The CIA Triad of Information Security
Most companies encounter data breaches and penalties due to compliance issues, unprotected data, and poor implementation of policies. Understanding the principles behind the CIA triad will help you plan and implement security policies to reduce risk and be better equipped to handle threats.
What is the CIA Triad?
The goal of cybersecurity is to protect the organization’s vital assets against rapidly increasing cyber-attacks. This can be ensured by implementing the right security protocols that can detect and prevent such threats.
The key purpose of cybersecurity is to ensure the Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability (CIA) of data and services. CIA or the CIA triad forms the foundation of any organization’s security infrastructure, indicating that once data or a system is attacked, these principles were violated.
What does each of these principles means, and how each play a role?
Confidentiality indicates the effort of an organization to keep its data confidential. It involves guaranteeing that only authorized users have access to specific data, and those who are unauthorized are constantly monitored and prevented from obtaining such access.
Information systems contain data that has a certain degree of sensitivity. It can be exclusive business information or personal information such as the company’s employees or clients that competitors could use to their advantage.
The healthcare industry is a good example where protecting client information is a high priority. Healthcare organizations are governed by strict regulations on managing security. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) focuses on security such as privacy protection and handling of personal health information.
The eCommerce industry is another example where personal information should be protected. Customers will expect that all the data they provide including credit card information and billing address are secured from unauthorized exposure.
Various implementations to certify the confidentiality of data include:
- Access Control
- Use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication
In the context of information security (InfoSec), integrity means ensuring that data is authentic, reliable, and has not been corrupted or tampered with. Integrity has three goals to attain data security:
- Prevent any modification of information by unauthorized users
- Prevent any unintentional or unauthorized modification of information by authorized users
- Preserve internal and external consistency
Simply put, data received by the recipient should be the same data sent by the sender. Any addition or removal of data means that the integrity has been jeopardized.
For example, banking customers expect their banking information and account balances to not be tampered with. Guaranteeing integrity entails safeguarding data in use in transit (e.g., downloading a file) or at rest (e.g., being stored on a computer or in the cloud).
Integrity can be affected by data diddling attacks or man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks where an attacker intercepts communication between two parties to spy or alter traffic between the two. MITM can be used to steal account credentials or interfere with communications.
To maintain integrity, it is important to have access control on the system and ensure that only authorized users can alter information within the system. Another countermeasure to protect the integrity is to include encryption, intrusion detection systems, hashing, and strong authentication mechanisms.
This final component refers to the actual availability of data. For an information system to be reliable and useful, it should be available to authorized users when needed. Regular maintenance of hardware should be done to continuously provide good service to users and customers.
Availability is often associated with system uptime, which can be affected by hardware failures, human errors or cyberattacks, and insider threats. If the network unexpectedly goes down, users won’t be able to access data and applications.
For example, if a disruption of the website happens to your company, it can lead to customer dissatisfaction, loss of revenue, and damage of reputation. The Denial of Service (DoS) attack is one of the most common threats to availability where the performance of your system is intentionally degraded.
To mitigate threats to data availability, some of the countermeasures you can implement include:
- Comprehensive Disaster Recovery plans
- Regular software patching and system upgrades
- Denial of Service (DoS) protection solutions
Significance of the CIA Triad in Cybersecurity
The CIA triad will provide you with a foundation when evaluating your current security procedures and tools. Your information security system should satisfy these three components to be sufficient.
The triad also enables you to assess the underlying issues or problems and the solutions that worked after an incident. If your system was attacked by ransomware and the availability was compromised but the information retained its confidentiality, you’ll be able to use the data to resolve vulnerabilities and replicate the successful policies.
Each component is critical and helpful when you are developing systems over data classification and managing access controls and when addressing system vulnerabilities of your organization.
At Uniserve, we recognize the importance of protecting your business information's Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Security and compliance are not barriers, they are enablers to business growth, and we believe that Information Security should allow your business to be more competitive and innovative. Contact us today and learn more.