Information Security vs Cybersecurity: What’s the Difference?

The terms “cybersecurity” and “information security” are used interchangeably so often that you could be forgiven for assuming they refer to the same thing. However, these two terms differ in subtle but important ways. Both play a key role in the protection of your most valuable assets—your data—and protecting your assets is one of the core messages of BDO’s business advisory services.

Below, we explore the most important distinctions between information security and cybersecurity, and how they impact your business.

What is information security?

Information security concerns itself primarily with three aspects of your organisation’s data:

  • Availability – The capacity of your organisation to make information, either digital or physical, available to those with the appropriate access.
  • Confidentiality – The capacity of your organisation to keep information, either digital or physical, secret or otherwise, unavailable to those without access.
  • Integrity – The capacity of your organisation to ensure the accuracy, dependability, and trustworthiness of the information in your charge, e.g. employee and customer data.

Taken altogether, these three pillars of information security combine to store and protect one of the most valuable assets any organisation must manage.

Information security concerns itself not only with digital information but with physical records as well, addressing where, when, and how all information is held, how those storage solutions are protected and maintained, and how access is assigned, administered, and enforced.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is concerned specifically with safeguarding digital assets from threats. Digital devices, networks, programs, servers, and other digital assets that comprise business information systems are all potential touchpoints where a data breach could occur. Hacking, malware, and internal errors are the primary threats, and cybersecurity professionals investigate their organisations’ digital infrastructure to identify and shore up weak points, from subtle coding errors in software to unsupervised ethernet plugins.

Indeed, cybersecurity commands much more attention in the digital age. Information has been and continues to be far more likely compromised digitally than physically. This trend is unlikely to change as businesses around the world continue to turn to digital solutions for greater responsiveness, scalability, and accessibility of their key data.

To protect against cyber threats, professionals provide online security services and implement preventative policies, such as password management and device checkouts, and digital safeguards, like antivirus software and program updates.

The key distinction between cybersecurity and information security

Certainly, cybersecurity and information security have plenty in common in terms of the preparation and planning requirements. Both concern the safety and security of valuable business data. The two are slightly different, however, not because they address different objectives but because they address the same objective to different degrees.

Cybersecurity is limited to the digital sphere and protection from security threats; business continuity; disaster recovery; and risks via third parties. Information security addresses the management of information in any form—be it digital or physical assets—and how that information is accessed; categorised; protected; and made available for future use. You could argue, and indeed many do, that cybersecurity is actually a practice that falls under the larger umbrella of information security. No information security solution is complete without a robust cybersecurity plan, while cybersecurity alone cannot guarantee the integrity of all your business data.

We have found most clients need the following three questions answered:

  1. Where is our cybersecurity posture and information security efforts ranking us now?
  2. Following a risk assessment of where we are at, what actionable insights can you provide of what we need to do to improve or mitigate our risks?
  3. How do we manage the changes to improve the environment, protect critical business processes, and improve stability and reliability for our users?

Keep your valuable information secure

BDO helps New Zealand businesses and organisations implement proven risk management frameworks to keep their digital assets secure.
Contact BDO today for the help you need delivering the cybersecurity your information demands.