Infosec, is sometimes used interchangeably with “cybersecurity,” but they differ significantly:

  • Cybersecurity is broader in scope, including the protection of computer systems, networks, and data from unauthorized access or malicious attacks.
  • Information security is a crucial subset of cybersecurity, focusing on protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data itself, regardless of its form or location.

Implementing a multi-layered strategy that uses various tools and techniques such as firewalls, encryption, access controls, and employee training, enables organizations to effectively protect their digital assets and mitigate the risks posed by cyber threats.

Just how important is information security? Imagine waking up one day to find that your organization’s financial records, customer information, or intellectual property had been disclosed, destroyed, or held for ransom. Picture the disruption and chaos that would ensue, from financial losses and operational downtime to irreparable reputational damage and loss of customer trust.

It's easy to see how a major security breach’s consequences might be catastrophic, potentially crippling a company’s ability to function and compete. In today’s digital landscape, the importance of information security cannot be overstated. Robust information security measures help organizations mitigate various risks, ensure business continuity, and maintain a competitive edge.

Infosec’s key objectives are often called the “CIA” triad: confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

  • Confidentiality is the protection of sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.
  • Integrity ensures data remains accurate, complete, and uncorrupted throughout its lifecycle.
  • Availability ensures authorized users have reliable and timely access to the information and resources they need when they need them.

A good example of information security in action can be seen in the healthcare industry, where providers implement strict measures to protect patient records and medical data. This can include encrypting electronic health records, implementing access controls to limit who can view or modify sensitive information, and regularly auditing systems to detect and prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.

Where the CIA triad outlines information security’s primary objectives, three key concepts shore up effective information security practices:

  1. Risk management identifies, assesses, and mitigates potential risks to an organization's information assets. It implements appropriate controls and measures to reduce the likelihood and impact of security incidents.
  2. Defense in depth is a concept or approach that suggests multiple layers of security controls should be implemented to protect information assets. This method provides redundancy and enhances overall security by addressing various potential attack paths and ensuring that if one control fails, others are in place to reduce risk.
  3. Continuous improvement ensures the ongoing process of information security. It includes constant monitoring, evaluation, and improvement that assist in identifying novel threats and new vulnerabilities as they emerge so organizations can adapt their security measures accordingly by implementing updates, patches, and new controls to maintain an effective security posture.

Understanding and implementing these key concepts supports businesses in their efforts to establish a comprehensive information security strategy that protects their valuable data assets, maintains business continuity, and ensures compliance with relevant regulations and industry standards.

Different Types of Information Security

Infosec covers a wide range of measures and practices designed to protect an enterprise's valuable data assets. Depending on who you consult or read, the number of different types of information security varies, with these seven being the most commonly identified:

  1. Network security focuses on protecting network infrastructures, including hardware, software, and data transmissions, against unauthorized access, misuse, or malicious attacks. It typically involves implementing firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, virtual private networks (VPNs), or other measures to secure a network’s perimeter, ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of resources.
  2. Data security concerns itself with protecting an organization's data assets, regardless of their form or location. It includes measures like encryption, access controls, data loss prevention (DLP) tools, and secure backup and recovery procedures. Its goal is to prevent unauthorized access, modification, or destruction of sensitive information, ensuring its privacy, accuracy, and accessibility.
  3. Physical security is a critical, though often overlooked, aspect of Infosec. Its focus is protecting physical infrastructures, such as buildings, servers, and workstations, from unauthorized access, theft, or damage. Standard techniques are access controls, including locks, keys, and biometrics; surveillance systems; and environmental controls like fire suppression and temperature and humidity regulation.
  4. Application security addresses the increasing reliance on software applications. Now considered a critical feature of information security, it’s used to secure coding practices, vulnerability testing, and implementing measures, protecting applications from threats that include code injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and other application-level attacks.
  5. Identity and access management (IAM) is the management and control of user identities and access privileges within an organization. It involves implementing strong authentication mechanisms, authorization controls, and auditing procedures that ensure only authorized individuals are able to access sensitive information and resources.
  6. Operational security (OPSEC) focuses on protecting an organization's day-to-day operations, processes, and procedures from potential threats. It can include various measures like incident response plans, business continuity strategies, and employee awareness and training programs.
  7. Cloud security has become a critical aspect of information as more businesses adopt the conveniences and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing. It includes securing data, applications, and cloud-hosted infrastructure while ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and industry standards.

While each of these information security types is effective on its own, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they often overlap and complement one another, with many of the best information security strategies incorporating elements from multiple types, creating a multi-layered defense against potential threats. Additionally, the specific types of information security your organization might prioritize can depend on factors like your industry, its regulatory compliance requirements, and the nature of your data assets. Understanding and addressing the different types of information security your business might need ensures a strong security posture with optimal protection of its valuable information resources.

Information Security Best Practices

Safeguarding digital assets and mitigating the risks cyber threats pose requires implementing adequate information security best practices. There are any number of steps organizations can consider or take; however, several essential practices are must-have components of any robust security strategy.

  • The creation and use of strong passwords is fundamental to information security. Weak and predictable passwords are like laying out the welcome mat and leaving the door unlocked for hackers to access and potentially compromise sensitive information. Businesses must enforce policies that mandate the use of complex passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Implementing password rotation policies and prohibiting password reuse can further enhance security.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to the authentication process, requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification, such as a password combined with a one-time code or biometric data. MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access, even if one factor is compromised.
  • Keeping software and systems up-to-date is one best practice that can never be overlooked. Software vendors regularly release updates and patches to address known vulnerabilities and security flaws. Applying these updates in a timely manner protects systems from being exposed to potential exploitation by cybercriminals. Organizations should establish processes for monitoring and deploying updates across all their software and systems, including operating systems, applications, and firmware.
  • Advanced cybersecurity solutions are an absolute necessity in today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape. They play a critical role in strengthening an organization's resilience against cyber attacks, leveraging cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and behavioral analytics to detect and respond to sophisticated threats in real time. Organizations that implement these advanced solutions are better equipped to identify and mitigate potential security incidents proactively.
  • Creating and enforcing a comprehensive data protection policy that outlines clear processes and procedures for handling sensitive data, such as access controls, data classification, and data handling, can be the foundation all other security efforts are built upon. By establishing a robust data protection policy and ensuring adherence to it, businesses can maintain a consistent and practical approach to safeguarding their valuable information assets.

While implementing these and other best practices is essential, keep in mind that they are still just part of a broader, multi-layered information security strategy. By combining these practices with other measures outlined earlier in this post, you can create a comprehensive defense that ensures your data and systems remain secure and resilient against current and future cyber attacks.

Information Security Threats

StrongInformation security threats come in all shapes and sizes, each posing its own unique risk to an organization's digital assets and operations. There are two primary types of attacks: active and passive. Active attacks involve intercepting communications or messages and altering them for malicious purposes. Passive attacks are when a cyber criminal monitors systems and illicitly copies information without altering it, making it more difficult to detect. The attacker then uses the data to disrupt networks and compromise target systems.

Three of the most prevalent threats are malware/viruses, phishing attacks, and social engineering tactics.

Malware & Viruses

Designed to infiltrate systems and cause harm, these malicious software programs appear in the form of data theft, system disruption, and unauthorized access and include trojans, worms, ransomware, and spyware. Malware can spread in various directions, infecting websites, email attachments, and removable media as they circulate through networks and systems. Once inside, they can wreak havoc by stealing sensitive data, corrupting files, or even holding systems hostage for a ransom payment.

Phishing Attacks

It’s estimated that over 80% of organizations fall victim to phishing. These common threats rely on social engineering tactics to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or granting unauthorized access. They typically involve fraudulent emails, text messages, or websites masquerading as legitimate sources, enticing victims to disclose login credentials, financial information, and other sensitive data. Phishing attacks can be highly sophisticated, employing techniques that include spoofing trusted domains or impersonating authority figures. For instance, in 2016, cyber criminals sent an email to an employee at an Austrian aerospace parts manufacturer that appeared to come from the company’s CEO. The employee complied with the sender’s request, transferring €42 million to another account as part of what the phishers said was an “acquisition project.”

Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks are a broad category of threats that leverages human psychology and manipulation to bypass security controls. They exploit human vulnerabilities like trust, curiosity, and fear, to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security. Tactics range from impersonating IT support personnel to “tailgating” employees into restricted areas.

The consequences of these and other threats can be severe, including data breaches, financial losses, reputational damage, and regulatory fines.

  • Malware and viruses can also disrupt operations, corrupt data, or facilitate unauthorized access.
  • Phishing attacks can lead to login credential theft that enables further exploitation or data exfiltration.
  • Social engineering tactics can bypass even the most robust technical controls by exploiting human weaknesses.

Along with technical controls like antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems, and human ones like training and awareness, organizations must implement regular security assessments, prompt patching, and an incident response plan that work as one to defend against present and future threats. It’s the best way to ensure your organization’s information security efforts are adequately protecting your digital assets and maintaining business continuity in the face of potential cyber threats.

Information Security Policies & Compliance

Nearly every business handles personal data for employees, customers, and clients. That means nearly every business is also governed by various regulations that impose rules on how it collects, uses, shares, and protects personal information. They also mandate speedy notification to authorities and affected users when a breach occurs.

Developing and crafting an information security policy is the cornerstone of any robust security framework. It outlines an organization's approach to protecting its data assets, detailing the roles, responsibilities, and procedures for safeguarding sensitive information. The policy should be comprehensive, covering facets like access control, incident response, and data encryption, which should be routinely updated to reflect evolving threats and technological advancements. The policies should be transparent and clearly communicated to anyone who’s information might be or is being collected, including:

  • Easy-to-understand information about data collection practices.
  • Obtaining consent where required.
  • Offering options for individuals to manage their personal data, including opt-in and opt-out choices.

Data protection compliance is another critical aspect, with laws like GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA setting stringent standards for data privacy and security. Organizations must ensure their policies align with these and other legal requirements, including:

  • Understanding the specific regulations applicable to their industry and operations.
  • Implementing measures to comply with them.
  • Staying abreast of any changes in the legal landscape.

Conducting regular security audits is another essential practice for maintaining compliance and strengthening security posture. They assess the effectiveness of an organization's security measures, identify vulnerabilities, and recommend improvements. They also demonstrate a company’s commitment to information security, instilling confidence in stakeholders, customers, employees, and regulatory bodies.

Securing Your Business Data

When it comes to securing your organization’s data, the more you know, the safer you are. That means understanding the threats your business faces, what puts your data at risk, and what vulnerabilities or weaknesses might be lurking in your networks and systems.

To detect and protect against threats like phishing, ransomware, and malware, enterprises can implement various security practices that deliver numerous benefits that make it easier to protect valuable data assets, maintain business continuity, and foster customer and stakeholder trust while at the same time mitigating the risks of data breaches, financial loss, and reputational harm. Some of the most effective practices include:

  • Data encryption. A crucial tool that renders data unreadable to unauthorized parties, encryption ensures in-transit and at-rest data confidentiality. Encryption protocols should be routinely updated to protect against new threats, while regular review and auditing of encryption practices ensures compliance and identifies areas for improvement.
  • Backup and disaster recovery. Cloud services typically include automated backup and disaster recovery capabilities. By combining enhanced security with the advantages of scalability, accessibility, and efficient data retrieval, these robust solutions allow organizations to quickly recover and restore critical data and systems in the event of a security incident, minimizing downtime and preventing data loss.
  • Employee training and awareness programs. Educating employees on best practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts, creating strong passwords, and handling sensitive information securely, can go a long way in significantly reducing the risk of human error or negligence, two of the leading causes of data breaches. Regular training and awareness campaigns also help cultivate a security-conscious culture within the company, empowering employees to be vigilant and proactive in protecting valuable data assets.

Organizations can employ information security solutions to standardize security controls and ensure adequate Infosec and risk management. By taking a systematic approach to information security, you proactively protect your business from unnecessary risk and allow your security team to efficiently and effectively remediate threats as they arise.

Veritas takes a multi-layered approach to safeguarding digital assets, providing high-level information security solutions that help your organization overcome its biggest information protection challenges. Its flexibility and scalability make managing your data more efficient, instilling confidence in your ability to maintain data integrity and prevent data loss or compromise, all while ensuring you have a system in place that gives you greater visibility and control.

Questions About Your Organization's Strategy?

Veritas offers an integrated portfolio of compliance and governance solutions that consolidate intelligence across data sources to surface relevant information, deliver actionable insights, and reduce the risk of costly regulatory fines. We’re proud to be named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving, as it recognizes our commitment to delivering market-leading, cloud-centric solutions that address data and regulatory complexity for our customers.


Veritas customers include 95% of the Fortune 100, and NetBackup™ is the #1 choice for enterprises looking to protect large amounts of data with reliable data backup solutions

Learn how Veritas keeps your data fully protected across virtual, physical, cloud and legacy workloads with Data Protection Services for Enterprise Businesses.

Contact us today!