Information Security vs. Cybersecurity: What Are the Differences?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Becoming an Information Security Analyst

Are you interested in a career as an Information Security Analyst but are not sure how to start preparing for it? We have you covered!

If you work in information technology, you may use different software and hardware to manage a business' security. This may encompass both information security and cybersecurity. Learning about the differences between the two may help you decide best practices for managing each. In this article, we explore what information security and cybersecurity are and a list of their differences and similarities.

What is information security?

Information security is a practice organizations use to keep their sensitive data safe. This data may be virtual or physical and secured by a limited number of professionals, including security managers and analysts. An organization may have a set of procedures for employees to follow to maintain information security. For example, their employee contract may include a section on confidentiality to urge employees to protect sensitive internal information.

Related: Learn About Being an Information Security Analyst

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a practice organizations use to protect their vulnerable technology. This may include software, hardware or online activity. There is often an IT professional in charge of monitoring and maintaining cybersecurity for an organization. For example, a cybersecurity manager they might be in charge of ensuring all employees keep their passwords compliant and updated. This kind of security encompasses all aspects of business than an organization conducts using technology, including their information security.

Related: How To Become a Cybersecurity Analyst in 2021

Information security vs. cybersecurity

The primary difference between these two practices is that information security concerns protecting sensitive information while cybersecurity concerns protecting the technology an organization uses. Organizations manage them differently, but may use many of the same safety considerations for their approach. For example, an organization might have two different departments for each, but those departments might collaborate or have regular meetings to protect all sensitive information and technology.

Here is a list of the main differences and similarities between information security and cybersecurity:

Format

Both information security and cybersecurity can include digital formats, but information security may also include non-digital formats. For example, an organization may maintain their information security by keeping physical files locked in a room that only authorized personnel can access. Many businesses use two separate locking procedures to protect physical files or data. Cybersecurity may also include data, but only information that users can access through a computer.

Related: Working in Cybersecurity: Definition, Careers and Skills

Professionals

Organizations may hire different professionals to manage their information security and cybersecurity. For information security, that might entail training all employees on confidentiality practices and hiring an information security analyst to perform and uphold these trainings. They may also hire security for physical data storage. Organizations often hire IT professionals to oversee cybersecurity and educate employees on best computer practices to stay safe. Professionals in charge of cybersecurity might include:

  • System administrators

  • Cybersecurity analysts

  • Chief information officers

  • IT technicians

  • Software engineers

Related: 10 Best Information Security Certifications To Strengthen Your Career

Procedure

The primary similarity in procedures for information security and cybersecurity is that they're focused on keeping the organization safe. Organizations may maintain a list of best practices for both that employees can follow, such as only sending internal files through official company emails. While cybersecurity may require trained professionals to manage, information security uses an accessible method known as the CIA triad. The acronym stands for:

  • Confidentiality: Sensitive data is accessible only to authorized personnel. For example, a law office might only allow senior staff to enter their locked data room.

  • Integrity: Sensitive data and the platform an organization uses to store it are up to date and well maintained. For example, an information analyst might review files that an employee checked out to make sure any changes they made to the file are accurate.

  • Availability: Authorized personnel can reliably access the data when they need it. For example, an IT specialist might regularly check a software for updates to ensure that it's functioning properly for authorized personnel to use.

Equipment

Because information security and cybersecurity occasionally have digital overlap, organizations can use computers to manage both. For example, an IT professional whose primary responsibility is cybersecurity might also monitor access to sensitive digital files through the same software. Organizations can store sensitive physical materials such as paper files and financial documents in secure storage containers or locked, monitored rooms. Other equipments organizations may use for cybersecurity include:

  • Servers

  • Mobile devices

  • Cloud storage

  • Antivirus software

  • Encryption tools

  • Network security management tools

  • Public key infrastructure

Access

Many organizations grant at least some access to the technologies they use to all employees, while reserving access to some controls for authorized personnel and IT professionals. For example, everyone working at a nonprofit may log data into the system, but they may not have the same access to other functions like deleting or sending files. To maintain information security, an organization may require employees to enter a password to access digital data or use a key to enter rooms with physical data.

Priority

Most organizations highly prioritize information security and cybersecurity because it keeps their valuable assets safe. They may use more resources on cybersecurity because it encompasses everything the organization uses technology for, including their digital information security. There are also commonly fewer security risks for physical materials that are kept in locked containers or rooms compared to materials stored on a server, network or cloud system.

Expense

The costs of managing information security and cybersecurity may vary, depending on how much an organization relies on technology or what format they use to store data. Cybersecurity may cost more for organizations that frequently use technology since they may hire IT professionals, pay for software support subscriptions or accrue higher utility expenses. Though digital data may fall under those expenses, organizations may spend money differently for information security measures. Those costs might include hiring security, purchasing cameras to monitor their physical data or paying rent on an external storage space.

Explore more articles