The terms IT security or information security are often used synonymously, go in a comparable direction but mean different things. However, it is worth taking a closer look to differentiate between the terms.
“Information security” as an umbrella term covers the protection of all so-called information assets including analog issues or communication. This is referred to as “information assets”. Security is aimed at all types of information throughout the company, including not only electronic data but also analog data.
The three main objectives for protecting information are:
They are often referred to as the three primary protection goals of information security.
The term “information assets” is used to refer to a wide variety of information requiring protection – e.g., customer data, employee data, design plans. The term “asset” likewise encompasses diverse types of systems on which this data is processed – e.g., local servers, cloud computing environments, hardware power supplies. But laptops or tablets also count as assets on which information requiring protection is stored.
As the core of an IT security concept, a so-called ISMS (Information Security Management System) defines parameters and methods to ensure information security in one’s own organization and compliance requirements. Internationally valid standards such as ISO 27001 (ISMS) define such an information security management system and also contain a catalog of requirements for protective measures.
By comparison, IT security is defined as a sub-aspect of information security and generally means the protection of IT or information technology systems against threats and damage. Technical and organizational protective measures include the operation of firewalls and intrusion detection systems, access controls, rights management and virus scanners. Regular updating (patching) of servers, appropriate segmentation of networks or targeted evaluation of logs (SIEM – Security Incident & Event Management) are also part of this, to name just a few examples.
IT security and information security are similar terms, but they are not synonymous. Rather, IT security is a building block of a holistic information security strategy. Organizations should by no means focus solely on IT security measures, but should always keep a holistic eye on the protection of their information assets. Especially since the topics will become increasingly intertwined as digitization progresses.
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