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What are the Basic Differences Between Information Security & Cybersecurity?

Differences Between Information Security and Cybersecurity

What are the basic differences between information security and cybersecurity? It’s a fact that technology is everywhere in our daily lives. Not just the obvious things like computers but also the less obvious, including phones, TVs, and cars. Technology has made all of our lives better, but technology also comes with threats. One of the greatest threats today to organizations and individuals is cyber attacks. The way to combat these is through using the techniques of cyber security and information security.

Information security and cyber security are related but are not the same thing. Both are concerned with protecting data and information, and both are essential components of information risk management.  The terms’ information security’ and ‘cybersecurity,’ sometimes also called infosec and cybersec, are often incorrectly used interchangeably by people that are not security professionals. This can cause confusion, so let us take a look at the basic differences between information security & cybersecurity.

Information security vs cyber security – high level comparison

We will start with a high level comparison between information security vs cyber security.

Cybersec is concerned with protecting electronic data from being compromised or attacked. The scope is IT equipment, including desktop & laptop computers, servers, storage systems, networks, and mobile IoT devices such as smartphones and tablets.  

In contrast, infosec is concerned with protecting information wherever it is held. It focuses on maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. Hence the scope of infosec is much broader than cybersec, as it includes securing data and information stored in physical locations such as desks and filing cabinets as well as in IT systems. Whist some information security professionals also have skills in cyber security, this isn’t always the case. 

In short, the difference between infosec vs cybersec is that cyber security protects IT systems from unauthorized electronic access, whilst information security protects information assets regardless of whether the information is in physical or digital format.

Information security vs cyber security- more detailed definitions 

We will now take a more detailed look into the basic differences between information security & cybersecurity and why it is crucial that you implement both of them.

Cyber Security:

All sizes and shapes of business are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Even the smallest owner-operator organization uses technology to do their work, even if just for keeping contacts and maintaining a diary of appointments. Only a small percentage of organizations have the necessary technical skills and experience to guard the systems they use against cyber threats.  Technology and managing the threats to it is now an issue for the whole business, not just the IT department. Users can unwittingly enable cyber attacks just by clicking on a link in an email. Protecting against these attacks requires policies as well as technology.

This is why all organizations need to implement robust security policies and practices to give protection against the impact of cyber attacks. Cyber security is a practice that can safeguard your company’s confidential data and information from unauthorized access. Implementing protective measures and policies is an approach common to infosec vs cybersec, and will mitigate the threats for both the organization, its staff, and its customers. 

When considering the basic differences between information security or cyber security, cyber security focuses on protecting data and information held in electronic systems from unauthorized access.  Cybersec is, therefore, a subset of information security that deals with the security of IT systems and services. 

Whereas protection measures for information security aren’t subject to regular change, cyber security countermeasures require frequent updates to deal with new threats such as distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), viruses, phishing, and baiting. All organizations need to stay up-to-date with the latest cyber security measures by implementing patches to protect systems such as anti-virus and firewall applications. 

Information Security:

Information security is concerned with protecting both data and information. These two terms can be difficult to understand, but when comparing infosec vs cybersec it is important to understand the differences between them. The difference is quite subtle. Not every piece of data is information. Data, when interpreted in a context to form some sort of meaning, is called information. For example, “12131957” is a piece of data. Without added meaning, it is just a string of numbers. It could be a telephone number, a security code, a date, or many more things. If context is added, then the data becomes information. In this example, the data is a birth date. Hence information is data that has a meaning.

This means that the terms’ data security’ and ‘information security’ can be used interchangeably.  Both safeguard the information assets from unauthorized access.

Basic differences between information security & cybersecurity – more examples

These examples should help to further illustrate the differences between information security and cyber security.

  • Value of Data:  For infosec vs cybersec, the most critical component that both are aiming to protect is the value of data. Data that is more valuable to you and your organization should have the highest levels of protection. Cyber security tries to safeguard your organization’s commercial information and protect IT systems from digital hacking activities that could result in valuable data being accessed. Infosec is aimed at protecting the value of your company’s information assets from any type of threat, digital or not. 
  • Security professional priorities: Cybersecurity professionals are most concerned with preventing active threats, such as hacking attempts and viruses. On the other hand, infosec professionals have a broader remit, including policies, procedures, and organizational roles and responsibilities to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 
  • Focus of infosec vs cybersec: Cyber security focuses on establishing protection from digital threats arising outside the organization. Information security focuses on implementing policies and procedures to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all types of information asset.
  • Threats: Cyber security is only concerned with cyber threats. Information security is concerned with threats of all types.

To Summarize

Information security was important before the days of computers. Today it is even more important because of the vast amount of data and information stored by every organization and the threat of litigation if it is not adequately protected against unauthorized access. Cyber threats have been around for a long time, have grown exponentially in recent years, and continue to grow at an ever-expanding rate.

While it is important to understand the basic differences between information security & cybersecurity, it is even more important to do something about them. All organizations in all sectors need to protect their IT systems from unauthorized access. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to attack as large corporates and governments. Understanding and dealing with threats to data and information, whether technology-based or not, is essential for every organization.


Q: What is information security?

A: Information security focuses on protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and data. It encompasses a broad range of measures, policies, and practices that aim to safeguard information assets from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction.

Q: What is cybersecurity?

A: Cybersecurity is a subset of information security that specifically deals with protecting computer systems, networks, and digital data from cyber threats. It involves safeguarding against unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, or destruction of information in the digital realm.

Q: How do they differ?

A: The main difference lies in their scope. Information security is a broader term that encompasses the protection of all forms of information, including physical and analog formats, while cybersecurity specifically focuses on the protection of digital information in the context of cyberspace.

Q: What are the common goals of information security and cybersecurity?

A: The common goals of both information security and cybersecurity are to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets. They aim to protect against unauthorized access, prevent data breaches, maintain data accuracy and reliability, and mitigate risks associated with potential cyber threats.

Q: What are some key components of information security and cybersecurity?

A: Information security and cybersecurity share several key components, such as risk assessment, access controls, encryption, incident response, and security awareness training. However, cybersecurity may also involve specialized components like network security, application security, vulnerability management, and threat intelligence, given its focus on digital systems and networks.

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